The basic difference is that disinfectants kill 100% of the pathogens claimed on the product label. Sanitizers kill 99.99% of pathogens. It seems that there is very little difference, but there are some other keys differences. Cleaning and Killing Germs in One Step: Disinfectants are designed to clean and kill germs in one step. Beside germicidal ingredients, they contain detergents to assist removing soils, dyes, and fragrances for easy identification and pleasant use. Sanitizers typically require pre-cleaning and do not contain fragrances and often no dye.