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Cleaning and sanitising

Cleaning is about more than food safety.


It involves removing grease, food, dust, stains and other contamination—including smells and tastes—from food preparation surfaces and equipment.

Your workplace will have cleaning schedules for who cleans what, when and how. Ensure that you follow the instructions, using the products and equipment listed in the schedule.

Never combine different chemicals and using more of a detergent or chemicals does not mean that it will work better.

Detergents like soap remove the grime, grease, food, dust and stains. They do not kill bacteria.

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This is why, after cleaning, you must sanitise the food preparation surfaces and equipment.

Clean as you go as it will save you time and effort in keeping food preparation areas and premises clean.


Sanitising is a necessary and required step to ensure that food is as free as possible from microorganisms that can cause foodborne illness.

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When used properly, sanitisers will kill or reduce microorganisms to safe levels.

Sanitising can be achieved through the use of hot water, chemicals or other processes.

Some examples are:

  • soaking items in very hot water
  • soaking items in diluted bleach
  • applying a commercial food grade sanitiser, following the instructions and leaving it on for the required time period.

A sanitiser will only work if food preparation surfaces or equipment have been thoroughly cleaned first. 

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It is important to

  • follow the instructions as too little sanitiser will not reduce the level of harmful microorganisms to a safe level and too much will leave residues which may be harmful
  • check, if using diluted sanitiser, when the sanitiser batch was made up as it has a short shelf-life
  • pay special attention to blenders, stab mixers, meat slicers and can openers – you may need to dismantle them to get access to properly clean and sanitise them
  • leave equipment to thoroughly air dry (bacteria can be transferred from partially dried equipment to food)
  • use clean, dry and ideally single use towels because if they get contaminated they may then transfer harmful microorganisms between items
  • not repeatedly use tea towels without washing and drying between uses.
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Most food poisoning bacteria are killed if they are exposed to chemical sanitisers, heat, or a combination of both.

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Disinfectants are very strong chemicals which are more suitable for toilets and floors than for food contact surfaces.


  • often have a strong smell and should be used with caution
  • are designed for use in cleaning floors and toilets
  • must be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

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Helpful tips

  • Prior to cleaning ensure bowls, pans and other utensils are not under work benches where water, cleaning chemicals or food scraps can fall in during cleaning.
  • Use food-safe detergents and sanitisers.
  • Keep cleaning chemicals away from food storage areas.
  • Check to see that all chemicals are labelled properly.
  • Never use utensils, crockery or other equipment that is chipped, cracked, torn, frayed or broken.
  • Replace and refill hand washing supplies, such as paper towels and liquid soap, so they are available when you need them.
  • Keep the floor free of objects and spills to prevent falls.
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