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Facts About...


Why is it important?

Frequent cleaning and disinfection helps to prevent the spread of germs that may cause illness.

What is it?

Cleaning is an important first step because it physically removes dirt, organic matter and most germs from surfaces, but does not destroy some harmful germs that may remain. All surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned before disinfection. This ensures that germs are not hidden from the disinfectant when it is applied.

Disinfection is the process that destroys most disease-causing germs that remain on surfaces.

How often should it be done?

  • Routinely - for frequently touched surfaces; shared surfaces/items
  • More often - when illness levels have increased
  • Immediately - when surfaces are contaminated with blood or body fluids

How is it done?




Step 1: Clean

To physically remove dirt, organic matter, and most germs before disinfection
Use detergent/soap, water, clean brush/cloth and scrub

Step 2: Rinse

To remove soap and dirt residue

To make disinfectants effective

Use clean water and clean cloth

Step 3: Disinfect

To destroy disease causing germs that remain on surfaces

Fully immerse tools in disinfectant solution at proper strength for a required contact time

What do I look for?

Read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Things to consider when buying cleaning and disinfection products:

Type: Is the product just a cleaner, disinfectant or a combination?

DIN: Drug Identification Number issued by Health Canada for all approved disinfectants

Pre-clean/Clean: Must remove all dirt before sanitizing or disinfecting

Sanitize: A lower kill level of some germs

Disinfect: A higher kill level of more types of germs

Contact Time: The time required for the disinfectant to be left wet on the surface to kill the germs

What do I look for?

Can household bleach be used as a disinfectant?

Household bleach can be diluted with water and is an effective and inexpensive disinfectant.

The product labels will inform you of the intended use of the bleach and whether it can be used as a disinfectant. Remember to always follow manufacturer’s instructions.

More information can be obtained from

Durham Region Health Department, Environmental Help Line 905-723-3818 or 1-888-777-9613

October 2016