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Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing. What’s the Difference?

Now more than ever we are all concerned with the proper way to clean ourselves, our homes, and our belongings.

Bathroom cleaner, disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer…so many descriptions for cleaning products. They all do the same thing, right? Wrong. We sat down with our friend, Jenn Tangeman, owner of Clean by Design, to find out what the difference is.

Cleaning removes germs, dirt and impurities form surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap or detergent and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. The process of cleaning does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.


Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

While most of us take great care to keep eating surfaces, food preparation areas, appliances floors and trash receptacles clean there are many areas that need special attention, especially now. Places in your home like; switch plates, door knobs, faucets, flush handles, door jams, cabinet handles, keyboards, phones, appliance handles, remote controls and stove knobs all need to be disinfected.

In the course of cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing inside and outside of your home, also make sure to remember commonly used items: toothbrushes, toothbrush holders, steering wheels, shifter knobs, car door handles, electronic screens, smart speakers, eating utensils and washable fabrics stay sanitized.

Taking a little extra care in keeping your home clean is a huge step in preventing the spread of bacteria and viruses. If you are part of an at-risk population (or even if you are just a member of the general public) now is a wonderful time to schedule a professional cleaning service for your home. Staff members are extremely well trained in getting even the most overlooked areas of your home clean, disinfected and sanitized. They are also very mindful of maintaining an acceptable social distance to not cause any undue exposure while in your home.

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