TO CLEAN OR DISINFECT, THAT IS THE QUESTION

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What’s the Difference?

Do you know whether you are cleaning or disinfecting? No? Yeah, well, I didn’t either. In fact, I wasn’t really sure there was a difference. But there is.

As the average mother of growing children, I never really paid much attention. I just wanted my house to feel clean, which it rarely does. But maybe that’s because I wasn’t doing it the right way. Or should I say…the cleaning people weren’t doing it the right way.

The reality is, there’s a huge difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Knowing the difference can make all the difference between a house that feels clean, and a house that is also free of germs that transfer from one person to another.

As Mary Anne Dunkin writes in Cleaning or Disinfecting: What’s the Difference?,

“Cleaning involves getting rid of dirt and gunk where germs can grow. The friction of cleaning — often with soap and water — removes most surface germs, which is adequate for most household surfaces.  In other cases, however, it’s a good idea to disinfect, which destroys or inactivates most of the germs.”

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Surfaces that are touched by multiple persons like doorknobs, refrigerator handles, microwaves, faucets and toilet flushers need to be disinfected because lots of dirty, germ-laden hands touch them. It’s really the only way to ensure that germs are not transferred. Honestly, it’s bad enough to think about my kids’ unwashed hands on all of these different surfaces. When I also think of all of their friends’ hands and the lack of disinfecting going on in my house, it’s enough to make me…well…sick.

Making Sure

In Cleaners vs Disinfectants: What you need to know, Melissa Maker says, “A cleaner does not disinfect and a disinfectant does not clean.” She goes on to explain that cleaners lift dirt on a surface while disinfectants kill bacteria, germs, etc. because of certain ingredients they contain. The latter do not necessarily make things shiny or smell good. (Personally, I like the strong, disinfectant smell. It makes me know things are really clean.)

The other thing Maker points out is that to truly have a fresh, germ-free house, you need to do both. Clean AND Disinfect. You should clean first, then disinfect. And, you have to follow the directions on different products to know exactly how to use them.

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P&G Professional Cleaning Products

There are a lot of products out there that do one, the other, or, sometimes, both. Knowing the difference is important. Or…knowing that your cleaning company knows the difference is important. Immaculate Clean knows how to do it right.

What’s the Difference?

Do you know whether you are cleaning or disinfecting? No? Yeah, well, I didn’t either. In fact, I wasn’t really sure there was a difference. But there is.

As the average mother of growing children, I never really paid much attention. I just wanted my house to feel clean, which it rarely does. But maybe that’s because I wasn’t doing it the right way. Or should I say…the cleaning people weren’t doing it the right way.

The reality is, there’s a huge difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Knowing the difference can make all the difference between a house that feels clean, and a house that is also free of germs that transfer from one person to another.

As Mary Anne Dunkin writes in Cleaning or Disinfecting: What’s the Difference?,

“Cleaning involves getting rid of dirt and gunk where germs can grow. The friction of cleaning — often with soap and water — removes most surface germs, which is adequate for most household surfaces.  In other cases, however, it’s a good idea to disinfect, which destroys or inactivates most of the germs.”

Surfaces that are touched by multiple persons like doorknobs, refrigerator handles, microwaves, faucets and toilet flushers need to be disinfected because lots of dirty, germ-laden hands touch them. It’s really the only way to ensure that germs are not transferred. Honestly, it’s bad enough to think about my kids’ unwashed hands on all of these different surfaces. When I also think of all of their friends’ hands and the lack of disinfecting going on in my house, it’s enough to make me…well…sick.

Making Sure

In Cleaners vs Disinfectants: What you need to know, Melissa Maker says, “A cleaner does not disinfect and a disinfectant does not clean.” She goes on to explain that cleaners lift dirt on a surface while disinfectants kill bacteria, germs, etc. because of certain ingredients they contain. The latter do not necessarily make things shiny or smell good. (Personally, I like the strong, disinfectant smell. It makes me know things are really clean.)

The other thing Maker points out is that to truly have a fresh, germ-free house, you need to do both. Clean AND Disinfect. You should clean first, then disinfect. And, you have to follow the directions on different products to know exactly how to use them.

P&G Professional Cleaning Products

There are a lot of products out there that do one, the other, or, sometimes, both. Knowing the difference is important. Or…knowing that your cleaning company knows the difference is important. Immaculate Clean knows how to do it right.

Author Bio

Jill Reese

Jill is a small town woman in her late 40's raising 3 kids and 1 dog. She is a life expert with an undergraduate degree in advertising and a PhD. in Education. When she isn't trying to figure out the roller coaster of life, she's blogging about it!


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  • Carroll County Professional Cleaning Services: Eldersburg (21784), Finksburg (21048), Hampstead (21074), Marriottsville (21104), Mount Airy (21771), New Windsor (21776), Sykesville (21784), Union Bridge (21791), Westminster (21157, 21158), Woodbine (21797)
  • Baltimore County Professional Cleaning Services: Ellicott City (21043), Glyndon (21071), Owings Mills (21117), Pikesville (21208), Reisterstown (21136), Woodstock (21163)
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