The Guide to Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

We’re always told to clean our rooms, clean our teeth, clean our bathrooms, do some spring cleaning, etc. But we’re often rarely told to disinfect those things. Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. They are very different and both very important. First, let’s dive into what exactly cleaning and disinfecting entail.

What is Basic Cleaning?

Basic cleaning is what every person is able to do regularly. These are your regular chores like dusting, vacuuming, general bathroom and kitchen cleaning. Basic cleaning also applies to hygiene – things like brushing your teeth, showering, and washing your hands. Housekeeping Associates has a great list of things to do in your home for a basic clean and a deep clean. A basic cleaning should be done often and shouldn’t take too much time, especially if you keep it up. But a deep clean is something that should be done every two weeks or once a month, depending on the area and how often you use it.

A woman cleans a floor

What Does it Mean to Disinfect?

According to MedlinePlus, an online resource through the U.S. National Library of Medicine says to disinfect something is to use chemicals to kill germs. Often these chemicals need to remain on the surface for a period of time. Disinfecting does not remove germs nor clean a surface.

How Do You Disinfect vs. Clean?

Since both methods are different, they both have specific instructions to ensure you are doing them correctly.


To disinfect something, you need to use specific chemicals (like alcohol or bleach) or use something like UV light. When using a liquid disinfectant, you need to leave it on the surface you are cleaning for whatever time is recommended. It’s important with disinfectants to read the label and followed the detailed instructions. This will ensure your own safety as you disinfect and ensure that the product is doing its job and killing the harmful germs.

For UV light disinfecting devices, like PhoneSoap, usually whatever surface or device you are trying to disinfect must stay in the PhoneSoap unit for 10 minutes. The PhoneSoap Pro is the only unit that has cycles of 5 minutes. PhoneSoap units use powerful UV-C lights for 360-degree disinfection of anything that can fit inside: phones, tablets, watches, remote controllers, credit cards, keys, and more!

PhoneSoap can disinfect your phones


Often warm soapy water is the best way to clean a surface. Cleaning is often done to remove visible dirt, grime, or dust. Cleaning is very physical, and you will see a difference, whereas disinfecting is often hard to see since germs are microscopic. Cleaning does remove some germs, but not as many as disinfecting.

Why Should You Do Both?

Cleaning and disinfecting are both necessary and important. Cleaning will remove visible dirt and disinfecting will ensure most or all of the germs are gone. Dirt and germs are everywhere, and both are harmful. It’s important to clean since disinfecting can’t remove dust, grime, or dirt. And cleaning can’t remove all germs. Make sure to clean before you sanitize to get the best, most thorough results. Make sure when you are disinfecting to do all high-touch surfaces, even if they don’t appear dirty. Germs are still there.


It’s easier than ever to both clean and disinfect your home and the things you touch every day. There’s no need to let those things get you or your family sick. By combining both cleaning and disinfecting into your daily routine, you’ll be both healthier and happier.

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