Definition of disinfect in US English:



[with object]
  • Clean (something), especially with a chemical, in order to destroy bacteria.

    ‘he disinfected and dressed the cut on his forehead’
    • ‘Today doctors use medicinal maggots to clean wounds by dissolving dead tissue and to disinfect them by killing bacteria.’
    • ‘Keep bird baths clean by disinfecting them occasionally with a solution of one part household bleach to nine parts water works well’
    • ‘And once you bring home your new pet, you need to be ready for years of daily food preparation, cleaning and disinfecting the cage.’
    • ‘Nevertheless, the cost to clean up and disinfect farms in Dumfries and Galloway was 39,000 per farm.’
    • ‘The main reason for the long delay has been the time taken to completely clean and disinfect the farm.’
    • ‘Cleansing and disinfecting stations will be established within the area for vehicles entering and leaving the buffer zone site.’
    • ‘The same procedure for cleaning and disinfecting this critical equipment must be followed in every location in which anesthesia is administered.’
    • ‘Clean and disinfect the environment, frequently in affected wards and particularly in wards reopening to new admissions’
    • ‘The plan is still under discussion, but the idea is to move people temporarily to tent camps while workers clean and disinfect one neighbourhood at a time.’
    • ‘Cleaning and disinfecting the holding pens between occupancy by groups of pigs might also be effective.’
    • ‘Destroy badly diseased plants, and thoroughly clean and disinfect their containers before reusing them.’
    • ‘Offences include a lack of foot baths available at farms and a failure to properly clean and disinfect vehicles.’
    • ‘Clean and disinfect the hot zones in your home - the kitchen and bathroom - on a regular basis.’
    • ‘Clean and disinfect toilets after they're used by the person with diarrhea.’
    • ‘For optimum household cleanliness and health, clean and disinfect your shower stalls and glass shower doors at least once a week.’
    • ‘Be sure to properly clean the wall and disinfect it against fungus, mildew and bacterial growth.’
    • ‘He will also have spent hundreds of man-hours cleaning and disinfecting his machinery and vehicles, all in a bid to keep his farm clear of the disease.’
    • ‘Inspect and let soil dry out and clean and disinfect saucers under pots.’
    • ‘She uses a solution of equal parts vinegar and water to cut grease, keep kitchen windows clean, and disinfect counters.’
    • ‘I cleaned out and disinfected their compartment, and put in fresh bedding and put back some of their previous twigs and straw nesting materials.’
    sterilize, sanitize, clean, cleanse, purify, decontaminate
    View synonyms


Late 16th century (in the sense ‘rid of infection’): from French désinfecter, from dés- (expressing reversal) + infecter ‘to infect’.