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The Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitising and Disinfecting

September 21, 2021 by WINNS Services

Cleaning is not sanitising and sanitising is not disinfecting. While these terms are often used synonymously with each other, there are significant differences that we intend to make clear with this post.

All three processes are levels of decontamination with the aim to reduce the risk of infection. Cleaning is the most basic level, sanitising is the step above that, while disinfecting is even higher.

Cleaning removes any visible dirt, debris and germs from surfaces or objects using soap and water. While you are reducing the amount of germs and lowering the risk of cross-contamination, it is important to know you are not killing them.

When you sanitise a surface, you are reducing the amount of bacteria to a safe level based on the public health standards.

Disinfecting a surface will go one step further than cleaning or sanitising and kill germs. As a result, surfaces will need a ‘pre-clean’ before any disinfecting takes place to lower the risk of infection spreading.

Now you may be asking yourself, “why can’t I simply disinfect everything since it’s the most effective out of all three?” Well, for one, not all surfaces will require that level of cleaning. Windows and floors are considered low risk surfaces and less likely to spread pathogens from contact with the surface. Secondly, disinfectants are pesticides and can be dangerous to human contact, so shouldn’t be used on objects that will come into contact with their mouth, including cutlery, plates, glasses or toys.

Understanding the differences between these levels of cleaning is imperative in industries, such as the food or healthcare industry. Sanitising can kill 99.9% of certain bacteria’s within 30 seconds, eliminating any microorganisms that can lead to food-related illness without affecting the food. In medical institutions, there are areas that are exposed to blood and bodily fluids, which will require disinfecting as sanitising will not be enough to prevent the spread of infection.

Deciding whether to clean, sanitise or disinfect all depends on where you are. Any surfaces or objects that come into contact with food should be sanitised. In a medical organisation, all surfaces must be cleaned before it can be sanitised or disinfected. Walls, windows and floors are considered non-critical surfaces and can therefore be cleaned.

At WINNS Services, we are experienced professionals who have the appropriate training and equipment to customise your cleaning needs. If you have any queries regarding our range of cleaning surface, do not hesitate to get in contact with us.



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