Difference Between Disinfection and Sterilization

Difference Between Disinfection and Sterilization is easy to understand once you know the main aim behind it. Disinfection does not aim at totally wiping out microbes on a surface. It tends to kill some microbes, but leave other beneficial microbes intact. Sterilization, on the other hand aims to kill all microbes. This includes all microbes, regardless of their nature (harmful or harmless).

What are the Difference Between Disinfection and Sterilization?

Difference Between Disinfection and Sterilization

These are all processes of decontamination and they have specific roles to fulfill in various functional areas. For instance, sterilization of surgical instruments is required during surgery as any bacteria entering the body during that period might pose a health risk.

The other major difference between Disinfection and Sterilization are summarized in detail:

Disinfection Sterilization
Eliminates most organisms, but leaves few intact – like spores. Sterilization aims to eliminate all microbes.
Used to decontaminate air, surfaces etc. Sterilization is prevalent in food industry, medicine and surgical instruments.
Common methods used are pasteurization, using bleach, alcohols,hydrogen peroxide, halogens such as chlorine and phenolic disinfectants. Sterilization is acquired through application of heat in the form of steam, boiling, chemicals, irradiation, pressure, filtration etc.


The main takeaway here is that the aim of Disinfection and Sterilization are different. Disinfection aims to kill or inactivate the microbes, but leaves some microbes intact. Sterilization on the other hand, aims at killing all the microbes. And each form of decontamination has its functional use as stated in the comparison chart.

Stay tuned with BYJU’S to know more in detail about the Disinfection, Sterilization and their differences.

Practise This Question

____________ tissues are made of up of more than one type of cells. All of these coordinate to perform a common function.