Essential thinking

The difference between cleaning and disinfecting

04 Nov 2015

Posted by John Corley

A person in a white jacket and yellow gloves, holding a box of cleaning supplies

When most people think about cleaning, disinfecting comes to mind. After all, it's important to disinfect surfaces, especially in places such as kitchens, bathrooms and hospitals. But cleaning does not necessarily involve disinfecting, and it's an important distinction to make. Here's why that is, and how you can use this information to your benefit.

What Sets Disinfecting Apart from Cleaning
Cleaning involves removing dirt, debris and germs from a surface, usually with soap and water. This method does not usually kill germs, though it does remove them when done right.

On the other hand, disinfecting refers to actually killing germs using certain chemicals that have been proven to kill microorganisms. In fact, in order to claim a product can disinfect surfaces, it has to have an EPA registration label. This means it has been tested and proven to show how well it adheres to cleaning standards.

Many people believe that simply wiping a surface with soap and water means they are disinfecting it. In the contamination control industry, this is a dangerous belief that can allow germs to spread.

The Best Ways to Disinfect Surfaces
To ensure you are disinfecting properly, it is important to read the instructions for the disinfectant you are using, since each product has been tested and approved based only on specific requirements. The instructions will tell you how long you should leave the disinfectant on the surface. Wiping the disinfectant off too quickly can keep it from working properly, thereby rendering the product ineffective. This is the most important reason why you should always read the fine print on any disinfecting product.

How Essentra Can Help

Use our clean wipes, in conjunction with a liquid disinfectant, by saturating the wipes with a liquid product before use. This way, you can be confident that you are disinfecting the surface you are wiping down.