Somali 8

Cleaning & Sanitizing

Throughout this course, we have talked a great deal about time & temperature controls and just how important they are to food safety. In this chapter, we are going to talk about cleaning and just how vital this ALSO is to food safety. Let’s face it, every topic we have discussed is vital to food safety!

You can spend a great deal of time making sure that you store, prep, and cook food for the right amount of time and at the right temperature, but if your kitchen is dirty, it will undo all your hard work!

For example, Your preparation areas, cut boards, and knives have not been cleaned. Pathogenic bacteria love food debris and waste. If you have any food debris left on prep tables, at ambient room temperatures, (in the Temperature Danger Zone), bacterial multiplication WILL happen and the chances of cross-contamination to safe food WILL also happen!

Quite often, cleaning is a role given to unskilled and junior staff. That is the nature of the food industry, however, they must be fully trained to understand the dangers, what is required, and why it is so important to get it right.

As a manager, you must train, regularly observe, check, and lead by example.

And remember, it is also a prerequisite for a Food Safety Management System.


Cleaning and sanitizing is a legal requirement for all food businesses, irrespective of size.

The main cleaning-related legislation is detailed in the FDA Federal Food Code 2017.

By Law You Must:

  • Regularly and appropriately clean in order to reduce the risk of a foodborne illness
  • Clean to protect staff from injury or illness
  • Implement a cleaning schedule designed specifically for your operation.
  • Implement cleaning procedures and timelines that are appropriate for the level of risk and the volume of production
  • Train your staff to be safe while cleaning in an appropriate, hygienic, and safe manner
  • A cleaning schedule must be a part of your Food Safety Management System

Benefits of implementing the legal requirements:

  • A clean operation, including front of house increases customer confidence and retention
  • You have a strong Due Diligence defense should anything go wrong
  • Staff naturally prefer to work in a clean, well-run business. It plays a significant role in improving staff retention, reducing costs of employment, and time training new staff.
  • Reducing pest infestation by effective cleaning reduces the risks of cross contamination


Cleaning is defined in the dictionary as ‘the application of energy to remove residue, dirt, and grease’. From a food safety perspective, it is the removal of food debris and dirt, and then the effective sanitizing of the surface, utensils, or equipment. Sanitizing removes 99.9% of pathogenic bacteria as long as it is done correctly.

Cleaning requires physical effort, energy, and training to ensure it is done correctly.


It is important to understand the difference between a cleaner, (a detergent), and a sanitizer, what they do, and in which order you should use them.


  • A detergent’s role is to remove grease, oil and dirt.
  • Its role is to degrease and remove debris before a sanitizer can be applied.
  • A detergent will NOT kill bacteria; its job is to remove the build-up of food, grease, and dirt. To prevent bacterial multiplication, items and equipment must be sanitized AFTER they have been cleaned.


Sanitizers kill 99.9% of bacteria. In other words, they reduce bacteria to a safe level.

There are two types of Sanitizers:

  • Heat Sanitization – this being very hot water which must be at 172°F or above.
  • Chemical Sanitization – which is the use of a chemical sanitizer. Quite often the two will be used together.
  • Sanitizers must be used AFTER cleaning with a detergent because sanitizers cannot remove grease and dirt.
  • The sanitizer must also be left on the surface long enough to work properly; this is called the ‘contact time’
  • You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Never reduce contact time or change the recommended dilution rates. Do not guess!

Types of Chemical Sanitizers

There are two common types of chemical sanitizers, Quaternary Ammonia and Chlorine.

Quaternary Ammonia (Quat or Alkaline)/ NuFoam (or equivalent tablet sanitizer)

Quaternary Ammonia is the sanitizer primarily used at the 2-Bay/3-Bay sink in the “Sanitizer” compartment. This chemical may also be dispensed into the required “Sani Buckets,” if using re-usable wiping cloths. These sanitizers are usually maintained at a temperature between 75°F – 85°F and at a concentration between 50 – 400 ppm (orange test strips should always be present in the food establishment).

Refer to the manufacture instructions regarding dispensing, storage, and testing concentration.

When not in use the sanitizer solution must be replaced every 2 hours

Chlorine – Manufactured Dispensed Chemical

The most popular sanitizer used in food establishments. Chlorine is used as a daily sanitizer along with a chemical disinfectant in a dish machine. Since this type of chlorine is manufactured, it dispenses at safe levels that do not cause chemical contamination of small wares, dishes, glasses, etc. Concentrations range from 50 – 150 ppm (white test strips should always be present in the food establishment).

