Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting

EACH OF THESE PROCESSES IS DIFFERENT, AND ALL ARE CRITICAL TO PROPERLY MAINTAINING YOUR TECHNOLOGY. THE CDC DEFINES IT THIS WAY:

Cleaning Removes Dirt, Contaminants, and Germs

CLEANING REMOVES DIRT, CONTAMINANTS, AND GERMS

Cleaning works by using a detergent to physically remove contaminants from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Sanitizing Surfaces

SANITIZING SURFACES

Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces to a specific safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. Often the amount of germs are lowered to specified levels for food safety considerations, such as reducing food-related bacteria.

Disinfecting Kills Germs

DISINFECTING KILLS GERMS

Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill bacteria, fungi, and viruses on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but rather kills germs on a surface after cleaning, further lowering the risk of spreading infection.

Generally, you should clean a surface first to remove contaminants and to disrupt any germ colonies (or Biofilms) on that surface, and then disinfect to kill remaining germs. The scrubbing action of cleaning breaks down the biofilm making it easier to remove germs, and that allows the disinfecting agent to more easily get at the remaining germs.