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Know the Difference between Cleaning, Sanitising & Disinfecting

Know the Difference between Cleaning, Sanitising & Disinfecting 25th August 2017/by Tim Marshall Within the cleaning industry, there are many words which are thrown around all the time which many people just agree with without knowing the extent to what they mean. From cleaning to sanitising to disinfecting, we’ve listed what each mean below to help you know the difference.

Cleaning Definition: the removal of visible soil, debris, micro-organisms and organic substances from surfaces; will not eliminate germs but reduces their numbers by removing some contaminated matter.

Cleaning is just the first step in a complete decontamination process, but it’s a step you can’t skip. Even if you intend to sanitise or disinfect the area, cleaning away visible soil, dust or debris beforehand makes it easier and more effective to remove microscopic germs with more intensive methods later.

Cleaning is typically done using clean water in combination with a universal detergent. Items with a low risk for transferring pathogens like floors and windows may only need surface cleaning. Even so, these surfaces can be cross-contaminated and harbor increased risk for disease transfer.

Sanitisation Definition: the reduction of bacteria to safe levels (set by public health standards) to decrease the risk of infection; may not kill all viruses.

A step beyond cleaning, sanitisation kills a greater amount of bacteria and is required for any surface that comes into contact with food. The CDC explains that “a sanitiser is a chemical that kills 99.999% of the specific test bacteria in 30 seconds under the conditions of the test.” Therefore, while sanitisers can kill the majority of certain kinds of bacteria, sanitisation products and techniques alone cannot eliminate all viruses.

The surfaces in your facility that are most at risk for contamination will require additional decontamination to effectively control your liability.

Disinfection Definition: the elimination of pathogens and disease-causing micro-organisms, except bacterial spores.

Disinfection is a stronger decontamination method because of its ability to destroy pathogens.

There are several grades of chemical disinfectants. Choose one that meets your facility’s environmental needs:

Low-level disinfectant: Kills almost all vegetative bacteria and some viruses and fungi, but not bacterial spores.

High- level disinfectant: Eliminates all micro-organisms except for small numbers of bacterial spores; capable of killing bacterial spores when used in adequate concentration under suitable conditions.

Hospital-grade disinfectant: Approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in hospitals and other medical facilities – including clinics and dentist offices – to destroy many known infections and disease-causing bacteria. There are roughly 1,200 registered hospital-grade disinfectants. ServiceMaster East Lancashire uses SaniMaster Hospital Grade Disinfectant throughout. As you have just read there are differences between each word thrown around the cleaning industry a lot. Whilst not many people know the differences, we at ServiceMaster do.

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