Have you ever thought about the difference between cleaning and sanitizing? These terms are often used interchangeably along with words like disinfect and sterilize, but while they are alike, their distinctions are critical. If you work in the fields of medicine, food service, or science, you probably already have a good understanding of the different types of cleaning. Nurses don’t use needles that are simply “clean.” They must be sterilized as well. Also, just because a table is shiny and free of crumbs, that doesn’t mean you can safely eat food off the surface. Today we’re going to discuss the difference between cleaning and sanitizing because it is important to know for safety’s sake.
First, let’s go to the Dictionary. These are the applicable definitions for “clean” and “sanitize”:
CLEAN (verb): making (something or someone) free of dirt, marks, or mess, especially by washing, wiping, or brushing.
SANITIZE (verb): make clean and hygienic (hygienic is defined as “conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially by being clean; sanitary”).
As you can see, cleaning focuses on the appearance of the item or surface. A chair could be covered in germs and bacteria, but as long as it isn’t covered in dirt, marks, or some other kind of a mess, it can be called clean. Sanitization, on the other hand, goes much deeper. Not only is a sanitized item clean, but it is also hygienic.
If you’re curious, here are the definitions of the other two, very similar words:
DISINFECT (verb): clean with a disinfectant in order to destroy bacteria (disinfectant is described as “a chemical that destroys bacteria”).
STERILIZE (verb): make free from bacteria or other living microorganisms.
These have even stronger wording. Disinfected items, like sanitized items, have a reduced amount of microorganisms and bacteria. Sterilized items, on the other hand, aren’t just clean and hygienic. They are free of all bacteria.
Cleaning can be done with a variety of different tools—brooms, sponges, mops, brushes, cloths—but if you want to sanitize a surface, you will need to choose your tools carefully. To effectively sanitize a surface, bringing the number of microorganisms on that surface down to a safe level, you could use a disinfecting product, place the item in boiling water, or use one of many other methods of sterilization.
In understanding the difference between cleaning and sanitizing, as well as the difference between these terms and disinfecting and sterilizing, you can make your world healthier and safer. For example, if you hire a cleaning company in Springfield Missouri, you’ll know that you need to emphasize terms like “disinfect” when you’re talking about certain tasks. If you have a child someday, you’ll understand how crucial it is to sterilize some items before you give them to your baby (like bottles and pacifiers).
If you’re shrugging off the difference between cleaning and sanitizing, consider a real-life example. Let’s say that your dog just had an accident on your kitchen floor. If you wipe up the mess with a paper towel and rinse the area with water, you will almost certainly leave behind an undetectable bit of the mess (to put it nicely). Wouldn’t you rather use a sanitizer, in that case, preventing the floor from becoming a breeding ground for bacteria?
If you need cleaning or sanitation services in Springfield Missouri for your office or commercial space, give Grime Scrubbers a call at 417-864-8862 or request a quote online.