Refer to the manufacture instructions regarding dispensing, storage, and testing concentration.

When not in use sanitizer solution must be replaced every 2 hours

Sanitizer Effectiveness

For sanitizers to be able to operate at their most effective, staff need to understand the following:

Concentration Levels:

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions exactly. Making an extra-strong batch of sanitizer has no benefits and can be unsafe as it increases the chances of chemical contamination. Making a mixture too weak means it cannot do its job and you might as well not bother.

Test Kits:

These check concentration levels to ensure staff has mixed it correctly. They are available from the manufacturer or your local supplier/distributor. A tester must be used with every batch of sanitizer they make.

Water Temperature:

Most manufacturers will state a recommended water temperature for best results.

Contact Time:

This is the amount of time the sanitizer must remain on a surface or, for example, a pan that is being manually washed in a sink. Again, these are very important to follow. If the instructions say to leave on a surface for 30 seconds, you must stick to the time. If you wipe it off after 10 or 20 seconds you reduce its effectiveness and increase the likelihood of bacteria surviving.

Substitute or Switch Brands:

As a manager, you need to pay special attention to this point. If you decide to switch brands or the distributor substitutes the brand, you need to check the contact time on the new product. It may differ from your existing product and this is where mistakes can happen. If it is different, ensure staff is made aware.

Water Hardness and pH:

Both these factors can affect the concentration levels of a sanitizer. Speak to the distributor or manufacturer and they will advise you on the correct levels.


In this section, we are going to talk about the different cleaning methods, which are best for certain situations, what equipment and materials you need, and how to clean some of the more important areas of your kitchen.


  • The golden rule is that you should clean and sanitize any surfaces that touch food.
  • Any area that does not touch food, needs cleaning and rinsing.

You should clean:

Floors, walls, storage shelves, and garbage containers.

You should sanitize:

Hand Contact Surfaces:

Anything that is frequently touched by your hands.

Remember cross-contamination! Think about handles, doors, coolers, freezers, drawers, faucets, and switches.

As for the front of the house, do you use tablets to take orders? How often do you clean them?

Food Contact Surfaces:

Any surface that comes into contact with raw, TCS, or high-risk foods.

These will include, cutting boards, preparation tables, and work surfaces.

Also, don’t forget, knives, tongs, and other utensils including containers, pots, and pans.

Food processing machinery such as slicers, mixers, and meat grinders.

The golden rule is that you should clean and sanitize a food contact surface that is in constant use at least every 4 hours!

Cleaning Supplies:

You also need to sanitize wiping cloths as they are a major source of cross-contamination and we are going to deal with them separately.

Ultimately, the items that you sanitize depend on their use and if they come into contact with food.

As the manager, it is important to determine which items need to be sanitized and these should be added to your cleaning schedule.

Remember, clean everything and sanitize anything that comes into contact with food.


Before a staff member starts to clean, there are steps that need to take place:

  • Food must be safely stored out of the way to protect it from possible contamination
  • When cleaning a refrigerator. Transfer all food items into a different refrigerated/freezer unit. Try to avoid leaving the food in the Temperature Danger Zone
  • Switch off and isolate electrical equipment before they start to clean
  • When using cleaning chemicals always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Wear appropriate, protective clothing, such as rubber gloves and goggles
  • Work through the stages of cleaning in a logical manner, ensuring you clean food debris, dust and dirt away from already clean areas
  • Do not distract someone who is cleaning as mistakes can happen. For example, They may have cleaned and forgotten to sanitize
  • Clean and disinfect mops and cloths immediately after use and leave them to air dry by storing them right side up. Do not leave them to soak in sanitizer for longer than the manufacturer’s recommended contact time as bacteria can become resistant to the chemicals. Never leave them to soak overnight
  • Have a separate storage area for chemicals away from food
  • Never decant chemicals into other un-labelled containers
  • Chemical contamination, while rare, can produce a severe reaction, as a result, you must ALWAYS wash your hands before starting another task

How to Clean and Sanitize


This means that each individual member of staff is responsible for cleaning up after each small task. The reason being that by cleaning often, food debris and pathogenic bacteria do not build up to a level that will affect food safety. You are removing the hazard before it becomes a problem.

