What is the Difference between Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting?

Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are three different terms that might have been used interchangeably in the past. But with this global pandemic going on, we all are at least aware that all these terms aren’t the same, and using the right one at the right place is very important.

This article is for the people who are confused regarding the use of these terms or their meaning. Let’s get into the details before delaying it further:


The term cleaning refers to the process where you want the visible dust, debris, garbage, or any other contaminant off the surface. 

Different methods of commercial cleaning can be used for removing all these components depending on their nature; however, the purpose is to clean the “visible” contamination.

In most cases, the ultimate impact of the cleaning can be seen in the reduction of germs and thus a little lesser chances of spread of the diseases. However, cleaning is not particularly, the term that you would use for removing the germs from a surface.


You can consider it the next step after cleaning. The purpose of sanitizing is to reduce the number of germs to a safe level as defined by the public health standards in different sectors.

The reduction in germs can be achieved by killing or inactivating; however, the results are not a hundred percent. Usually, this term is used for the things that are to be utilized for food preparation or food usage. 

Similarly, sanitization applies to the removal of germs from the human body as well.  


The term disinfection means to inactivate or destroy the germs, including the bacteria and virus, up to a hundred percent. The real purpose of a disinfectant is to kill everything (germs, bacteria, fungus, and virus)

In this process, you need to apply chemicals like bleach, alcohol, or something with similar chemical properties on the surface that you want to disinfect.

The chemicals you are using would determine the exact process that you’ll have to follow for disinfecting. Some chemicals require you to leave them on the surface, whereas others can be removed just after application. 

If you are disinfecting a surface on your own, so keep this thing in mind. Otherwise, you won’t get the desired results.

Make sure not to use the disinfectants on your skin, as they can be dangerous for human health. To reduce the germs from the body, you must rely on sanitization only. 

Besides, the chemicals you are using would only kill the named bacteria or virus, not all the germs. If you want protection against a particular virus, then make sure to buy the chemical with the label highlighting the particular one.

Also Check: Benefits of Hiring Office Cleaning Services

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