Cleaning vs Disinfecting: What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter?

The average American spends six hours a week cleaning. And a third of them wonder if that’s enough time spent improving their abodes. 

It’s not possible to know whether or not a house is properly cleaned until you break down the differences between cleaning vs disinfecting. You need to perform each one of these tasks to really get your house sparkling. But what’s what, and which one is more important?

Here’s what you need to know. 

Cleaning vs Disinfecting: What’s the Difference?

When you clean your house, you work hard to bring everything to a shine. 

You scour the floors, you wipe down countertops, you remove dust from shelves and tables. All of this makes your house look its best. It preserves the lifespan of your furniture and fixtures. 

But cleaning on a surface level doesn’t necessarily mean you’re disinfecting, too. When you do this, you’re removing bacteria, viruses, and other unsavory particles from your home. This step is vital to keeping you and your family healthy. 

Disinfecting works on non-porous, hard surfaces only. So, you can’t disinfect your drywall, but you can certainly remove germs from a kitchen counter or door handle. 

Now, you might go through a sanitization process and realize that it doesn’t quite give your house the same glow as cleaning does. That’s common, and that’s why you should probably do both. 

Why Does It Matter?

Like we said, disinfecting makes your home a safe environment in which to live. And that’s a very important quality for it to have, especially in the current climate.

On that note, it’s important to note the difference between disinfecting and sanitizing, too. You might think that the latter is enough to keep your house virus and bacteria-free. However, sanitizing only scratches the surface, quite literally.

You see, sanitizers target a specific type of bacteria. You can often find this information on the product’s label. So, if you sanitize, you get rid of that bacteria, and that’s it. 

On the other hand, disinfecting will get rid of all bacteria that have landed on your home’s hard surfaces. It can get rid of virus particles, too. So, if flu particles or the common cold linger, you’ll get rid of them with a disinfecting regimen.

Disinfectants are the only EPA-approved solutions that can kill viruses on hard surfaces. So, as the world battles the coronavirus — and as we avoid other sicknesses in the future — it’s a much better option to disinfect than it is to sanitize. 

How Do I Disinfect and Clean Properly? 

As we mentioned before, you can’t choose to clean or disinfect. Both tasks have to be done to keep your house looking and feeling its best. 

However, before your next big cleaning job, you should know the right order of operations. It’s easy enough to remember: cleaning starts with C, and disinfecting starts with D. C comes before D in the alphabet, and it should be in the same order on your to-do list. 

Once you clean away any debris from a space, you can disinfect the surface properly. That way, nothing stands between your disinfectant and the germs it is meant to kill.

You can make disinfecting part of your daily clean-up regimen, too. In fact, some say you should be disinfecting your hard surfaces three times a day during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s easy enough to keep up with it in your own home — just wipe down your counters, then leave a disinfectant to remove the particles that can get you sick.

What Kind of Disinfectant Should I Use? 

You only need bleach, some water, and a spray bottle to make a powerful disinfectant for your entire home. The more germ-fighting power you want, the more bleach you will pour into your solution.

Still, you don’t need much bleach to make a disinfectant strong enough to tackle the flu and norovirus particles. For the flu, you need two tablespoons of bleach per half-gallon of water. If you want to remove norovirus, too, then you’ll need to add an extra tablespoon of bleach. 


You can use bleach and other store-bought disinfectants on hard surfaces. So, during your disinfectant spree, be sure to hit countertops, faucets, door handles, light switches, remote controls, children’s toys, and more.

And, if you’re using your disinfectant after you clean everything first, be sure to compare the labels of both solutions. There may be warnings not to use certain cleaners in tandem with certain disinfectants. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can be a deadly combination, as they join together and release a toxic gas. 

Will Professional Cleaning Services Include Disinfecting? 

Now, you might not be the person who does all of the cleaning in your house. You may hire someone to handle the job for you. And, now that you know why disinfecting is vital, you may be curious — does my home-cleaning package come with disinfecting? 

Any professional cleaning service will know the difference between cleaning vs disinfecting. Your best bet is to ask them if and how they do both. 

If you choose to work with Vantage Point Cleaning Services, we make it easy for you to ensure your home has received both services. We have an optional add-on for disinfecting your most-touched surfaces. Tack that onto your routine cleaning, and you’ll know the place is as clean as it looks. 

Are you ready for help in disinfecting your abode in this season and beyond? Then contact us today to set up your first session — and we’ll take care of everything. 

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