As the manager, it is your role to train and make sure that “Clean As You Go” is happening.

The two phrases most often used are:

“If you made the mess, you clean it up!”
“Do not presume that someone else will clean up after you.”
This process involves removing food debris and then wiping it down with a spray sanitizer (remember to remove and store any food still out in prep).

This little and often cleaning process is very effective, particularly when changing tasks to avoid cross-contamination.

Key Point

“Clean As You Go” is a great method for areas such as preparation areas, however, it will not be effective for cleaning anything needing more than a “quick spray and wipe”. You still need to have a documented cleaning schedule for the majority of cleaning tasks.

We will detail the 5-Step Cleaning Method later in this chapter.


In all likelihood, the one area of the kitchen you will use and clean the most in an average day is the preparation areas/tables. Considering the types of food products, raw, fresh, TCS, ready-to-eat, and cooking, that will be on a preparation table in a day, staff needs to understand the basic concept of “Clean As You Go” and how to clean and sanitize the worksurfaces.

This is an ideal training situation. Have various members of staff demonstrate how they clean it. Everyone needs to know the correct procedures:

  • Protect the food from contamination. Move it away from the area to be cleaned.
  • Remove any loose dirt and food debris and wash the surface with hot water and a detergent, using a cloth, brush, or scrub pad.
  • Rinse off the detergent with hot water and a clean cloth.
  • Use a chemical sanitizer following the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t forget the contact time!
  • And finally, leave to Air Dry.


Three compartment sinks are another well-used feature of any kitchen. In the main, designed for bulkier items that will not fit into a dishwasher. For example pots, pans, cooking trays, etc.

Again, this is an ideal training situation. Have various members of staff demonstrate how they clean a pan in the sink, using the 5 Step Cleaning Method. Everyone needs to know the correct procedures:

5 Step Cleaning Method


Remove loose and heavy food waste, for example, scrape plates and cutting boards, and soak pans if heavily soiled.


In the first sink, wash with hot water and detergent.

Use cloth towels, brushes, or nylon scrub pads. Remember PPE equipment such as gloves.

Change the water and detergent when it becomes dirty.


Remove any traces of detergent and food particles with clean hot water. Ideally use a spray tap and rinse the item, alternatively dip them in the water.

Change the water when it becomes dirty or full of suds.


Use a chemical sanitizer, make sure the sanitizer is at the correct concentration, use a test kit, and leave the items in the sink for the correct contact time.

NEVER rinse with water after sanitizing.

A good idea is to have a clock with a second hand close by so they can correctly time the sanitizing process.

Air Dry

Items need to dry naturally in the air.

Place them upside down to drain quicker and make sure they are dried on a clean, and sanitized surface. NEVER use drying cloths or paper towels as they can potentially cross-contaminate.


Dishwashing machines are yet another well-used feature of any kitchen. In the main, designed for tableware, silverware, utensils. They are a fast, convenient and effective way of cleaning and sanitizing using either hot water or a chemical sanitizing solution.

The two types of machines are:

High Temp Machines – as the name suggests, they use very hot water to clean and sanitize.

The final sanitizing rinse will be at 180°F or for stationary-rack, single temp machines, they will operate at 165°F or above. If you have or purchase of these types, they must have a built-in thermometer to check water temperatures.

Low Temp/Chemical Sanitizing Machines – again, as the name suggests, they use chemical sanitizing solutions and are designed to run at a lower temperature.

Using your Dishwasher

Maintaining a dishwasher is also important as you need to make sure it operates properly and does its job. Staff needs to be trained in some simple guidelines to ensure effective use:

  • Clean the machine once a day, clearing spray nozzles and food traps of food debris. Fill tanks with clean water and make sure the detergent and sanitizing tanks are filled.
  • Before putting plates, bowls, etc. into the rack, scrape and remove any large items of food debris/waste. Pre-soak items with dried-on food.
  • When loading, make sure the correct rack is used and make sure items are stacked so the water spray can reach all surfaces. Never overload a rack.
  • Once cleaned, all items should be left to air dry, never use a cloth or towel.
  • Depending on the type of dishwasher you have, fill the tanks with clean water and make sure detergent and sanitizer dispensers are full.
    On a regular basis, use a delimer to remove mineral deposits, if needed.
  • And finally, regularly check water temperatures and pressure, make sure that staff knows to inform you if they see any potential problems with the machine.


