Chemical vs. Physical Sanitation


Chemical sterilization vs. UVC disinfection: The difference is physical

COVID-19 has taught us a thing or two about the importance of sterilization and sanitation. When the pandemic first started, cleaning chemicals and supplies were constantly wiped from grocery store shelves. But have you ever stopped to think about what constant sanitation using chemicals means for you and your children’s health? Chemicals cleaning products can leave residual by-products just as harmful, if not more so, than the germs you are trying to wipe away.

But there are alternatives. Consider UVC light disinfection. This method uses ultraviolet light between 200 and 290 nanometers to kill and/or inactivate viruses, bacteria and other germs. It’s considered a physical form of sterilization versus the typical chemical versions.

When it comes to chemical versus physical sterilization, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong—it just depends on what you believe is best for you and your family. To help make an informed decision, here is a condensed list of the pros and cons of each form of sanitation.

 sanitizing table using chemicals


Pros of Chemical Sterilization

Chemical sterilization can sometimes be quicker than physical (UVC) sterilization. Sometimes all you need is a can of Lysol spray and just have at it. Using chemical cleaners is also cheaper and more accessible. Some chemical sanitation products can also be effective in cleaning up substances other than germs, including grease, oil and other chemicals.


Cons of Chemical Sterilization

Potentially the biggest downside to chemical sanitation is all the chemicals that are left behind. The constant exposure to different chemicals, especially alcohol vapors from hand sanitizer and other chemical cleaners, can ultimately have adverse effects on our bodies and health, especially when germs begin to develop immunity to the chemicals. Having chemical cleaners in the house can also be especially dangerous for households with small children. Their ingredients can irritate skin, eyes, nose and throat, and can also be poisonous if they're swallowed.

 sanitizing phone with mounted uvc light


Pros of Physical Sterilization (UVC light)

UVC light is considered a physical form of sterilization because it inactivates germs in a way they can’t fight back—there is no way for them to become immune to UVC light just as we can’t become immune to fire. UVC light is also environmentally friendly, making it a safer choice than harmful sterilization chemicals. It is also effective against hard-to-kill microorganisms like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, which kids often track into the house after a day of playing outside in mud or dirt. The other benefit of UVC light is that it doesn’t leave any kind of lingering effects on surfaces or in the air—like color and odor—giving your kids one less thing to complain about when cleaning their bedrooms.


Cons of Physical Sterilization

There are some disadvantages to physical sterilization with UVC light. While UVC is eco-friendly, it can still be quite dangerous to humans if it comes into contact with your skin or eyes. It also has the limitation of being blocked by other objects—you can only sterilize things in the direct line of light. Also, UVC light is only good for killing germs and microorganisms—it can’t break down chemicals or clean up other messes like oil and grease the same way chemical cleaners can.

 Hispanic woman trying to make a decision


Decision Time

Now that you have a basic understanding of the good and bad of both forms of sanitation, you can make a better decision for you and your household about what works best for you. If you are leaning toward physical sterilization as a safer alternative with children in the home, you might consider ULTRAKlen’s handheld or mountable UVC LED sterilizers. Either way, make sure you take the time to routinely sanitize to combat harmful pathogens.