Several words and phrases are often used interchangeably. Like climate change and global warming, herbs and spices, close-out and liquidation, and so on. Yet there are often key differences – however minor – that may make one more appropriate than another.

Take “cleaning,” “sanitizing,” and “disinfecting” for example. The methods and products used will depend on the goal of the task. Cleaning doesn’t necessarily mean a surface or item is sanitized or disinfected. But if you’re trying to not just clear away dirt and dust but also reduce the risk of bacterial and viral infections, you’ll want to use the right techniques and cleaners to accomplish the job.


Cleaning removes dust, dirt, grime and spills from household surfaces. It’s considered the most basic of household chores and includes dusting, washing dishes, wiping down counters and cabinets, washing windows, along with other tasks that keep your home looking nice and clean. Common products used include:

• All-purpose cleaners
• Furniture polish
• Dish soap or detergent
• Glass and window cleaner
• Home-made cleaners


Sanitizing reduces germs on surfaces such as toys, tables, remotes, door handles – just to name a few. The goal is to meet public health standards using a sanitizing spray, gel, or wipe. If the word “sanitizer” appears on a product label it must be able to reduce 99.9 percent of organisms within five minutes or less, depending on the setting and application. Such products include:

• Hand sanitizers
• Liquid sanitizers that contain no other cleaning ingredients and are applied after a surface has been cleaned
• Cleaners that bear the term “sanitize” on their product label


The process of disinfecting destroys germs using chemicals that are proven to kill bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. Unlike sanitizers, EPA-approved products marketed as disinfectants must bear an EPA registration number, typically located near the bottom of the label. This informs consumers that the product will kill the viruses or bacteria specified. But be aware that a single disinfectant won’t kill all germs so read labels carefully. Disinfectant products can include any of the following ingredients:

• Isopropyl alcohol
• Chlorine bleach
• Hydrogen peroxide
• Glutaraldehyde
• Formaldehyde
• Phenol

The Process

For best results, thoroughly clean a surface before sanitizing or disinfecting it as germs can linger in spills and food debris. Remove visible dirt and grime with a cleaning product, then apply a sanitizer or disinfectant according to label directions. Depending on the ingredients, the product may need to stay on a surface for several minutes to ensure its effectiveness.

If someone in your household is ill with a viral or bacterial infection, you may need to disinfect or sanitize more often. Keeping the home clean is still important but you don’t need to clean every time you plan to use a sanitizer or disinfectant. Keep a container of disinfecting wipes in the bathroom and kitchen and wipe down doorknobs, faucets, cabinet knobs and pulls, and other shared surfaces every time a family member touches them. The CDC recommends waiting at least an hour to give airborne germs a chance to settle. During this time, no one else should touch the surface before it’s been disinfected or sanitized.

These are challenging times during which the need to keep our homes germ and virus free has never been greater. Here at Anthony’s Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we have several ways to help you further prevent illness for all members of your family, including touchless flushing toilets, motion sensor faucets, and more. Contact us today for all the details.