2XL Antibacterial Force Wipes (2XL400/401), 2XL Antibacterial Revolution Wipes (2XL350/351), 2XL Force2 Disinfecting Wipes (2XL406), 2XL GymWipes Antibacterial (2XL100/101), and 2XL C-Diffend Disinfectant Tablets (2XL310) have all demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to 2019 Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) on hard, non-porous surfaces. Therefore, these products can be used against 2019 Coronavirus when used in accordance with their directions against Norovirus on hard, non-porous surfaces.
Clean Insights Blog

Disinfectant Cleaner Vs. Cleaner – What’s the Difference?

| June 19, 2020
“Do I use a disinfectant cleaner or a cleaner?” 

This is a question you probably ask yourself when you’re browsing dozens of cleaning products on a shelf at your local store or online. With so many options to choose from, you might not know which product will be best for your home or facility. Unsurprisingly, most people don’t know the difference between a disinfectant cleaner and a cleaner. 

However, understanding the distinction between them is critical to creating and maintaining a clean environment – especially following a global pandemic. Failing to use the right product for your cleaning tasks increases the risk of cross-contamination, lessens the effectiveness of your cleaning efforts, and contributes to the spread of infectious disease and illness in your business, facility, or home. 

Since 2XL is the global leader in keeping surfaces and equipment safe, who else would be better to explain it than us? Read on to learn the difference between a disinfectant cleaner vs. cleaner, as well as scenarios when you’ll need to use each.

What is a disinfectant cleaner?


Disinfectant is defined by dictionary.com as a chemical agent used to destroy or inhibit the growth of harmful organisms. Therefore, to disinfect a surface means to completely rid it of pathogens that cause infection. A product labeled as a disinfectant cleaner does two jobs.

First, they remove dirt, dust, and grime from surfaces and equipment. Additionally, it is
EPA registered and proven to kill specific germs, freeing surfaces from infectious agents. These products come in many forms, from wipes to sprays or liquid chemicals. Because of their versatility and power, you can use disinfectant cleaners to wipe up spills and remove dirt and residue on surfaces while also killing dangerous bacteria and viruses. 


Disinfectant cleaners can both clean a dirty surface and disinfect it but for the best result, always clean surfaces before disinfecting to ensure the maximum effectiveness. When you remove the dirt, dust, and grime from a surface first, the disinfectants work better because there is no barrier between the disinfectant and the surface germs. 

Be careful not to choose just any disinfectant cleaner, though. To determine which disinfectant is best for your facility, office, or home, you’ll need to ask yourself a series of questions. This article will help you consider and weigh important factors when selecting a disinfectant fo your facility including the formula, ingredients, and dwell time length. 

What is a cleaner?


A cleaner is designed to only remove surface-level grime and impurities which include dirt, dust, spills, stains, smudges or scuffs, and fingerprints. Cleaning agents fall into four primary categories – detergents, degreasers, abrasives, and acids. They’re usually sold as a wipe or as a liquid chemical. Many people get confused because they think that cleaning is sufficient to remove harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi that cause contagious diseases from surfaces. However, it’s important to understand that cleaners will not kill germs.




Aside from your regularly scheduled cleaning and your increased COVID-19 pandemic cleaning, you’ll want to use a disinfectant cleaner when: 

Use a disinfectant cleaner when a surface has come into contact with blood.

Bodily fluids come into contact with a surface

      • Saliva from sneezing or coughing
      • Sweat on gym equipment
      • Blood on medical tools or from an accidental office cut
      • Vomit from an ill employee or customer
      • Fecal matter in your restrooms 
A surface is shared by dozens or hundreds of people each day

      • Door handles in high traffic areas like your entry or restrooms
      • Copier machines
      • Community coffee pots and refrigerators 
      • Shopping cart handles
      • Public restrooms in your facility
When a pathogen comes into with a surface or equipment

      • A customer with influenza coughs on your reception desk
      • An employee who has COVID-19 sneezes on a keyboard
      • A gym member who has MRSA sweats on a bench while working out
      • Food containing E. coli is put onto a counter in the employee breakroom 
      • Someone who has norovirus throws up in your bathroom 

You need to disinfect after raw food has touched a surface.

After raw food has come into contact with a surface 

      • A knife that has been used to slice chicken or steak
      • An employee who cuts themselves drips blood onto a table
      • Using the same cutting board for unclean raw fruits or vegetables



To keep your employees, customers, and reputation safe, use a general cleaning plan to complete regular, ongoing cleaning. Be sure that your plan includes a system to: 

    • Remove dust and dirt and clean up spills and other unattractive residues on surfaces
    • Remove fingerprints and smudges from surfaces such as windows, touchscreens, etc.  
    • Kill dangerous bacteria and viruses with an EPA registered disinfectant cleaner
    • Frequently remove harmful germs from high touch surfaces
    • Consistently disinfect all surfaces where dangerous germs could be hiding 

Read this article to learn about Post COVID-19 cleaning protocols to implement in your facility to increase cleanliness. 

Disinfectant cleaners and cleaners are not the same.


It’s easy to get confused or even frustrated as you’re shopping for disinfectant cleaners and cleaners. Since they’re packaged and promoted in the same ways, you may just assume they do the same thing. But although they appear to be the same type of product, disinfectants, cleaners, and disinfectant cleaners vary in formula and capability.

Now that you understand the difference between what these products do and what to use them for, you can buy the best product for your home or business. To learn more about the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting, click here.


Your Cart