Cleaning, Sanitising, and Disinfection: What's the difference and why is it important for schools and colleges?

As the entire country is UNLOCKING, schools, colleges and institutes are reopening all across at different pace. Due to the reopening of these, cases of COVID-19 amongst students and staff too are rising thus making cleaning, sanitising and disinfection is a priority for school management and parents. While many people use these three terms interchangeably, they are in fact very different and knowing this difference is extremely important, especially in times like these. Knowing the correct process can help reduce the COVID risk.


There is a very subtle but important difference between these three processes, which is that only one of them is actually capable of killing the COVID-19 virus. These are the international definitions for the following terms. "Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and dust from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using basic soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not kill germs, but it removes them, and thus lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection." "Sanitising lowers the number of germs on surfaces to a safe level, as per public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection." "Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects effectively. It works by using chemicals designed to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not actually clean the visibly dirty surfaces or remove germs, but it kills germs on a surface after cleaning, thus it can further lower the risk of spreading infection." You can see from these definitions that cleaning removes germs and sanitising lowers their number, only disinfection kills germs and pathogens effectively.


The busy school, college, and university environments are filled with common areas, high-touch surfaces and equipments, and there is close contact maintained amongst students and staff. Thus,  this list of surfaces and places that can be potentially contaminated by coronavirus. COMMON SURFACES THAT ESPECIALLY NEED TO BE DISINFECTED INCLUDE:

  • Appliances, equipment, and machinery
  • Chairs, benches, and seating
  • Counters
  • Desks and tables
  • Dispensers
  • Doorknobs and handles
  • Door frames
  • Electronics such as phones, remote controls, computers etc.
  • Elevators and escalators
  • Light switches
  • Lockers
  • Railings
  • Shelves and racks
  • Sinks
  • Toilets and urinals
  • Trash cans
  • Vending machines

Why the in-house janitor staff might not be equipped for such intensive cleaning?

For services like taking out the trash, cleaning spills, wiping down surfaces like tables or handles, schools and colleges usually have a team of in-house janitors. For such kinds of regular cleaning or even sanitising, a regular janitor staff could be up for the job however when it comes to disinfection, it's a difficult task which, especially in times of a pandemic should be left to a professional.

  • Wiping down and spraying disinfects only about 50% surface area effectively.
  • Most in-house cleaning teams use simple products like detergents, multipurpose or glass cleaner, which only cleans the surface superficially, not the viruses and germs hidden
  • Most janitors don't bother wearing PPE suits or use proper protective gear while working

A professional hygiene service will have access to speciality equipment that utilise disinfectants in more effective methods than your traditional spraying or wipe down methods. HiCare, for example, uses advanced specialised Silver Nano Technology which is 99.99% effective against COVID. This highly scientific treatment as well as application reaches zones that traditional cleaning services cannot. For further details on the specialised and proven steam and silver-nano based covid disinfection for educational institutes, give a Missed Call to HiCare at 080-471-90905