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What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?

Some people think that disinfecting is same thing as cleaning or sanitizing. But they are actually different:

Cleaning

 removes dirt, dust, crumbs, and germs from surfaces or objects. When you clean, you will likely use soap (or detergent) and water to physically clean off the surfaces and objects. This may not necessarily kill the germs. But since you removed some of them, there are fewer germs that could spread infection to you.

Disinfecting

 uses chemicals (disinfectants) to kill germs on surfaces and objects. Some common disinfectants are bleach and alcohol solutions. You usually need to leave the disinfectant on the surfaces and objects for a certain period of time to kill the germs. Disinfecting does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs.

Sanitizing

 could be done by either cleaning, disinfecting, or both. Sanitizing means that you are lowering the number of germs to a safe level. What is considered a safe level depends on public health standards or requirements at a workplace, school, etc. For example, there are sanitizing procedures for restaurants and other facilities that prepare food. What you do to sanitize will vary, depending on your needs. You might be mopping a floor using a mop, a chemical, and water. You might use a dishwasher to sanitize the dishes. Or you could be using an antibacterial wipe on a tv remote.

If you both clean and disinfect a surface or object, you can further lower the risk of spreading infection. There are products that clean and disinfect at the same time.

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