Disinfection is generally a less lethal process than sterilization, as it eliminates nearly all recognized pathogenic microorganisms, but not necessarily all microbial forms (e.g., bacterial spores) on inanimate objects. Disinfection does not ensure “overkill” and, therefore, lacks the margin of safety achieved by sterilization procedures. The effectiveness of a disinfection procedure is controlled significantly by a number of factors, each one of which may have a pronounced effect on the end result. Among these are:

  • Nature and number of contaminating microorganisms, especially the presence of bacterial spores
  • Amount of organic matter present (e.g., soil, feces, and blood)
  • Type and condition of instruments, devices, and materials to be disinfected
  • Temperature

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