This is the continuation of an article on the difference between cleaning and disinfecting.

Cleaning has to do with the removal of soil/contaminants from a given surface or area. Levels of disinfecting has to do cleaning to the point of actually removing, killing or at least suppressing any microorganisms that may be present.

I define the three levels of cleaning as Sanitizing, Disinfecting and Sterilization. This article discusses Sanitizing.

Sanitizing is using processes including all-purpose cleaners, disinfectants, microfiber cloths or other means to remove the soil (think food source) from a surface or area. The area may not be disinfected but it is "clean" to one degree or another. Would it be an acceptable level of clean for a hospital operating room and the answer is no, but it is certainly clean enough for most people to be in the area without risking infection.

Sanitizing can have a potential kill rate from 50 percent to 99 percent based on processes, products, dwell time and other factors. Many well meaning people will spray a disinfectant on a surface, promptly wipe with a soiled cloth or flimsy paper towel and say they have disinfected. They probably have killed a few of the weaker microorganisms but they have barely met the minimum level for sanitization. The area still have active (shall we say growing) cultures of whatever germs were present or settled from the air.

We will continue with our definitions in a future article. Your comments and questions are important. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or