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Decontamination and Disinfection – What’s the difference?

Specialist Disinfecting Home

The Differences Between Decontamination and Disinfection

You probably hear this on the news every day. It is important to protect ourselves from viruses, right now the most important one is Covid-19. There are reports that say that the virus can remain on certain surfaces for hours and even for a few days.

Since there’s still no definitive answer to this question, a lot of home owners and business owners require disinfecting services.

But aside from disinfecting, there are also services of decontamination, sterilization, cleaning and the difference between them has become really blurry and confusing.

In fact, there is a real difference between them and they all have different purposes.

Other cleanliness vocabulary

In order to better understand what is the difference between each one of these cleaning terms, and when you apply them correctly, we would like to clarify some of the confusion.

This way you would be able to properly discuss your needs, whether you need commercial decontamination or just cleaning done by professionals.


The term decontamination has a very wide application in general. Decontamination isn’t a precise term although it does require that the process result in pathogen reduction by a certain amount.

These terms are especially important when it comes to services like asbestos abatement and mold removal.

This process can involve a variety of solutions, start with simple things like soap and water, all the way to sterilization using powerful chemicals.


The soil doesn’t necessary mean dirt. It can also refer to other contaminants that are visible on the surface.

The main difference between cleaning and decontamination  is that cleaning doesn’t mention microorganisms or other contaminants that you cannot see with your naked eye.

Many don’t know this, but dirt and organic matter often reduce the effectiveness of sanitization or decontamination.

After that, you can continue with sanitization or decontamination.


Sanitization is very similar to cleaning, but unlike cleaning it actually renders the surface safer.

Sanitization involves thorough cleaning of surfaces, utilizing disinfectants to eliminate pathogens.

High-touch areas receive special attention, ensuring a comprehensive and effective sanitation process for a safe environment.


It is less invasive as, let’s say sterilization, because it destroys MOST of the pathogens but not all of them.

There’s a big difference between disinfection and let’s say sterilization. For example, disinfection cannot destroy bacterial spores, while sterilization can.

Now, viruses, just like Covid-19, don’t produce spores, so disinfection is an effective way of treating surfaces against this (and other forms) virus.


This is the most invasive and strongest process. It’s pretty straightforward because it means complete destruction of all microorganisms, including bacterial spores.

Do you need decontamination or other forms of “cleaning”?

If you would like to make your living or workspace safe against Covid-19, an effective decontamination can also help with this.

Contact our team of expert decontamination professionals with ASAP Restoration today and let us help you make your private or corporate space safe again.