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The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting


We are fast approaching summer, and many of us haven’t yet given our home a thorough cleaning. Spring is always a good time to start cleaning and disinfecting after a long winter hunkered down inside.

The question we need to ask ourselves is what is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, and where will each be most appropriate? The answers to these questions are simple, but the way these ideas are applied to our lives are diverse and very important.

Why Cleaning is Important

Cleaning tidies up a space, making it less hospitable for microorganisms, critters, and dust.

Your goal should be to clean any area first, removing dirt, grime, or debris. Disinfecting should be the last step.

To clean, you will need a vacuum cleaner, a duster, help to move furniture so you can get into every nook and cranny, and rags to scrub surfaces.

Once that step is done, you can now disinfect any surfaces that need it. Generally speaking, surfaces that you touch or where there is food and drink need it the most. Your bookcase, entertainment center, and window sills likely don’t need disinfecting.

Why Disinfecting is Important

Disinfecting kills bacteria and viruses.

Once the surface is clean, you can now apply your disinfectant. Disinfecting is a good idea for doorknobs, your keyboard, remotes, counters, and bathroom surfaces.

You have many options for disinfecting. These include bleach, alcohol, essential oils, and a variety of harsh synthetic chemicals.

The reason to use bleach or harsh chemicals is that they are relatively inexpensive and work fast. For businesses and schools, these are used liberally due to the services they provide and a limited budget and time to clean.

Many products containing natural ingredients can disinfect, but you will need patience when using them. While they take longer, the benefit of using these natural cleaners means you are less likely to expose your family or pets to synthetic chemicals, fragrances, or toxins.

How to Use Natural Disinfectants

Most natural cleaners use essential oils, vinegar, or alcohol to get the job done. For these to work, you need to thoroughly scrub a surface, then apply the cleaner and let it sit for at least ten minutes or up to 30 minutes – make sure to test a small area first and check for discoloration or other damage!

Once you have cleaned and disinfected your home, make sure to clean commonly used surfaces every few days. A quick spray and wipe with a clean rag may be enough between more deep cleans. This will be up to you.

You can learn about making your own essential oil cleaning products on our blog!

The NHC store also carries many quality brands that use essential oils to help you to keep your home or office clean.

All of these brands use natural ingredients that are ideal for various home and professional cleaning purposes. Explore the list of ingredients and applications to get an idea of how these could best be used in your life.

Nobody likes living in a dirty home, or visiting someone’s office that is dirty, especially in the wake of a global pandemic. But with continued vigilance, you control the sanitary conditioners of the spaces where you spend the most time.

Grab all of your cleanings and disinfecting supplies, and we’ll wish you the very best of luck in your journey to keep you happy and healthy!