Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting. What’s the Difference?
This is what we do when company is coming over for dinner at my house. We get rid of the clutter in the living room, dining room and guest bathroom. We do a quick vacuum of the floors, dust the tables, shake the front doormat and get out the clothes brush and get the dog hair off the upholstery. Then we spray Febreze. This takes 15-20 minutes, max.
Growing up I can tell you my mom had a different definition for cleaning than I did. But all kidding aside, cleaning is something we do routinely. We routinely clean daily, weekly and monthly.
Cleaning is good housekeeping. It keeps pests at bay, maintains order, and eliminates uncontrolled growth of unwanted organisms.
Think illness. If you have someone in your home that is ill, or you are trying to prevent an illness (COVID-19) then you want to think sanitizing or disinfecting.
When I think of sanitizing, I think of food preparation. For example, I’m going to sanitize my counter-top before I begin any food preparation. Sanitizing is best for surfaces that don’t typically have contact with seriously dangerous bacteria or viruses or those that are best left without contact with powerful chemicals. You wouldn’t want to use powerful chemicals with toys that children often put in their mouths. All this was before COVID-19 came along.
So, first you clean the area you want sanitized by removing dirt and grime. Then you sanitize the area by spraying or wiping a sanitizing agent that kills 99.9% of the bacteria, virus or fungi. Some common sanitizers on the market are Lysol and Clorox sprays or wipes. If a commercial product is in short supply, you can always make your own by mixing ordinary bleach and water. Look to the manufacturer for the right ratio of bleach to water. Also, look for how long it should be left on the surface.
Sanitizing can also be done without chemicals. A good example is washing your dishes in the dishwasher where the temperature is set to 170F killing bacteria and other germs. Another would be hiring a professional carpet cleaner who uses a commercial-grade steam cleaner where the temperature of the steam effectively sanitizes your flooring.
This is used when someone is ill or has a compromised immune system. We are in the middle of a real threat with COVID-19 in our midst. To destroy the COVID-19 virus we need to employ the use of a disinfectant. Disinfecting kills bacteria, viruses and fungi. In this case, we want to destroy the COVID-19 virus. You want to disinfect the places/things most susceptible, like doorknobs, counter tops, light switches, bathroom faucets and for sure your smartphone (note: ensure you check the smartphone manufacturer for the proper way to disinfect your phone.) It’s also a good idea to remove your shoes when going in doors and spray the bottoms with disinfectant.
Common disinfectants are in great demand and are often sold out before they even hit the grocer’s shelves. Remember bleach is great as a multipurpose sanitizing solution/disinfectant.