Cleaning vs. Disinfecting vs. Sanitizing

Cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing are all important components of any successful janitorial game plan to keep a facility clean and its occupants healthy.  Too often, these terms are used interchangeably which can result in the assumption that a specific chemical might be accomplishing something that it is not.  Without further ado, let’s dive into these three areas to hopefully clear up any confusion.

Thankfully this all can be summarized pretty easily.  Cleaning removes dirt and germs from a surface. Disinfecting kills the germs. Sanitizing greatly reduces the amount of germs on a surface. Depending on the chemical in question,  you might be able to accomplish one or two of these tasks with a strategic chemical choice.

Buckeye Eco Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner E15

Buckeye Eco Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner E15

The most popular cleaning chemical option are all purpose cleaners. They are typically pH neutral so they won’t damage surfaces without being rinsed. Some cleaners might have some disinfecting properties but you’ll have to read the labels carefully to see if any disinfecting claims are made and the quantity of dwell times are required. Two popular all-purpose cleaners are Spartan’s Clean by Peroxy® and Buckeye Eco Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner E15.  Both can be diluted at different rates to effectively clean a multitude of surfaces and don’t require rinsing.  They do not however make any disinfecting claims. 

Buckeye Eco Neutral Disinfectant E23

Buckeye Eco Neutral Disinfectant E23

Disinfectants are important to incorporate into cleaning routines to keep the spread of illness at bay. High touch points (such as doorknobs or light switches) need routine disinfection to prevent the spread illnesses.  Disinfectants don’t kill all germs or bacteria on a surface but instead are tested to 100% wipe out specific germs.  More often than not disinfectants require a minimum dwell time to perform effectively.  With all disinfectants, it is important to read the label and follow any directions to ensure they are being used correctly.  Two popular disinfectants are Spartan’s DMQ® and Buckeye Eco Neutral Disinfectant E23.  Both have neutral properties so they will not dull or damage floor finish and do contain cleaning properties making them very effective additions to any cleaning program.  As with most disinfectants, both chemicals require a 10 minute dwell time to effectively kill the bacteria they make kill claims against.

Spartan's Sani-T-10 Plus

Spartan's Sani-T-10 Plus

Sanitizers are primarily used in food production and service applications.  They do not claim to kill all of the bacteria on a surface but instead greatly reduce their presence on a surface.  In order for a chemical to be classified as a sanitizer, they need to kill 99.9% of the germs they are making a claim against on a surface.  As with many disinfectants, they typically require dwell time to be effective.  Sanitizers are ideal for use with any surface that make come in contact with food and unlike disinfectants, typically don’t require rinsing. Spartan’s Sani-T-10 Plus and Buckeye Eco Sanitizer E62 are popular and effective sanitizers with very low dilution rates which keeps your costs down.

Hopefully knowing the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing will help you strategize your cleaning programs to keep your facilities clean and it occupants healthy.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Weinstein Wholesale Solution’s sales representative to help select the best chemical and practices to add to your arsenal.