When it comes to cleaning, not all jobs are created equal. Cleaning dirt or food from a surface, for example, doesn’t necessarily kill germs and bacteria that can cause us to become sick. That’s why it’s important to know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing. The CDC offers the following guidance.
Cleaning removes germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
Pay close attention to hazard warnings and directions on product labels. Cleaning products and disinfectants often call for the use of gloves or eye protection. For example, gloves should always be worn to protect your hands when working with bleach solutions.
Visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus for more information on how to protect yourself and your family.