Dot Grid

Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing: What’s the Difference?

Dot Grid
Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing What's the Difference

Table of Contents

Emerging from the COVID pandemic has led to a re-evaluation of how public spaces are cleaned. And with that re-evaluation has come a new understanding of how to clean spaces in order to minimize the spread of germs. Success boils down to three things: cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing. No, they are not the same thing.

The three terms have different meanings when applied in a commercial cleaning setting. However, the setting itself is irrelevant. The same definitions apply whether you are cleaning a medical facility or an office complex.

Do you know the differences between the three practices? If not, keep reading. As you read, bear in mind that All Pro Cleaning offers a full range of office, industrial, and business cleaning surfaces to businesses of all sizes.

1. Cleaning

To minimize any debate over the definition of terms, we have decided to use definitions provided by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Library of Medicine. You can find these definitions on the Medline Plus website. We will start with the definition of cleaning.

The NIH defines cleaning as removing dust, dirt, germs, etc. from surfaces or objects. Cleaning is achieved through a variety of means, including wiping things down with a cleaning solution or soap and water.

Cleaning does not necessarily kill germs. It does get rid of some of them. More importantly though, cleaning makes surfaces less hospitable to germs. In doing so, cleaning also makes spreading germs harder.

2. Disinfecting

Next up is disinfecting. The NIH says that disinfecting is the process of using chemicals to kill germs found on surfaces and objects. Disinfecting does not do anything to directly address dirt, dust, and debris. Its sole purpose is to kill germs.

Alcohol and bleach-based cleaners are commonly used as disinfectants. For them to work properly, you need to apply them to surfaces and then let them sit for a prescribed amount of time. The chemicals need time to work on the germs.

The mechanism behind disinfecting as a means of controlling germs should be apparent. Killing germs prevents them from spreading. As such, regular disinfecting can greatly reduce germ spread by limiting the volume of germs found in a given space.

3. Sanitizing

Finally, the NIH says that sanitizing is the process of reducing the volume of germs in a given space to what is considered a safe level. The need for sanitizing is brought about by the fact that it is nearly impossible to make a space completely germ-free without employing the same highly sophisticated equipment normally found in clean rooms.

Sanitation can be achieved through cleaning, disinfecting, or a combination of both. The wild card is understanding what constitutes a safe level of germs. It changes depending on public health laws and the environment being sanitized.

You would expect sanitation rules in medical environments to be stricter than what you would find in a beauty salon. Likewise, sanitation rules would be tighter in restaurants compared to grocery stores simply because restaurants are selling prepared food rather than pre-packaged goods.

All Three Are Necessary

The COVID pandemic has given us a new understanding of what commercial cleaning should look like. People now realize that cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitation are all necessary to stop the spread of germs. Commercial cleaning services like All Pro have an obligation to clients in all three areas.

Rest assured we take that obligation seriously. If you are in need of commercial cleaning services of any kind, you can trust us to do the job right, every time. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information on our services and rates.

Like this article? Please share it

Feel Free to Contact Us Today