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Cleaning and Disinfecting: What are the differences?

Cleaning surfaces might be part of your routine already, but did you know you could do more?

Despite popular belief, cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. When it comes to keeping a hygienic home, it’s important to know the difference. 

What are the differences?


When you clean, you remove dirt & impurities from surfacesCleaning with chemicals usually involves using surfactants (soap) which can physically remove germs that cause illness such as bacteria and viruses. This doesn’t necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it can help lower the spread of such pathogens. 


When you disinfect on the other hand, you actively kill germs. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infectious bacteria and viruses. Another thing to note is that disinfectants don’t always remove tough stains, grime or dirt. 

When should you clean and disinfect?

These two actions shouldn’t always be done together. If you really want to keep a hygienic home and lower the risk of spreading harmful germs, you should do both as and when required. The best way to go about it is to clean your surfaces to remove the top layer of dirt, and then disinfect afterwards (if required) to kill bacteria and viruses. Cleaning first also improves the performance of disinfectants.


What areas should I be mindful to disinfect? 

There are a few areas in your home that could be considered hotspots or areas likely to contain high level of pathogens. These areas should be the focus of disinfecting.  


  • Sponge or dishcloth
  • Kitchen sink and drain area
  • Floor
  • Taps
  • Chopping boards
  • Refrigerator/Freezer handle
  • Kitchen counters and tabletops


  • Bath and sink drains
  • Toilet flush handle
  • Taps
  • Shower Drain Area
  • Toilet bowl (especially under the rim)
  • Toilet floor

Living room/Bedroom 

  • TV remote control (do not spray disinfectants on device)
  • Light switches (do not spray disinfectants directly onto light switch)
  • Door handles

Use Dettol Trigger Surface Cleaner to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses* in and around surfaces. Check the product labels to ensure the products you use are suitable for the surface you want to disinfect. 

These are just a few differences and tips to keep your home hygienicFor more helpful tips on what products you can use when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting, click here. 

*Use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use. 

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