Cleaning, Disinfecting, Sanitizing: What’s the Difference?

Mary Albano

October 20, 2020

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Restaurants across the country have instituted additional health and safety solutions in order to ensure the comfort of their diners. The CDC outlines day-to-day cleaning activities that can protect your diners and employees, along with six effective ways to effectively use disinfectant on premise. What does it actually mean to clean, sanitize, or disinfect? Cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting are often used interchangeably, however there are differences - and they’re important.

Cleaning simply removes dirt, debris, and impurities from a surface or object. It may physically remove some germs, however it does not generally kill germs.

Sanitizing reduces the growth of and removes the quantity of germs on a surface or object.

Disinfecting is the method that actually kills germs.

Image Courtesy of Gordon Food Service

Disinfectants are perfect for big messes and highly-touched areas. Disinfecting nonporous surfaces is one of the most reliable ways to help lower the risk of spreading germs from surfaces by touch. Creating a disinfection schedule is an essential part of an effective set of safety solutions for a restaurant. It is important to make sure that cleaning and disinfection are integrated into every employee's tasks - from hosts to servers to food handlers and beyond. As operators bring back existing or new staff, training should include a deep understanding of how to effectively maintain a safe dining environment.

Trust20 expert Cheryl Diballa, Distributor Manager of US ChemBev, outlines essential behaviors that you’re probably already doing. She highlights that both food contact and non-food contact surfaces should first always be cleaned with hot, soapy water. Food contact surfaces (including surfaces that are touched by the customers) should always be cleaned with an EPA registered Sanitizer, while Non Food Contact Surfaces should be wiped down with an EPA registered Disinfectant. Consult Trust20 for a detailed list of products, logs, and procedures that can help you confidently maintain your health and safety procedures.

Take an even deeper look at this topic with Gordon Food Service on YouTube!

Image Courtesy of Gordon Food Service

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About Trust20

Trust20 is the new standard of restaurant safety and diner comfort, based on 20 tactics by health and safety experts. Supported by Gordon Food Service and General Mills, Trust20 provides an independently verified certification of restaurant practices, training, and other resources to help restaurants create safe, healthy, and welcome spaces for diners.


Sources
Reader's Digest: Sanitize vs. Disinfect: What’s the Difference?

CDC: Cleaning, Disinfection, and Hand Hygiene in Schools – a Toolkit for School Administrators

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