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Spoilage, dirt and the need for cleaning is a major part of working with food and it is essential not to allow dirt to build up. Effective cleaning gets rid of bacteria on hands, equipment and surfaces. So it helps to stop harmful bacteria from spreading onto food or cross-contamination of foods that may cause an allergic reaction to nuts or Gluten. Cleaning is also required by law and promotes a good image to customers. The general advice is to clean as you go and always keep clean.

The definition of cleaning is the process of removing food residues, dirt and grease, therefore reducing the risk of contamination. Chemicals used in cleaning are known as detergents. The next level of cleaning is disinfection which is the process of reducing micro-organisms to a safe level and the chemical is known as a disinfectant. Sanitising is where detergents and disinfectants are combined in the cleaning process.

Surfaces can be cleaned firstly with a pre-clean to remove food scraps and waste than the main clean. This is where you use a clean cloth, hot water and a sanitiser in a clean bucket or you can use a hand spray. You must allow enough contact time to let the sanitiser to work. After this time, rinse as recommended by the sanitiser manufacturer with clean hot water and allow to air dry or use disposable paper towels.

Some surfaces that do not come in to contact with food do not require disinfecting although they will need cleaning. Ovens may not need disinfecting because the heat will destroy bacteria but the handles may need to be disinfected. Other things that may need disinfecting are brushes, cloths, buckets and sinks which may need to be done at intervals during the day.

Cleaning and disinfecting consists of six stages:

1 Pre-clean to remove loose material
2 Main clean using hot water and detergent
3 Rinse to remove dirt and detergent with hot water
4 Disinfecting to destroy micro-organisms
5 Final rinse to remove disinfectant using hot water
6 Drying, which is preferably done by natural evaporation.

If you do not have a dishwasher then double sink washing is advised which is where you first remove loose waste by scraping and water, then put the items in the first sink in a hot detergent solution, scrub with a nylon brush. If the water cools you should replace it with fresh hot water and gloves are recommended.

Place the items in the second sink to rinse off chemical residue and leave for 30 seconds at 82 degrees C to achieve effective disinfection or use a chemical disinfectant. Then remove the items to dry where they will not get contaminated again.

Some other pointers for cleaning are:

  • Make sure that all your staff wash and dry their hands thoroughly before handling food
  • Clean and disinfect food areas and equipment between different tasks, especially after handling raw food
  • Have a written cleaning policy and schedule documented
  • Clear and clean as you go. Clear away used equipment, spilt food etc. as you work and clean work surfaces thoroughly.Use cleaning and disinfection products that are suitable for the job, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.Disinfection products should meet BS EN standards. Check product labels for either of these codes: BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697.Always follow the manufacturers instructions and do not mix chemicals
  • Make sure that food is covered or stored before cleaning to avoid direct or indirect contamination.
  • Use the correct cleaning equipment like dishcloths or brushes
  • Clean in the correct order to make cleaning effective and safe
  • Use chemicals in the right volume and time left on surfaces
  • Store mops, brushes and cloths in the correct way to avoid buildups of bacteria or risks of them coming in to contact with food or work surfaces
  • Keep everything tidy and organised.