Sanitise vs. Sanitize

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Sanitize and sanitise belong to the class of words ending in -ize or -ise to turn a noun or adjective into a verb. But which spelling should you use? What is the difference between sanitise vs. sanitize? Find out the answer in this guide.

Is it Sanitise or Sanitize?

Both sanitise and sanitize are correctly spelled words. They have the same meaning: to make clean and hygienic or to disinfect. Sanitize and sanitise could also be a derogatory verb meaning to alter something to make it more palatable or acceptable. 

Their derivatives include sanitized/sanitised, sanitizing/sanitising, and sanitizer/sanitiser.

What’s the Difference Between Sanitise and Sanitize?

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The main difference between sanitise and sanitize is their English variant. Sanitise is the preferred spelling in British English, Australian English, and everywhere else. Meanwhile, sanitize is the American and Canadian spelling of the verb. 

Which Word Came First, Sanitise or Sanitize?

Sanitize came first, causing it to be more commonly used in English-speaking countries like the USA and Canada. However, British writers started publishing works using sanitise, spreading across North America. 

Still, sanitize remains more prevalent. Even the unabridged Oxford Dictionary hasn’t recognized sanitise yet. Other American verbs that end with -ize include realize, organize, idealize, and trivialize. Their British counterparts also end with -ise.

Sanitize in a Sentence

  • I sanitize my hands after handling raw meat to prevent contamination.
  • It’s important to sanitize the door handles and other surfaces in your home if someone has a cold or flu. 
  • All the files on my computer have been sanitized.

Sanitise in a Sentence

  • The introduction of AI-generated art will sanitise the graphic design industry of human artists. 
  • The Queen santises her hands after every meeting.
  • Make sure to sanitise the loo before use. 

Other Written Examples of Sanitize 

At my local Marshalls, the cashier sanitizes the credit-card reader after every use—even if I use Apple Pay! [The Atlantic]

They are infuriated that Trump once agreed that the Saudi government was responsible, but has changed his tune, they said, to cash in on Saudi efforts to sanitize the nation’s global image through sports. [NY Times]

As the name suggests, air purifiers sanitize the air, getting rid of pollutants, as well as allergens like pollen, pet dander and dust. [USA Today]

Other Written Examples of Sanitise 

The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has warned that more Insurance companies may be sanctioned for their inability to settle claims, in a bid to sanitise the Industry [Tribune Online].

Needless Controversy Around Film Poster Due to Political Attempt to Sanitise Kali’s Image [The Wire].

Summary of Sanitise vs. Sanitize

Sanitize belongs to American English verbs that end in -ize. Sanitise is the British version of the verb that means to disinfect or make clean. 

If you’re not sure which spelling to use, consider your audience. Otherwise, just use sanitize since it’s more recognized by dictionaries and other writing pieces.  When in doubt, always use the American spelling of a word; it’s more widely accepted.