dis·​in·​fect ˌdis-in-ˈfekt How to pronounce disinfect (audio)
disinfected; disinfecting; disinfects

transitive verb

: to cleanse (a surface, a device, a supply of water, etc.) by destroying, inactivating, or significantly reducing the concentration of pathogenic agents (such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) : to treat (something) with a disinfectant (such as chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite)
… medical experts say some scopes can be difficult to disinfect through conventional cleaning because of their design, so bacteria are transmitted from patient to patient.Chad Terhune
Trihalomethanes are chemicals formed when chlorine used to disinfect water reacts with organic matter, such as animal waste, treated sewage, leaves, or soil.Emily Main
Clean your humidifier often. Although some parts may be washable in the dishwasher, they still need to be descaled with vinegar and disinfected with bleach.Consumer Reports
: to relieve (something) of some undesirable quality likened to a disease or infection
But the big question is this: If the bill becomes law, will it truly disinfect our politics?Nancy Gibbs and Karen Tumulty
: to remove a software virus (see virus sense 3) from (a computer or device) often by means of a special program
The earliest viruses were relatively simple routines, and virus detectors could easily disinfect computers.Philips Chien

Examples of disinfect in a Sentence

Chemicals were added to disinfect the water. The wound needs to be disinfected.
Recent Examples on the Web Then, every three days, clean and disinfect the humidifier according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Laura Lu, Ms, Parents, 15 July 2024 Any rodent droppings and rodent nests should be sprayed with a pesticide to kill fleas before disinfecting or disposing of the carcasses. Rey Covarrubias Jr., The Arizona Republic, 12 July 2024 Baking soda absorbs oils, dirt, and odors, but this will not disinfect the toy. Leanne Potts, Better Homes & Gardens, 9 July 2024 Just two tablespoons of borax mixed with one gallon of water in a bucket will be enough to mop and disinfect floors. Mary Cornetta, Better Homes & Gardens, 29 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for disinfect 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disinfect.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French desinfecter, from des- dis- + infecter to infect

First Known Use

1658, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of disinfect was in 1658

Dictionary Entries Near disinfect

Cite this Entry

“Disinfect.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinfect. Accessed 20 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


dis·​in·​fect ˌdis-ᵊn-ˈfekt How to pronounce disinfect (audio)
: to cleanse of germs that might cause disease
disinfection noun

Medical Definition


transitive verb
dis·​in·​fect ˌdis-ᵊn-ˈfekt How to pronounce disinfect (audio)
: to destroy, inactivate, or significantly reduce the concentration of pathogenic agents (as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) especially on hard surfaces and in water : to treat (something) with a disinfectant (as chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite)
disinfection noun
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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