Germs are a part of our daily life, and we can find them everywhere. Although some germs are helpful, others are harmful and can cause diseases.

Right now, it is more critical than ever to keep surfaces germ-free. Doing so can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep those closest to you healthy.

If you own a business, you need to learn how to operate it safely to protect your customers and employees. To do so, you must understand the difference between cleaning vs disinfecting.

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

Many people think that cleaning and disinfecting are synonyms. However, they are both different steps involved in keeping a business tidy and free from germs. So, what’s the main difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

What is Cleaning?

Cleaning is the process of removing crumbs, dust, dirt, and some germs from surfaces or objects. Cleaning usually involves soap or detergent mixed with water.

Cleaning does not necessarily remove all the germs on the surface but does reduce the number of them. Therefore, it is an excellent way to reduce the risk of infection.

However, be aware that some cleaning tools, such as sponges and cloths, can transfer germs from one surface to another. Therefore, disinfecting is an essential part of reducing the number of germs in your business.

What is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting involves the use of chemical disinfectants, which kill germs on surfaces and objects. Common disinfectants include diluted bleach solutions, disinfectant wipes, solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and EPA-registered disinfectants.

It is important to note that merely spraying or wiping a surface with disinfectants will not necessarily kill the germs. You must leave a disinfectant product on the surface for some time so it can function correctly.

Importance of Cleaning and Disinfecting

Employing cleaning and disinfecting methods together can help reduce the risk of infection by eliminating the number of germs as much as possible.

The order of operations is essential, though. Remember that C comes before D in the alphabet. Likewise, you should clean before you disinfect.

With a detergent or household cleaner, remove any visible debris, grime, or particles. Then, rinse the surface with warm water and dry it. Finally, apply disinfectant.

You can make a homemade disinfectant by adding two tablespoons of bleach to a half-gallon of water. Let the disinfectant remain on the surface for ten minutes. After, rinse the surface and let it air-dry.

It is important to clean surfaces that are visibly dirty with soap and water before disinfecting them.

Which Surfaces Need Disinfecting?

According to some studies, the coronavirus can remain on certain surfaces for up to 28 days, including stainless steel, money, and phone screens. Thus, it is vital to clean and disinfect all the areas of your business that are regularly touched to prevent the spread of COVID and other viruses.

You should disinfect these surfaces daily when operating a business, especially one that is open to the public.

  • doorbells
  • doorknobs
  • light switches
  • faucets
  • toilet handles
  • remotes
  • keyboards and computer mice
  • railings
  • pens
  • chairs
  • tables and desks
  • countertops
  • shopping carts
  • credit card machines

If you want to further reduce the number of germs in your business, provide a hand sanitizer dispenser. Make sure to encourage employees and customers to apply it each time they enter the building.

Use Products Safely

Even household cleaners can be dangerous when misused. Thus, it is important to use cleaners and disinfectants safely to prevent accidents and injury.

As a result of the panic, people feel during the pandemic, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a rise in accidental poisonings from disinfectants. Therefore, you must be extremely cautious and follow some precautions when using chemicals.

Product Use

Before using a product:

  1. Check its intended uses.
  2. Never use disinfectants on your body, pets, or food.
  3. Avoid using them near open flames or barbeque grills.

Keep in mind that each manufacturer will have its own set of rules. Just be sure to carefully read them and adhere to them.


When using chemical products, it is crucial to have proper ventilation. Bleach and other disinfectants release fumes, which are harmful to your lungs and respiratory tract. Open a window before applying the disinfectant and always put the cap back on when the product is not in use.

Mixing Products

Never mix cleaners or disinfectants with other products unless the label explicitly instructs you to do so. Certain products, when combined, can cause severe injury or death. For example, mixing chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners creates a toxic gas that can kill you.


It’s a good idea to store chemicals in their original bottles or containers. Doing this will prevent you, or someone else, from confusing the chemical for something else. It also ensures that you have easy access to the instructions, expiration date, and warnings on the label.

If children frequently enter your business, you should also store your cleaning products in an out of reach area. Another alternative is keeping them in a locked storage cabinet. Either way, always reseal the products with child safety caps.

Protect Yourself

Check the label on the package before using the product. It should tell you whether you need to wear gloves or eye protection. Even if the label does not say what precautions to take, it is always a good idea to protect your hands and eyes.

If any cleaner or disinfectant gets in your eyes, mouth, or on your skin, immediately stop what you are doing. Follow the guidance on the back of the bottle or get medical help. It is also a good idea to keep the Poison Control number saved in your phone (1-800-222-1222).

We Take Fighting Viruses Seriously

When dealing with outbreaks of contagious viruses, it is essential to take disinfecting and cleaning seriously. Knowing the differences between cleaning vs disinfecting can reduce the risk of contamination in your business. However, it may not be enough to neutralize illness-causing pathogens effectively.

For peace of mind, call a professional janitorial service, such as BriTen Janitorial. All of our employees specialize in infection control and prevention. Our services will allow you to keep your business open and safe during the pandemic.

Do you want to keep your business COVID-free? If so, contact us today!