Some equipment is too heavy to move and is better cleaned where it is situated. A meat grinder or a slicer are good examples.

As discussed in the last chapter, they can be sharp, dangerous pieces of equipment, and staff must be trained in how to safely dismantle and clean.

Typical steps for cleaning and sanitizing this type of equipment include:

  • Remove/scrape any visible food from the surfaces.
  • Detach all removable parts so they can be cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized. Usually, these will be items such as the cutting blades.
  • Clean down equipment surfaces, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This should tell staff what cleaning tools to use and the type of sanitizer if needed.
  • Rinse equipment surfaces with clean water and use a cloth towel to dry.
  • Sanitize all food contact surfaces of the equipment.
  • Leave to air dry.


Some equipment is designed to have cleaning and sanitizing solutions pumped through their systems. A typical example would be a soft-serve machine. Staff MUST follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.


We have included some typical front-of-house cleaning techniques. The staff/servers at front of the house will probably not be involved in cleaning within the kitchen. As a result, you need to ensure that they are trained in the proper techniques.


Start by removing any item such as salt, pepper, and condiments from the table before cleaning and sanitizing. This is to avoid accidental, chemical cross-contamination from the cleaning agents.

Remove all food debris, clean thoroughly, and sanitize. Remember to check chairs for food debris and clean if necessary.

Check the condiments before they are put back on the table. Just think how many customers have touched the bottle of ketchup in a day. If staff think the bottle has been cross-contaminated just replace it with a new one and thoroughly clean the original condiments.

If you use laminated menus, make sure staff clean them at the same time. Just think how many customers may have touched that menu in a day.


These are similar to a table. Just think how much food debris and fresh meals are placed at workstations. If you have workstations in your business, make sure staff regularly clean them.

Bar Areas

The counter of a bar may not be an area that you would automatically think can be a dangerous area.

However, you may prepare drink garnishes such as lime, lemon, or apple, and they are considered to be a food product. You may also serve fries, sandwiches, or burgers at the bar.

If any of the above happens at your bar counter, you need to classify this as a food contact surface and clean the area as you would in any other part of the business.

Tablets & Electronic Ordering System

here has been big increase in the number of restaurants that use Tablets & Electronic Ordering Systems for taking customer orders.

Just think how many times in a day a server may touch the screen. How high is the risk of cross-contamination? In a recent survey, a test proved that some tablets had more pathogenic bacteria on the screen than found on a toilet seat!

If staff is cleaning a table and maybe the menu, why not ask them to clean the tablet at the same time. Tablets are a perfect vehicle for contamination if not cleaned regularly.


Ok, so who in your operation are you going to “promote” to this role!!

Unfortunately, people do get sick and a vomiting or diarrhea incident either back or front of the house is both unpleasant and from a food safety perspective a hazard that needs to be quickly dealt with.

Most humans can carry a wide variety of pathogens and viruses such as norovirus, which is extremely contagious.

The cleaning procedure should include:

  • The area needs to be off-limits to all staff and customers.
  • If it is on or near food preparation areas, food production should also stop.
  • The staff member cleaning the area should wear disposable gloves, use paper towels and a trash can liner to remove the bulk of the substance.
  • The area should then be cleaned with hot water and detergent, rinsed with hot water, and then sanitized, (we suggest sanitizing walls and floors if needed, basically anywhere that may have come into contact with the substance).
  • Take extra care to check around the area to make sure it has all been dealt with.
  • Dispose of the gloves and the trash liner straight into the outside waste bins.
  • A thorough hand washing must happen before the staff member is allowed back into the food production or service areas.
  • Best Practice is to have the member of staff change into a new hat, chef coat, apron, etc.


We have talked about food contact surfaces and the importance of sanitizing to reduce pathogenic bacteria.

There are many areas that are called non-food contact surfaces, that still need cleaning, however, they do not need sanitizing.

These surfaces need to be added to your Cleaning Schedule as their cleaning will help reduce dirt, dust, food residue, and grease from the operation. It will also reduce the risks of bacterial growth and reduce pest problems.

Non-Food Contact Areas include ceilings, walls, floors.


Once you have cleaned and sanitized items such as tableware, utensils and other equipment, you need to protect them from the risk of contamination:

  • Clean and sanitize any shelves or drawers you use for storage.
  • Carry trays and carts that carry clean utensils and tableware should be cleaned and sanitized on a daily basis.
  • Store utensils and tableware at least 6 inches from the floor. Ideally, as high as possible, but still accessible.
  • Store cups and glasses upside down and store flatware and utensils with the handles facing upwards. Remember, staff must not touch the food contact surfaces.

