Understanding the differences between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing may seem like combing through minute details. However, in our world today, where a focus on sanitary measurements has been ramped up, building owners and managers need to understand these differences and know how to implement a clean, disinfected, and sanitized space. 

What should you know about the differences between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing, and how should each be implemented?  


  • Cleaning is removing germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects.  
  • Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to remove germs from surfaces physically.   
  • This process does not necessarily kill germs, but removing them lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. 


  • Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects.  
  • Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects.  
  • This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. 


  • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements.  
  • This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection. 
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are touched often

Understanding the differences between Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sanitizing

Overall, cleaning will remove the germs, but not necessarily kill them. Sanitizing will lower the number of germs while disinfecting will kill the germs on the surface. Cleaning involves simple and soap and water, while disinfecting involves chemical solutions. Both can be used to sanitize, which will lower the spread of germs in high touch areas.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Procedures

Follow standard facility procedures for routine cleaning and disinfecting.  

Typically, this means daily sanitizing surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as 

  • Desks 
  • Countertops 
  • Doorknobs 
  • Computer keyboards 
  • Hands-on learning items 
  •  Faucet handles 
  • Phones 
  • Toys.  

Some schools may also require daily disinfecting of these items. Standard procedures often call for disinfecting specific areas of the school, like bathrooms. 

Cleaning infected areas

Immediately clean surfaces and objects that are visibly soiled. If surfaces or objects are soiled with body fluids or blood, use gloves, and other standard precautions to avoid coming into contact with the fluid. Remove the spill, and then clean and disinfect the surface

The Benefits of cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing

Cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing all go hand-in-hand. However, knowing the differences, along with how and when to use each process is essential to maintaining a safe, functioning building.  

At Bay Area Janitorial Force Inc., we value the cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing process, and commit to providing these services to all of our clients. This is what has led to our reputation as a leading janitorial service provider. If you have more questions or are interested in our cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing service, feel free to contact us today.