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Sanitizing or Disinfecting: 3 Easy Ways to Know What to Do

02 June 2020

When it comes to keeping things clean you might find yourself using the terms “sanitizing” and “disinfecting” interchangeably. And while they both refer to cleaning, there’s actually a great big difference between these two terms. With COVID-19 keeping us on our toes when it comes to the dangers of bacteria and viruses, knowing the difference between these 2 terms can actually effect not only the products you buy but your overall health as well! So, what’s the difference? And what’s the best way to keep your space clean?


Know the Difference

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting is dependent on the substances you use to clean and the effect it has on germs and the surfaces/objects you clean. Sanitizing is when you decrease the number of germs on objects and surfaces to a safe level. Disinfecting on the other hand, completely kills germs through the use of chemicals such as bleach and other tough chemicals. Although disinfectants might be the best option when it comes to the spread of disease, when it comes to cleaning, tough chemicals such as bleach may be harmful when you’re trying to cleaning objects such as children’s toys or food packages. The best way to know whether to sanitize or disinfect something is by asking yourself 3 simple questions regarding the space/objects you’re cleaning, the products you’re using and the people interacting with what you’re cleaning. By reading through this quick guide, you’ll be able to navigate through all the technical terms that comes with trying to keep yourself and the people you love safe and disease free.


What are you cleaning?

Start by first considering what you’re cleaning. By taking into account the amount of germs and possible diseases something is exposed to, you have a better understanding of whether you should sanitize or disinfect. As a general rule of thumb the best way to know what to do is by first understanding what you are cleaning. When it comes to sanitization, you’re generally cleaning products that don’t come into contact with too much harmful bacteria. Items that fall under this list are usually items that we use in our day to day lives such as our cellphones, kitchen tools and children’s toys. When sanitizing the goal is to lower your risk of bacteria exposure. Disinfectants on the other hand are all about killing germs, this means that cleaning is not necessary your primary goal but rather ensuring that whatever you’re cleaning is completely germ-free. Disinfecting usually applies to germ-infested surfaces like toilet bowls or floors and requires heavy-duty cleaning products.   


Who interacts with what you’re cleaning?

Next thing you’ve got to consider is who and what is exposed to what you’re cleaning. This question is all about the importance of considering safety when it comes to cleaning.  When considering disinfecting, think about how these harsh chemicals truly kill germs and in turn put you at risk. This is especially important when you’re considering children, pets or vulnerable individuals. Sanitizing is the best practice for items and surfaces that you or your loved ones are in intimate contact with. Apart from your day to day items, you should opt to sanitize items/surfaces that are related to things that you consume such as anything related to food. For items/surfaces that you’d like to disinfect, always consider your safety and handle harsh chemicals with care, remember these chemicals are heavy duty. Keep on some gloves to ensure your safety and be sure to protect your eyes and mouth while cleaning.  


What kind of products should you use?

Lastly when it comes to cleaning what are the best products to use for sanitizing and disinfecting? Ultimately this is a culmination of your answers to the first two questions. Once you’ve successfully identified exactly what you’ll be cleaning and for whom, you can then find the right products for you. At the end of the day, when it comes to what you’ll be cleaning with always be sure to use trusted brands and stay conscious on if you’re using sanitizers or disinfectants. As discussed earlier, this could be detrimental to your health. Find the products that work best for you and the spaces/items that you’ll be cleaning.


These are just the basics of knowing the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing, for more information on topics related to COVID-19, health and lifestyle be sure to check the Flexiwellness Center.