Purity Service Group

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing – What’s the Difference?

With the current global focus on community health, it is worthwhile to understand how cleaning and sanitizing help contribute to everyone’s wellbeing. Cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing combine to prevent infectious diseases, and though these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, it’s important to note that they are distinct. So, what exactly is the difference between these terms?  

Clean = Dirt is Removed

When a surface is cleaned, detergent is used to remove dirt and some germs. Cleaning helps reduce the number of germs that can lead to infection, however it does not necessarily kill any germs. The detergent used will include a surfactant that releases physical impurities from the surface. Not only can a dirty environment cause illness, but productivity and learning are hindered by dirty environments. Whether it is visible dirt in corners or dust and fingerprints on surfaces, removing grime with a thorough cleaning will improve overall health.

Cleaning creates a surface that is ready for sanitizing and disinfecting. Though cleaning removes some germs, one problem with cleaning alone is the potential risk for cross-contamination when a disinfectant is not used. Good cleaning protocols include using appropriate rags and mops, working from the top down, and making sure the air filtration system is keeping dust at bay. Once an area is clean, then it can be disinfected or sanitized.

Disinfect = Germs are Killed

Disinfecting a surface means that chemicals are used to kill germs. Disinfecting will not remove physical dirt from a surface, which is why it is important to begin by cleaning with a surfactant that will remove any barriers. Disinfecting does not necessarily mean that dirt and germs are being removed from the surface. However, by killing them, the risk of spreading infection is lowered.

Disinfectants that kill germs are antimicrobial, and each one has a specific dwell time.  For a disinfectant to kill germs, it requires a specific amount of time on the surface. It is the amount of time the manufacturer has determined, through laboratory testing, that the disinfectant should remain wet in order to be effective. If proper dwell times are not followed, germs and pathogens may survive the application.

Making sure the disinfectant stays wet is crucial. There is an array of factors that play into how long the disinfectant will stay wet including the application method and composition of ingredients in the disinfectant. Type of surface, humidity, airflow, and temperature are all factors that can affect the amount of time it takes the disinfectant to dry on a surface.  

Our favorite surface disinfectant spray is PURE Hard Surface.  It eliminates 99.99% of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. In fact, it kills those pathogens within 30 seconds and provides 24 hours of protection against their return.

Most importantly, it kills Human Coronavirus as shown per EPA-required AOAC testing protocol. It is also effective against CRE, MRSA, VRE, Norovirus, Hepatitis B and C, Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella. PURE Hard Surface does not contain bleach, ammonia, phosphates, phenols or VOC emitting compounds. It is 100% non-toxic and safe for babies, the elderly and pets.

Sanitize = Germ Count is Lowered 

When sanitized, a surface has had its pathogen levels reduced to a safe level as defined by public health standards. That means the number of germs has been lowered by 99.9 percent. Used in conjunction with cleaning and disinfecting, it is ideal for high-contact surfaces. 

One way that SafeHandles sanitizes surfaces is via Electrostatic Sanitization. It eliminates bacteria and germs on all surfaces, including hard-to-reach corners and oddly-shaped objects. Electrostatic sanitization is effective in offices, break rooms, buses, meeting halls, and anywhere that traditional surface sanitizers are difficult to utilize. It quickly reduces the spread of viruses such as human coronavirus, influenza, MRSA, HIV, and many others. 

Not only does electrostatic sanitization reduce the time needed to cover and disinfect all surfaces, but it makes it easy to reach difficult areas. Electrostatic sanitization is far more comprehensive than any janitorial staff member could achieve with other application methods, and it can sanitize a facility or classroom at a fraction of the cost. Electrostatic sanitization’s biggest benefit might be that it prevents the financial and social challenges associated with a widespread illness outbreak.

SafeHandles’ passive antimicrobial technology interrupts the cycle of illness by eliminating germs and bacteria from commonly-touched surfaces before the next person comes along to touch it. Our silver-embedded tapes and sleeves continuously emit ions that inactivate microbes and inhibit the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. See just how much SafeHandles reduces your chances of getting ill here. 

If you are ready to see how SafeHandles can benefit your facility or business, we are happy to answer all of your questions and provide recommendations for a complete plan to reduce illnesses. As a licensed distributor of Safe Handles, we are here to help you protect your investments.  Call 414-481-9302 or email

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