Cleaning, Sanitizing & Disinfecting

Know the Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting for the Deepest Clean

A clean office is a happy office, and healthy employees are happy and productive employees. Cleaning is not a one-step process and there’s a big difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. Each method has its own place when it comes to doing away with harmful germs and bacteria that can make you sick. At Mayfair Building Services, we’re experts on clean! 

Read on to learn more about how to make your workplace as healthy as possible. 

What is Cleaning

Cleaning gets rid of dust, grime, hair and other debris by washing and rinsing. Cleaning can be done with a mild detergent, a mixture of gentle soap and vinegar, or a prepackaged cleaning product meant for the surface. Basic surface cleaning isn’t enough to wipe out harmful bacteria, so any high-touch areas, like food-prep areas should always be cleaned and then sanitized. Cleaning is most suitable for windows and floors and other low-touch areas with less of a risk of transmission of germs, bacteria and fungi. Cleaning means wiping and washing hard or soft surfaces to make it look cleaner, but it can only kill up to 94% of virus-causing bacteria. 

What is Sanitizing

Difference between Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting

Sanitizing is a term used for reducing up to 99.9% of bacteria on soft surfaces. Upholstery, clothing and other porous surfaces are generally cleaned and then sanitized, to kill the most bacteria possible. Most sanitizers require a “dwell time”, which is a period of time to let the sanitizer sit on the surface before rinsing.

Sanitizing can also be done with very hot water (think dishwasher run on “sanitize” mode, a load of laundry washed in very hot water with sanitizing cleaner and steam cleaning carpets and fabrics. Using a steam cleaner or the hottest setting on an appliance to clean porous materials is an effective way to kill bacteria and viruses when it’s not possible to use a disinfecting solution.

Of course, you’ll want to be sure that the surface can stand up to steam cleaning. Tile floors are an excellent candidate for steam cleaning, while some types of flooring, like laminate and hardwood floors, could become damaged by steam cleaning. 

What is Disinfecting

Disinfecting products are used on non-porous hard surfaces and use chemicals to get rid of all bacteria AND viruses. Surfaces like countertops, doorknobs and keyboards should all be regularly disinfected, especially when shared between colleagues. Disinfecting these types of high-touch surfaces is effective for preventing the spread of illness, like different types of influenza (flu) or rhinovirus (cold). Disinfectant cleaning products (not sanitizers) are Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved to destroy bacteria and viruses. 

Combined with a regularly scheduled office / workplace cleaning, disinfecting is a great way to keep your whole office healthy. Between cleanings, it’s always a good idea to wipe down high-touch surfaces, like your desk, with ready-made disinfecting wipes. 

Clean, Sanitize and Disinfect Surfaces for Best Results

As an example, let’s say you’ll be cleaning the microwave in your staff kitchen. These appliances are a haven for bacteria and should be cleaned daily for heavy use and weekly for light use. 

Simply spraying a sanitizing product onto a surface isn’t enough to kill bacteria. The surface must be cleaned well and for best results, all visible dirt and debris must be cleaned thoroughly first. Any debris left behind makes sanitizers and disinfectants less effective and can spread germs around. When using cleaning products, always wear gloves to protect your hands.

  1. Clean and scrub with a mild detergent. Wipe with warm water and a clean microfibre cloth and allow the surface to air dry. Extra dirty surfaces may need extra rounds of cleaning and scrubbing.
  2. Apply (spray or wipe) a sanitizing product, allow the product to dwell for at least 4 minutes or as directed. This is known as dwell or contact time. Wipe the product off with a clean, dry microfibre cloth, unless directed to leave it on.
  3. Finally, apply the disinfectant and allow it to dwell for at least 4 minutes to kill germs. An alcohol-based disinfectant may dry faster than 4 minutes. In this case, apply liberally and leave the surface wet as long as possible. 
  4. Give it a good wipe down with a microfibre cloth if you need to get rid of any residue on the clean surfaces.

Best used as a trio, cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants all guard against bacteria and viruses. They’re regulated in Canada by Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) and the Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD). 

When in doubt, the product label will provide valuable information on where and how to use the cleaning product. Or you can leave it to us. Our team is specifically trained in commercial and industrial cleaning service. As a result, they know exactly which products and which dilutions to use in your workspace, completely eliminating any guesswork.

Trained in commercial and industrial cleaning, our experts at Mayfair Building Services can provide one-time or routine cleaning for your workplace. With over 30 years of experience, our professional, fully trained and certified employees can handle every cleaning task, from floor to ceiling, inside and out. From carpets to windows, you can trust in our expertise to get your workspace as clean and healthy as possible. We serve the entire Greater Vancouver area including Surrey, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley and White Rock. Contact our Burnaby office today at (604) 439-0312 to book your first appointment today.