Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

The COVID-19 pandemic turned our world upside-down while shedding light on many things. We’re all excited to get back to a more community-oriented system, where we engage with our neighbors and rely on each other for support and friendship. But it’s safe to say that we will carry on some lessons from COVID throughout the rest of our lives.

The past 15 months have made us more conscious about what we touch. We think twice before sharing drinks with our friends and before touching our faces. A quick rinse under the sink is no longer sufficient for keeping the germs away – now we wash for at least as long as you can sing the chorus of “Oops…I did It Again” by Britney Spears.

The emphasis on cleanliness that COVID-19 has brought us will continue to provide benefits for our health and productivity as employees and business owners. We’ve all heard the terms “clean”, “sanitize”, and “disinfect”, but did you know they are actually not interchangeable. Each word comes with it’s own definition and purpose in the commercial cleaning world.

What does ‘cleaning’ really mean?

Cleaning removes dirt, dust, and germs from a surface by washing with water and soap. It removes germs, but does’t necessarily kill them. Cleaning still serves a large purpose though! We need to remove as much dust and debris as possible, before sanitizing or disinfecting. Plus, if cleaning is all you can do in the moment – removing some germs is better than none!

What’s the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting?

Sanitizing has been a big buzz word the last couple of years. Remember when the hand sanitizer was sold out everywhere? Like disinfecting, sanitizing kills germs, but since disinfecting is said by the EPA to kill more germs, it’s best to use EPA approved disinfecting products for the most protection. These disinfecting products are proven to kill viruses on hard surfaces.

High touch surfaces that you should consider disinfecting include:

  • Faucets
  • Filing cabinet handles
  • Doorknobs
  • Window levers
  • Keyboards
  • Light switches
  • and all other commonly touched surfaces

We use a variety of commercial-grade disinfectants at Summit. Check out our Germicidal Disinfection page for more information: