In too many cases our workers as well as those who buss tables at restaurants and those who service other areas are accomplishing medium sanitization at best.  My approach is to consider at least three levels of sanitizing when using an effective disinfectant and cloths.  Please accept my definition that sanitizing can range from 50% - 99% kill rate based on how it is used and if proper dwell time is allowed. 


The first level of sanitizing is Low with a kill rate range of 50% -89%.  This level of kill rate can usually be attributed to a worker being in a hurry and not allowing sufficient dwell time.  Of course they could also be using a contaminated cloth or solution bucket that has lost its efficiency due to usage.  Another factor that can cause Low Sanitization is soil load.  If a surface has not been cleaned with a good detergency before the disinfectant is applied and allowed sufficient dwell/contact time, it will not produce the desired results.  


The second level of sanitizing is Medium with a kill rate range of 90% - 95% which is certainly much more desirable that Low sanitization for obvious reasons.  In cases where true disinfecting (99.9999% kill rate) is not achieved, the goal should be to reach the highest level of sanitization as possible simply because it results in fewer pathogens viable and able to infect human beings.


The third level of sanitizing is High with a kill rate above 96% but not truly achieving 99.9999% disinfection.  We need to strive to disinfect whenever possible but if not, then have some assurance that our processes and products are as effective as possible.  We will deal more with this subject in a future article.


Please note that the differences in sanitizing and disinfecting are primarily due to training and supervision while utilizing the right products the right way.


Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or