What’s the Difference Between Cleaning vs. Disinfecting?

Hear from an expert: Matthew Bell, CMHS


What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting? In a new environment shaped by COVID-19, we have an acute awareness of the spread of germs.  However, no matter how conscientious and diligent we are, better understanding and knowledge is the most critical defense we have.

The first step is to define the differences between cleaning and disinfecting. The Center for Disease Control [CDC] describes the following:

  • Cleaning is “the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs. But by removing the germs, it decreases their number and therefore any risk of spreading infection [is decreased].” Cleaning removes dirt, dust, and debris from a surface, so while not killing germs, it does remove some germs reducing infection risk.
  • Disinfecting “by using chemicals, for example EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. But killing germs remaining on a surface after cleaning further reduces any risk of spreading infection.” The act of disinfecting kills germs, when the right chemical is used.

Now that we understand the actions of cleaning and disinfecting, we can better understand the chemicals themselves. Cleaning agents may be useful when removing dirt from surfaces, but if we are focused on removing pathogens, like bacteria or viruses, we should concentrate on the enabled chemicals.  A disinfectant is a substance or mixture of substances which has properties that, combined with the correct dwell time, kill or render inactive all bacteria, fungi, and viruses. In order for a surface to be properly disinfected, surfaces need to be properly cleaned. Both steps are essential, so it is a two-step process.

Ultimately, when service providers are working with school districts, they should be cleaning AND disinfecting. Ensure that they are using an EPA-listed disinfectant chemical, the proper procedures such as dwell time and hygienic removal.

For more information, check out the EPA’s website to understand the classification of chemicals.  In a time such as the COVID19 pandemic, one specific link to reference is: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

When it comes to your district, we know that safety and cleanliness are of utmost importance. That’s why we provide a complete solution for your district to ensure your entire inventory and facilities are sanitized.

Gain confidence in your district’s clean data and rest assured knowing that your devices and facilities are clean, too.

Learn more today!

About Matthew Bell

Matthew Bell is the Vice President of Business Development for Xclusive Staffing. Having joined the company in the summer 2015, Matthew has previously served as the Regional VP of Operations and Vice President of Operations. Before joining the Xclusive family, Matthew enjoyed a 13-year career in hotels working for such companies as Marriott International, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Hilton Worldwide and several other respected hotel management companies. His hotel career saw him work in multiple states and markets including New Mexico, Texas, Florida, Arizona and Colorado.

Matthew is a graduate of New Mexico State University having earn his degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management. He also holds several designations from the American Hotel and Lodging Association including Certified Rooms Division Executive and Certified Hotel Master Supplier. He is happily married to his wife Kimberly Bell and is a proud father to his son Jackson Bell.

About Xclusive Staffing

Xclusive Staffing is the industry leader and trusted partner of hundreds of clients across the country across multiple industries. As the preferred partner of multiple national hospitality companies, Xclusive has grown to meet needs for clients in several industries.

The staff at Xclusive Staffing is certified through the CleanCheck Training System, a learning platform through Spartan Chemicals accredited by the ISSA Cleaning Institute. The Xclusive team uses cleaning products that are safe and green, designed to protect the health of educators and students without being harmful or harsh.

About Hayes Software Systems

By offering SaaS solutions and services tailor-made for the unique needs of education professionals for nearly 30 years, Hayes has helped over 8,000 schools, including 35 of the largest 100 districts in the country, implement asset management solutions. Hayes is a privately held company specializing in asset management software and services to support K-12 inventory accountability. While primarily servicing K-12 school systems, Hayes also has customers in higher education, state agencies, and government entities.

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