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Cleaning, Sanitising, and Disinfecting… What’s the Difference?

There’s a big difference between cleaning, sanitising, and disinfecting. And it’s important to know which method is right for each job. Should you sanitise your kitchen bench and disinfect your dishes? Or should you clean your floor, but sanitise your door handles? Keep reading to learn the difference, and the best way to keep your home safe and sparkling.


There’s a good chance you clean something every day. Cleaning involves manually removing visible dirt, dust or spills from an item or surface. Generally, cleaning leaves bacteria and pathogens behind, as germ-destroying chemicals aren’t used. Instead, you’d use a sponge, water, and soap or detergent to clean.

Mopping, scraping, rinsing, and wiping are all common forms of cleaning. And this method can be used to treat any surface where the germ transfer risk is low (such as floors and windows).


Now, sanitising is a slightly different story. To sanitise a surface, chemicals or heat are used to reduce (but not entirely eliminate) bacteria. Usually, a clean would occur first—removing any germ-ridden dirt. Then, sanitisation would follow, leaving a surface fresh and safe.

Any area or object that comes in contact with food should be cleaned, then (at least) thoroughly sanitised. For dishes and cutlery, use hot water and dish soap. Note: hot water for sanitising should be over 77 degrees Celsius. For bathrooms and high-exposure areas use a good-quality chemical sanitiser.


To disinfect a surface or object, harsher, more targeted chemicals are used. Chemical disinfectants eliminate basically all target pathogens, bacteria and spores, making them far more effective than sanitisers. For this reason, some disinfectants may not be food-friendly (always read directions). To keep your home as clean as possible, disinfect counters, doorknobs, light switches, phones and keyboards. Also disinfect bathrooms, toilets and high-traffic areas to keep your home as safe as possible.

It’s one thing to simply sanitise or disinfect a surface, but to keep yourself and your family safe from germs, it has to be done properly. Only with the help of an expert, can you feel confident that your home is truly clean and germ-free. Luckily, our trusted Local Expert cleaners are now offering residential cleaning servicesClick here to request a cleaning quote today.

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