Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Why the difference matters after Covid-19
In the face of an eye-opening pandemic, it’s more important than ever to take personal hygiene and cleanliness seriously. One thing we’ve noticed is that many people use the terms “cleaning” and “disinfecting” interchangeably, but the two are actually different.
Here's a breakdown of cleaning vs disinfecting and why that difference matters, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Cleaning vs Disinfecting
Cleaning, by definition, is the process of removing germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Let’s say you blow your nose and drop the used tissue on the floor. When you clean the floor, the tissue and any residue is removed, along with any germs that were on the tissue. The germs in the tissue are still alive, but by removing them, you’ve reduced your contact with them and their ability to spread.
Disinfecting is the process of killing germs on surfaces by using chemicals. Let’s say you’re cooking and lay down some raw meat on your kitchen counter. When you disinfect the area where the raw meat was, you’re killing all the germs the meat left behind. Your kitchen counter might not sparkle and shine, but the germs are no longer there and cannot spread or cause infection.
Which one should I do? Clean or Disinfect
The short answer: both.
For the most effective results, you should clean surfaces before disinfecting them. This removes any dirt or buildup that could prevent the disinfectant from working to its potential. A little detergent soap and water are all you need to clean your surfaces.
Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces. Common areas in the home include tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, and sinks, among others.
Make sure you also wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces to avoid re-contaminating areas you just cleaned, plus you can toss your gloves after each cleaning. If you’re using reusable gloves, make sure you clean them thoroughly after each use. They should be dedicated to cleaning and disinfecting surfaces for COVID-19 and not be used for any other purpose. Wash your hands with soap and water after removing the gloves.
Also, note that not all cleaning products are made to disinfect surfaces. Pay attention to the label and look for products that specifically say they disinfect. Together, we can help keep contamination at bay so that everyone can thrive.
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