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What Is The Difference Between Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizing?

Cleaning Sanitizing Disinfecting PCT Disinfecting

Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizing in the Era of COVID-19

As temperatures drop, and the threat of covid-19 looms, many of us are rethinking how we clean our homes or offices. It was always important to maintain cleanliness for the purposes of basic maintenance. Now, you might be wondering if there’s a particular cleaning method that will help control the spread of covid-19. Can you clean in a way that will stop the virus? Is there a difference between a cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing?


What’s the Difference?

This topic can be a bit confusing. Many people use these words interchangeably. Nonetheless, they are defined differently.



When you clean, you are removing dirt, grime, or objects from a surface or area. You clean toys from the living room floor. You clean grease from the stove. You clean crumbs from a tabletop.

When you sanitize something, you are going to clean it by default. However, when you clean something, it won’t necessarily be sanitized or disinfected. It’s possible to do both at once with a product that contains chemicals designed for disinfection and sanitization. In most instances, you must clean first and disinfect afterward.



Disinfectants are powerhouses in the world of cleaning products. They contain chemicals that destroy germs on surfaces. They need to remain on a surface for a period, usually a few minutes or more, to thoroughly kill the germs.

Another difference is that disinfectants must undergo EPA testing to ensure they are effective at destroying germs and viruses. A sanitizing product is not subject to the same regulations. Therefore, any sanitizer that promises to destroy covid-19 isn’t to be trusted.

Keep in mind that a disinfectant doesn’t remove the germs. Although they will die, their physical presence will remain. Disinfecting a surface won’t remove dirt and grime, either. For this reason, cleansers and disinfectants are often used hand in hand.



To sanitize is to reduce the level of germs on a surface. Sanitization doesn’t necessarily kill or remove all germs. It simply lessens their count.


    How Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Indoor Space Fights Against Covid-19

    If you’re wondering how to thoroughly clean your home or office during the pandemic, you’ll be glad to learn that the CDC has issued some guidelines.

    You will need:

    • Disposable gloves.
    • Soap and warm water.
    • Bleach, rubbing alcohol, or an EPA-registered disinfectant.
    • Paper towels, clean sponges, or other tools.


      Wear disposable gloves when washing surfaces, especially if you believe virus exposure may have occurred. Wash the surface with soap and warm water prior to sanitizing or using a disinfectant. If you don’t have a household disinfectant, you can make your own using a solution of diluted bleach or 70 percent alcohol.



      Unfortunately, carpets can’t be disinfected. The good news is that covid-19 is unlikely to remain active on a porous surface like a carpet for long. If you want to get your carpet as clean as possible, you can thoroughly vacuum before using a carpet cleaner with a sanitizing carpet shampoo.


      Clothing, Bedding, and Other Washable Items

      Anything that goes in the washing machine should be laundered using the warmest water possible. Although the virus isn’t likely to live on cloth for long, it can remain active on buttons, zippers, and other such surfaces. The combination of laundry detergent and hot water should kill the virus.

      After you do your wash, be sure to disinfect your hamper and laundry basket. It’s also smart to throw your gloves in the trash and wash your hands.


      Professional Assistance from PCT Disinfecting: Let Us Help with Your Cleaning Job

      Attempting to clean and disinfect your own home or office space in the era of covid-19 can be stressful. The team at PCT Disinfecting is ready to help. Our employees undergo extensive training to ensure they can effectively clean and disinfect a variety of surfaces. We take every safety precaution possible, from using gloves and masks to social distancing.

      Don’t let worries about covid-19 hold you back. Let us provide you with a clean and safe environment. If you’re in or around Kennesaw, GA, or Elmhurst, IL, please contact us to learn more.

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