What do these terms mean and what are differences? When should which treatment be applied? Can I just clean and disinfect with alcohol? What dangers I walk in when I apply the wrong treatment - and how dangerous is this for the patient? In this article we will elaborate on these questions.
In simpler terms we could say, that cleaning removes dirt and micro-organisms, disinfect reduces microorganisms and sterilization reduces micro-organisms thoroughly.
When cleaning would be perfect, all dirt and all micro-organisms would be removed. Disinfection and / or sterilization would not add anything more. In practice however, perfect cleaning is not (yet) possible. That is why additional disinfection and / or sterilization applies.
First, cleaning applies to remove dirt; next disinfection and / or sterilization are used to reduce the micro-organisms. In a statement that the Working Party on Infection Prevention in the Netherlands drafted, cleaning is always applied, either in combination with thermal disinfection or with sterilization:
Manual cleaning with alcohol is no acceptable option anymore: