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Did You Know Clean Is Not Sanitized? Check Your Knowledge With Our Quick Quiz

For years, I thought clean was sanitized. Yet, bacteria demands a new knowledge base. For you see, we literally cannot see bacteria. A new study released has provided a possible link to the rise in ADHD in children with fruits and vegetables. Yet, if clean is not sanitized, how then, do we know the difference. That is where our new knowledge on sanitizing is relevant today to food safety. But food safety doesn't stop there, there is a new study that connects the foods that we eat to ADHD in our children.

Pesticides on fruits and vegetables can directly affect our children. But the question becomes how can we sanitize fresh fruits and vegetables?

Properly sanitizing fruits and vegetables (properly sanitizing means following the proper steps that include cleaning first and foremost - see the steps detailed below).

Clean is Not Sanitized

colorful poster with orange rubber gloves and purple spray bottle with the words "clean is not sanitized"

colorful poster with orange rubber gloves and purple spray bottle with the words "clean is not sanitized"

ADHD Linked to Un-Sanitized Fruits and Vegetables

"A new analysis of U.S. health data links children's attention-deficit disorder with exposure to common pesticides used on fruits and vegetables.

While the study couldn't prove that pesticides used in agriculture contribute to childhood learning problems, experts said the research is persuasive.

"I would take it quite seriously," said Virginia Rauh of Columbia University, who has studied prenatal exposure to pesticides and wasn't involved in the new study."

Download Clean and Sanitize Colorful Poster

Cleaning and Sanitizing poster in colorful orange blue and green - Download

Cleaning and Sanitizing poster in colorful orange blue and green - Download

"The correct order of events for cleaning and sanitizing of food product contact surfaces is:




Sanitize "

— Arizona Department of Public Health

Quick Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Cleaning is not the same as sanitizing?
    • True
    • False
  2. The Four Steps to Cleaning and Sanitizing Are:
    • Rinse, Clean, Rinse, Sanitize
    • Clean, Rinse, Sanitize, Clean
  3. Sanitizers can be either chemical or non-chemical?
    • True
    • False
  4. If it looks clean it must be sanitized?
    • True
    • False, bacteria is hidden to the naked eye
  5. Cleaning simply removes dirt, does not sanitize?
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. True
  2. Rinse, Clean, Rinse, Sanitize
  3. True
  4. False, bacteria is hidden to the naked eye
  5. True

Interpreting Your Score

If you got between 0 and 1 correct answer: Boy do you need help! Reread and try again!

If you got between 2 and 3 correct answers: Need allot of review.

If you got 4 correct answers: Need a little review.

If you got 5 correct answers: Excellent!

Terms Cleaning, Sterilizing, Disinfecting, Sanitizing
Don't get lost in the terminology. It is important to know the difference.

Cleaning refers to removing all dirt and debris - with or without soap using appropriate detergent chemicals under recommended conditions.

Disinfecting – Removing dirt and soil AND bacteria AND virtually all germs.

Sterilizing refers to the statistical destruction and removal of all living organisms.

Sanitizing refers to removing all dirt and soil AND certain bacteria so that the number of germs is reduced to such a level that the spread of disease is unlikely and is safe from a public health viewpoint.

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Appropriate and approved sanitization procedures are processes that demand knowledge and training.

Official definition of Food Sanitization

The official definition (Association of Official Analytical Chemists) of sanitizing for food product contact surfaces is a process which reduces the contamination level by 99.999% which equates to a "5 log" reduction in 30 sec.


All About Ozonated Water | Chlorox | Bleach

Ozone (O3) works up to 3000 times faster than chlorine.

Layered ozonated water is ozonated water plus layers of carbon filters - state of the art technology complete with a microchip to manage maintenance and deliver the strongest and safest non-chemical disinfectant.

  • Bleach/Chlorox solutions need to be made fresh daily.
  • Ozonated water needs to be refreshed at least every 30 minutes.
  • Non-chlorine bleach is weaker than chlorine bleach.
  • Chlorine bleach is sodium hypochlorite.
  • Chlorine is a toxic substance - never mix with ammonia or vinegar.

"In essence, chlorine bleach is stronger than non-chlorine bleach."


Chlorine bleach is basically sodium hypochlorite, NaOCl (Na=sodium, O=oxygen, Cl=chlorine). It bleaches everything it comes in contact with, stains, colored fabrics, or whatever, by oxidizing the materials and breaking the double molecular bonds in the molecules that absorb visual light. The bonds are turned into single bonds so light cannot be absorbed. When the light can’t be absorbed it is all reflected back to you as white light, so the item looks pale, colorless, or bleached. Chlorine is a toxic material and you have to be careful never to mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or an acid such as vinegar because you produce toxic gas."

Types of Sanitization

Types of sanitization include:

Thermal Sanitization involves the use of hot water or steam for a specified temperature and contact time.

Chemical Sanitization involves the use of an approved chemical sanitizer at a specified concentration and contact time.

Food Sanitizers involve the use of ozonated cool water at a specified concentration and contact time.

Chart of Disinfectants from Schiff Consulting

Clean is NOT Sanitized, Clean is Simply A Single Step in Sanitizing

Cleaning your hands, utensils and work surfaces is very important.

Science has taught us that there is a big difference between "clean" and "sanitized".

Can you have a clean surface that has living bacteria – most certainly.

Can you sanitize a surface that is not clean - most certainly not.

Clean is simply a single step in sanitizing.

Sanitizing Your Hands

Once your hands are clean and free of all debris and dirt is the time to rinse your hands with an ozonator or a gel sanitizer.

Remember, you need cool not warm or hot water for the ozonator to work effectively.

Germs love warm water, hot water kills germs, ozonator skill with cool water.

Sanitizing Surfaces

Sanitizing surfaces including meats, fruits and vegetables includes again the first step is to free the surface area of all debris and dirt. The second step is to sanitize.

Chemical or Non-Chemical Sanitizer - That is the Question

Alcohol and gel sanitizers with alcohol and other chemicals will get the job done. However, there are non-chemical alternatives such as ozonatedwater. Ozonatedwater will allow you to use cool, pure water right from the small, portable point of use water filtration unit and the sanitizing benefits will last for up to 30 minutes from the time you run the point of use water. When in doubt about your time frame, simply refresh your cloth or sponge. Remember your cloth or sponge must be clean first - clean is always the first step in sanitizing.

How to Use Alcohol Gel Sanitizers

These are great to carry with you and come in handy when you are given no other option especially in public wash rooms. The main item is not to go through the motions of simply adding this gel to your hands. Use enough of the gel sanitizer and rub it over both hands completely. Reminder, the gel is to be after your hands are clean.

We cannot sanitize a surface, even our hands, if we do not start with a clean surface. So the first step is to rinse, second to clean, third to rinse again and fourth to sanitize.

Hand Washing Hygiene Celebration – Hand Washing Week

In recognition of the importance of hand washing hygiene, there is even one week of the year dedicated to this specific safety topic. The Hand Washing Week is the first week of December.

Hand Washing Safety Summary

Hand washing is an essential life skill.

Viruses, colds and even deadly diseases have been clinically proven to have been transmitted by un-sanitized hands and surfaces. Protect yourself, your family, your clients, your business, read and learn about proper protocol for hand washing. Take the quiz below and test your knowledge.

Dirty Little Secrets

Reprinted from DIETARY MANAGER, February 2008 for educational purposes.

"When it comes to cleaning and sanitizing, we work in a vacuum. We don’t see the pathogens on food contact surfaces, yet every day we take steps to destroy them. If your food equipment could talk, what would it really tell you about dirt and germs? This column explores some of these “dirty little secrets”. Let’s start with dirt or more technically, “soil” that resides on the surfaces of pots and pans, dishes, slicers, mixers, and the like…

Secret #1. You can’t always see soil.

