What are the Differences Between Disinfecting Wipes & Sanitizing Wipes?

Since the discovery of the germs that enter the human body and cause diseases, scientists have been stressing the fact to keep ourselves clean to stop these germs from entering the body. These germs can be present anywhere, on your phone, keyboard, or anywhere around you. Especially public places are known to be the most germ-spreading places as several people come to these places and touch things that can spread the virus through touch.

When a germ infected person touches a thing, the germs transfer there and then they come into contact with other healthy people in this way this cycle goes on until it is not stopped in some way. Disinfecting wipes and sanitizing wipes help to prevent the spread of germs by killing or reducing these.

These disinfecting and sanitizing wipes are no more unknown things recently because of the spread of Corona virus which caused several deaths throughout the world. The importance of the products that sanitize and disinfect surfaces suddenly increased because of the spread of the deadly virus and people throughout the world bought all the sanitizing and disinfecting products including sanitizing and disinfecting wipes to clean surfaces in their homes, offices, and other places, and also to properly sanitize their hands to avoid germ transfer. Today in this article, we are going to discuss the differences between disinfecting wipes and sanitizing wipes and the purpose each of them is used for.

Before discussing disinfecting wipes and sanitizing wipes, it is important to consider the terms sanitizing and disinfecting to help you differentiate between sanitizers and disinfectants. Although sanitizing and disinfecting may be used interchangeably by common people, these are different procedures and are used in different places and for different purposes. This article will help you to differentiate between sanitizing and disinfecting and also between sanitizing wipes and disinfecting wipes.

The difference between sanitizing and disinfecting

The term sanitizing and disinfecting may appear the same to common people but these are different terms according to the Centers for disease control and prevention. First, we will discuss these terms to make this difference clear.

  • Sanitizing

Sanitizing is a process that focuses on reducing the number of germs to a safe level on the surfaces and the skin. It is a more gentle process than disinfecting therefore it is used in restaurants, kitchens, and on toys which that children can put into their mouths. The sanitizing process can be used to clean the toilets, door knobs, or faucets. In order to be an approved sanitizer, a product must kill 99.99 percent of the germs within a time frame of thirty seconds to five minutes. Sanitizing procedures are used for restaurants and other food related businesses to help keep the places clean and prevent the spread of germs.

  • Disinfecting

Disinfecting, on the other hand, uses chemicals to kill bacteria instead of reducing their quantity. It is used for more serious purposes for example in hospitals and other medical settings which deal with bodily fluids and other germs. According to the center for disease control and prevention (CDC), disinfecting refers to killing nearly a hundred percent of the germs on surfaces. Disinfecting might not clean the surfaces, but it can kill the germs and consequently help in controlling the spread of disease. Disinfecting is not commonly used in houses for cleaning purposes, however, it can be used to clean toilets and sinks. It can also be used to clean high-touch areas like door knobs and faucets.

Difference between disinfecting wipes and sanitizing wipes

Since sanitizing and disinfecting are two different terms, the products that sanitize and disinfect and also different. Both of these can be used for different purposes and places. The difference between sanitizing wipes and disinfecting wipes is as follows:

Applications of sanitizing wipes

Sanitizing wipes are surface sanitizing products that are made of a specially- selected fabric that absorbs the formula and releases it when the wipes are used. Sanitizing wipes are used to lower the number of germs on surfaces and skin. Sanitizing wipes are used when you do not want to take risk of using harmful chemicals therefore these are used for the purposes of cleaning utensils, kitchen surfaces, and toys for children. They are used for several different purposes including

  • Food industry

Sanitizing wipes are used in restaurants and other food producing businesses to ensure food laws and regulations are followed. This helps to clean the food places and consequently prevents the spread of disease.

  • Bathrooms

Sanitizing wipes can be used in bathrooms to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. They can help reduce the number of bacteria and prevent the spread of germs that can cause diseases.

  • High-touch areas

Our phones, light switches, and keyboards contain more germs than we can imagine. As these things are often touched, they should be kept clean using sanitizing wipes to lower the number of germs present on the surface that might cause sickness and disease. These precautions must be strictly followed during cold and flu season to protect oneself against germs.

A sanitizing wipe

A sanitizing wipe

Pros and cons of sanitizing wipes

Sanitizing wipes provides a number of advantages but they also have some disadvantages. Both of these are described below.

