Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting: Knowing the difference.

Knowing the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting is a vital part of being able to perform cleaning accurately.

By being able to distinguish between these cleaning concepts and execute them efficiently, you will be one step closer to providing a better guest / client experience.

Points to Consider
  • Sanitizing and disinfecting does not necessarily clean the surface. Cleaning must precede sanitizing and disinfecting in order to be effective.
  • Rinsing removes dirt and debris that has been loosened by the detergent and leads to shinier, cleaner-looking hard surfaces.

Differences between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting.
Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

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.
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 by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Click chart below to download and print.
Pay close attention to hazard warnings and directions on product labels. Cleaning products and disinfectants often call for the use of gloves or eye protection. For example, gloves should always be worn to protect your hands when working with bleach solutions.

Do not mix cleaners and disinfectants unless the labels indicate it is safe to do so. Combining certain products (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners) can result in serious injury or death. Traditional bathroom cleaners have been acid based but now more cleaners are introducing alkaline based products. Take the time to understand what your cleaner contains as to ensure you never mix these types of products accidentally.

Ensure you read all cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants labels and understand how to safely and appropriately use the product.