We’ve all experienced being sick and trying to recover while also preventing our germs from spreading and making others in our household sick.
In the heart of the cold and flu season, it’s especially important to know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing and how each reduces the spread of germs.
Cleaning is simply removing the visible dirt and impurities from a surface. Soap and water or an all-purpose cleaner will work fine. Disinfecting actually kills the germs on the surface with chemicals and is most effective after the surface is clean. Some disinfecting products actually clean and disinfectant in one-step so you can use the same product for both cleaning and disinfecting. An example is JAWS Disinfectant Cleaner. Other products only disinfectant and should be used after the surface is cleaned of visible dirt and grime.
Many of us think we’re disinfecting properly when we spray the surface with a disinfectant and immediately wipe it clean- right? Well not exactly… the disinfectant has to sit wet, on the surface for the amount time listed on the product label to actually kill the 99.9% of germs it claims to kill. Each disinfectant product may have different kill times so it’s important to check the labels.
Sanitizing reduces the amount of germs on a clean surface to a safe level. Bacteria and viruses can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours so sanitizing is incredibly important to lower the risk of spreading infection. It is quicker than disinfecting because it doesn’t require as much contact time. The “spray and wipe” method is better suited for sanitizing because it requires shorter contact time than disinfecting, When we “spray and wipe” we are actually sanitizing the surface, which reduces the germs on the surface, but does not actually kill as many germs as disinfecting.
A combination of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting will help you manage the high traffic, germ magnet areas in your home.
A Few Quick Tips:
- Clean all visible surface dirt, then spray with a disinfectant and let sit wet then wipe or air dry.
- Keep hand sanitizer around high traffic areas in the home. The CDC recommends a sanitizer with at least a 60% alcohol concentration to be effective.
- Wash bedding and linens in a hot water cycle to get rid of lingering bacteria.
- Be sure to disinfect high-touch surfaces around the house such as doorknobs, remote controls, toilet handles, faucets, etc.
- Scrub hands with soap and water and lather for at least 20 seconds when washing hands.