Are Cleaning, Disinfecting & Sanitizing the Same?

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Home Improvement

Are Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizing the Same Thing?

Understanding the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting is important in the everyday care of your home. Now more than ever people are interested to know how to best care for their homes to keep them and everyone living in them as healthy as possible. Read on to learn the difference between all three and when each one is needed in your home.  
Cleaning is the practice of removing dirt and grime that can be seen by the naked eye from a surface. Cleaning solutions most often contain a soap or detergents that attracts the dirt and lifts it away from the surface. The primary goal of cleaning is the removal of dirt not germs and bacteria. Cleaning can and does remove some germs, but not all and the germs it does reduce are on the surface.  
The focus of sanitizing is to take out pathogens, microorganisms, or anything else that may cause sickness and disease. Sanitizing something reduces the number of germs on the surface by a large amount, but does not completely wipe out every germ present. Sanitizing is especially important in areas like the kitchen where food is prepared. Restaurants are constantly sanitizing with industry approved chemicals and extreme heat such as steam and hot water.  
Disinfecting is going in with the goal of killing and completely wiping out any living microorganisms present. Disinfecting is especially important in places like hospitals where the spread and infection of the tiniest germs can be deadly. Disinfection is achieved with certain EPA-approved chemicals. Items like disinfecting wipes, bleach and bleach solutions, alcohol containing solutions, and UV-C light are disinfectants. UV-C light works by breaking up the DNA of germs and keeping them from replicating and continuing to cause harm.  

Related: Green and Eco-Friendly Sanitizing Alternatives

What and When Should I Clean, Sanitize, or Disinfect? 

Clean Daily 
Though cleaning doesn’t attack germs it can slow and inhibit the growth of them. Basic housekeeping takes care of the dirt and yuck that brings the germs in. Clean highly used areas of the home as often as every day if you can. This would be areas like the bathroom, certain parts of the kitchen, the living room, etc. If you can’t, shoot for a couple of times a week and make sure to stay diligent with cleaning if you have anyone in your home with allergies or other immune deficiencies. Cleaning should always be a first plan of attack even if you feel you want to use a sanitizer or disinfectant. Sanitizers and disinfectants won’t do the job you want them to when applied to a dirty surface.  
Sanitize Often 
Sanitizing certain areas of the home will help to keep them healthy and hygienic. Use an all-purpose cleaner to sanitize the most touched surfaces in your home as often as you can remember. Some surfaces like the kitchen counter and bathroom faucet should be sanitized every day. Anything in contact with bodily fluids should be sanitized as soon as possible.  
Disinfect as Needed 
If someone in your home is ill or someone has a weaker immune system than the average person, it is best to disinfect surfaces on a regular basis. When using the disinfecting wipes that everyone is desperate to get their hands on right now or even the sprays, make sure to read the instructions carefully. It is super important to use disinfecting products exactly the way they are intended or they won’t do the work of disinfecting like you expect them to.  

Tips for Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting 

Almost every sanitizing and disinfecting product needs to remain on the surface of what you are cleaning for 4-10 minutes to do the job of killing germs and bacteria. A sufficient amount of the product needs to be applied so that the surface stays wet the entire time and then allow the surface to air dry. Make sure to rinse areas food touches with water and towel dry.  

Do not mix chemicals! Some chemicals can cause toxic reactions and can cause lung damage or even death when the fumes are inhaled. No matter what cleaners you are using make sure you do not mix them with anything and you are using them in a well-ventilated area.  
It is best to always wear gloves when cleaning to protect your skin from the chemicals in cleaners. If you are using very strong or harsh cleaners consider protective eyewear as well. No matter what gear you choose to wear or not wear you should fully and thoroughly wash your hands when you are finished cleaning, sanitizing, or disinfecting.  
Now is the time to be vigilant with our cleaning habits, especially if you have buyers coming through your home.  Need to list? Give me a call anytime! We list all Palm Desert homes and surrounding areas.