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

Learn the differences between them and how they can be applied to keep your spaces safe and clean.

Cleaning your indoor spaces is essential to ensure the health and safety of its occupants. The COVID pandemic brought uncertainty around indoor air quality, cleanliness, virus contamination within our workspaces, gathering areas, public spaces, etc. As a result, many businesses and organizations have wondered how to clean their facility correctly.

With the focus on health and safety in a post-COVID world, we must understand how cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting can help contribute to this goal. The two most common ways to clean space are cleaning, disinfection, and sanitization. Cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing are part of a broad approach to preventing infectious diseases. However, these terms are often used interchangeably but are very different. This blog will review the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting and when to use each of them. 

Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting

First, let's break down the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting and understand the goal of each cleaning method. 

What is Cleaning?

Cleaning is meant to remove germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to remove germs from surfaces physically. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but removing them lowers their numbers and risks spreading infection.

What is Sanitizing? 

Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

What is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects; disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but killing germs on a surface after cleaning can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Professional Office Cleaning Service

When to Use Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting?

Typically, cleaning and sanitizing are done as part of a daily cleaning routine. Surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, faucet handles, phones, are typically wiped down. Some schools and businesses may also require daily disinfecting or sanitizing of these items.

It is crucial to disinfect specific key areas that harbor germs and bacteria, such as bathrooms, kitchens, breakrooms, and other high-touch areas: Some of these spaces and items include:

  • Drinking Fountains
  • Athletic Equipment
  • Buses
  • Children's Toys
  • Keyboards & Sensitive Electronics
  • Elevator Buttons 
  • Playgrounds
  • Gymnasiums 
  • Conference Rooms

Another crucial time to sanitize is if a person is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19 and has been in your facility within the last 24 hours. You should clean and disinfect all occupied spaces.

What is the Most Powerful Disinfectant?

UVC light technology, also known as Ultraviolet Radiation, is one of the most powerful and effective disinfectants available. UVC radiation is a disinfectant for air, water, and nonporous surfaces and has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria and harmful pathogens. For this reason, UVC lamps are often called "germicidal" lamps. 

Most UV-C products can inactivate up to 99.9% of pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, mold spores, and fungus. Viruses are not technically living organisms, so germicidal UV technically "inactivates" viruses.

Since COVID-19 can live on particular surfaces for up to three days and can travel through the air, germicidal UVC is a great tool that can be used to disinfect air and surfaces and combat COVID-19.

UV-C Robot By Sanalife Disinfecting Office Space

Using UVC Disinfection in Your Facility

Regardless of your facility, building, or space, sanitizing and disinfecting in a post-COVID world is necessary. Using chemicals is costly, time-intensive, and can require an extensive labor force. Compared to chemical-based manual disinfection or electrostatic spraying, utilizing a UVC robot such as Sanalifes UVD Disinfection Robot can effectively streamline disinfection and do so 100% autonomously.  

Keeping a building and occupied spaces clean and safe is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it requires a multi-layered approach. This includes cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Relying on chemicals and manual cleaning and sanitizing methods alone means pathogens get left behind. Unlike dirt, germs are microscopic, and you can't see what you've missed. 

Ensure your business has all the tools needed to take the multi-layered approach to a more effective cleaning disinfection process. Integrating technologies such as UVC into your cleaning and disinfection protocols will help ensure the health and safety of your building's occupants.

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