As the COVID-19 crisis continues, cleaning your space is more important than ever. But how clean is clean enough, and what are the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting? Clean vs. sanitize vs. disinfect: Although they sound quite similar, these terms have unique meanings with crucial significance.
Clean vs. Sanitize vs. Disinfect
What Is Cleaning?
If beauty is only skin-deep, then cleaning only scratches the surface of a properly sanitized home. During a cursory clean, you might tidy your space and remove dust, debris, and dirt with a quick scrub. However, keep in mind that a “clean” space might not be a safe and disinfected space – but a properly disinfected space will always be a clean space.
What Is Sanitizing?
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes sanitizing as reducing the bacteria on surfaces. In a broader sense, sanitation refers to the safe management of potentially bacteria-rich materials, including human and animal waste particles. Typically, sanitation works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces; however, chemical sanitation does lower the risk of infection by killing surface-level germs.
While anyone can maintain a “clean” space, not everyone has the means to maintain a sanitary space – which is why inadequate sanitation is a major cause of global diseases including cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. With this information in mind, it’s easy to see how sanitation goes far beyond cleanliness, impacting global health and economic development issues. However, remember that sanitizing chemicals only address bacteria, while disinfectants can kill both bacteria and viruses.
What Is Disinfecting?
Disinfecting is a more powerful germ-killing measure than cleaning or sanitizing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), disinfecting products “destroy or inactivate both the bacteria and viruses identified on the product’s label.” This can include everything from influenza and rhinovirus to COVID-19, all of which can live on hard, nonporous surfaces. Ultimately, you should strive to disinfect – not sanitize – surfaces, as disinfectants are the only products approved by the CDC to kill viruses on hard surfaces.
What This Means for Cleaning Products
So, how do you ensure that your home cleaning products are disinfecting, not just cleaning or sanitizing? Your best bet is to look on the product label for an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number, typically on the back panel. Disinfectants are also categorized on the EPA’s website.
In addition, keep in mind that disinfection isn’t a one-and-done task. Repeat disinfection is the best way to ensure that your home stays protected against germ re-exposure.
This also means that you should proceed with caution when it comes to products that claim to treat surfaces for days. These products work by leaving a disinfectant on hard, nonporous surfaces for hours; when the disinfectant goes inactive, a film is left behind. But with continued use, what actually happens as the inactive disinfectant film builds up with each reapplication? Will the film residue need to be removed through the use of a non-residual, disinfectant cleaner? Will it become a medium that collects dirt and debris, possibly discoloring the surface or worse . . . ?
Your best bet is to shop for EPA-approved disinfectants – like the SafeSpace Disinfectant and Deodorizing Germ Fogger.
Since keeping your family safe from COVID-19 and other harmful germs is one of your top priorities, we recommend regularly disinfecting your home’s hard surfaces – especially if someone in your household has COVID-19. Remember, disinfecting is a repetitive process; you might need to disinfect your home multiple times a day depending on transmission rates. When in doubt, just remember that a clean surface isn’t always disinfected, but a disinfected surface is always clean.
If you need some help figuring out whether to sanitize vs. disinfect, look at what SafeSpace Company® has to offer. The original, EPA-approved SafeSpace® Disinfectant & Deodorizing Germ Fogger contains a hospital-grade contact disinfectant that, when fully discharged, generates 6,000 cubic feet of disinfectant and deodorizing fog. The SafeSpace® Germ Fogger can kill 99 percent of the germs responsible for colds, flu, staph, MRSA and many more. To purchase a Germ Fogger today, visit the SafeSpace® website. For more information, give us a call at 1-800-735-2506.
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