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Disinfecting and Cleaning: What are the differences?

Cleaning surfaces might be part of your routine already, but did you know you could take it a step further with disinfection?

Despite popular belief, disinfecting and cleaning are not the same thing. When it comes to keeping a hygienic home for yourself and your loved ones, it’s important to know the difference so that you can carry on enjoying time with your family, without worrying about the germs.

What are the differences?


When you disinfect, you actively kill germs. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, disinfectant sprays can further lower the risk of spreading infectious bacteria and viruses. Keep in mind however that disinfectants don’t always remove tough stains, grime or dirt.


When you clean, you remove dirt and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning 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 any little nasties.

When should you disinfect and clean?

Of course, it’s great if you can do both but these two actions don’t always need to be done together. That said, 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 this is to clean your surfaces, removing the top layer of dirt, then disinfect afterwards to kill bacteria and viruses. Cleaning first also improves the performance of disinfectants.

It's also a good idea to disinfect the areas of your home that see a lot of visitors. If you have unexpected guests over and they bring their playful children or muddy-pawed pets, you may find more reasons to disinfect after you clean. It may be their dog’s fur carrying in germs from outdoors or the children bringing things home from their adventures – whatever it is, have your Dettol disinfectants ready to help.

Commonly dirty spots to keep in mind are areas like door handles, light switches, coffee tables, and kitchen counters that can quickly hang on to germs passed on by your loved ones. Try to disinfect these areas preferably before and after a visit and make them a priority to keep clean.


What areas should I be disinfecting?

Keep an eye on those hotspots around your home that are most likely to contain high levels of germs. These areas are typically those where the family hangs out most, as well as the items that tend to get the most use. Make them the focus of your disinfection and show those germs who’s the boss of the house.


  • Sponge or dishcloths
  • Kitchen sink and draining area
  • Floors
  • Taps
  • Chopping boards
  • Fridge/freezer handle
  • Kitchen counters and tabletops


  • Bath and sink drains
  • Toilet flush handle
  • Taps
  • Shower drain area
  • Toilet bowl (under the rim in particular)
  • Toilet floor

Living room/Bedroom

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

Use a disinfectant spray like Dettol Surface Cleanser Spray to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses* in and around surfaces. You could also use Dettol antibacterial wipes* if you’re short on time and need a quick fix. Check the product labels to ensure they are suitable for the surface you want to disinfect.

These are just a few disinfection and cleaning pointers to help you keep your home hygienic for yourself and your loved ones. For more helpful tips on which products you can use when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting, click here.

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


Related Products:

Dettol Surface Cleanser Spray

Dettol Cleansing Surface Wipes

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