Why is Cleaning Important Before Sanitization?

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Cleaning and sanitization should go hand in hand if better disinfection results are to be achieved. Grönberg and Hjorth (2018) stated that the two processes should not be interchanged as the former paves the way for the latter during the disinfection process. Together, the techniques work effectively to eradicate germs and other microorganisms.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the world, the only defense that we have against it (as a vaccine is yet to be developed) is hygiene and sanitization. Thus, many questions concerning disinfectants are being asked and how cleaning can help reduce the infection chances.

But first, it’s essential to understand the difference between cleaning and sanitization. The understanding paves how the techniques work together to determine the significance and why cleaning should be done first.


The CDC defines cleaning as removing dirt and impurities from surfaces by using water and soap or detergent. Cleaning is good at removing organic matter and reducing the number of germs and other pathogenic microorganisms from surfaces but does not necessarily kill them.


Sanitization eliminates germs, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and all pathogenic microorganisms from surfaces achieved with disinfectants’ aid.

Why cleaning should be done before sanitization?

Cleaning is done before sanitization because it is not very good at removing dirt, impurities, and contaminants from surfaces. Englezos et al. (2019) stated that if sanitization is done before cleaning, the process can offer false security that can put you and your loved ones at risk of getting infected. That comes because dirt and impurities can prevent the disinfectant chemical from reaching these pathogens, resulting in an inefficient sanitization process.

Therefore, cleaning alone cannot keep you and those around you safe from pathogenic infections, and neither can sanitization alone. The only way to be sure that you and your loved ones are protected is by doing both cleaning and sanitization in that order.

Can all disinfectants be used for the same purpose?

Most people often ask this question across the globe, whether a disinfectant is a disinfectant? Well, the answer to that question is a No. There are various disinfectant chemicals and methods of application. It’s important to point out that not all disinfectants can be effective against all forms of pathogenic and non-pathogenic microorganisms.

Besides, some disinfectants react differently to different surface materials. Therefore, it’s essential to always seek expert opinion before using any particular disinfectant based on the microorganisms you are targeting and what material you intend to use. For example, some disinfectants are multi-purpose, and some are effective against a good number of microorganisms.

But in the event of an epidemic, the right question to ask is: can it be effective against the said virus? The perfect example is COVID-19 that we are dealing with right now. Khan and Yadav (2020) mentioned that the list of microorganisms that a disinfectant can kill is usually listed on the disinfectant product label. Still, it’s always important to consult an expert to understand more about the product.


Moccia et al. (2020) denoted that cleaning before sanitization is the best way to get effective results and save you money by avoiding wastes. Before purchasing a disinfectant, you should ensure that the product is EPA registered. And after purchase, be sure to follow instructions to the latter as stated on the label.

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