Secret #2. Bacteria form resistant biofilms on food contact surfaces.

Secret #3. Damaged food contact surfaces may not be cleanable.

Secret #4. An unclean surface can’t be sanitized.

Secret #5. With chemical sanitizers, more is not better.

Secret #6. With chemical sanitizers, very hot water is not better either.

"Our instincts tell us the hotter the water, the better we can clean and sanitize equipment. But that’s not true. Yes, for heat sanitization, temperature is everything. For chemicals, though, water that is too hot can make chemicals vaporize, weakening solutions. This is most true for iodine and chlorine solutions. On the other hand, using cold water (below room temperature), makes chlorine compounds less effective. Corrosion is also a concern. When dissolved in excessively hot water, quats are more likely to cause corrosion, especially on brass and copper. Chlorine solutions likewise become more corrosive as water temperature rises. Remember that heat is not necessary for chemical sanitization; chemicals are an alternative to high temperatures, not an add-on. To be safe, review the temperature guidelines for the product you use."

Secret #7. Water quality affects how well sanitizers work.

Secret #8. Misusing detergent can make equipment dirtier.

Secret #9. Just because products are approved for use in food service doesn’t mean they are harmless.

Happy cleaning!

By Sue Grossbauer"

Sanitation Program - Cleaning and Sanitizing Critical

  • Cleaning and Sanitizing Program
    Cleaning and sanitizing may be the most important aspect of a sanitation program, sufficient time should be given to outline proper procedures, and parameters. This document explains the details of cleaning and sanitizing equipment in food service.

Clean Verses Sanitized

  • It's Clean, But Is It Sanitized?
    Keep surfaces free from bacteria by sanitizing food contact surfaces: Cleaning vs. Sanitizing: What's the Difference?; Why Sanitize?; Using Sanitizing Agents; How to Test Sanitizer Concentration; Five Steps to Sanitary; Don't Cross-contaminate with C

Clean Sanitized and Sterilized

  • Visual Cleanliness is not a Reliable Indicator
    Clean cooking surfaces have millions of microorganisms stuck in the surface. Article also details the difference between clean, sanitized and sterilized. Four step process wash, rinse, sanitize, air dry.

Sanitizing Recreational Vehicles Water Systems

  • Food Safety - Arizona
    ..plans, organizes and directs a statewide public health sanitation program including food, institutional sanitation, children's camps, recreational sanitation, consumer product safety, bedding, bottled water, produce warehouses, and swimming

In Appreciation

Photo of Cleaning and Sanitizing

Photo of Mop Cleaning - Bathroom Buddy

Clean and Sanitize Poster Download Available from

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Kelly Kline Burnett


RHEAJEAN on November 06, 2012:


Dim Flaxenwick from Great Britain on March 26, 2011:

Very interesting. Thank you. Lots here, again that I didn´t know. Well done

Kelly Kline Burnett (author) from Fontana, WI on August 04, 2010:

Chin chin,

You are absolutely correct - VeriPure is the answer for effectively combating bacteria and sanitizing surfaces after they are cleaned.

Chin chin from Philippines on August 04, 2010:

Very well explained hub about the difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Looks like VeriPure is an all-around friend when it comes to real cleanliness and food safety.

Kelly Kline Burnett (author) from Fontana, WI on July 19, 2010:


The things I didn't learn in my generation are fascinating. I am so glad to be able to learn all about this. Thank you for stopping by.

Sunnyglitter from Cyberspace on July 18, 2010:

Interesting article!

Kelly Kline Burnett (author) from Fontana, WI on May 28, 2010:


The world of sanitizers need not be just chemicals. I grew up thinking if it were clean, the bacteria was eliminated too - I knew bacteria existed but didn't understand different solutions do different things. Next article is about disinfection and sanitizers.

Beth Arch from Pearl of the Orient Seas on May 27, 2010:

I have learned something new here. What I know about sanitizers is that they are made of chemicals. I guess this Veripure is gentler in the hands than alcohol.

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