Cleaning refers to reducing the number of germs, dirt, residues, and impurities from a surface by a “cleaning process.” It does not kill germs but removes or reduces their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Residue is a sticky or oily layer on a surface that other soils stick to. Most surfaces have some sort of residue. Bacteria, soil, or a virus can attach or stick to the residue.
Sanitization refers to lowering the number of germs on a surface or object to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting an area to lower the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, such as EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on a surface. This process does not replace cleaning a dirty surface. However, it is a great step to take after a surface has been cleaned to kill any remaining germs and lower the chance of spreading infection.
Sterilization refers to a number of processes that can completely kill a germ on a surface. These processes are extremely unsafe for use in environmental cleaning and therefore are not recommended.