Charlie's Corner

May 20, 2020

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting: What’s the Difference?

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting

Cleaning vs. sanitizing – is there a difference? What about cleaning vs. disinfecting? Now that cleaning is a more significant part of our daily lives, you may have found yourself asking these questions. 

In our post below, we outline how to clean, sanitize, and disinfect properly — and explain what the difference is between the three!

What Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting really mean

Cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing each play a role in keeping our environment clean and people healthy. The terms are often used interchangeably, but there are a few slight differences between them. 

What Is Cleaning?

Cleaning refers to physically removing germs, and pests, dirt, dust, grime, and chemicals from objects or surfaces. Cleaning doesn’t refer to killing germs. Instead, the removal of germs from surfaces helps to reduce the risk of spreading infection. 

What Is Disinfecting? 

The difference between cleaning vs. disinfecting is that disinfecting does refer to killing germs or other microscopic organisms. Chemicals are typically used in the disinfection process. By combining the act of cleaning AND disinfecting, which would remove and kill germs, you can more effectively decrease the spread of diseases like COVID-19.  

What Is Sanitizing?

Unlike cleaning, which removes dirt and debris, or disinfecting, which kills microscopic organisms – sanitizing refers to reducing the number of germs in a given area to a safe level “as judged by public health standards or requirements.” The sanitization process does not require the use of chemicals. For example, hot water sanitizing is commonly used in the dishwashing process in restaurants.  

How to Clean Your Home or Business

You might be wondering which one — cleaning, disinfecting, or sanitizing — you should be doing. The truth is all three.   

Cleaning removes germs from surfaces or objects with water and a cleaning product, like soap or detergent. Don’t skip the cleaning step before sanitizing and disinfecting; dirt, dust, and other organic material can make disinfectants and sanitizers less effective.

To begin cleaning, make sure the cleaning product you’re using is safe to use on the surface or object. Also, read the cleaning product’s instructions and guidelines for how much to use. If it’s a powerful, concentrated cleaner like Charlie’s Soap Indoor & Outdoor Surface Cleaner, a little goes a long way!

When cleaning, wear reusable or disposable gloves, especially if you’re cleaning a surface or object that may have infectious germs. Always follow your cleaning product’s instructions for use, and choose safe, non-toxic cleaning products that won’t harm your skin or lungs. Generally, you’ll apply the product and water in a scrubbing motion to lift and remove germs, similar to washing your hands. 

After scrubbing, rinse the area or object with clean water. You might rinse the cloth or towel you used to cleanse before wiping or use a fresh, damp cloth or towel. Air dry or wipe with a clean, dry cloth if you need to use it immediately. Voila! You have a clean surface. Next up, it’s time to disinfect.

How to Disinfect Surfaces and Items

To disinfect surfaces and items after cleaning, choose a safe, EPA-approved household disinfectant. Read the disinfectant directions to make sure it’s appropriate for the surface or object you’re disinfecting.

Remember – cleaning an area or object before disinfecting will make the disinfection process more effective. Make sure you have proper ventilation. Then, wear reusable or disposable gloves to apply the disinfectant according to its instructions. Many disinfectants recommend keeping the surface or object wet up to five minutes. Even disinfectant wipes recommend keeping the surface or object wet to disinfect properly. Then, let the object or surface air dry, or rinse with a clean cloth or towel if the instructions require it. 

How to Sanitize Your Space

Cleaning and disinfecting are of utmost importance to keep your home and belongings safe. Though sanitizing reduces germs to a safe level for public health, you can sanitize objects or surfaces in your home that come in contact with food and bodily fluids. You can also sanitize fabrics, carpet, and upholstery. 

To sanitize, choose a product that states its use explicitly as a sanitizer. Some cleaning products are a combination of cleaner and sanitizer. Other products, like laundry sanitizer, can reduce the number of germs from fabrics and clothing. Appliances like dishwashers, washing machines, and steam cleaners have “sanitize” settings that can lower the number of germs even further.

Follow your sanitizer product’s instructions for use, and make sure it is safe to use on the object or surface you’re sanitizing.  

Choose Charlie’s Soap for Cleaning

Need a tough yet gentle natural formula to clean your home? Charlie’s Soap Indoor & Outdoor Surface Cleaner is a non-toxic, biodegradable, powerful cleaner that’s safe for the environment. It’s hypoallergenic and can be used on any surface that can get wet while rinsing such as walls, carpet, driveways, engines, grills, patio furniture, and more. 

While our Indoor & Outdoor cleaner can tackle almost anything, maybe you want a different cleaner formulated for tough spots like the kitchen and bath. That’s where Charlie’s Soap Kitchen & Bath Household Cleaner shines. Also non-toxic, biodegradable, and effective, our Kitchen & Bath Household Cleaner rids your home of grime, buildup, dirt, and dust. After using our cleaning products, you’re ready to disinfect and sanitize!