Pros of sanitizing wipes

Some advantages of sanitizing wipes include:
• Sanitizing wipes can be used on the skin and can be used on a daily basis
• These are hypoallergenic and non-toxic
• These do not harm screens or electronics

Cons of sanitizing wipes

Its disadvantages include:
• Sanitizing wipes cannot kill fungi or viruses
• These wipes can reduce the number of germs but cannot completely disinfect surfaces

Disinfecting wipes

Disinfecting wipes are also known as antibacterial or antiviral wipes. These disinfecting wipes are stronger than sanitizing wipes as they contain chemicals that can kill germs. Therefore, these are used in hospitals and other medical settings which deal with bodily fluids and other germ containing sources. These wipes are used to kill germs on hard surfaces. A disinfectant needs to pass the standards of EPA and must kill 99.999 percent of germs on hard surfaces.

Disinfecting wipes

Disinfecting wipes

Applications of disinfecting wipes

Disinfecting wipes are surface disinfectant products that are used for several reasons but as these contain chemicals and are stronger than sanitizing wipes, these should not be used on surfaces where food is made or served. Some applications of disinfecting wipes include

  • Public transportation

Several people travel on public transport and touch things which can cause the transfer of disease. These public transports should be disinfected to prevent the spread of germs and disease as people repeatedly touch the same places again and again which can cause the transfer of germs.

  • Public restrooms

Disinfecting procedures should be used in public restrooms along with proper hand washing to reduce germ transfer.

  • Locker rooms

A study found that the locker room faucet handles were the biggest cause of spreading germs in the gyms. These disinfecting wipes should be used to clean these handles to prevent germ transfer. Also because of the damp environment of the locker rooms, there is an increased risk of fungus growth in these places which can cause fungal infections. These infections can be avoided using disinfecting wipes.

  • Emergency care centers

An emergency care center can treat hundreds of patients per day and these patients touch several things in the centers including pens, counters, or other surfaces. In this way, they can transfer germs to these surfaces which can be a possible way of spreading the germs. So it is necessary to use disinfecting wipes to kill the germs to avoid the transmission of these germs. Also, since sanitizing wipes only reduces the number of germs present on any surface they should not be used for this purpose as the goal should be to kill all the germs instead of reducing them.

Surfaces in an operation theatre are being disinfected using wipes

Surfaces in an operation theatre are being disinfected using wipes

Pros and Cons of disinfecting wipes

Disinfecting wipes provide a number of advantages but they also have some disadvantages. Both of these are described below.

Pros of disinfecting wipes

Some advantages of disinfecting wipes include:
• These wipes can kill germs in large quantities
• These can help eliminate cold and flu viruses
• These are extremely convenient to disinfect surfaces

Cons of disinfecting wipes

Its disadvantages include:
• Disinfecting wipes are harmful for the skin
• These can damage some surfaces
• These should never be used around food preparation


Sanitizing wipes and disinfecting wipes are used to prevent the transfer of germs and consequently help control the spread of diseases. Apart from regular cleaning done by using soap or detergents, these wipes help to sanitize or disinfect surfaces. Sanitizing wipes and disinfecting wipes are not the same as they perform their work differently. Sanitizing wipes focus on reducing the germ count while disinfecting wipes work by kicking the germs. Both of these wipes can be used for different purposes. Sanitizing wipes are gentler than disinfecting wipes and are used for restaurants and homes. Whereas, disinfecting wipes are chemical-based products that are used mostly in hospitals and other medical settings. Using these wipes to sanitize and disinfect surfaces or skin can help control the spread of diseases and germs.

uzma e1714761913269

PhD Scholar (Pharmaceutics), MPhil (Pharmaceutics), Pharm D, B. Sc.

Uzma Zafar is a dedicated and highly motivated pharmaceutical professional currently pursuing her PhD in Pharmaceutics at the Punjab University College of Pharmacy, University of the Punjab. With a comprehensive academic and research background, Uzma has consistently excelled in her studies, securing first division throughout her educational journey.

Uzma’s passion for the pharmaceutical field is evident from her active engagement during her Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) program, where she not only mastered industrial techniques and clinical case studies but also delved into marketing strategies and management skills.

Throughout her career, Uzma has actively contributed to the pharmaceutical sciences, with specific research on suspension formulation and Hepatitis C risk factors and side effects. Additionally, Uzma has lent her expertise to review and fact-check articles for the Health Supply 770 blog, ensuring the accuracy and reliability of the information presented.

As she continues her PhD, expected to complete in 2025, Uzma is eager to contribute further to the field by combining her deep knowledge of pharmaceutics with real-world applications to meet global professional standards and challenges.