American Cleaning Institute - For Better Living

Nancy Bock 2015

Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President of Meetings & Education at the American Cleaning Institute®

Q. It’s picnic season! Should I clean or disinfect my summer serving trays and utensils?

A. First, it’s importance to know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing. Here’s the scoop:

  • CLEANING works by using soap or detergents, water and friction to physically remove germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection by removing them. Hot water (120° - 140° F/50° - 60° C) also helps to reduce the level of dirt and germs.
  • SANITIZING reduces, but does not necessarily eliminate, microorganisms in the air, on surfaces or on inanimate objects. Look for a product whose label is registered as a "sanitizer" under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA; 7 U.S.C. section 136 et seq.)
  • DISINFECTING destroys or irreversibly inactivates infectious or other undesirable bacteria, pathogenic fungi, or viruses on surfaces or inanimate objects. These products are labeled (and registered with the EPA) as a "disinfectant" under the Act. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA, 7 U.S.C. 136, et seq.).

Depending on where you stored your summer picnic gear, i.e., in a basement corner where mice or insects may reside, you may choose to sanitize or disinfect them before the first use this spring. And remember: when grilling this season, be sure to avoid cross-contamination by never using the platter that contained raw meat, fish or poultry to hold cooked foods unless you wash it thoroughly in hot, soapy water first!


FAQs: Cleaning and disinfecting household surfaces 


© American Cleaning Institute   All rights reserved.

1331 L Street NW, Suite 650 Washington, DC 20005
Tel: 202-347-2900 Fax: 202-347-4110