Cleanliness vs sanitisation. What is most essential in a hospitality setting?

Hospitality | 4/7/2022

Though they are frequently used interchangeably, there are many major differences between cleaning and sanitisation. Both do intend to remove substances from a surface, which can be a basis for confusion. However, cleaning focuses on physical debris, whereas sanitisation focuses on the germs and bacteria not visible to the human eye. 

At first, it may seem that sanitisation is the most important protocol as it can remove fast-spreading infections from a surface. However, in a hospitality venue, cleaning and sanitisation must work hand-in-hand to prevent the spread of bacteria. When completed correctly, this will keep staff, business owners and patrons safer while utilising the services and facilities. 

Some of the reasons both cleaning and sanitisation share equal importance include: 

Cleaning eradicates germ-harbouring materials. 

Materials such as dust, dirt and debris can harbour bacteria, causing it to spread quickly and place hospitality venues at risk. On top of this, certain hospitality businesses may also be more susceptible to certain types of visible, bacteria-harbouring dirt. For example, a restaurant that has just finished serving peak hour customers may have traces of food matter on benches and across the floor. Similarly, a wedding function hall will see plenty of customers, meaning their bathrooms may become soiled with waste and faecal matter much quicker than another hospitality business. 

The physical cleanliness of a business premise isn’t always an indication of its ability to meet all sanitisation requirements. Though, the cleaner a surface is, the more effective all disinfecting protocols will be. So hospitality owners and workers must take all the precautions to clean before they enforce disinfection. Using a cleaning checklist, like this hospitality-specific one provided by the Rubbermaid Commercial team, can ensure that all surfaces receive the attention they deserve. 

It’s important to remember that bench surfaces should be cleaned before the floor to prevent accidentally recontaminating the ground with fallen debris. On top of this, washing all brooms, mops, cloths and cleaning materials is a must to ensure that they don’t become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Sanitising kills bacteria and makes surfaces hygenic 

While cleaning is vital for hospitality businesses, sanitisation shares equal importance. Through the use of chemicals and heat, sanitising focuses on killing bacteria. It can make hospitality venues safer for patrons and allow them to use a business's services freely, without the risk of falling ill. 

Effective sanitisation processes can remove all forms of bacteria from surfaces. This includes those travelling through the air and those which come from food, such as the deadly salmonella virus. As such, sanitisation plays a role in all hospitality businesses, but only when completed after cleaning. This will guarantee the sanitiser can reach the surface and does not miss any bacteria hidden under debris. 

Though many effective sanitiser solutions can eradicate bacteria, the team at Rubbermaid highly recommends that hospitality business owners consider their surroundings. For example, a business servicing children would need to use a child-safe cleaner, whereas one working with food should ensure they are using products that won’t contaminate ingredients. 

Rubbermaid’s guide to effective cleaning and sanitisation 


On top of a cleaning schedule and checklist, specific cleaning resources can ensure that dirt and debris are removed effectively. When cleaning floor surfaces, using a Vinyl-Coated Angle Broom can guarantee sweeping is easy and that all dirt is picked up. When working on surfaces,

pick up all large debris while wearing gloves. Clean spills or hard-to-grasp dirt with an HYGEN microfibre cloth. 


The team at Rubbermaid understands that sanitisation can be difficult for businesses in the hospitality industry, especially those without the proper training and resources. To help business owners and staff understand their due diligence over keeping the premises safe, hygienic and free from infections, the team has many online resources. The Hospitality Industry Insights available on the Rubbermaid website provide a detailed guide on choosing the right sanitisation equipment. Following this guide can help business owners ensure a deep clean and sanitisation every time. 

Whether cleaners are using launderable microfibre or HYGEN microfibre mops, they must pay attention to ensure the entire surface is sanitised. Curved surfaces and the flooring underneath equipment are often missed and can promote the spread of bacteria. In a worst-case scenario where they are frequently left unsanitised, they can also lure pests, such as flies. 

For businesses operating across large hospitality spaces, including hotels, casinos or sports stadiums, it's recommended that cleaning staff are provided with cleaning carts to ensure that all sanitisation resources remain infection-free. This is especially important if cleaning is executed while crowds visit the venue, as patrons could accidentally spread airborne infections onto cleaning materials. 

Rubbermaid helps keep the hospitality space clean

Passionate about sourcing and creating the best-quality cleaning and sanitisation tools on the market, Rubbermaid is a one-stop-shop for business owners looking to keep their hospitality venue free from bacteria. If you are seeking a way to better clean and disinfect your premise, the team at Rubbermaid is always happy to help. Contact them today to learn more about which solutions best suit your premise.