Knowing The Difference Could Save Your Life

While the terms are often used interchangeably, they are quantifiably different in their meaning. It’s important to understand the differences so you can keep yourself and those around you healthy.

  • Routine Cleaning with detergent or soap and water removes dirt, grime or dried food from surfaces or objects (ex: floors, walls, carpet, windows).
  • Sanitizing removes dirt and small amounts of germs. Some items and surfaces are cleaned to remove dirt then sanitize (ex: bathrooms, counters, toys, dishes, silverware).
  • Disinfecting kills a wide range of bacteria, viruses, fungi, mold and other pathogens on surfaces or objects (ex: changing tables, sinks, counters, toys). Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects.

Best Practices

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.  Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

Wash your hands often with soap and water.  If soap and water are not available, use a 60% or higher alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.

Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, drinking fountains, and sinks.

  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
 

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