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

With the rise of COVID-19, there’s a greater awareness of the need for cleanliness, and increased demand for quality house cleaning companies in Doylestown, PA. However, not everyone is clear on the distinction between these crucial steps to making sure your home is safe.

When looking to keep your home clean, it’s essential to recognize that “clean” can mean many different things, depending on how you’re thinking about it. That’s why it’s important to have a solid understanding of all three steps to a safe and healthy home: cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting.

What’s the Difference?

When talking about “cleaning,” people rarely specify how they’re actually cleaning a surface, which can lead to a false sense of security.

When your home is “clean” in the technical sense, it just means there’s no dirt on the surfaces. This could mean tidying up, dusting shelves, or wiping down countertops so that they have the general look of being pristine.

However, if a surface is “clean,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s clear of germs and viruses. Reducing the presence of pathogens is only possible through sanitizing and disinfecting the surfaces.

Which Should I Use?

Sanitizing a surface can be just as appropriate as disinfecting a surface, but they have very different purposes.

When you sanitize a surface, it means you’re reducing the number of germs on the surface to a safer level, according to public guidelines. The bacteria can still be present, but there’s less of a chance that someone will become sick if they touch it. Due to this thinning of bacteria, it’s typically better to sanitize surfaces that aren’t going to see a lot of bacterial buildup.

Disinfection, by contrast, involves using chemicals that kill both bacteria and viruses. It’s the “nuclear option” of your cleaning arsenal and requires you to use an EPA-certified chemical to eliminate the presence of all potential pathogens.

Cleaning is still a vital part of this process, though; debris and dust can make disinfection and sanitizing solutions less effective by giving germs a place to hide from the destructive chemicals.

The Importance of Proper Disinfection

Disinfection is the step that will provide the most protection against both bacteria and viruses, but that doesn’t mean that you should apply it uniformly throughout your home. It may be counter-intuitive, but the improper use of disinfectants can actually lead to the creation of superbugs and a false sense of security.

Generally speaking, disinfectants should be used in areas of the homes where there is a high concentration of pathogens that can make you sick, like on food preparation surfaces, in the bathroom, and other hard surfaces. Proper disinfection requires you to follow the instructions on the container, with some products requiring you to keep a surface visibly wet for up to five minutes or more!

Failing to follow these instructions, or using disinfectants on the wrong kinds of surfaces can lead to illness-causing organisms remaining on the surface and mutating. Using strong disinfectants on your floor as part of your weekly cleaning routine, for example, may make you feel better in the short term, but could actually lead to an increased risk of infection either through a small section of floor that dried too quickly or because the bacteria is starting to become resistant to the disinfection technique.

Once you understand the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting a surface, it’s easier to apply the right technique to the right surface. For more tips on cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting your home, or to get a quote from a leading cleaning company in Bucks County, call us today!