Cleaning Vs Disinfecting

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When starting a cleaning business, the main goal is to keep spaces and things clean. Now when it comes to cleaning, spaces just need off the top cleaning and washing, while some need you to get your hands dirty. It is at this point that confusion sets in for most beginners, deciding if you are to clean or disinfect an office space. Now, most people have no clue when it comes to the difference between the two words, one is just seen as a fancy word for the other. If you are one of those people, stick with me, and I will try my possible best to explain in detail each term and what they mean.


Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and cluster, and in the process germs on a given surface.

This activity can be done with different tools, like sponges and cloth. Cleaning will not kill germs; it simply removes them or reduces the number of germs to lower the risk of infection.

As stated above, cleaning will not kill your germs, in most cases, it just transfers the germs from one surface to the other. Usually from the dirty surface to the tool used in the cleaning process. Now I know you might be wondering what tools to use when it comes to cleaning, do not worry, I will list them down below.

  1. Bleach
  2. Lysol or Other Floor Cleaning Solutions
  3. Soft-Scrub
  4. Stainless Steel Cleaning Polish or Powder
  5. Mold & Mildew Cleaner
  6. Disinfectant Wipe
  7. Plastic Buckets
  8. Rubber Gloves
  9. Cleaning Supply Cart
  10. Trash Bags
  11. Dust Towels
  12. Newspapers or Coffee Filters (for streak-free window cleaning!)


A disinfectant can kill bacteria, germs, etc. due to the special ingredients it contains.

So if you were to buy a disinfectant and try using it for cleaning, do not be surprised when that nasty, oil stain does not come off, that particular product was not designed for that. To be honest, disinfectants are just sanitizers to large scale germs, that is if I was to explain them to just anybody. But since you are planning to take this up as a professional occupation, I might need to go a little deeper.

As I just mentioned, disinfectants are mostly used on large scale germs and you can see the places where they are being used, it is not just for cleaning your bedroom table or window.

There are also different kinds of disinfectants. I will be listing them down below.

  1. Air disinfectants
  2. Alcohol
  3. Oxidizing agents
  4. Peroxide and peroxy acids
  5. Phenolics
  6. Inorganic compounds

Below, I will be listing what areas should be disinfected, this is not in any particular order and not universal.

Depending on your building and industry, different areas in the building will need different cleaning protocols for them.

  1. Doorknobs
  2. Light switches
  3. Stair rails
  4. Soap dispensers
  5. Chair handles

You might still be confused and that is fine, I will try my best to list the significant differences between the two terms and I hope it helps.


While it may not be useful in the stain-removing category, it will effectively stop the spread of diseases and viruses—like colds and cases of flu—wherever you use it.” While it may not be that helpful in the stain-removing department, it will effectively stop the spread of diseases and viruses—like colds and cases of flu—wherever you use it.”

You don’t want to skip the step of cleaning before you disinfect, though. Dirt and organic material can make some disinfectants less effective, so cleaning is necessary before disinfecting in most cases. Using “all-in-one” antibacterial cleaners isn’t enough to disinfect unless you first remove visible dirt from the surface (basically, you’d have to clean everything twice.

People usually use bleach as a household cleaning tool. Household bleach have similar formula with sanitizer or a disinfectant, depending on how much it’s formula. But because concentrations of bleach can be inconsistent, and home dilution often inexact, if you need to be sure you’re disinfecting a surface, you’re better off following the instructions on a commercial disinfecting product.


In summary, I will be giving the two terms their final definitions.

Cleaning in the infection control context refers to the mechanical removal of visible surface contaminants, soils, etc., usually with soap, water, and enzymatic detergents, using hand scrubbing or more sophisticated cleaning machines such as ultrasonics. Cleaning is an essential element for any effective infection control procedure. Using the most thorough cleaning processes will still leaveUltrasonic Cleaner microorganisms on the surface of the item.

These products are often purchased in concentrated form and mixed with water to provide a use-strength solution that is effective. Many disinfectants don’t stand up well to dirt, so cleaning is an especially important first step. Some disinfectants are designed for a specific purpose, such as surfaces or instruments, so make sure you are familiar with all label information.

Also, disinfectants are only effective when they are applied per instructions for the correct time. If a surface disinfectant requires 5 minutes to be effective, it will not do its job if it dries on the counter or is wiped off in three minutes. Sanitizers are products that clean and disinfect. Certain disinfectant products can also be corrosive, so make sure the disinfectant you choose is appropriate for the items you intend to disinfect.

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