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What You Need to Know to Keep Your Customers and Employees

The last year has forced us all to learn a whole lot of information about how viruses spread and how we can prevent them from spreading. Even people who have prided themselves on cleanliness in the past discovered there was a lot they didn’t know about how to clean. We’ve all had to become experts in protecting ourselves, our families, and our communities from getting sick. The words that are at the heart of what we do at Zerorez® have become buzz words in the media and for the public: cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting, and everybody has opinions about the best way to do them and what they mean. 

In the best interest of reopening business safely for staff and the public, property managers and business owners need to really understand what’s involved with each of these tasks, and how important it is to do it correctly. 

Simply put, cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. 

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What is the difference between cleaning vs. disinfecting

Cleaning is a visual task. It is the act of physically removing foreign material like dirt, germs, dust, pollen, and impurities from surfaces and objects. Cleaning can be done manually, using basic household products like soap with water, and regular tools like brushes, sponges, mops, and paper towels, to remove most dirt without much trouble. Cleaning doesn’t kill germs, it just removes them. And only a deep, thorough cleaning will remove most of them. It doesn’t always remove all of them.

Disinfecting is the process of killing germs, viruses, and other pathogens on surfaces and objects that can make people sick, using chemicals specifically designed to do that. This can also be performed manually, but requires much greater attention to detail in the use of disinfectant products to be 100% effective. 

Once you understand the significant difference between cleaning and disinfecting, you can start working on developing a plan for getting all of your surfaces treated correctly. Cleaning and disinfecting can occur on different schedules and different surfaces can be cleaned at different intervals. Everything should be cleaned with a fairly regular schedule, but not everything needs to be cleaned all the time. Not all surfaces that need to be cleaned need to be disinfected, and not everything that needs to be disinfected needs to be treated every time you disinfect.    

Why is cleaning before disinfecting important?

Cleaning surfaces and objects of the layers of dirt, dust, and germs makes the process of disinfecting more thorough. When a surface has been cleaned before it has been disinfected, most of the germs have been physically removed, leaving disinfectants with fewer germs to kill, reducing the chances of any germs being left behind. This lowers the chances of someone getting sick when they come in contact with that surface or object. It also helps the disinfectant reach the actual surface that needs to be disinfected, which may be porous, even if it doesn’t look like it. Germs can find all sorts of tiny places to hide and wait for someone to come in contact with them. By removing the surface dirt, disinfectants can reach germs in those tiny places and kill them. When you clean surfaces regularly, it reduces the chance for germs to build up and makes disinfecting easier.

Is there a correct way to disinfect?

There are several rules of thumb for properly disinfecting an area.

  • First and foremost, read the labels of the disinfecting products. The instructions are there for a reason: to protect anyone using the product, and to ensure that they are handled safely. Most disinfecting products contain chemicals that can be harmful if swallowed, if they get in your eye, or on your skin. Warning labels will also instruct you to exercise extreme caution in not mixing disinfecting products. Certain chemical combinations can create vapors which can be very harmful if inhaled.

  • Always wear gloves and goggles or other protection over your eyes when using disinfecting chemicals to avoid contact with skin or splashing into your eyes.

  • Be sure that areas where you’re using disinfectants are well-ventilated. Even when diluted correctly, harmful fumes can build-up as a result of the disinfecting chemicals. 
  • Some disinfectants may require the surface to remain wet for an extended period of time. Reading the labels thoroughly before you apply them will let you know how long it needs to remain on the surface.

  • Most disinfectants call for room temperature water when diluting. The label will tell you if the product you have calls for warmer or colder water.

  • Do not use disinfectants on pets or humans. It can be very harmful to skin, and on a pet, you don’t want to risk them ingesting it.  

Why should you hire cleaning experts?     

There are many reasons to hire cleaning experts to take care of the first part of the question of cleaning vs. disinfecting. Here’s what you get from Zerorez®:

    • Fresh eyes – You see your environment every day. You might see visible dirt or stains, but you probably don’t notice where all the dust and germs are hiding. Professionals with a keen, fresh eye for your surroundings can see the trouble spots and treat everything thoroughly. At Zerorez®, we’ll treat areas you probably haven’t even thought of.

  • Regular schedule – We’ll take the guesswork out of how long it’s been since the last time you cleaned, or how thoroughly. We set up a maintenance schedule that you approve and we show up and do our job.

  • Expertise – We know how to use cleaning products and can do so safely. We have patented cleaning processes that clean and the patent is pending on our disinfecting process. That means we’ve made a science out of cleaning and disinfecting. And we know what to clean, how to treat different surfaces and how frequently. You can also be assured we disinfect all of our equipment between clients, so you can trust that your facility is being cleaned safely. We know the CDC and EPA guidance on cleaning, and follow it, to ensure that your facility is ready to be more effectively disinfected when we’re done.    


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Whether you’re cleaning or disinfecting your business or home, be sure to follow the steps above to keep your employees, customers or family safe. And you can trust Zerorez® to get your business, office or home clean and disinfected if you need a helping hand. 

Contact us to find out about our current Monthly Specials on Residential and Commercial Cleaning Services. Call Zerorez® DC Metro at 703-382-1221 – or book a carpet cleaning or other cleaning  appointment online.

We also invite you to connect with Zerorez® DC on Facebook to share your comments, see us in action, and send us a message! We can also be found on LinkedIn for business and commercial accounts – and get all our great cleaning tips on our blog, The Residue Chronicles!

Locally owned and operated Zerorez® DC and Fredericksburg“The Right Way To Clean” in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, Stafford County (including Fredericksburg, Garrisonville, Berea, and North Stafford), Maryland (including Temple Hills, Takoma Park, and College Park) and the Northern Virginia Region (including Alexandria, Springfield, Rosslyn and Ballston) since 2015.