COVID-19 – Cleaning vs. Disinfecting by Shawn Mike - Illustrated by Shawn Mike -
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COVID-19 – Cleaning vs. Disinfecting


Artwork: Shawn Mike

Member Since
Apr 2019
Published Books

Since the inception of COVID-19, hygiene practices, by and large, have transformed greatly. Something that used to be just another daily chore became a necessity – something that could potentially be a life-saving practice. The possible effects of the deadly coronavirus and its high transmission rate led people to take their cleaning practices very seriously. What was once done mindlessly and a chore to get done with turned into something to be done mindfully, cautiously, and thoroughly.

COVID-19 is not just some disease that affects a particular region, an age group, or the vulnerable individuals only. It’s a contagion that sees no bounds and is able to bring down a healthy person within no time. So far, no vaccine is available to treat the disease and it all boils down to how preventive we can be and how effectively we can stop it from spreading by practicing social distancing.


Cleaning and Disinfecting – Understanding the Difference

Previously, these two terms weren’t really thought of as being separate when it came to maintaining the normal, everyday hygiene, except in medical vicinities. Post-coronavirus, however, the reality has changed and these two concepts must be understood as being distinct from each other:



Cleaning can be seen as the first step in the maintenance of hygiene. It entails the removal of dust, germs, and particles from surfaces and can be dry cleaning or accompanied by wet cleaning. Note that this process only “removes” the potentially harmful impurities from the areas being targeted. This means that the disease-causing germs will be reduced and their transmission limited, but they will still be there. This raises many concerns in the context of the coronavirus and so this is why the second concept is crucial.



Disinfecting is the second step in the process and it comes after cleaning. It involves the use of specific cleaning chemicals that are used on surfaces according to specific instructions in order to “kill” the germs and viruses resting on those areas and disinfect them. Only when the pathogens are killed can the transmission of diseases be stopped, hence the significance of this step.

Knowing the difference between cleaning and disinfecting means that our daily practice, in the prevailing circumstances, should include using detergents or soaps, as well as effective disinfectants to minimize the chances of contracting the disease, especially in susceptible areas.


Areas to Focus for Disinfecting

We’re living in times where being careful regarding our personal hygiene and that of our environment is an essential requirement for survival. Even while being socially distant from others, there are countless ways the virus can reach our homes, work settings, shops, public buildings, etc. and put our lives in danger. Someone might be going in and out of the house for meeting their needs, others from outside might be visiting for essential interactions or drop-offs. With so many people being infected, there can be carriers of the virus or patients within homes, quarantining themselves, or being looked after by loved ones. People from all over are visiting shops for essential buying. Basically, human interactions are taking place, though on a limited level.


Therefore, highly frequented or touched areas must be regularly disinfected after cleaning. These areas or surfaces include:

  • Door knobs and handles
  • Counter-tops
  • Table-tops and chairs
  • Switchboards and buttons
  • Faucets
  • Washing machine
  • Handrails
  • Floors, etc.

Protective Measures related to Disinfecting

Like anything else, disinfecting can be useful if done the right way. Otherwise, it can put you at risk of harming yourself in one way or another. Some precautions that must be taken while disinfecting are:

  • Using the correct proportion or concentration of the disinfectant being used according to the product instructions.
  • Not using any disinfectant product beyond its expiry.
  • Ensuring adequate ventilation while disinfecting to allow chemical fumes and odors to escape from the environment and not cause irritation.
  • Keeping disinfectant solution containers properly closed when not in use, away from the reach of children and direct sunlight.
  • No mixing of chemicals, like ammonia and bleach, that can adversely affect the respiratory tract and cause health hazards
  • Wearing protective gloves and masks (if recommended) while using disinfectants.
  • Discarding any gloves, masks, aprons, or other items used in the process and not reusing them.
  • Washing the hands thoroughly after using disinfectant solutions or wipes.
  • Not using disinfectant wipes for hands.

Common Disinfectant Products

It is important to figure out the proper product to use for disinfecting. Remember that regular cleaning can be done simply by using a water and detergent or soap solution on the surface to be cleaned and then washing or wiping over it with a cloth or sponge. Disinfecting, however, requires specialized products such as those approved by EPA. They include ingredients such as:

  • Sodium hypochlorite
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Quaternary Ammonium
  • Isopropyl alcohol or Ethanol alcohol (60-90%)

Household bleach solution (with 5-6% sodium hypochlorite) diluted in water can also be an effective disinfectant for certain surfaces. Mix around one-third cup of bleach in a gallon of water and you’re good to go.


Proper Way of Disinfecting

The key to effectively get rid of germs and viruses is to use every disinfectant as directed on the packaging and to give it time to do its work. Doing the process hurriedly can go in vain when you put in the time to spray or wipe the surfaces with the chemical but do not let it sit for some time before wiping over it to dry. Also, remember to carry out the process of disinfecting from the cleanest to the dirtiest and most infected parts of surfaces to prevent the germs from spreading unnecessarily.


Soft Surfaces

Surfaces like rugs, sofas, curtains, mattresses, etc. can be disinfected at home after certain intervals by using appropriate disinfectants, in addition to regular cleaning, dusting, or vacuuming. In case you cannot spare time yourself, you can always get it done professionally from experts like Carpet Cleaning Windsor.


The laundry area must be disinfected properly after every wash, especially if it’s a shared space like a launderette. In any case, the laundry baskets, machine exterior, and washing lines must be disinfected after every use and disposable gloves should be used while washing.


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