Prevent Germs From Spreading

Do you know the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting?

Though the terms may seem interchangeable, there’s a big difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. We're breaking it down and explaining why it’s important to know the difference so you can help keep your family protected and your home truly clean.

Let’s start with germs.

If it’s a surface someone touches, it probably has germs. Actually, even if nobody touches it, it probably still has germs. That’s because germs are everywhere. They live both inside and outside the human body. While some thrive in places like your gut and help with healthy digestion, others exist on your skin or other surfaces and are passed around constantly. There are many good germs that help our bodies stay in balance and actually work to build our immune systems. However, the bad germs can cause a breakdown in our bodies, leading to illness and infection. That’s why it's important to know how to get rid of bad germs in order to help keep your family protecte

So what’s the difference between cleaning and sanitizing and disinfecting?

Woman wiping table


Cleaning is the act of getting rid of dirt and mess where germs can grow. This includes wiping up food that has spilled or sweeping up dirt from outside. Even though cleaning can involve using soap and water, it’s still a surface level clean. That means that cleaning can help lower the risk of spreading infection, but it doesn't generally kill germs, including bacteria and viruses.

illustrated close up of germs and viruses under a microscope


Sanitization is the act of killing bacteria, but it doesn't kill viruses. You'll want to sanitize surfaces that come in contact with food.* Sanitizing doesn't always require chemicals. It can be done with steam or extreme heat of at least 170 degrees F, making it easier to sanitize fabric, carpet and upholstery.*** Check the label on Lysol products and follow the sanitizing instructions.

light switch and doorknob highlighting germy surfaces


Disinfecting is the act of destroying germs, including viruses and bacteria. Disinfecting takes cleaning to the next level to help ensure harmful germs don't spread. By using products like Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol® Disinfectant Sprays, you kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses living on surfaces and lower the risk for spreading infection.

Close up of man washing hands


Just as important as the things in your home, your hands deserve equal if not more attention as they are one of the main means for germs to travel. In fact, the CDC specifically recommends washing your hands as one way to slow the spread of COVID-19. Make sure you're thoroughly washing them for 20 seconds with soap and water. ††

A one-two punch to knock out germs

Always remember, just because something looks clean, doesn't mean it’s disinfected. The best way to reduce your risk of spreading germs is to first clean your surfaces, removing any stuck-on dirt and grime, and then sanitize and/or disinfect. 


It is simple to protect you and your family against germs. 

  1. Clean your surfaces, removing any stuck-on dirt and grime
  2. Sanitize and/or disinfect with your preferred Lysol product
Baby standing in front of bathtub in messy bathroom