What Cleaning Terms Mean

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What Cleaning Terms Mean


When standing in the cleaning product aisle at a big box store, it can be very overwhelming. There are so many products to choose from, all touting different abilities. If you’re not familiar with all the terms used on the labels, it can be confusing to know what products might work best for what you’re trying to accomplish. Here we are going to break down the meanings and purposes of all of those words. Next time you’re shopping for cleaning supplies, you’ll be better equipped to make the best choice for your cleaning project.

CLEANING. Cleaning is the actual removal of some sort of debris. It could be wiping the grease off the cooktop or sweeping crumbs and dirt off the kitchen floor. You will be able to see a noticeable difference immediately from your work. There will be a transfer of residue or debris, such as dust in the dustpan or grease on the cleaning rag. Cleaning can be done with soap and water, a store-bought cleaning solution or a homemade concoction. Germs in the cleaned areas are lessened because they are actually removed from the area through the cleaning process.

DISINFECTING. While cleaning removes germs, disinfecting kills germs. We often hear about disinfecting during flu season. Disinfecting common surfaces such as doorknobs and faucets during illnesses helps prevent others from getting sick. A disinfectant is also needed when handling foods that could contain bacteria. Disinfecting countertops and cutting boards after preparing raw meats can prevent the spread of harmful bacteria. When looking for a kitchen countertop cleaner, make sure to have a disinfecting one on hand. There are many disinfecting cleaners on the market, but a common household disinfectant is bleach. Make sure to read labels on how to properly use bleach for your cleaning project.

SANITIZING. It may come as a surprise to many, but sanitizing and disinfecting are not exactly the same thing. Disinfecting kills germs, and sanitizing reduces them. Cleaning, as mentioned above, is a way to sanitize. Cleaning with soap and water reduces germs to a safe level, making an environment more hygienic. The cleaning process removes most of the germs and the others usually die through a natural process. It destroys or eliminates the breeding ground for more germs. Sanitizing can be done with soap and water or you can purchase a sanitizing solution.

DEODORIZING. Deodorizing kills bacteria that can cause odors. Removing the germs can be done through cleaning or disinfecting. Germs are the source of odors. Finding and eliminating them eliminates the odors. Deodorizing is often confused with air freshening. Air freshening is just adding a new smell to cover up the odor. The fix is temporary and doesn’t solve the odor problem.

Next time you’re shopping for cleaning supplies remembers these simple definitions to help you make the best selections. Although it can be very time consuming, cleaning can be an easy process if you know what you’re doing and what to use.