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Your quick guide to microorganisms

When learning about good hygienic habits, it can help to have a clear understanding of what different words and phrases mean. Here, we break down a list of common terms you might hear when people talk about microorganisms and hygiene.

Microorganisms

Tiny organisms that are so small they can’t be seen without a microscope.  They might also be referred to as ‘microbes.’ Find out more about different types of microorganisms here.

Bacteria

One of the most common types of microorganisms. They are single-celled organisms able to live in a wide variety of environments. Escherichia coli, otherwise known as E. coli, is an example of bacteria you may commonly hear about.

Mould

Another common microorganism. It is a type of fungus that thrives in warm, moist environments.

Germicide

Something that is able to destroy or inactivate microorganisms.

Antibacterial

Used to describe something that destroys bacteria or stops their growth.

Sanitary

Used to describe something that promotes health, usually in reference to a clean environment.

Sanitise

Sanitising means killing microorganisms using chemicals, not just by scrubbing with soap and water.

Antiseptic

A chemical product that kills or stops the growth of microorganisms in or on living tissue; for example, on your hands.

Disinfectants

A chemical product that kills or stops the growth of microorganisms on objects or surfaces.

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