Sanitizing vs Disinfecting: What to Know When Servicing Portable Restrooms

An outdoor portable restroom

As we all know, servicing a portable restroom with one of your vacuum tank trucks is a pretty dirty job. This process usually takes several steps, including washing, disinfecting, and sanitizing. Working with or around human waste is no joke, and skipping steps can lead to a biohazard exposure. This can put workers as well as customers at risk. 

That being said, you have probably heard the terms sanitizing and disinfecting, but do you truly know the difference between the two? While they both serve a purpose, it’s important to break them down. Let’s take a closer look at servicing portable restrooms, and what you can do to ensure sanitary, bacteria free surfaces. 


The Breakdown

Sometimes, breaking things down into clear cut definitions is the easiest way to go. 

  • Cleaning:

Cleaning actually refers to removing dirt or grime from a surface. This is something that you do every time you service a portable restroom. However, simply washing this off doesn’t necessarily rid the surface of pathogens and bacteria present. This is especially true when working around human waste.

  • Sanitizing:

In order for something to actually be sanitized, you have to use a cleaning agent that works to kill the aforementioned germs and pathogens. Sanitizing normally takes care of about 99% of the bacteria present. Just be sure to check the label for proper use!

  • Disinfecting:

To go one step further, you will need to disinfect. This normally entails another solvent or cleaning agent, only this one will be labeled as a disinfectant. It should work to kill any of the remaining bacteria, microorganisms, or pathogens. Once again, this is extremely important when working around human waste.

All three are very important and serve a critical role in ensuring that the job was done correctly and that the portable restrooms are safe to use for their next function. 


The Right Cleaning Products

Knowing about cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting is only half the battle – you also need to make sure you are getting the right cleaning products you need. When seeking out products, try to find those that are deemed ‘green’ or more environmentally friendly. While they are hard to come by, they are often worth the extra effort.

Here in the United States, cleaning supplies are tested and evaluated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA tests for both the product’s effectiveness as well as the impact that it has on the environment. Once it passes and meets specific standards and guidelines, it is then deemed as an EPA approved product and ready to go out on the market.

When working with and servicing portable restrooms, it is very important to make sure that you are getting a product that attacks a broad spectrum of pathogens and microorganisms. You have no idea what could be left behind on the surface, including HPV, MRSA, TB, and Hepatitis B and C. 

Blue and white containers of industrial cleaners


Tips to Keep In Mind

Now that you are knowledgeable on these products and what they can do, you can put them to good use! Remember that following the instructions listed on the labels is very important, as mixing chemicals can be dangerous. Once you have that down and you understand what each product does, you can follow these tips:

Tip #1: Properly Clean the Surface

Begin by cleaning the portable restroom. Mud, waste, and other debris should be completely rinsed off and cleared away. While you might feel pressured to complete the job as quickly as possible, you don’t want to rush through it and produce lackluster results. 

Tip #2: Give the Disinfectant Time

According to research, one of the biggest mistakes people make when using a disinfectant is that they don’t give it adequate time to settle on the surface. Think of when you’re grocery shopping and you use a wipe on the handle of the cart. Most of the time, this doesn’t actually work because people are immediately touching the cart right after using the wipe. The same concept applies here. Read the label first, but most agents take five to ten minutes to properly do their job.

Tip #3: Properly Dilute the Agent

Another area where people make mistakes when using cleaning agents is that they don’t properly dilute the solution. Either they use too much water or no water at all. If it is too waterlogged, it likely won’t be powerful enough to do its job. If it hasn’t been mixed with water, it can leave behind a chemical residue that can burn or irritate skin. Taking the time to read the instructions will really pay off here.


Don’t Forget Your Truck!

When it comes to the end of the day, don’t forget about yourself, too! Vacuum tank trucks that service portable restrooms are also in need of cleaning and disinfecting. Those microorganisms and pathogens are no joke, and you need to be aware of the employee’s safety and well being. Make sure that you are regularly cleaning and sanitizing your truck, hoses, and other equipment used when working with portable restrooms. 


Purchase From FlowMark

If you are ready to service portable restrooms with the best equipment on the market, then it’s time to make your next purchase from FlowMark. We know that you work hard, and you deserve to drive around in a truck that works just as hard. Every single one of the ​​vacuum tank trucks that we manufacture right here in Kansas City is built to last, ensuring that you are operating your business with the best of the best.

Here at FlowMark, we understand that time is money. While others might leave you hanging and waiting around for days for a quote, we guarantee that we will have one to your email even before we hang up the phone. Efficiency, quality, and hardwork is the backbone of our business. 

Don’t hesitate – contact us today! We can’t wait to speak with you and answer any questions that you may have. We know you will be able to tell the difference that a FlowMark truck makes for your business.