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The Difference Between Sanitation and Disinfection

Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting: Oh My!

It can be difficult to know the difference between these three terms because they are used so interchangeably when discussing cleaners or cleaning solutions, however, each word does have a distinct and differing definition. Knowing the difference and when to do each could be the key difference in keeping your family safe and healthy.


“Clean as a Whistle” Might Still Leave You in A Pickle

Although cleaning is a great way of staying organized and will get dust and grim away, it is not enough to keep away bacteria and microorganisms from infiltrating into your home. Although cleaning is a very bland turn for removing something unwanted; cleaning usually refers to removing visible debris or dirt. If you want to give your space a little deeper clean, you are going to need to resort to stronger equipment than just a broom, dustpan, and feather duster.


Please Be Wise and Remember to Sanitize

The act of sanitizing refers to making a surface sanitary or free of visible dirt contaminants that could affect your health. Much like cleaning, to sanitize an area, you are in essence also cleaning but it also goes the extra step to disinfect from harmful contagions lingering on the surface.

The difference between cleaning and sanitizing is the difference between wiping off a countertop with a paper towel and wiping off the same countertop with a paper towel after you have sprayed the surface with a sanitizing spray. While the first one took off any dirt or debris that might have been on the countertop, it did nothing to prevent or reduce the number of bacteria on the surface.

It is very important to note that although sanitizer is effective in reducing the growth and occurrence of bacteria, viruses, or fungi; it will not kill the microorganisms on that surface. For a fresher and deeper clean, you will have to use a disinfectant to efficiently destroy the germs.


Protect While You Disinfect

When you want to kill germs on the spot, you need to turn to a disinfectant. Disinfectants contain chemicals that can pack a powerhouse punch when used effectively. Disinfectants need to remain on the surface being cleaned for a short period of time, usually a few minutes, to completely annihilate the bacterium.

Disinfecting is the best defense in preventing the spread of viruses and infection in homes, schools, and businesses. However, not all disinfectants are made equal. Some disinfectants go through rigorous testing to be approved by the EPA for killing bacteria and viruses. Disinfectants are the EPA’s only approved way to ensure that you are killing viruses on hard surfaces. Sanitizing products do not go through these very strict regulations so if you find a product that is not EPA Registered as a disinfectant but still claims to kill viruses like Covid-19, that is false advertising, and that product should not be trusted.

Keep in mind that disinfectants are highly effective at killing the germs when used correctly, but they will not remove the germs. They will die but their physical presence will still remain. For that reason, disinfectants and cleaners are often used hand in hand.

Which comes first: Sanitizing or Disinfecting?

It is important that before sanitizing or disinfecting, you must first start with a clean slate. Make sure that where you are attempting to sterilize is cleared off of debris, dirt, and dust. After establishing a clean area, it is recommended by the CDC to disinfect with an “N List Disinfectant”.

Disinfecting will kill the bacteria from the infected surface. Following up with a sanitizer will provide a more thorough clean and will remove those dead bacteria from the area but it is not required to assure a protected cleanse.

For more information on recommended cleaning procedures and the advised cleaning supplies, please visit the CDC website at


When to disinfect:

It is believed that Covid-19 is more likely to live on hard, nonporous surfaces best. It is best to consider disinfecting hard surfaces whenever possible, especially in high-traffic areas or areas with high-volume touch points. These areas would be entryways, hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms. High-Volume touch points would likely be doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, refrigerator door handles, cellphones, and tablet devices.

However, places such as businesses and classrooms are a different story as many different people encounter various surfaces frequently. For cases like these, the CDC recommends vigilant and consistent cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting to ensure the safety of others. Practicing hourly cleansing of all the major touch points, such as door handles, desks, shared computers, and equipment, is a great way to protect staff and students from harmful and dangerous pathogens.

If you are in quarantine because you or someone you live with is sick or possibly sick, the CDC has recommended disinfecting your home 3 times a day to prevent reinfection.


What should I use to disinfect?

You should only use EPA Registered products to disinfect any surface. Only EPA Registration guarantees the user that the product has been proven to kill viruses and bacteria. You can confirm if the product is EPA registered by looking at the product label or going to the EPA website ( and searching by the item SKU. BenzaRid was EPA registered in 2012 and our EPA numbers and SKUs can be found on all of our products and on our website.

BenzaRid is a proud member of the EPA List N, which has been tested and proven to kill the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), when used correctly and according to the label’s directions.

US EPA Registration #: 10324-85-88904

SKU: NBR1G4 UPC: 855822001373

Safety Data Sheet Here