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Cleaning Vs. Disinfecting

disinfecting surfaces

Knowing the difference between just cleaning and actually disinfecting surfaces is crucial!

Most individuals want to ensure that their homes or businesses are clean. Not only does this create a safe space for us to lounge and relax, but it also keeps our body and minds healthy as we don’t have to maneuver around a bunch of clutter. However, while cleaning may involve wiping down counters, dusting furniture, and vacuuming, does it help kill germs that have the potential to get us sick?

Many people are under the impression that when you clean, you are simultaneously disinfecting it. However, cleaning and disinfecting are two different processes that must be performed to ensure the healthiest environment for homes and businesses. What is the difference? The experts at Red Responders have the answers.

A Closer Look At Cleaning & Disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting may be similar, but they have two very different jobs.

Cleaning is the action of removing dirt and grime from an area or surface. This is often accomplished with soap, detergent, water, or simply vacuuming. However, while some germs may be killed in the process, sometimes cleaning tools can cause germs and allergens to just move from one place to another.

Disinfecting is the action of actively killing germs on a surface or making it impossible for them to multiply. Disinfecting a surface or area is the only way to truly ensure that germs and allergens in your household are destroyed to protect your family from illness.

What About Sanitizing and Sterilizing?

Technically, sanitizing and sterilizing are disinfecting actions; however, they take it a step further.

Sanitizing refers to removing or limiting the number of germs that are located on a surface, e.g. hand sanitizer. While it does not kill all of the bacteria and germs on your hands, it does remove a good deal. However, sanitizing does not stop the reproduction of germs, so any of the pesky bacteria or germs that stay around could potentially multiply.

Sterilizing destroys all of the germs and bacteria on a surface. The powerful chemicals that go into sterilization get the job done when it comes to removal; however, some of these chemicals can be toxic to humans when exposed to them for long periods of time. This is why sterilization is usually only used in healthcare settings.

When Should I Sanitize My Home?

Sanitizing isn’t necessary all the time. The only time you should worry about sanitizing your home is when you are cooking and food, such as raw meat, has come into contact with a surface. Remember, sanitization removes a lot of dangerous pathogens, such as bacteria, germs, or even fungi, from a surface. Doing this after cooking will remove these harmful pathogens before they have a chance to breed and make people sick.

How Do I Sanitize Surfaces?

Sanitization can be done fairly simply. Most modern appliances, such as a dishwasher or laundry machine, have a sanitization setting when going through its cycle. This is accomplished by bringing the surfaces to at least 170 degrees, which quickly kills germs and bacteria.

If you are worried about germs in your carpet or upholstery, you can sanitize the area with a steam cleaner, which again, raises the temperature of the area, making it impossible for germs and bacteria to survive.

When Should I Disinfect My Home?

A disinfectant should be used only if you are aiming to remove every bit of contamination from a space. For example, if you have a loved one who is sick, disinfectant is a powerful tool to use to help stop the spread of germs and bacteria. However, it is important to note that disinfectant is only useful when you follow the directions. For example, many people use Clorox wipes to quickly disinfect surfaces. However, what they don’t realize is that in order for it to be successful in disinfecting the area, the surface needs to remain wet (by the wipes) for four minutes.

It is also important to note that you should clean a surface before attempting to disinfect it. Why is this? Because dirt and grime can make disinfectant less effective, as it will be removed by the disinfectant and not the germs and bacteria.

A Warning From the Environmental Protection Agency

Bacteria and germs are living things, so they can mutate and change. The overuse of disinfectants is a growing health concern. Since bacteria can mutate, the introduction of microbes allows these germs and bacteria to mutate to stronger viruses that are more resistant to disinfectants. These are often called superbugs.

What About Bloodborne Pathogens?

When it comes to more serious situations, such as major accidents in the workplace, home products will not be able to completely clean and disinfect the area. The team at Red Responders is well-equipped to handle serious situations where more dangerous pathogens threaten the health of your home or business. Contact our team today for compassionate and discreet biohazard remediation and sanitation services.

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