Cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting are just some of the many words are used to refer to “cleaning”. But, what do the terms really mean?
When we talk about cleaning, we are talking about removing dirt, debris, organic compounds (micro-organisms) and germs from surfaces:
Microorganism – organisms that are too small for the naked eye to see. They exist everywhere, and are virtually harmless and usually promote good health.
Germ – when a microorganism has the potential to be harmful and cause disease, it is called a germ
– bacteria, mold and mildew, and viruses.
– they thrive in moist, humid conditions and can live on surfaces for hours, if not days.
So we must rid our homes and offices of these germs that can potentially make us sick. But what is the most effective way? Think of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting as 3 levels of cleaning.
3 Levels of Cleaning
1. Cleaning – removes visible dirt and debris and some germs from surfaces but does not completely remove microorganisms
2. Sanitizing – is a way to reduce the occurrence and growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi to a “safe” level.
3. Disinfection – Destroying and killing disease causing germs and microorganisms from surfaces
There is actually also a 4th level of cleaning usually reserved for hospital surgical wards
4. Sterilization – going one step further than disinfecting, sterilization kills both the microorganisms and it’s spores
Want to learn more? – Here is an article that goes more in depth into the differences of these cleaning methods and how to choose the right level of cleaning needed.
What level of clean is right for you?
Hand washing and cleaning with a detergent (soap) and water is often enough for daily use as it removes the dirt and most of the germs. This step is necessary even before you start to think about sanitizing and disinfecting. If the dirt and grime is not removed, the sanitizer or disinfectant may not come in contact with the surface and will therefore not be effective.
But it is also just as important to routinely sanitize and disinfect surfaces too, to destroy disease causing microorganisms and prevent the spread of germs. Conciser this not a daily but maybe a weekly chore. (Sanitizing/disinfecting things like your raw meat cutting board is definitely a must do after each use.)
Be aware though, when disinfectants are misused we not only fail to achieve disinfection, we may actually contribute to antibiotic resistance as well. Learn more about how to properly use disinfecting solutions.
A good cleaning company can do the cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting of your living space, and work space for you. But it is also important to do your part to maintain good health and keep those germs from getting you sick- wash your hands and cleaning cloths regularly!