What Is The Difference Between Cleaning Disinfecting And Sterilizing

The terms cleaning, disinfection and sterilization, are often used interchangeably. This is a sad misconception, and spa operators, salon operator and the general public need to know the differences.

These terms are also useful when it comes to a crime scene cleanup. Here is a more in-depth look at the differences between cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing.


Cleaning is the process of removing materials from a surface mechanically. Cleaning is usually done using enzymatic detergents, soap and water through hand scrubbing or more advanced cleaning machines such as ultrasonic.

Cleaning bathroom sink close-up

Cleaning is a crucial element in any effective method of infection control. However, cleaning only reduces microbial and removes dirt such as stains and soils but does not kill micro orgasms.


Disinfecting involves the use of disinfectants to inanimate surfaces or objects to kill and reduce the number of microorganisms, including virus and bacteria. Disinfectants do not eliminate resistant bacterial spores. Most of the disinfectants do not stand up well to dirt; hence, it is essential to clean the surface as the first step.

Disinfectants are bought in concentrated form and diluted with water to provide an effective use-strength solution. It is necessary to ensure the disinfectant you use is for the items or surfaces intended to disinfect as some are corrosive.


Sterilization is an exceptional physical or chemical process that removes all forms of microbial life including, bacteria, fungi and bacterial spore. biohazard cleanup services cleans, disinfects and sterilizes various incidents including accidents, and death, to eliminate all the infectious organism.


Sterilization is done on any tool or implements that are involved in a crime scene or contacts and penetrates intact skin. Sterilization is done through heating, chemicals or irradiation. No microorganism survives sterilization.


Cleaning, infecting and sterilizing is vital to avoid transmission of disease-causing microorganism. Make sure you use well-diluted products, and compatible with the surfaces or items they are used on.