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Cleaning and Disinfection

 During inspections of food businesses, the cleanliness of the structure of food rooms, equipment and utensils is taken into account in assessing hygiene.

To help ensure the safety of your food, it is essential that surfaces and equipment are:

  • visually clean, and
  • free from high levels of harmful germs.

Cross contamination

Common Terms:

Cleaning: this is the removal of visible food debris and grease. It is usually done with hot water and detergent.

Disinfection: this is the reduction of germs to a safe level and is usually done by the use of special chemicals intended for food use, or by heat (hot water at around 82°C in a dishwasher or second sink).

Detergent: a chemical used in cleaning to remove food debris and grease.

Disinfectant: a chemical used for disinfection.

Cleaning and disinfection generally consists of six steps:

  1. Pre-clean - remove excess food waste by sweeping, wiping or pre-rinsing
  2. Main clean - loosen surface waste and grease using a detergent.
  3. Rinse - remove loose food waste, grease and detergent.
  4. Disinfection - kill the bacteria with disinfectant or heat.
  5. Final rinse - remove the disinfectant.
  6. Drying - remove all moisture.

Points to Remember

  • With light contamination the pre-clean and main clean can be combined.
  • Some surfaces do not need to be disinfected after every wash (e.g. floors and walls).
  • Disinfect any items which come either into direct contact with food (e.g. meat slicers, work surfaces, chopping boards) or with the hands of food handlers (e.g. refrigerator door handles).
  • When drying, try and let the item air dry, but if this is not possible, then use paper towels or a clean dry cloth.
  • After use, clean and dry the cleaning equipment.
  • Store cleaning materials and equipment in separate cupboards or rooms, away from food. Never put cleaning materials into unmarked containers or food containers.
  • Ensure staff are trained to 'clean as they go' and to clean up any spillages immediately.
  • Staff must receive training to use chemicals correctly.
  • Always observe manufacturers instructions (e.g. leave disinfectants on the surface long enough to work properly).

Cleaning Schedules

A cleaning schedule is probably the simplest way of organising routine cleaning. It should answer the following questions:

  • What is to be cleaned?
  • When is it to be cleaned? (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly)
  • How is it to be cleaned? (e.g. materials, equipment, rinsing)
  • Who is responsible for cleaning?
  • What precautions are to be taken? (e.g. ventilation, protective clothing)


Produce a Cleaning Schedule and verify the completion of cleaning/disinfection by the responsible member of staff signing that they have carried out the work at the specified time.

The manager's or proprietor's satisfaction with the work should be indicated by his/her signature at weekly or monthly intervals.

Updated: 11 Nov 2014
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