Ever wonder if the cleaning product you are using is disinfecting the surface or product? And just what is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting or sanitizing? Here’s what our experts have to say to help you and your family LiveSafer™.

Cleaning Versus Sanitizing

Cleaning is the process of removing visible soil from a surface. For example:

  • Removing dried food or spills from countertops
  • Removing food from a stove top
  • Shining a glass stove top or stainless-steel surface in the kitchen
  • Cleaning the inside of your oven

In contrast, sanitizing is the process of reducing the number of live microorganisms on a surface to levels that are considered safe. For example, sanitizing is important when:

  • Raw meat juice spilled on the countertop, stove, sink or floor.
  • Someone sneezed all over your countertop.
  • Someone sick touched your refrigerator door handle or faucet.
  • Raw meat touched a countertop, stove top, sink, utensil or cutting board.

It is important to remember that surfaces and products must be cleaned before they can be sanitized. For example, you would want to clean all raw chicken pieces off a cutting board before disinfecting it with a sanitizer.

Never use more sanitizer or cleaner than recommended on the label, thinking it will make it better. There are active ingredients in cleaners and sanitizers that can be hazardous when used improperly.

Cleaning Tips

Cleaning can be as simple as warm water with dish soap but can also be a homemade solution such as water and vinegar. Keep in mind that cleaning soaps or vinegar solutions are not sanitizers. The EPA also has Safer Choice cleaning products that have been evaluated for their human health and environmental impacts.

Sanitizing Tips

There are several ways to disinfect a surface or product, depending on the product you use. Follow these general tips to sanitize:

  1. Read the label of both the sanitizer and the item you are disinfecting
  2. Pay close attention to warnings and use instructions
  3. Verify the sanitizer is safe for your surface (granite, marble, stainless, etc.)
  4. Check the instructions for a wait time
  5. Rinse with water after use, especially when food will be touching the surface

You can also make your own sanitizer, which is handy if you need a large amount to soak a cutting board, utensils, pots, pans or plates. Follow these steps to make a sanitizing solution and properly disinfect a kitchen item:

  • Mix one gallon of water and 1 tablespoon of unscented household bleach in a sink
  • Soak the item in the solution for one to three minutes
  • Rinse thoroughly
  • Allow to air dry

If the item is too big to fit in the sink, soak half and then flip it around and soak the other half.

You can also put this sanitizing solution into a spray bottle, thickly coat the surface, wait one to three minutes, rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.