How clean is clean? The facts on cleaning vs. disinfecting

Hands are shown cleaning a laptop with Amway Multipurpose Wipes.

Whenever you reach for a doorknob or pick up something from the floor, you’re likely wondering what sort of microscopic items might be clinging to it.

For the health of you and your family, keeping a clean home is as important as everyone washing their hands regularly and wearing a mask when you go out.

But you also need to consider disinfecting regularly to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of illnesses.

Wait, isn’t cleaning disinfecting? Or if we’re disinfecting, aren’t we cleaning? While they may seem interchangeable, there are actually major distinctions between cleaning and disinfecting.

Let’s break down the differences.

Cleaning vs. disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same, but both are critical. Overall, cleaning products are used for soil and stain removal. And products that disinfect might be tough on germs while not be effective on dirt or grime.

When used one after the other, however—by cleaning first to remove the dirt and disinfecting second to get to the germs—you’ve got a real winning combo. Explore the basics and why they are necessary.

Hands are shown wringing soapy water out of a towel. A bottle of Amway Home LOC Multipurpose sits nearby.

Squeaky clean

Cleaning removes dust, debris and dirt from a surface by scrubbing, washing and rinsing. Using soap and water to physically remove dirt and impurities does not necessarily kill germs, but many germs can be washed away with the dirt, lowering their numbers.

All-purpose cleaners such as Amway Home™ L.O.C.™ Multi-Purpose Cleaner are built to lift and remove visible smudges, spots, stains and debris from surfaces, helping to make things clean and shiny.

But clean and shiny doesn’t mean it’s free of germs, bacteria, viruses or fungi.

Disinfect and protect

When used correctly, disinfectants use EPA-approved chemicals to destroy or inactivate the bacteria and viruses that are identified on the product’s label, like influenza and rhinovirus.

As we said above, disinfecting is not necessarily cleaning. It’s a step best done after you’ve gone through to remove dirt and debris to further lower the risk of spreading germs.

Disinfectants like Pursue™ Disinfectant Cleaner Concentrate can kill 22 different types of viruses, fungi, and bacteria, including E. coli, salmonella, and more. And Pursue™ Disinfectant Deodorizer Spray kills 16 different types of viruses, fungi and bacteria.

It’s important to reach for that disinfectant when it comes to high-touch areas, like kitchen counters, bathroom faucets, light switches or doorknobs.

Bottles of Pursue Disinfectant Cleaner Concentrate and Pursue Disinfectant Deodorizer Spray sit on a clean, white, bathroom counter.

Why all the talk about bleach?

Chlorine bleach is an effective disinfectant, too, which means it kills most bacteria and fungi and curbs the spread of viruses—however, you need to choose where you use it carefully.

Chlorine bleach is very corrosive, meaning it could irritate your skin or damage some surfaces. It also takes the color out of many textiles and can become dangerous when mixed with other cleaning products. (Never mix your cleaning products!)

If you do want to safely use household chlorine bleach as a disinfectant, it’s better to dilute it with water. Concentrations of bleach vary by brand and sometimes even within a brand’s product line. That makes home dilution an inexact science.

If you need to be sure you’re disinfecting a surface, you’re better off following the instructions on a commercial disinfecting product.

Looking for more tips for creating a healthy home? Check out our other blogs at Amway Connections.

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