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Close up of person wearing blue gloves and cleaning a table with a blue cloth

Clean, Sanitize, Disinfect - What’s the Difference?

The terms "clean," "sanitize," and "disinfect" are often used interchangeably. However, they actually refer to three different levels of cleanliness. Cleaning simply means removing visible dirt and debris from surfaces. Sanitizing reduces the number of germs on surfaces, while disinfecting completely eliminates all germs. 


Sanitizers and disinfectants are both important infection control products, but they are not the same thing. Sanitizers work by reducing the number of germs on surfaces, while disinfectants work by killing all germs on surfaces–neither will necessarily clean dirty surfaces.

In any medical environment, especially a dental setting, it is important to follow all three steps in order to ensure a clean and healthy environment. In this blog post, we explore the differences between the three levels of cleanliness and the role each has to play in maintaining a sanitary environment in dentistry settings.

 

What is Cleaning? 

Red and black vacuum cleaner cleaning the carpet

 

Cleaning is the process of removing dirt, stains, dust, and other unwanted debris from surfaces. There are many different ways to clean, and the most effective method will often depend on the type of surface being cleaned. For example, the carpet by the reception will require vacuuming, however the floor will need to be mopped. 

Common cleaning methods include sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, and scrubbing. Regardless of the method used, regular cleaning can help to keep surfaces looking their best and prevent the buildup of dirt, dust, and other contaminants. 

 

What is Sanitizing?

Person wearing yellow gloves and spraying a glass door

 

 

Sanitizing is the process of cleaning a surface to remove bacteria and other contaminants. While sanitizing does not necessarily remove all germs, it does reduce their numbers to a level that is considered safe. Surfaces can be sanitized using a variety of methods, including sanitizing solutions, heat, or ultraviolet light. 

The most effective method of sanitizing will depend on the type of surface being cleaned and the level of contamination. For example, sanitizing solution is often used to clean food contact surfaces. Heat is often used to sanitize medical and dental instruments, as it is more effective at killing germs and a wide range of bacteria. Ultraviolet light is sometimes used to sanitize public spaces, such as hospital rooms, as it can kill bacteria without the use of chemicals. Ultimately, sanitizing is an important part of keeping surfaces clean and preventing the spread of illness.

 

What is Disinfecting? 

Disinfecting is the process of destroying harmful bacteria and viruses. Disinfect surfaces by using disinfecting products, such as disinfectant wipes, that contain powerful chemicals strong enough to kill microorganisms. Disinfecting kills germs and is extremely important in preventing the spread of diseases and meeting public health standards.

In a dental office, disinfecting surfaces is important in order to prevent the spread of germs. One way is to use an automated dental disinfection system. This system uses ultraviolet light to kill germs on dental instruments and surfaces.

 

What’s the Difference Between Sanitizing and Disinfecting?

Sanitizers and disinfectants are both important tools in the fight against germs, but they are not interchangeable. Sanitizers work by reducing the number of germs on a surface, while disinfectants work by killing them outright. 

Both sanitizers and disinfectants are effective against a variety of common health risks posed by household bacteria, including E. coli and Staphylococcus. However, sanitizers are usually less effective against more dangerous organisms, such as viruses. For this reason, it’s important to use a disinfectant when cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated with harmful microbes. In general, sanitizers are best for everyday use, while disinfectants should be reserved for deep cleaning or sanitizing high-risk areas.

 

Clean, Sanitize and Disinfect With the Right Products From Medlee

Our extensive collection of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting products include a wide range of sanitizers and disinfectants, ideal for ensuring your dental practice is clean and safe from bacteria and germs. Complete all three levels of cleaning with products that meet public health guidelines and can be used on porous and non-porous surfaces. With quality cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants you can focus on saving lives while limiting the spread of infections. At Medlee, we’ve got you covered with all the supplies you need.
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