What is the difference between sanitising and cleaning?

Many words are used to describe the act of cleaning and are often interchanged. Words like disinfect, sanitise and clean, for example. Is there any difference, however? When deciding how best to approach the cleaning of your workplace, it’s important to understand what each term means and how they differ.


When describing the act of cleaning, it means to get rid of visible dust, debris, soil and other small organisms from surfaces. The simple act of cleaning removes visible grime and does reduce the number of bacteria and germs but doesn’t eliminate them completely. Most people are content with cleaning; however, it should be viewed as a first step in a deep clean. If you want to continue onto disinfecting and sanitising, you must first begin with cleaning. Cleaning usually begins with clean water and some form of detergent.

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This level of cleaning is normally satisfactory for domestic buildings and low-risk places like windows. However, for a workplace that has many people coming and going, a deeper, more intensive sanitisation and disinfecting process is recommended. It’s also important to keep a workplace well-stocked with cleaning products and other accessories for keeping restrooms hygienic, for example. For a Washroom service provider Gloucestershire, contact http://simplehygienesolutions.co.uk/


To sanitise means to greatly reduce the number of bacteria to low levels that are recommended by public health criteria. It lowers the risk of infection but still might not be enough to eliminate all viruses. It is a step further than cleaning as it destroys more bacteria and is a useful method for surfaces that are commonly used and used for food preparation, for example.

Cleaning products that are called sanitisers normally include chemicals known to kill 99.9% of the most common bacteria in half a minute. Sanitising on its own is still not effective for killing viruses and stopping their spread. Surfaces that are at high risk of contamination should be disinfected.

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Disinfecting is the highest level of cleaning as the disinfectant product kills the types of micro-organisms that cause pathogens and illness. There are different levels of disinfectant. Low level disinfectants are found in most of the products sold for use in homes. They kill micro-organisms that can make people ill, including fungi, some viruses and bacteria. A higher-level disinfectant is also effective at eliminating many micro-organisms but not all, of the many low-risk bacterial spores.

A hospital-grade disinfectant is the most powerful available and is the product used in hospitals, dentists and medical clinics. These are the kinds of environments that require the strongest cleaning products that can destroy bacteria and infections. There are many to choose from too, with around 1,200 hospital-grade disinfectants available.