The terms sanitizer (or antiseptic) and disinfectant are often used interchangeably. While sanitizers can often disinfect, there are some technical and important differences between these two classes of products.
A sanitizer is defined as a product that will destroy 99.99% of the germs on a surface in 30 seconds or less. This class of products are normally used in food service areas where surfaces (like cleaning a glass at a bar or a toy that child might put in its mouth) need to be cleaned quickly as effectively so that the next person to touch that surface won’t pick up any germs.
A disinfectant is a product that is designed to kill all organisms on a surface in 10 minutes. This is necessary in areas like a hospital where ALL germs need to be removed. Disinfectants are strictly regulated by the EPA for the specific formulation, labeling, and usage.
Both sanitizers and disinfectants are a sub-class of cleaners. By definition, a cleaner is a product that removes visible dirt and debris. Sanitizers and disinfectants remove the invisible germs on a surface.