<iframe src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-TGK4K6" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">
  • Home
  • Keeping clean: terminology in the hygiene business
July 2017

Keeping clean: terminology in the hygiene business

Written by Nathalie Leblond
Technology and Trends

Here at Initial we  take hygiene very seriously, in fact you could say we are the experts. And as the experts we do love to throw around hygiene jargon, both on our website and in our blogs. However, we are also aware that not everyone has quite such a vivid interest in this subject as we do, and that at times our jargon and terminology may be confusing. So here are a few of the terms you may see crop up regularly, and what they mean. We hope these allow you to navigate our website more easily. If you come across any terminology that isn't covered in the list below, let us know by email: initialza@rentokil-initial.com and we’ll add it to the list.

Hygiene Terminology:

ANTIBACTERIAL: Any substance or product that destroys or inhibits the growth of bacteria.
ANTIMICROBIAL: Any substance or product that inhibits the growth of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, or protozoa. 
BACTERIA: one celled organisms, various species of which are involved in fermentation, putrefaction, infectious diseases, or nitrogen fixation.
BACTERICIDE: A substance that kills bacteria. 
CONTAMINATE: To make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean or bad, for example bacteria. 
CROSS CONTAMINATION: Cross-contamination is when bacteria is spread between food, surfaces or equipment.
DISINFECTANT: A chemical that kills bacteria. (Also known as germicides, bactericides or biocides.)
E-COLI: A bacterium commonly found in the intestines of humans and other animals, some strains of which can cause severe food poisoning.
FEMININE HYGIENE WASTE: Used tampons and sanitary towels.
FUNGUS: Any of a diverse group of single-celled organisms that live by decomposing and absorbing the organic material in which they grow, comprising the mushrooms, molds, mildews,smuts, rusts, and yeasts.
GERM: A microorganism, especially one which causes disease.
HYGIENE: The science that deals with the promotion and preservation of health.
INFECTIOUS: Likely to cause or spread infection.
MICRO-ORGANISMS: Any organism too small to be viewed by the naked eye, such as bacteria, protozoa, and some fungi and algae.
PATHOGEN: A bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease.
SANITIZE: To apply heat or chemicals  in order to destroy most pathogens.
SANITIZER: A product that reduces or eliminates pathogens in the air, on surfaces or on inanimate objects.
SANITARY BIN: Receptacle for sanitary waste such as tampons and sanitary towels.
SANITARY TOWEL: An absorbent pad worn by women to absorb menstrual blood.
TAMPON: A plug of soft material inserted into the vagina to absorb menstrual blood.
VIRUS: a microscopic infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of living hosts; mainly bacteria, plants, and animals. Viruses grow or reproduce only on living cells. 

If you enjoyed this article why not subscribe to our blog and we will send you hygiene insights straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our blog

Nathalie Leblond

Nathalie Leblond

I joined Rentokil Initial South Africa in 2004 as the PA to the MD, and after 6 months maternity leave I re-joined the Company in 2009 as the Marketing Co-ordinator for Rentokil. I'm now the Marketing Communication Manager for Rentokil Initial. I'm still terrified of cockroaches (Americana's only!) but the rest of the creepy crawlies we deal with don't really bug me (see what I did there?), so I guess I'm in the right industry! I am passionate about what we do here at Rentokil Initial and also write for our Hygiene Blog, which can be found at blog.initial.co.za, and our Ambius blog - https://www.ambius.co.za/blog. Life outside of Rentokil Initial mostly revolves around my daughter, who has just turned twelve, and my husband (who is a bit older). I love living in Cape Town and wouldn't trade living here for anywhere else in the world.

Ready to talk to us? Fill in this quick form to get in touch:


The Ultimate Guide to Safe Sanitary Waste Disposal from the experts in hygiene, Initial Hygiene South Africa

Download our Ultimate Guide to Safe Sanitary Waste Disposal

Ensure that your organisation meets the legal requirements for the disposal of sanitary waste by learning what constitutes sanitary waste and how you should dispose of it, in this comprehensive guide on the subject.
Download Guide

We're always working to offer you useful insights, answer our quick question and help us bring you more of the content you want: