Preparing for Flu Season: Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting

|November 19, 2019

The seasons are changing and unfortunately, that means flu season is upon us. Regrettably, it isn’t always possible to avoid getting hit by a rogue germ and find yourself bedridden with soup and movies, but there are a few steps you can take to reduce your chances and stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Practicing a few healthy habits is sure to make a big difference – always wash your hands before eating or touching your face, avoid people who may be contagious – but it also helps to keep your environment clean and as unfriendly as possible for germs and bacteria to live. If you’re determined to make it through the flu season without having a brush with sickness, here are a few ways you can prepare and keep your place as clean as possible.

The first step to keeping your workspace clean is understanding how to do it. Many people don’t realize there are a few important distinctions between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting, and they all have a time and a place in the process and it’s important to know when to do which.


Cleaning is probably the most common thing most people do, and it certainly does a lot to contribute to having a healthier environment, but it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. The act of cleaning removes visible dirt, dust, and debris, and it can also be the only thing you need in some circumstances. For example, floors are very low-risk areas of your workspace as you don’t typically put your hands or face near them, so unless there’s been a spill – like in the office kitchen – it’s not very necessary to sanitize the floor. On the other hand, counters see a lot of contact with items and our hands that are much more likely to transfer germs and bacteria, so it’s good to clean them but also follow up with a good sanitizing.


It’s impossible to properly sanitize a surface that is still dirty, so it’s important to clean first, but after a surface has been cleared of physical dirt and debris, sanitation is necessary to kill beyond what is visible to the eye. Sanitizing will greatly reduce the presence of bacteria, which cleaning does nothing to help and can actually even spread due to cross-contamination. Sanitizing reduces microorganisms on a surface, kills bacteria, and does a lot more for preventative measures to fight against illness than cleaning alone. If you are not already sanitizing following cleaning, flu season is a great time to build the habit.


Disinfecting, like sanitizing, is meant to destroy bacteria and germs that can make you sick. Unlike sanitizing, however, it’s actually much more effective. Sanitizing kills germs and reduces the presence of bacteria to prevent the spread of germs and disease; disinfecting, on the other hand, destroys bacteria, viruses, and fungi extremely effectively, rendering the surface or object virtually completely sterile. Disinfecting isn’t always necessary, but it does have a time and place and it’s important to know when something needs to be disinfected. For example, floors only need to be cleaned, counters should be sanitized, but bathrooms should be disinfected.

Knowing the time and place for each of these healthy practices is sure to make a positive impact on your fall and winter, and hopefully, allow you to skip the flu completely.

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