Cleaning Tools

A recent study discovered that 95% of dishcloths were contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. In many cases, and of concern, E. coli was also detected.

Cloths are an essential tool for cleaning, however, if not cleaned regularly, they represent a serious risk to food safety. They are the perfect “vehicle of contamination”.

Good Practice:

When cloth towels are not in use they must be stored in a “Sanitizer” designated bucket which is maintained at 200-400 ppm. The level of the solution must be at least ¼ inch thick.
Where possible, use disposable cloths and destroy them after each task.
After contact with High Risk, TCS Foods, Raw Foods or soil clean or destroy immediately.
Do not use the same cloth for hand-drying and handling food.
Re-usable cloths should be laundered sanitized and dried.
Washing a cloth at normal hand wash temperatures will NOT kill bacteria.
Have a separate, clearly labeled, covered storage container to store wiping cloths that need laundering.


A typical operation uses many different types of cleaning tools. Mops, buckets, brooms, cloths, hand wash brushes to name but a few.

There are some practical steps required to ensure they are stored safely and away from food to avoid any cross-contamination issues.

  • Have a separate area for their storage that is away from food and food contact surfaces and is easy to access and clean.
  • Hang mops, brooms, etc. on wall-mounted hooks so they can air-dry safely.
  • Have a utility sink for both washing cleaning tools and filling buckets.
  • Have a floor drain for disposing of dirty water from mop buckets.
  • Clean and rinse buckets and again allow to air-dry.

You must NEVER:

Clean any cleaning tools or dump mop water or any liquid waste in sinks designed for hand washing, food prep, or dishwashing.


All chemicals can cross-contaminate food if used incorrectly, (chemical hazard).

To avoid any accidental cross-contamination while not in use, it is recommended to have a storage area away from any food or food contact surfaces. Many operations keep them away from food in a locked storage cupboard or cabinet.

In addition, it is good practice to keep all chemicals in their original packaging which should include instructions. Transferring to unmarked containers is both confusing and dangerous as mistakes will happen!

Remember that staff must wash their hands after storing or handling chemicals.


A cleaning schedule is a prerequisite needed for your Food Safety Management System and is also an ideal way of identifying the risks to your business.

The Cleaning Schedule will vary by the type of operation and equipment you have; however, the basics will always remain the same: What must be cleaned, how should it be cleaned, who should carry out the cleaning, and how often should it be done.

Take your time when setting up a Cleaning Schedule. Stand back and have a good look at your operation. A good idea is to follow the journey of the food through your operation and see what the danger points are and what type of cleaning will reduce the threat.

Typically, a cleaning schedule will include:

  • Food Contact Surfaces
  • Cutting boards, preparation tables, work surfaces
  • Utensils
  • Knives, tongs, cutlery, crockery, glasses, food containers
  • Hand Contact Surfaces
  • Door Handles, refrigerators, freezers, cupboards, drawers, faucets, switches
  • Food Processing Equipment
  • Slicers, mixers and mincers
  • Cloths, Mops, Trash Bins

In your download area, we have provided an example of a detailed cleaning schedule and also a blank form for you to use.

Deep Cleaning Schedule

In addition to a cleaning schedule that details cleaning that should be done frequently and at least once a day, we also recommend that you develop a Deep Cleaning Schedule.

As the name suggests, this is a thorough clean of items such as ovens, under and behind equipment such as refrigerators/freezers, storage areas, and air extraction filters. This is in addition to the normal Cleaning Schedule and is usually done on a monthly basis. We have provided you with a sample form to use in your download area.

Training & Monitoring

How clean and safe your operation is, will in the main be down to your staff. They will carry out practically all the cleaning and as the manager, you need to feel confident that they are cleaning correctly.

Training and re-training are essential. In addition, you need to observe what is happening in the kitchen and offer support and re-training where needed. Staff needs to understand the importance of cleaning and that you are monitoring the process.

Don’t forget, as part of your Food Safety Management System you need to be able to verify that it is working properly.

Did we hear you say, “Monitoring and Verification”!

Downloadable Documents

  • Cleaning Schedule
  • Cleaning Schedule – Example
  • Deep Cleaning Schedule – Monthly