What's the Difference Between
Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting?

Get Rid of Those Germs

While the change in colder weather feels delightful, it also brings a season of sickness. Knowing how to properly get rid of germs is crucial to keeping your family and friends safe. In this blog, we learn the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting and how to create a routine that reduces the spread of sickness-inducing bacteria.



Cleaning focuses on the appearance of the home and often involves organizing, decluttering, and wiping down surfaces so they appear neat and shiny. All-purpose cleaners and soap and warm water can be used to remove surface stains, smudges, fingerprints, dust, and debris from surfaces. Examples of cleaning include dusting baseboards and wiping down countertops. While cleaning products can remove some germs, the main goal of cleaning is to improve the overall look, feel, and smell of the home. It is great for making your home look tidy and removing dirt and grime buildup; however, cleaning does not rid the area of bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Once you have done the initial cleaning, you will want to move on to sanitizing and disinfecting areas of the home that receive daily wear and tear.


Cleaning is mostly about the appearance of the home, but sanitizing removes most of the bacteria that can cause health concerns. Sanitizing is important to minimize the spread of illnesses, especially on surfaces that have frequent contact with food. Sanitizers contain pathogens that prevent cross-contamination by reducing germs and fungi. For a solution to be considered a sanitizer, it must have a formula with 60% to 95% alcohol concentration. Some items and surfaces can be sanitized using liquids that are above 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Dishwashers, washing machines, and steam cleaners are all tools that sanitize items, fabrics, and surfaces.




One step further than sanitizing is disinfecting, which kills bacteria and viruses. A high-quality disinfectant spray should remove 100% of the microscopic organisms on hard surfaces, which kills and prevents the spread of illnesses. Disinfecting solutions need to remain in contact with the surface for the recommended time on the manufacturer’s label to be most effective, which may take up to ten minutes. Because disinfectants are stronger than other cleaning and sanitizing products, safety precautions should be taken when using them. It is important to never mix disinfectants with other cleaners and to label all solution containers. Also be sure to store disinfectants out of reach of children and pets, and wear gloves when handling these harsh chemicals.

Make a Routine

Now that you know the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting, let’s learn how to properly create a routine to keep your home sparkling and healthy. There are many areas of the home that are touched daily and should be regularly cleaned to reduce germs and prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. Surfaces like tables, countertops, doorknobs, light switches, computers, phones, and toilets are the most common places for germs to inhabit. First clean these areas using an all-purpose cleaner to remove dirt and debris buildup, which can cause sanitizers and disinfectants to be less effective. Then, decide whether a sanitizer or disinfectant is most appropriate for the surface. For daily cleaning and surfaces like dishes, couches, and floors, use a sanitizer. For deep cleaning, or when ridding a home of sickness, use disinfectants on countertops, toilets, doorknobs, and cell phones. Always remember to check manufacturer labels to ensure you clean your home effectively and safely.

cleaning routine



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