Killing COVID-19: Cleaning, Sanitizing or Disinfection?

Killing COVID-19: Cleaning, Sanitizing or Disinfection?

The world changed it’s attitudes towards cleaning. Within a period of 48 hours, the whole world went from being okay-ish with surface level cleaning, to suddenly being really self-motivated & well-informed about the benefits of disinfection versus cleaning.

Until very recently most people did not know the difference between cleaning, sanitizing & disinfection. In this article our team of expert pros will explain to you the difference between all three of these. We will also recommend tips & tricks that you can use at home to keep you & your loved ones free from any virus!

  • Cleaning refers to the “wipe it down” actions. It’s basically just the removal of dust, debris & dirt from a surface using scrubbing, washing & rinsing techniques.
  • On the other hand, sanitizing reduces the bacteria, but it does not kill the occurrence and growth of bacteria, viruses or fungi. To get a virus free home, you have to actually go one stage further.
  • Disinfecting destroys (or inactivates) both the bacteria and viruses. But be careful! Disinfecting only destroys those bacteria & viruses identified on the product’s label (like influenza).

Now, It’s really important to keep in mind that regular cleaning plays a vital role in limiting the transmission of COVID-19. So you shouldn't  jump to the disinfecting phase right away. You must first of all clean the surface before you disinfect it. We like to give our pros matras. So repeat after me. Clean first, then disinfect… okay that’s not too catchy. But you get the point!

Disinfecting takes time

Disinfecting a surface is a more lengthy process than cleaning or sanitizing. To disinfect you need to use special products, apply them to a surface or object & let the applied solution sit on the surface or object that is being disinfected for a minimum of 5 minutes before wiping it down. This is the most effective way of destroying a virus like the darn COVID-19.

Consumer level products (prepackaged wipes and sprays) are generally no more powerful than their hospital grade alternative & these must also follow the 5/10 minutes wet air-drying procedure... unless otherwise specified on the label ;)

Killing COVID in the USA & Canada

We keep banging on about reading the labels & the reason why we recommend this is that not all products work the same way.  If you can’t find the instructions, the 10-minute air dry procedure is the default. To determine if your disinfectant will actually kill COVID-19 you can review recommendations made by your local governmental or health entities:

Here we list some products that we would like to give a special mention to. Standing ovation please for American’s own:

  • Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist
  • Lysol Disinfectant Spray
  • Professional Lysol Disinfectant Spray
  • Lysol Disinfecting Wipes (All Scents)

And Canada’s very own

  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
  • Clorox Kitchen Cleaner and Disinfectant
  • Clorox Regular Bleach With Cloromax

Pro tips

We like to finish off our blog posts with a couple of tips from pro cleaners, wherever possible. So here goes :)

  1. Use any products that claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.
  2. Another option is a bleach and water mixture to disinfect. By mixing ⅓-cup bleach with 16 cups of water but make sure to take precautions when there are kids at home  — keep kids away from toxic cleaners while also trying to keep the house virus-free.
  3. Don’t overlook high touch surfaces
  4. Use a mask and gloves.
  5. Do not use the same clog used for cleaning for disinfection. Try to use one per area.

Last but not least. Don’t forget to subscribe to our #don'tbedirty podcast available on spotify, listen notes and rss for all interesting things in the cleaning sector for homes, airbnbs and short term rentals.

Written by Pierina Chacon, social media specialist - TIDY app.