Cleaning Vs. Disinfecting: Understand the Difference
By Mark Gilbreth, Regional Sales Executive
With health at the forefront of our minds amid the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a lot of discussions on the right methodologies to clean, type of disinfectants to use, frequency of cleaning, etc. With so many expert opinions on what should be the best practices, it is important to firstly differentiate between cleaning and disinfecting.
Regardless of the type of your facility, thorough cleaning and disinfecting are integral steps of the maintenance process as a whole. But cleaning and disinfecting are considered as two separate services – cleaning can be performed as a standalone service but it is not possible to disinfect without cleaning.
“Disinfectants don’t work if there’s a visibly dirty surface. It’s always recommended to clean and then disinfect surfaces if they’re visibly dirty.” – Karen Hoffmann (Immediate Past President, Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology)
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning is the practice of removing dirt and impurities while disinfecting works to kill germs on surfaces or objects. For this purpose, the chemicals and products used for either of these services vary from each other. Cleaning products are generally all-purpose products that remove visible dust, dirt, debris, grime along with some germs. Disinfectants help kill and prevent the spread of pathogens including different types of bacteria and viruses. Good quality disinfectants often have the capability to prohibit the growth and reproduction of microscopic organisms on the surfaces it is used.
The recent global pandemic has made it essential to ensure that all spaces and surfaces are not only thoroughly cleaned, but also frequently disinfected. Although germs are essentially found in dirt and grime, the propagation and transmission of the coronavirus has made it clear that even clean surfaces are as risky as the dirty spots. While this is a valuable lesson for us to learn and adopt to ensure that we have safe and healthy workspaces and households, it is equally important to enforce the same rigorous cleaning and disinfecting practices after the pandemic is over. Based on expert health and safety guidelines, the following protocol should be adopted by businesses, schools, and other community settings:
- Scale up your routine cleaning protocol by including daily disinfecting practices
- Focus on cleaning and disinfecting of high touch-points
- Increase the schedule of the maintenance plan to frequently repeat the essential cleaning and disinfecting procedures with attention to detail for every high risk touch-point
- Ensure all visibly dirty surfaces are immediately cleaned
- Use cleaning and EPA registered disinfecting products that are effective against a wide spectrum of pathogens and harmful microscopic organisms
One of the most effective ways to execute a comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting program is by partnering with a professional facilities maintenance company. Diversified Maintenance offers a range of cost-effective approaches designed to meet the current requirements of the pandemic as well as new and improved scope of work for the future. To learn more on safe and preventive cleaning and disinfecting solutions at, reach out to me, Mark Gilbreth at mGilbreth@diversifiedm.com