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

Wiping away dust, dirt, and other particles that accumulate on surfaces is one thing, but if you’re trying to get rid of the bacteria and viruses on them, you’ll need to think about doing some deeper cleaning. Cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing are all related, but they all mean different things. The methods are also different, and so are the techniques.

What Is Cleaning?

Woman cleaning kitchen counter
Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing — What’s the Difference?

Even if your property looks clean, there are germs that can be lying on all kinds of surfaces that can pose a threat to anyone that comes in contact with them. Cleaning removes the visible dirt, grime, and other impurities from floors, door handles, cabinets, along with other surfaces.

Basic household cleaning tasks include vacuuming, washing windows, dusting, and more in order to help your property look clean. Products that are used include floor cleaners, baking soda, all-purpose kitchen and bathroom cleaners, and more.

What Is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting a counter top with gloves and spray
Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing — What’s the Difference?

Disinfecting is how you kill germs using chemicals that have the power to destroy bacteria, viruses, along with other microorganisms. The EPA regulates chemicals that are designed to disinfect.

This regulation ensures that the product will actually kill germs, but one disinfectant won’t kill all of the germs out there. Some disinfectant products include chlorine bleach, hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, phenol, formaldehyde, and more.

What Is Sanitizing?

Woman sanitizing her hands
Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing — What’s the Difference?

This is how you reduce the germs on the surfaces in order to meet the public health standards. Sanitizing is done by wiping down children’s toys, restaurant tables, and more. It’s similar to disinfecting, but these products aren’t regulated by the EPA with a registration number.

In most cases, the sanitizer must meet EPA requirements to reduce the total number of organisms by 99.999% within 30 seconds of application for commercial use whereas, for home use, it should be able to kill 99.9% of organisms in 5 minutes.

When cleaning, you should also take the time to disinfect and sanitize your property along with your surfaces to ensure a truly clean property.