cleaning surfaces

Cleaning Surfaces: How to Clean Effectively and Kill Germs

Certain infectious diseases can live on surfaces for several hours to several days. For high-touch surfaces, this means that employees are at high risk of contracting illnesses. Cleaning surfaces properly has never been more important than it is today.

In this article, we discuss the difference between cleaning and disinfecting surfaces so you know which to do and when to do it. Continue reading to keep your office as healthy as possible.

Identifying High-Touch Surfaces

One of the first steps for cleaning high-touch surfaces is to identify all of the high-touch surfaces in your office. Some surfaces are obvious such as office phones, countertops, and keyboards. 

However, others might be less obvious such as doorknobs, pens, water fountains, and light switches. If you’re missing some of these high-touch surfaces, you aren’t making as big of an impact on maintaining office health.

Cleaning Surfaces vs Disinfecting Surfaces

The next step is to consider the differences between cleaning surfaces and disinfecting surfaces. Cleaning surfaces involves the use of soap or another cleaning to physically wash away dirt, debris, and germs from a surface.

Disinfecting requires the use of harsher chemicals. Instead of washing the germs away, disinfecting surfaces means killing the germs. You may not need to do both every time you want to freshen up the office space.

When to Clean Surfaces

While cleaning surfaces doesn’t kill germs, it’s still an effective means of maintaining a healthy staff. This is because it physically reduces the number of germs on high-touch surfaces. 

You should immediately clean surfaces that are visibly dirty. Otherwise, you can stick to routine cleaning at least once per day. Make sure that you follow the instructions on cleaning solutions for maximum effectiveness.

When to Disinfect Surfaces

Before disinfecting surfaces with certain solutions, be sure they are approved for both cleaning and disinfecting. Dirty surfaces should be cleaned before using products solely intended for disinfecting.

If everyone in your office is currently healthy, you don’t need to regularly disinfect surfaces. Make sure the office is well-ventilated and make sure high-touch surfaces are cleaned regularly.

If and when an employee is ill or your staff is exposed to illness, you can disinfect shared surfaces to prevent the spread of germs. Bleach solutions or alcohol solutions are great disinfectants. 

Consider the Type of Surface

Once you’ve decided between the need to clean or disinfect, you can structure your cleaning plan around the type of surface. You can’t use the same methods of cleaning and disinfecting on different types of surfaces and expect the same results. 

You should also consider low-touch vs high-touch surfaces. While high-touch surfaces should be your priority, you don’t want to neglect low-touch surfaces and allow germs to accumulate. 

Hard Surfaces

Hard, non-porous surfaces are the easiest to clean and disinfect. Start by applying your soap, cleaner, or disinfecting solution before scrubbing the area thoroughly. If your product recommends soaking, then allow time for this before wiping clean.

Porous surfaces are more challenging than non-porous surfaces, but you can largely take the same approach. Since porous surfaces can retain germs easily, we recommend disinfecting them periodically with a bleach or alcohol solution.

Soft Surfaces

Soft surfaces are not as straightforward to clean. These include carpets, rugs, and padded furniture. Smaller items such as rugs and drapes can be tossed into the washing machine on a high-heat setting to clean and disinfect.

Larger items such as furniture and carpets require the use of special equipment. A combination of detergent and heat is the best for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces such as these. Steam cleaners or carpet cleaning machines are useful in these cases.

Wet Surfaces

Wet surfaces such as tubs, sinks, and showers may seem daunting to the novice cleaner. However cleaning wet surfaces is easy if you use the right cleaning solutions and processes. 

Start by spraying the surface with hot water to loosen any stuck-on debris. Bleach solutions are the perfect option for wet surfaces. They help clear any dirt or debris as well as kill germs. 


The majority of common office linens are easy to clean using a washing machine and dryer. You should always use the hottest temperature setting possible. Be careful not to ruin any of your linens by reading their cleaning instructions.

Heavy-duty linens such as towels can be washed with bleach solutions on a high-heat setting to disinfect and clean. Delicate linens should forgo the bleach in favor of a mild detergent and a lower heat setting.


If you’re concerned about office health, then we recommend making an investment in your cleaning and disinfecting efforts. One option is to purchase cleaners or disinfectants specifically designed for electronics.

Another option is to apply waterproof covers to your electronic devices. This allows you to use the devices as normal with the benefit of being able to wipe them down between uses. 

Hire Professionals

Once you’ve decided on the best way of cleaning surfaces in your office, we recommend setting a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting. While you can hold employees responsible for their designated workspaces, we recommend hiring professionals. 

The best part of working with professional cleaners is the use of their knowledge and attention to detail. Instead of spending time researching the right way to clean and disinfect, you can trust a janitorial team to take that stress off your plate.

Stick With It

The most important part of your cleaning schedule is to ensure you and your staff stick to it. Schedules are easy to start but difficult to keep up with. If you want a healthy office, you have to dedicate yourself to the effort to keep it clean. 

If you don’t have the time or willpower to dedicate to the process, then leave it to the professionals. They have the time needed to do the job right. Plus, hiring office cleaners can boost productivity

Get On Top of Cleaning Surfaces

Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces on a regular schedule can help ensure everyone in your office remains healthy. Use the above guide to start cleaning surfaces effectively. Remember to factor in the various types of surfaces for the best results.

If you want to make cleaning high-touch surfaces simple, then contact us today for a free estimate.