One of the questions I've often seen asked by budding aromatherapists is 'How do I clean and disinfect?' (my jars? my work space?) This is a topic that is important for anyone who is making products to sell.
First, we'll look at what these terms mean. Sanitizing means reducing germs to levels that don't threaten our health -- i.e. washing hands with soap and water. Disinfecting means destroying or inactivating the germs on non-living surfaces. Though disinfectants may not get all of the germs, they will get more than sanitizers. (When all the germs on a surface are killed, it's called sterilization.)
There are several ways to disinfect: boiling (for glassware), peroxide, rubbing alcohol. etc. How you choose to clean, disinfect, and/or sterilize your work space, equipment, and containers will be a personal decision.
Here's how I clean and disinfect at Dragoo's Oil Blends. I wash my hands first with soap and water, then I use a clean cloth and wash my counter tops, stove top, and sinks with white vinegar, then just plain water [sanitizing]. While all surfaces are wet, I spray them with 70% Isopropyl (aka Rubbing) Alcohol and allow time to air dry [disinfecting]. My work space is my home kitchen.
Equipment is washed with soap and water [sanitizing], then sprayed with Isopropyl Alcohol while still wet and allowed to air dry [disinfecting]. Once dry, equipment is handled only with gloved hands and stored in a clean area away from other kitchen items. Immediately prior to use, it is rinsed with water, sprayed with rubbing alcohol, and allowed to air dry again. It's important to note here that equipment used to make product is dedicated to only making product. For example, spoons used for cooking meals are not used for making product; and spoons used in making product are not used for making dinner. This is important because it can help keep the germ count down .
With product containers, I wash each container with soapy water, rinse, then spray inside and outside with 70% Isopropyl Alcohol and allow time to air dry - which can take 1 - 3 hours depending on the size of the container opening. Once they're dry, I put the containers in a large zip bag that is labeled "Disinfected _container name & size_". For the bagging step, I have put on my hairnet and face mask, washed my hands, and put on my gloves so that the containers stay uncontaminated. It's important to note that I disinfect large batches of containers within a few days of their arrival so they're ready to use as soon as orders come in. Doing this ahead of time allows the alcohol to completely evaporate so that it doesn't become a part of the product chemistry.
Why do I choose to use alcohol? For me, it's the most judicious method. I use a variety of container types - some glass, some plastic (BPA free). I also tend to purchase at least two dozen of each container type at a time. So, once my kitchen is disinfected, I'll spend from one to three hours at a time disinfecting containers, then allowing them to air dry.
Every time I open a bag to pull out a container, my hands are washed, and I'm netted, masked, and gloved.
I'm not a germaphobe on a personal level, but I'm committed to making sure that the products I make are (and stay) germ-free. I know I could skip some of these steps if I'm making a product for myself, but I don't and won't. Skipping steps for personal use might make it easy to rationalize skipping steps in my production process, so I stick to high standards of cleanliness/disinfection for every product I make.
Finally, why rubbing alcohol instead of peroxide or boiling? Boiling would be good for smaller items that won't melt, but I'd still need another way to disinfect items that are larger or that might melt (it's the same with the dishwasher sanitize setting). Isopropyl Alcohol is drying on the skin (and it does get on my skin). Peroxide is downright harsh on the skin and can do more damage; so I choose the drying rather than the damaging effect. Fortunately, I make my own skin butters to moisturize when I'm done disinfecting!