What Is the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?
What was the last thing you washed or wiped down with your office cloth or kitchen dishcloth? Was it your counter, an office desk, your child’s plate or cup, the cutting board where you prepare the family’s meals? Hopefully, that cloth was also recently disinfected — if not, it could be harboring some four billion living germs!
What’s wrong with just cleaning something? Is there a difference between cleaning and disinfecting? You bet there is!
What Does Cleaning Do?
For many people, the idea of cleaning brings to mind some type of soap or detergent. Other substances work too, however. Non-toxic items like borax, vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, salt, olive oil, or even good old fashioned elbow grease are all effective for different household tasks.
When you clean something, you are physically removing dirt and other impurities from a surface. This is the case whether it’s your body, your car, your office, or your kitchen floor that is being cleaned. Sweeping and mopping that kitchen floor, for example, will remove dirt, food particles, garbage, pet hair, pollen, and some germs.
The keyword in that last paragraph? “Some.” Even the most thorough cleaning job will still leave germs behind. That’s where sanitizing and disinfecting come in.
Disinfecting Goes Beyond Just Cleaning
Disinfecting, simply put, is the act of killing germs, not just removing them from the surface or object in question. In most cases, the germs are killed through the use of specific chemicals.
It’s important to clean an area or item thoroughly before attempting to disinfect it. Cleaning will help loosen the dirt and debris, making the disinfecting process more effective.
What About Sanitizing?
Sanitizing represents something of a middle ground. It doesn’t necessarily kill all the germs, but it does lower their number to a level deemed safe by public health requirements. Sanitizing works by using either cleaning or disinfecting methods.
There are other ways besides cleaning and chemicals to disinfect and sanitize some items. These include:
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Using heavy metals
- Steaming or autoclaving
- Hot water (boiling or steaming)
- Hot air
In addition, some essential oils have disinfecting properties. Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca oil, comes from the Australian tea tree. It boasts antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Cleaning and Disinfecting: Knowing Which Approach To Take
Both cleaning and disinfecting have their uses. You don’t need to disinfect your skin, for example, every time you take a shower or wash your hands. Simply washing for 20 seconds with hot water and soap is sufficient.
In these troubled times, many companies are erring on the side of caution by choosing to have their facilities disinfected. Proper disinfecting procedures can help reduce the presence of dangerous, and even deadly pathogens. These include the hepatitis B virus, the AIDS virus, staphylococcus bacteria, and the novel coronavirus.
Do You Need Disinfecting Services?
If you’re worried about the health of your space, contact All American Environmental. to see what we can do for you. We stay abreast of all current regulations and protocols, and we take every possible precaution with your property.
Take a look at a few of our cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing articles:
Oh — and as for those dishcloths? Check out these eight ways to keep them sparkling clean, smelling great, and most important of all, sanitary!