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Cleaning vs Disinfecting: Which One Should You Choose This Pandemic?

Cleaning vs Disinfecting: Which One Is Better?

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

Back in the 1900s, when the living conditions of an average global citizen were either highly filthy, dusty, or sooty. Disinfecting & cleaning the surfaces is far from one’s imagination. So, after World War 1 ended, and the pandemic struck the world, they were helpless. Fast forward to 2019 when the standard of living of an average global citizen improved, and healthcare was well advanced. COVID-19 pandemic stuck the world. 

The COVID-19 pandemic made the world realize that even with such medical advancements, humans are under constant threat. Pesky pathogens & micro-organisms can always disturb normal human life. The only way one could protect themselves from the pandemic is by following a set of guidelines laid down by the WHO. Just like good immunity protects an individual to fight diseases, hygienic places protect people from pathogens. 

In this article, we will find out how can you make a place hygienic. The crux of the article is to find out what is cleaning & disinfecting. So, let’s dive deep into Cleaning vs Disinfecting. 

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

Why do we need to keep our surroundings hygienic?

I am sure you must have heard the saying, cleanliness is next to godliness. Why is cleanliness so important? Why should the surfaces be hygienic? The answer is simple. Hygienic conditions keep us away from diseases. You may wonder how is this possible. This is possible because hygiene keeps pathogens away. Talking strictly about the COVID-19 pandemic, unhygienic places may allow the coronavirus to settle, propagate, and spread to other surfaces.

It has been scientifically proved that the coronavirus can sustain up to a few hours to a few days. It depends upon the type of surface You can find out more about the duration of coronavirus on different surfaces. The coronavirus can infect a person if they directly contact the surface, and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. To eliminate any chance of contacting the coronavirus, one needs to keep their surroundings hygienic. For maintaining hygiene, one needs to disinfect or clean or sanitize the surface. Let’s talk more about cleaning vs disinfecting.

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

Before we understand which one should we employ to eliminate the pathogens, let’s try to differentiate them. Foremost, let’s define both the terms.

What is Cleaning?

Cleaning is the process of removing dirt, dust, debris, or any other material from the surface using physical action. It also may remove, eliminate or kill the micro-organisms in due process. Cleaning requires the use of soap & water. Even detergents can be used instead of soaps. Cleaning may or may not cause disinfection.

What is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting is the process of killing & eliminating pathogens & other micro-organisms using special chemicals called disinfectants. After the application of these disinfectants on the surface, one needs to wait for a certain period. This period of waiting is the interaction between disinfectant & pathogens. Disinfection of a surface doesn’t essentially guarantee cleaning.

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

Find out whether disinfectants are harmful to the environment or not.

What are some major differences between cleaning and disinfecting?

To understand cleaning vs disinfecting, one needs to point out the differences between cleaning & disinfecting. Let’s list out the differences one by one.

  1. Both these processes use different chemicals or solutions. While cleaning often requires a soap or detergent solution, disinfecting requires special chemicals called disinfectants.
  2. Cleaning involves physical activity, which plays an important role in the removal of dust, debris, and micro-organisms. Disinfecting doesn’t require any physical activity. The elimination of micro-organisms & pathogens occurs due to the denaturation of their protein molecules.
  3. US organization EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) regulates cleaning products only if they provide sanitizing & disinfecting as well. While the EPA has to regulate all the disinfectants. It also maintains a dedicated list of disinfectants that are effective in the elimination of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Check out the list of disinfectants here. Disinfectants go through a strict testing routine by the EPA before they are allowed in the market. Cleaning products (which are only used in cleaning) need not undergo any testing by the EPA.
  4. Disinfectants must be applied on the surface and left alone for a certain time. During this period, the process of disinfection occurs. Cleaning of the surface occurs simultaneously as the physical action occurs on the surface.
Cleaning vs Disinfecting

Cleaning vs Disinfecting - Which One is Better to Eliminate Coronavirus?

Before coming to a direct conclusion, let’s find out when one should disinfect & when one should clean the surface.

When should you clean the surface?

If there’s no one is affected by the coronavirus, and there are no COVID-19 symptoms, then cleaning once a day is enough. This helps to eliminate the coronavirus if any. It also maintains the hygiene of the surroundings, thus allowing to achieve a safe environment.

One may decide to clean the surfaces more than once -

  1. If the space is shared with other people.
  2. If the space is actively used.
  3. If the space is poorly ventilated.
  4. If a COVID-19 positive person has used the space.

When should you disinfect the surface?

If one wants to eliminate & ensure that the surface is completely free from pathogens, then one can disinfect the surface. For disinfecting a surface, one should use only EPA-approved disinfectants.

One may decide to clean the surfaces more than once -

  1. If a COVID-19 positive person has used the space.
  2. If a person with COVID-19 symptoms has used the space.
  3. If the space doesn’t have access to cleaning & hand wash facilities.
  4. If the space is used by a large number of people.

Can you use a fogger machine to disinfect the surface? Find out more details in our detailed guide on how to disinfect using fogger machines.

Tips - 

  • Clean & disinfect highly touched surfaces like doorknobs, electric switches, toilet sinks, and other such surfaces.
  • Always follow the instructions mentioned on the label of the product.
  • Follow the CDC guidelines for cleaning & disinfection.
  • Cleaning vs Disinfecting


    So, who wins in cleaning vs disinfecting? Disinfection of surfaces ensures the elimination of pathogens which cleaning activity may or may not achieve. While it is still important to keep the surface hygienic. This can be achieved via cleaning. The best possible solution to eliminate the coronavirus completely is by cleaning the surface and following it by disinfection. 

    Stay healthy! Stay safe! Stay true!