cleaning supplies on a table

What Is The Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitation & Disinfection?

Often, people use the terms clean, sanitize and disinfect interchangeably, but this is incorrect. There are big differences between the three and the quality of your cleaning will depend on which products you use.

Cleaning removes germs, dirt and other filth from surfaces. This is when you use soap (or detergent) and water to in your cleaning. This method doesn’t necessarily kill germs, but it does take them away from the infected surface. By removing germs, cleaning lowers the amount of germs and bacteria on infected surfaces.

Disinfecting kills germs on targeted surfaces. Disinfecting occurs when you use chemicals in your janitorial routine, such as bleach. Although this method kills germs, it will not clean a surface or remove dirt. Still, it is absolutely necessary to use disinfectants in your routine because it is the best bet to lower the risk of spreading infection.

Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces. Whether it’s done through a cleaning or disinfecting process, the result from the product used must meet public health standards.

* Hand sanitizer that meets CDC standards has been proven an effective and safe to use on human skin. Do not attempt to substitute hand sanitizer for disinfectant chemicals.


CMF’s hand sanitizer recommendation:
Purell Advanced Gel Hand Sanitizer
Item #: GOJ404012S

What’s The Best Way To Get Rid Of Germs?

The fact is that when it comes to cleaning workplaces, you can skip the sanitizers. It’s much more efficient and time saving to use effective cleaners and disinfectants. Cleaning is what will begin to remove germs on workplace surfaces, and give your workplace a professional aesthetic. Disinfectants can’t cut through dirt and scum, so cleaning with the right soaps and detergents is key to maximizing the disinfectants’ effectiveness. When the surface is clean, the disinfectant will do its job, killing both bacteria and viruses.

But keep in mind that the order you use these products absolutely matters. Your janitorial routine should always be to clean first and then disinfect.

Our Favorite Products

Now that you’ve learned the simple and correct way to clean, it’s important to have the right products for the job. Here at CMF, we trust these cleaners and disinfectants in our workplace and you can in yours too!


A box of Pine Sol

Pine Sol
Item #: CLO35419CT

Boardwalk Natural Cleaner

Boardwalk Natural All Purpose Cleaner
Item #: BWK47112EA

A bottle of 409 Cleaner

409 Glass & Surface Cleaner
Item #: CLO03107EA


Fabuloso Multi-Use Cleaner
Item #:CPC53041


Which places need the most cleaning attention in your office? See our infographic to find out!

It’s more important now than ever to keep a clean workplace. Here at CMF, we carry all the facility supplies, Covid-essentials and janitorial products your cleaning crew needs to do their best work.