How Cleaning and Disinfection are Different

Though cleaning and disinfecting are two distinct processes, both are needed to maintain a hygienic environment. It is especially important to know how each necessitates in keeping people safe from the threat of the coronavirus, other viruses, and a host of germs.

How do results differ between cleaning and disinfecting?

As you may have guessed, cleaning cleans the surface, while disinfecting disinfects. But what does that mean?

What Does Cleaning Do?

before disinfecting, you need to clean it with soap - disinfection and cleaning by ServiceMaster DAK - ServiceMaster RestoreContrary to what we may believe about soap, it doesn’t actually kill germs and all the bad stuff on the surface you’re cleaning— it just washes off the dirt and grime. However, in order to disinfect the surface, you need to first clean the dirt and grime off. So in the disinfection process, you must first clean off the dirt and grime.

You would think that by spraying Lysol or bleach onto an infected surface would be enough. However, if you don’t first clean it, the disinfection won’t be able to penetrate the junk covering the viruses and bacteria that you want the disinfectants to get to.

Dirt and grime sort of serve as a protective covering or shell to the viruses and bacteria. It’s the same with when cleaning mold off walls. The outer layer covers what you want to get to. For mold, you need to scrape it with a brush, then spray with vinegar, bleach, or other strong chemical. With viruses and bacteria, you must first clean the dirt and grime away in order to expose them. Only then can disinfection be effective.

Bottom line, you can’t begin the disinfection process without first cleaning the surface.

What Does Disinfection Do?

Disinfection is what you wanted to do in the first place – kill the germs, which include viruses and bacteria. When used properly, disinfections will kill 100% of the germs listed on the manufacturer’s label – but they must be used correctly. If not, the germs have an increased chance of spreading and causing illness. For example, if you miss an area, or if you don’t allow the disinfectant to sit for the required contact time before wiping the surface, the germs will continue to reproduce and spread.

What is the contact time for disinfectant products?

A disinfectant will only kill germs when the recommended contact time (the number of minutes the solution remains visibly wet on the surface) is followed. The contact time will differ based on the organism being killed and the type of disinfectant used, and can range from 15 seconds to 10 minutes.

What types of surfaces may be cleaned and disinfected?

Disinfecting is a process that uses chemicals to kill germs. In order to eliminate COVID-19 and reduce the risk of spreading the virus, the CDC recommends that hard surfaces be cleaned AND disinfected frequently using household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants. High-touch surfaces, such as stainless steel appliances, glass windows, bathroom fixtures, kitchen countertops, doorknobs, light switches, and electronic equipment, should be cleaned and disinfected several times a day, for as the name suggests, they’re touched often. And if someone in your household has COVID-19 or shows symptoms, you should clean and disinfect the high-touch surfaces in the areas they enter as frequently as possible.

Soft materials, such as contaminated clothing or curtains in the room of a sick person, may be laundered according to the manufacturer’s instructions for an effective clean.

What different products may be used for cleaning and disinfecting?

Check the labels on disinfection cleanersIdeally, cleaning products should be registered by the EPA. All-purpose, biodegradable cleaners are great for home use since the plant-based solutions are free of chlorine bleach and perfumes and will not leave the home smelling like chemicals.

Some cleaning products contain vinegar. The acetic acid in vinegar helps break down impurities, like dirt and grime. A versatile cleaning agent, vinegar-based cleaners may be used to clean carpets, furniture, and many other surfaces. Use the cleaner full-strength for tough jobs or dilute it with water.

Disinfectant products must contain any one of three important chemicals to properly kill germs and viruses:

  1. Quaternary ammonium chloride (QUATS)
  2. Peroxide (hydrogen-peroxide based)
  3. Hypochlorite (bleach-based).

Specific advantages and disadvantages are unique to each of these three types of disinfectants. Clorox Professional Company manufactures EPA-approved disinfectants that are readily available. Depending on the product, hydrogen peroxide may be an active ingredient. Bleach wipes are also effective disinfectants and contain sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Many surface disinfectants contain quaternary ammonium.

ServiceMaster DAK Provides Cleaning and Disinfection Services

It doesn’t matter if you are maintaining a school, hospital, office, or any other facility – cleaning and disinfecting together should be important parts of your maintenance routine. Keeping your facility clean and disinfected will reduce the spread of illness and enhance your facility’s overall appearance.

ServiceMaster DAK uses the Clorox Total 360 disinfection system - ServiceMaster Restore

The Clorox Total 360 System is an electrostatic sprayer that is designed to spray surfaces with powerful disinfectants.

ServiceMaster DAK provides highly effective commercial cleaning and disinfecting services to help protect a business’ employees, visitors, and customers.

Using new and advanced electrostatic sprayer technology, like the Clorox Total 360 System, our experienced technicians can eliminate the coronavirus and other disease-causing viruses from the vicinity. Larger properties (up to 18,000 feet) benefit from this type of disinfection service.

Midsize properties, like small offices or homes, benefit from our electric airless disinfectant sprayer. Treated surfaces are disinfected, sanitized, and deodorized. Once treated, immediate re-entry is permitted. Our skilled crews will evaluate your property and choose the most appropriate disinfection method.

Call ServiceMaster DAK to schedule and appointment with us. We are a ServiceMaster Restore franchise, and we proudly clean and disinfect homes and businesses in Barrington, Buffalo Grove, and the surrounding areas in Cook and Lake County, IL.

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