Disinfection is the process of eliminating or reducing harmful microorganisms from a surface or object, to a level that is safe for handling or use. Disinfection is typically achieved through the use of chemicals or heat. Disinfection is not the same as sterilization, which is the complete elimination or destruction of all forms of life, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores.
Sterilization is typically achieved through the use of high temperatures, chemicals, or radiation. Sterilization is a more intensive process than disinfection and is usually only necessary in medical or laboratory settings, where a very high level of cleanliness is required.