Disinfection is the cleaning of object surfaces with a disinfectant, a substance that destroys microorganisms on those surfaces. Substances that simultaneously clean and disinfect are called sanitisers. Substances that destroy microorganisms on living tissue (e.g. skin and wounds) are called antiseptics.
The purpose of disinfection is to reduce the possibility of infection, i.e. the invasion of a host organism's bodily tissues by disease-causing organisms. This typically occurs when such organisms bypass the natural barrier of the skin. Even tiny scratches, nicks, cuts and pimples, which may be unnoticed, are broken skin and carry a risk of infection. Activities involving body openings, or with a risk of breaking the skin, come with extra high risk. Note that broken skin does not necessarily involve bleeding: for example abrasion (where the skin becomes "raw" and "sticky", as often the case in a hard or lengthy spanking) is also a potential point for infection.
Infection is possible in two directions: a) Microorganisms can enter a person's body, and b) microorganisms can leave a person's body. Infection is possible person-to-person, object-to-person, and person-to-object-to-person.
Disinfection in modern judicial and prison caning
In modern judicial and prison corporal punishment, for example in Malaysia and Singapore, the implements, such as rattan canes, are treated with antiseptic to prevent infection. Antiseptic lotion is applied on the wounds after the caning.
Disinfection in BDSM
Cleaning and disinfection is also an important element of safe BDSM play:
- for any BDSM/spanking toys (before and) after use
- the same for sex toys, such as vibrators or butt plugs
- the same for the surfaces of furniture used (e.g. spanking benches)
Disinfection and antiseptics are vital for any type of play designed to break the skin, e.g.:
For BDSM play, medical grade disinfectants are recommended. Toys that can not be disinfected well (e.g. leather whips) should only be used on the same person.
As an additional protection for play involving the vagina, anus and/or mouth, condoms can be used (not only on the penis but also on toys), medical gloves, and dental dams. These offer the safest method to reduce the risk of infection.