Effective cleaning must occur, before sanitisation or disinfection can take place.


Organic deposits from food residues, such as oils, greases and proteins, harbour bacteria and may prevent the sanitiser/disinfectant from coming into physical contact with the surface that needs to be sanitised. For this reason, surfaces must be clean to ensure effective sanitisation or disinfection.

Organic deposits may inactivate or reduce the effectiveness of some types of sanitisers, such as hypochlorites (chlorine bleach).

Cleaning protocols are generally based around the following:

1. Large soils and residues are initially removed by scraping or other mechanical means, followed by rinsing.

2. The detergent, appropriate for the soil being removed is then used. Soil and detergent are rinsed away.

3. Once this process has taken place and the surface is visually clean, the sanitiser or disinfectant is used.

Detergent functions in various ways involving both physical and chemical actions, which act together in a complex way. Hence certain detergents can be combined with sanitising and disinfecting agents to produce Cleaner Sanitisers and Cleaner Disinfectants, such as those produced by Mountain.

Basic definitions

Terminology can be confusing and in many cases there can be an overlap in function with certain chemicals.

Hypochlorite, quaternary ammonium compounds (Quat) and peroxides are examples of products in which the in-use concentration (i.e. the concentration you use it at) defines its classification, meaning stronger solutions will disinfect and more dilute solutions will sanitise.


To sanitise means to reduce the number of microorganisms to a safe level. A hard surface sanitiser is a chemical agent that kills 99.9% of infectious organisms in bacterial population, within 30 seconds of contact.


A disinfectant is a chemical agent, which is capable of killing disease causing bacteria or pathogens, but not spores or all viruses. For example, disinfectants are not tested against HIV.

A disinfectant must be capable of reducing the level of pathogenic (disease causing) bacteria by 99.999% in between 5-10 minutes.

The main difference between sanitisers and disinfectants is that disinfectants must have a higher killing capability for pathogenic bacteria.

Sanitisers are usually used in food-based industries and where a basic hygiene level is required or desired (bathrooms).

Disinfectants are usually used in people-related areas, with germicidal safety in mind.

See our full range of Disinfectants & Sanitisers for more product-specific information.