A connection between microorganisms and disease transmission was first established in a Vienna hospital in 1841, when the implementation of a hand-washing regimen resulted in a dramatic reduction in mortality rate among puerperal women. Today, the requirement for cleaning and disinfection is better understood, but the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness of these important procedures.1 Nevertheless, it is important for cleaning staff to be aware of the difference between cleaning and disinfection.
Cleaning is the physical removal of soil and microorganisms from surfaces, which may also involve the action of a surfactant, catholyte, detergent or water. Cleaning should be undertaken prior to disinfection because the presence of organic soil will reduce the effectiveness of disinfectants.
Disinfection is the process by which most or all of the pathogenic microorganisms are deactivated or killed. Internationally accepted standards have been created