What are the Differences between Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting?

Although most individuals use these words interchangeably, each actually has its own specific – and very different – meaning. Does this matter when you are talking about whose turn it is to wipe down the bathroom counters? No. But it does matter when you are purchasing cleaning supplies and searching for a commercial cleaning company.


The most basic of the three terms, cleaning is a word that describes the removal of dirt and debris from a surface or object. This action typically performed using soap and a towel and will make your counters look nice, but will not solve the entire problem.


Next is sanitization. Available in the supermarket, sanitizers kill 99.999 percent of bacteria in 30 seconds or less.

Sanitizing a surface does not completely remove all resident germs; it lowers the number of them on the surface to the “safe level” that is decided upon by public health standards. A quick process, sanitizing is often performed to clean restaurant tables between guests.


Stronger than both cleaning and sanitizing, disinfecting kills all organisms on a surface within ten minutes. Testing is regulated by the EPA before a product can be labeled a disinfectant, as these products are frequently used in hospitals and other medical facilities to ensure the destruction of germs and fluids that could quickly spread illness.

Because different sanitizers and disinfectants must be mixed to different potencies and left on the surfaces they are cleaning for a specific amount of time, it is always important to read product labels and instructions.

For an experienced commercial cleaning company in the New York City area, please call Blue Chip Building Maintenance, Inc. at 212-564-0100. Our staff has the knowledge and tools required to perform all cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting services that your company may need.

Source: https://home.howstuffworks.com/home-improvement/household-hints-tips/cleaning-organizing/disinfecting-vs-sanitizing.htm