Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizing- Do you know the difference?

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

These are three words we’ve heard a lot recently, but what is the difference? Let’s test your knowledge:

· Something is cleaned when you have removed all the dirt, dust, crumbs, and germs from the surface. You may not have killed all the germs, but since you removed some of the physical things left behind, there are fewer germs to spread infection.

· When something is disinfected, you have used chemicals to kill germs on the surface. Disinfecting does not mean that that all the germs have been removed from the disinfected surface.

· For a something to be considered sanitized, means you have removed the number of germs on a surface to a safe level. This can be done by various methods.

If you already knew the answer, congratulations- you are a cleanliness pro! Right now, more than ever, it is important for buildings to be sanitized frequently to reduce the spread of pathogens, especially COVID-19. Even with the COVID-19 vaccine coming out, there will continue to be risk of infection from a variety of micro-organisms, hence the importance of sanitizing.

So, what do we need to do to our buildings to make sure we are reducing the spread? Routine disinfecting and sanitizing. This can be done through a couple different ways. Harsh chemicals like bleach, ammonium and hypochlorous acid have been used but can leave a residue that can be harmful if contact is made with the skin.

Recent studies have been done on UV light as an alternative for these chemicals and the results have been pleasantly surprising. Alex Berezow, a microbiologist from the American Council of Science and Health, said, “UV light is lethal to bacteria and viruses because of its high frequency that scrambles and damages their nuclear material.” That means studies have found that UV light can literally break the molecular bond of bacteria. The best part about UV light is that it’s a much safer alternative to using chemicals to reach that sanitized level.

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