Written by Stacey Kelleher. Reviewed by Sean Busch.

Editors Note: Information presented was the most current at the time of publication.

There's never a wrong time to clean a surface around your home. But there are major distinctions between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing. Not only does this guide outline the differences, but it also reveals how to use the right all-purpose spray and home disinfectant.

What Is Cleaning?

how to clean a surface

The CDC defines cleaning as, “the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces'', usually with a cleaning product, water, and agitation with tools (like a brush or towel). The benefits of cleaning are two-fold: 

  1. You'll see a visible “before and after” difference
  2. You'll clear messes so disinfectants and sanitizers can kill the remaining microbes.

Note: Every surface in your home needs regular cleaning to reduce bacteria, but the dirtiest spots in your house might surprise you.

How to Clean a Surface That's Semi-Porous & Non-Porous

do all purpose cleaners disinfect

High-touch spots like doorknob, faucet handles, cabinets, and countertops are easy to clean with soap and water. For obvious reasons, a multi-surface spray is much more convenient.

  1. Clear items from the area you're cleaning.
  2. Use one spray of Puracy Multi-Surface Cleaner on each 2’x2’ square area.
  3. Wait a few seconds before wiping it away with a clean paper towel or a folded microfiber towel
  4. Use tight, overlapping z-patterns to ensure total coverage and eliminate streaks.
  5. Continually fold your microfiber cloth to a clean side. When they're saturated, throw them in the washing machine and wash your hands.

Pro Tip: While disposable paper towels aren't the most eco-friendly option, they can. help reduce the spread of germs throughout homes during times of sickness.

How to Clean Upholstered Surfaces

do natural cleaners disinfect

When cleaning soft surfaces in your home (like couches, carpets, curtains, and mattresses), start by removing germ-harboring spots and splotches. Puracy Natural Stain Remover uses powerful plant enzymes to dissolve and remove marks caused by grass, blood, wine, pet accidents, and everything in between.

After spot-treating, launder machine-washable items in the warmest water possible. Allow them to dry completely. For larger items, choose a natural carpet and upholstery shampoo that’s gentle on fabric (but tough on dirt and grime).

Get the best tips from the cleaning obsessed.

Puracy crafts cleaning & care items that work really well. Our obsession with natural cleaning performance is our profession, and we're here to share it with you.

CDC Tips for Handling Fabric

  • Wear disposable gloves when handling clothing or bedding of anyone who is ill.
  • Avoid shaking dirty linens to prevent dispersing germs into the air.
  • Clothing and bedding should be machine-washed on the hottest setting possible.
  • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers. Consider using a disposable or washable liner as well (but remember that COVID-19 can live on plastic for up to 72 hours).
  • When arriving home, people who spend time in high-traffic areas (like hospitals and supermarkets) should immediately remove their clothes and launder them to prevent possible transmission.

Do All Purpose Cleaners Disinfect?

do all purpose cleaners disinfect

In addition to clearing goop, gunk, and grime, Puracy Natural Multi-Surface Cleaner uses C10-C16 alcohol ethoxylate as an effective alternative to ammonia and petroleum distillates. While it’s not labeled (or tested) as a disinfectant, our ingredients are proven to break down and remove a number of harmful bacteria and microbes.  

But cleaning alone can’t kill every germ. It can, however, greatly reduce their numbers (and your chances of getting sick). Once cleaning is finished, you can start disinfecting.

All Purpose Cleaners vs Disinfectants

best disinfectant for home

Unlike all-purpose cleaners, disinfectants and sanitizing products use “antimicrobial pesticides” to kill germs. These products are regulated by the EPA and pesticide regulation departments in various states.

There is, however, a small difference between the two:

Which Home Surfaces Need to Be Disinfected Most?

After spot-treating and cleaning surfaces, it’s time to kill remaining microbes. Anything that comes in contact with your hands, food, and the outside world should be regularly disinfected, especially high-traffic areas like:

  • Electronics 
  • Children’s furniture and toys 
  • Kitchen cutting boards & utensils (dishwashers destroy germs better than hand washing)
  • Countertops and cupboard doors
  • Doors, handles, and packages coming into the home 
  • Light switches 
  • Faucets
  • Clothing, shoes, backpacks, and handbags 
  • Countertops (especially after putting grocery bags or packages on them) 

    Note: Before using any home disinfectant, check the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it's safe for certain materials. 

    Meet Puracy Disinfecting Surface Cleaner

    Some products double as both cleaners and disinfectants, requiring different methods for each (be sure to check label instructions). Most, however, aren’t designed to remove dirt and residue.

    puracy disinfecting surface cleaner

    Some products double as both cleaners and disinfectants, but most aren’t effective at removing dirt and residue. Our CDC-approved, EPA-listed Disinfecting Surface Cleaner tackles grimy, sticky, and food-safe surfaces without caustic ingredients. When used correctly, it also kills more than 99.9% of germs and viruses.

    In other words, this 2-in-1 cleaner and disinfectant gets the entire job done. And because it's hydrogen peroxide-based, it's totally biodegradable! 

    General Cleaning

    Thoroughly spray the surface and wipe with a clean, dry microfiber towel using tight, overlapping "Z" patterns.


    Thoroughly spray onto the surface. Let stand for 10 minutes, then wipe away with a clean & dry microfiber towel.

    Note: Though this product is designed for use on nearly every non-porous surface, use caution on semi-porous surfaces like wood, soapstone, and marble.

    How Long Should Disinfectant Sit on a Surface?

    how long should disinfectant sit on a surface

    To disinfect hard surfaces, follow the exact directions on disinfectant labels. If you don’t let the disinfectant sit long enough, it can’t do its job.

    For example, our hydrogen peroxide disinfectant kills more than 99.9% of bacteria in 1 minute and 99.9% of viruses within 10 minutes of soaking time. 

    How to Disinfect Upholstered Surfaces 

    how to disinfect bedding

    The CDC recommends laundering or shampooing bedding, clothing, carpets, and other soft materials using the hottest water possible. Assuming they’re safe for fabrics, you can also use products that meet the EPA’s criteria for killing SARS-CoV-2

    How to Disinfect Electronics

    how to disinfect electronics

    A University of Arizona study discovered that the average cell phone contained 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat! Luckily, there’s a simple way to kill germs on your electronics:

    1. Turn your device off. 
    2. Spray a paper towel with Puracy disinfecting spray then gently remove dirt and debris. 
    3. Once dry, use an alcohol based-wipe or spray containing at least 70% isopropyl alcohol. Be sure that the product is safe for electronics.
    4. Allow electronics to dry completely and turn them back on. 

    Disinfecting Semi- and Non-Porous Surfaces 

    For these tasks, you can use EPA-endorsed wipes, sprays, and solutions (like Puracy Disinfecting Surface Cleaner) or a diluted bleach solution recommended by the CDC.

    • First, clean the surface using a surface cleaner. 
    • Using your home disinfectant, follow manufacturer instructions for use. 
    • Allow the mixture to sit on surfaces for the recommended period of time. 
    • Ensure proper ventilation at all times. 
    • Never mix with other cleaners (especially those that contain ammonia). 

    Note: Be careful not to mix certain chemicals together, especially bleach and ammonia (which produces toxic gas).

    Reach for the Best Disinfectant & Cleaners for Your Home

    Puracy cleaners

    Puracy cleaners were developed to be the gentlest, most effective products possible. We know: We developed them with our team of PhD chemists and physicians. When these cleaning and disinfecting recommendations are added to the mix, we can all help flatten the curve and keep loved ones healthy.