Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting - What's the Difference?

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Clean, sanitize or disinfect, what's the difference between the terms? They are often used interchangeably, but in a clean perspective, they all mean different things. These terms may all seem to hold the same concept, but they can mean different things.

Why is it Important to Know the Difference?

The importance of knowing the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting is part of disease control - something very essential to our world today. It is the difference of what it means to clean, sanitize, or disinfect that limits spreading infection, especially in areas where disease control is most important: schools, hospitals, and public spaces.

The main difference is the ability to remove germs from surfaces, which are often done using different methods and cleaners. In this article, we'll look into the meanings of these terminology, as well as what these differences mean when pertaining to a clean surface, a sanitized surface, or a disinfected one. 

What is Cleaning?

To clean means to remove the dirt and dust from surfaces. While you may be using a cleaner solution that removes germs, you may not necessarily kill germs enough to maintain a safe level. Cleaning simply means to remove the debris that accumulated on surfaces. Common in household cleaning solutions, there are some commercial cleaners that can both clean and sanitize at the same time. 

To clean is to essentially remove layers of accumulated dust. Whether through the use of sanitizing solutions, or just a simple damp washcloth, cleaning does not disinfect surfaces, although attributes to disease control measures as cleaning lessens the spread of germs.

What is Sanitizing?

The Environmental Protection Agency notes a clean difference between sanitizing and cleaning. Sanitizing means both cleaning and disinfecting. Sanitizing removes the dirt and debris that accumulates on nonporous surfaces, while at the same time lowering the level of germs to a safe level where there is very little chance of bacteria spreading diseases. 

The level of germs is often sanitized according to public health standards in most areas, but for hospitals and care facilities, sanitizing is not enough in making disease control efforts. For instance, a hand sanitizer may stop the spread of disease, but is not enough to disinfect your hands in preparation for surgical procedures. 

What is Disinfecting?​​

Disinfecting surfaces means to kill germs to a degree where the bacteria poses absolutely no harm whatsoever, minimizing the risks of spreadable diseases and viruses. However, disinfecting may not necessarily clean dirty surfaces, but the harmful bacteria are killed off as much as possible.

Disinfecting often makes use of eye protection when handling disinfecting products like 70% alcohol, UV light disinfectants, or ammonia cleaners to kill off harmful microbes. Industrial strength disinfecting products are especially important in hospitals, where common disinfectants may not be enough to disinfect surfaces. 

Differences Between Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting

You may be wondering what is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. The difference is most important in places where disinfection is the key in preventing the spread of disease. For example, hospitals cannot be merely cleaned or sanitized - these areas must be disinfected as they are hotspots for germs, bacteria, and viruses. 

Similarly, knowing the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting is more important now than ever. New diseases are popping up everyday, and it is necessary for us to take measures to ensure our health is unaffected, and to prevent serious injury. Surfaces or objects that have been touched by other people should not just be cleaned, they should be sanitized. 

Kill Germs at Home

According to public health standards, disinfecting has the highest chance to reduce bacteria and germs on surfaces, but your home can do with sanitation. As you clean, you should be able to sanitize your surfaces properly. Light switches, door knobs, and other high-touch surfaces can be wiped down with an alcohol solution to kill the germs.

Bacteria and germ-filled areas, like the bathroom, toilet, and toilet handles should be cleaned and disinfected with a disinfectant solution like chlorine bleach to get rid of the harmful germs on these surfaces. Depending on the area and level of harmful germs, the difference tells how to properly clean these surfaces.

Clean, Sanitize vs Disinfect Office

In the office, common areas will need to be sanitized, while you should clean your personal cubicle or table. Disinfection should be done professionally, especially during flu seasons and pandemics. Disinfectants are used to ensure that the office is completely clean from top to bottom, and professional office disinfection will take some time as the disinfectant is left to stay on the surface for a certain period.

A disinfected office means an office free of pathogens that may potentially make employees sick. Professional office disinfection can get rid of the majority of harmful germs using top-grade disinfectants that are used in hospitals and public areas. 

In Mixing Solutions

Never mix cleaners that you're not sure of! Different cleaners do different things, and mixing these together is never good for your health. You may think that mixing one or two effective cleaners will create a powerful solution, but it actually can do more harm than good. 

Cleaners are kept separate for a reason. Pay attention to the labels on these solutions, and never mix anything you're not aware of. Substances as common as bleach and alcohol can actually create chloroform gas when mixed, so best to read the labels and use solutions on their own. 

A Clean Goal for your Health

Now that you know what disinfectants do as opposed to cleaners and solutions, you can be more informed of the choices you make when purchasing products to clean your office or your home. Because of the worldwide pandemic scare, more and more people are concerned about their disinfectants, and whether these are strong enough to combat the disease.

For any doubts, professional disinfecting services is the way to go to ensure a completely germ-free and virus-free office. Professionals use top-grade disinfectants that kill germs on contact. Office cleaning services, on the other hand, can get rid of the dirt and dust layers in the office for a full clean. 

For a fully clean office from top to bottom, Luce SG has got you covered! Our professional cleaners will make sure to get rid of the dirt, while our disinfecting services can make sure your office is a completely safe environment to work in!

Contact us today through our website, or give us a call on Whatsapp and we can discuss the type of services we can do for your office!

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