Breakdown of the difference between cleaning and disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting are essential practices for maintaining a healthy environment and preventing the spread of illnesses. Here’s a breakdown of the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, along with guidelines for both:


  • Purpose: Cleaning removes dirt, dust, debris, and some germs from surfaces. It typically involves using soap, water, and detergents to physically wipe away impurities.
  • Process: Use soap or detergent and water to clean surfaces thoroughly. Scrub surfaces, rinse with clean water, and dry with a clean cloth or paper towel.
  • Frequency: Regular cleaning should be done daily or as needed, especially in high-traffic areas or frequently touched surfaces.


  • Purpose: Disinfecting kills germs and pathogens on surfaces. It involves using chemicals to eliminate or reduce the number of bacteria and viruses present.
  • Process: Use disinfectants registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and follow the instructions on the product label. Apply the disinfectant to surfaces, ensuring proper contact time as specified, then allow it to air dry.
  • Frequency: Disinfect high-touch surfaces regularly, especially in shared spaces or areas where there’s a higher risk of contamination. Common high-touch surfaces include doorknobs, light switches, countertops, faucets, phones, and keyboards.

Tips for Effective Cleaning and Disinfecting:

  1. Prioritize High-Touch Surfaces: Focus on surfaces and objects that are frequently touched by multiple people.
  2. Follow Product Instructions: Read and follow the instructions on disinfectant labels carefully to ensure effectiveness and safety.
  3. Ventilation: Ensure proper ventilation when using disinfectants, and follow safety precautions mentioned on the product label.
  4. Wear Gloves: Use disposable gloves while cleaning and disinfecting, especially if dealing with chemicals or potentially contaminated surfaces.
  5. Dispose of Cleaning Materials: Dispose of gloves, wipes, or cleaning materials properly after use to prevent contamination.
  6. Regular Schedule: Establish a regular cleaning and disinfecting schedule, especially in public spaces or shared environments.

Maintaining a clean and disinfected environment is crucial for reducing the risk of spreading infections. Combining regular cleaning with proper disinfecting practices helps create a healthier and safer space for everyone.