Since the early stages of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we at Microfiber Wholesale have seen an increase in concerns surrounding cleaning and disinfecting homes and workplaces. Cleaning and disinfecting are always important but, as with a lot of things, it’s not something that most of us really pay attention to until something drastic happens to bring it to the forefront of our minds.
We thought we’d take this opportunity to put together information that we’ve culled from different government agencies, our own expertise and that of our professional cleaning partners.
Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting
Most people don’t realize that there is a difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Basically, cleaning, disinfection, and sanitization all reduce your exposure to germs, the difference is how and how much.
Cleaning removes dirt, dust, impurities and germs from a surface by washing them away with a soap solution or picking them up with a cleaning tool, like the fibers of a microfiber cloth Think about laundering clothes and textiles or washing your dishes with a sink of soapy water and a sponge.
Microfiber and water are also an effective and detergent free way to clean since microfiber is positively charged and negatively charged dirt clings to it like a magnet, thus removing it from hard surfaces. Proper cleaning removes 97% of dirt and germs from surfaces (Video)
Sanitizing uses chemicals to kill bacteria. That chemical may also be strong enough to kill some weakened viruses, but not enough to make an official virus kill claim, as this is one of the key differentiators between sanitizers and disinfectants (a product must be able to effectively kill viruses or fungi, not just bacteria, to be called a disinfectant).
Sanitizers can be used alone or they can be mixed into a cleaner with detergents and other chemicals to remove dirt and impurities. Oftentimes, the all-purpose cleaner that you’re using in your home is also a sanitizer. Sanitizers are great for routine household cleaning in high-touch areas, like counters, tables, desks, doorknobs, light switches, etc. The other critical feature that makes a chemical a Sanitizer is that it has to kill at least 99.9% of illness causing bacteria, giving you a 1,000 times reduction in potential exposure.
Disinfecting is the granddaddy of them all. Disinfecting also uses chemicals to kill germs, but unlike cleaning and sanitizing, it can kill bacteria AND viruses or fungi, sometimes all 3! This is where we want to focus our efforts and we’ll go over everything you never wanted to know about disinfecting in a bit. Disinfecting must be done after thoroughly cleaning and the disinfectant must remain on the surface for a specified period of time, usually five to ten minutes, in order to be effective.
If done correctly, disinfecting kills 99.999% of illness causing bacteria and viruses giving you a 100,000 times reduction in potential exposure. While removing 97% of germ cleaning, 99.9% sanitizing, and 99.999% disinfecting looks similar at first glance, in reality just the difference between .9 and .999 is enough to reduce exposure to germs 1,000 times versus 100,000, which is huge and can mean the difference between life and death when controlling deadly viruses outbreaks, like MRSA in a hospital.