What is The Difference Between ‘Cleaning’ and ‘Disinfecting’?

Your home, office, school, hospital, or any other private and public places need cleaning plus disinfecting/sanitizing to maintain a clean and fresh environment free from germs, bacteria, or other microorganisms. Cleaning is an essential part of disinfection. Cleaning reduces dirt and dust allowing the disinfectant to work effectively.

Disinfecting immediately after Cleaning secures the health of yourself, your staff, and the visitors. These two different procedures should be used together to wipe out dirt and kill germs. So, it is a best practice to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory infections.

Let Xlent Cleaning share a clear difference between ‘Cleaning’ and ‘Disinfecting’.

What is Cleaning?

‘Cleaning’ refers to the physically removal of dirt, dust, and impurities from the surfaces. Further, it removes germs, reduces their number, and minimizes the risks of infection. However, cleaning does not kill germs and other harmful microorganisms.

Cleaning should start with the cleanest surface first, moving towards the dirtiest surface. When surfaces are cleaned, they should be left as dry as possible to reduce the risk of slips and falls, as well as spreading of viruses and bacteria through droplets. You can clean without disinfecting but disinfecting without cleaning is impractical. Thus, cleaning is the first step to disinfecting.

How to clean?

You can apply the regular processes to clean furniture, surfaces, and other places before applying disinfecting/sanitizing. You can:

  • Vacuum surfaces as usual
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water.
  • Wipe the surfaces (floor, furniture, doors, windows, etc.) with a clean piece of clothes.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for cleaning.

What is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting/sanitizing is a process of using quality chemicals/ disinfectants to kill germs and other microbes on the surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. So disinfecting is done immediately after cleaning. It lowers the risk of spreading infection.

Surfaces that are not properly disinfected increase the chance of spreading germs and causing illness throughout your facility.

No doubt, germs are a part of our everyday life. Sometimes those germs can spread and make you, your staff, and visitors sick. For example, there could be germs on a TV remote. You could get infected with the germs if you touch the remote and then rub your eyes or nose or eat with your hands.

Where to disinfect?

High-touched areas need to be frequently disinfected/sanitized. Such high-toughed areas include:

  • Doorknobs
  • Handrails
  • Light Switches
  • Soap Dispensers
  • Chair Handles and Tables,
  • Cell phones, Tablets & Computers
  • Remotes

How to apply disinfection method?

  • Use quality chemical disinfectants safely! Always read and follow the directions on the label of cleaning and disinfection products to ensure safe and effective use,
  • Wear gloves and consider glasses or goggles to save your eyes from possible splash hazards,
  • Confirm sufficient ventilation (i.e., keep doors or windows open),
  • Use only the amount recommended on the label,
  • Label diluted cleaning solutions,
  • Store and use chemicals out of the reach of children and pets,
  • Do not mix products or chemicals,
  • Do not eat, drink, breathe, or inject cleaning and disinfection products into your body or apply them directly to your skin as they can cause serious harm.


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