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What is the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfection?

cleaning and disinfection

The current COVID-19 outbreak has made it more important for you than ever to protect yourself from infection. Unfortunately, a lot of people are confused about the appropriate methods to use. People often use the terms “cleaning” and “disinfection” interchangeably, but these two terms are different.

Read on to learn more about the difference between cleaning and disinfecting.

What is Cleaning?

Cleaning refers to the removal of visible dirt, soil, and dust from surfaces. It is usually done with a wipe or cloth and a detergent, soap, or solvent. Cleaning alone does not kill or completely get rid of viruses or bacteria from surfaces, but it is important. You should always carry out cleaning before disinfecting surfaces because it makes the process effective.

How Effective is Cleaning?

Cleaning agents used together with the right cleaning procedure get rid of almost all soil and germs from a surface. If you use a cleaner to kill germs, you will not kill anything. Cleaning does not kill germs, it only removes them from a surface. The germs that were not removed through cleaning will keep reproducing and spreading. You need to apply a disinfectant to kill the germs that were left behind during the cleaning process.

What is Disinfection?

Disinfection inactivates or kills bacteria and viruses that are on surfaces. Disinfectants are approved by the EPA to kill germs on harmful surfaces. Disinfection is one of the best ways to prevent germs and infections from spreading. However, all disinfectants are not created equal.

The world is currently dealing with a virus that has never been encountered before (in other words; an emerging pathogen). You should only use disinfectants with emerging pathogen claims to disinfect against the virus (i.e. COVID-19).

Disinfection can be carried out in different circumstances, especially now that we are battling with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is usually used in hospitals and other medical buildings. Disinfectants can also be used on food contact surfaces, but they must contain chemicals that are not poisonous to food.

How Effective is Disinfection?

Disinfection kills 100 percent of germs that are listed on the manufacturer’s data (provided you use the disinfectant properly). A disinfectant must dwell for the recommended dwell time so that it can be effective. A disinfectant’s dwell time varies and depends on the type of disinfectant and the organisms that you want to kill. Hospitals and medical facilities usually require disinfectants of a higher grade.

Disinfectants that don’t remain wet for the ideal dwell time do not completely get rid of as many germs, and they are considered ineffective. Surfaces that you do not disinfect properly will increase the risk of spreading germs and causing an outbreak of disease in your home or office.

If you omit even an inch of surface or you do not allow the disinfectant to dwell properly, you are giving germs room to continue reproducing and spreading.

Processes of Disinfection

Disinfection can be done in the following processes:

One-Step Process

In this process of disinfection, cleaning and disinfection are carried out at the same time with a product that is labelled as a cleaner/disinfectant or disinfectant/cleaner. Cleaners/disinfectants get rid of germs and kill them simultaneously.

Ensure you allow the cleaner/ disinfectant to dwell for the appropriate dwell time. The appropriate dwell time is important to ensure that all the organisms on a surface (listed on the label of the disinfectant) are killed.

Two-Step Process

In some cases, the combined use of cleaners/ disinfectants is not effective when compared to the two-step method. Cleaners/ disinfectants cannot completely get rid of heavier soils. We need this so that the disinfectant can completely kill all the organisms on the surface.

In the two-step process, two different products are used to clean and disinfect the surface. A cleaning agent is first applied to get rid of visible and loose soil from the object or surface. A microfiber is then used to apply the disinfectant to the surface. To avoid cross-contamination, ensure you use different clothes for each of the surfaces in your facility.

The disinfectant must remain wet on the surface or object for the appropriate dwell time. Dwell time, the listed kill claims, and the removal process determine the effectiveness of the disinfection process. If you don’t follow the dwell time recommended by the manufacturer, the disinfection process will not be as effective as it should be.

The decrease in the number of germs that the disinfectant you’re using is killing will make germs reproduce and spread throughout your home or office.

What is the main difference between cleaning and disinfection?

There is a big difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning removes dirt and soil from a surface, while disinfection kills germs that are on a surface.

Why are cleaning and disinfection important?

Cleaning and disinfecting a surface or object further lowers the risk of the reproduction and spread of germs. There are specific products that you can use to clean and disinfect at the same time.

What is a disinfectant used for?

Disinfectants are used to kill germs. They kill bacteria by damaging the bacteria and rupturing the outer layers of the bacteria.

What are the two methods of disinfection?

Generally, there are two methods of disinfection, which are the chemical and physical methods. The chemical method involves the use of chemical agents, while the physical methods involve the use of physical agents. The most common chemical agent used in chemical methods is chlorine.

How is disinfection performed?

Disinfection is usually performed through the use of chemicals (solutions), vapours, and gases. When you use chemicals to kill all types of microbiologic life, they can be referred to as chemical sterilants.

Wrapping Up

Although it is important to reduce germs in your home and office, the facilities determine the type of cleaning product and procedure to use. The cleaning products and procedures are also determined by the surfaces, frequency, and your specific requirements and expectations.

Get in touch with Top Cleaning GB for help with cleaning and disinfecting your facility to make it germ-free. We will identify gaps in your cleaning and disinfection processes so that we can make your facility safe for you and your loved ones.



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