san·​i·​tize ˈsa-nə-ˌtīz How to pronounce sanitize (audio)
sanitized; sanitizing

transitive verb

: to reduce or eliminate pathogenic agents (such as bacteria) on the surfaces of (something) : to make (something) sanitary (as by cleaning or disinfecting)
You can use sponges and dishcloths safely if you take care to sanitize them, says Dean Cliver, a professor of food safety at the University of California, Davis. Nick Gallo
City Sanitarian Lauri Sorel said no soot was found and restaurants only had to sanitize food service surfaces with a mixture of bleach and water. The Springfield (Massachusetts) Union-News
He had every store and delivery truck sanitized, and he set up a department to make unannounced health inspections of stores, vowing to temporarily shut down any slackers for cleanup. Suzanne Hoppough
: to make (something, such as text) more acceptable by removing, hiding, or minimizing any unpleasant, undesirable, or unfavorable parts
The memories—and memoirs—of former intelligence hands tend to be selective as well as sanitized, either by the author or by some form of official censorship or both, and the historian must be wary. Ian Black and Benny Morris
They were also forced to "sanitize" reports that might show early church leaders or the official doctrine in a dim light. Robert Lindsey
Once "friended" by a colleague, people feel compelled to employ privacy features—which itself can be a snub—or to sanitize their online profiles—which is akin to hiding something under the bed. Jared Sandberg
Published in Munich in 1987, the diaries are a major tool of that school of historians whose purpose is to relativize, normalize, sanitize the crimes of the Third Reich. Peter Padfield
And the movie sanitizes his behavior as well. (It manages to suggest that he's a philanderer without ever once showing him with another woman.) Entertainment Weekly
… civilian casualties are referred to as "collateral damage"—a stunningly abstract and sanitized way to refer to mangled human bodies. Carol E. Cohn
sanitization noun

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Example Sentences

The housekeeping staff sanitized the bathroom. They're trying to sanitize the news.
Recent Examples on the Web This is the perfect time to break out my secret weapon, Clorox Disinfecting Mist, to spray soft surfaces like my kid’s backpacks and help sanitize against lingering germs. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, 19 Aug. 2022 Step 2: Soak the Feeder in Vinegar Solution After rinsing, the hummingbird feeder should be soaked in a 50:50 solution of water and white vinegar, which will sanitize it. Jolie Kerr, Better Homes & Gardens, 31 May 2022 There is a wider right-wing campaign to sanitize or censor historical readings and teaching in schools across the country. Gregory Krieg, CNN, 15 Feb. 2022 Still, Indiana will stay closed on Mondays and Tuesdays to sanitize the facilities. Sarah Muller, Forbes, 14 Aug. 2022 Phoenix officials told The Republic in 2020 that the cleanups were needed to sanitize the area outside the Human Services Campus, where litter, feces and debris pile up. Taylor Seely, The Arizona Republic, 11 Aug. 2022 At Voance Salon in New York City, standard protocol is for masked and vaccinated staff to sanitize stations and tools between clients, who are required to wear masks when a CDC recommendation or mask mandate is in effect. Yasmin Tayag, The Atlantic, 7 July 2022 In a world where critical race theory has been deemed divisive and left people banning books and pulling out whole sections of textbooks to sanitize the history of this nation, Raising Antiracist Children is needed now more than ever. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, 2 June 2022 Make sure to wipe down all parts of the humidifier daily and sanitize the tank with a vinegar solution at least every other week so no microorganisms can grow in the standing water. Daniel Varghese, WSJ, 4 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sanitize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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Word History


Latin sanitas

First Known Use

1836, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sanitize was in 1836

Dictionary Entries Near sanitize

Cite this Entry

“Sanitize.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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Medical Definition


transitive verb

variants also British sanitise
sanitized also British sanitised; sanitizing also British sanitising
: to make sanitary (as by cleaning or sterilizing)
sanitize all surfaces with a solution of bleach and water

More from Merriam-Webster on sanitize

Last Updated: 12 Sep 2022

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