What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

A clean indoor environment is important for maintaining good health, whether you’re at home, the office, school, or on vacation. Is ‘cleaning up’ enough?

You’ve probably heard the words cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing, but what exactly do they mean, and how do they differ from each other? You asked a good question! These three techniques are part of a complete cleaning process that removes pathogens. Cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing requirements will vary depending on the type of building or business.


You are referring to the traditional soap and water technique when you speak of general cleaning. It removes dirt, grease, and surface crumbs but does not kill germs or bacteria. Cleaning should be done regularly (every day in schools or offices).

For surfaces with high contact or risk, such as in the kitchen or bathrooms, cleaning alone is not enough. Cleaning alone may be sufficient for low-contact areas such as floors and windowsills, where the risk of spreading pathogens is minimal. When cleaning kindergartens or pre-schools, the floors might need to be sanitized or disinfected since young children often spend time on them.

Cross-contamination is possible because cleaning does not eliminate germs. If you use the same cleaning cloth or tools in multiple parts of the building, bacteria from those tools may spread to other surfaces. It is particularly dangerous when bacteria like E. Coli and salmonella are transferred from bathrooms to food preparation areas. They can cause people to become very ill.

Next, we will discuss how to disinfect your home.


Cleaning surfaces only removes germs, but disinfecting kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

After cleaning your surfaces, you can disinfect them by rinsing them in water and drying them. You are now ready to disinfect! You can choose from a variety of disinfectants depending on the type of cleaning you’re doing and your preferences.

It is effective at disinfecting surfaces. Some people find it unpleasant to smell, especially in small spaces. It can also cause irritations of the eyes and skin. On the market, there are a number of natural and eco-friendly disinfectants for household and commercial purposes. Ammonium chloride or hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectants are the most effective.

Some people prefer natural cleaners, especially in homes with children or those who are sensitive to harsher products. While both baking soda and white vinegar are effective disinfectants, bleach-based cleaners are more harmful to bacteria.

Disinfection is a vital part of cleaning and is essential to reducing the spread of viruses, such as E. Coli and salmonella.

Disinfecting wipes

Staff and clients will appreciate having ready-to-use wet wipes that are disinfecting. They are very effective at removing bacteria, fungi, and viruses from surfaces. They can be used to clean surfaces, taps, doors, surfaces, or even the hands of people in offices, schools, restaurants, and other public or workplaces.

What about sanitizing?

Sanitizing is a step between cleaning and disinfecting. This will reduce the bacteria and surface dust to a safe level and remove surface dirt. It will reduce the risk of infection, but not all viruses. To prevent food poisoning, sanitization of food preparation areas is required in cafes and restaurants.

Sanitization products remove bacteria effectively but do not claim to be antiviral or antifungal. Sanitising does not protect you from the flu or any other viruses that are spread by surfaces.

Cleaning is not always straightforward. Crewcare is a professional commercial cleaning company that has the equipment and knowledge to do it for you. Our cleaning company uses a microfibre system to clean, which reduces cross-contamination risks and prepares surfaces for thorough disinfection. This system reduces the use of chemicals and water.

Environmental Choice New Zealand has endorsed our cleaning products, which means they are both effective and better for the environment. We are a great choice to clean your commercial or business space. Contact us if you are looking for reliable, professional, and effective cleaning services.

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