Cleaning and sanitising

Food premises must be continually cleaned to make sure all surfaces and equipment that touch food are not covered in or contain food poisoning bacteria. Cleaning and sanitising cooking utensils, tableware and equipment used to prepare food, must occur for the safe operation of any food business.

Three basic steps to effective cleaning:

  1. Clean. Clean with a detergent and hot water. Cleaning only removes the dirt from the surface but does not kill all the bacteria.
  2. Sanitise. As dirt inhibits the effectiveness of a sanitiser, only sanitise on a cleaned surface. Sanitisers need contact time to work, so items such as utensils should be left to soak.
  3. Dry. Drip dry tableware and utensils. This will prevent them from becoming re-contaminated by wiping with a dirty cloth or tea towel.

What is the difference between cleaning and sanitising?

Cleaning is the removal of visible dirt, grease and other material and sanitising is the use of heat or chemicals to reduce bacteria. Neither method removes or kills all bacteria. The aim  is to reduce bacteria to a safe level.

A cleaning schedule

It is recommended that all premises have a written a cleaning schedule, to ensure all areas are kept clean and sanitised. Work surfaces such as food preparation benches and equipment are easily contaminated and need more regular cleaning. Read the Queensland Health cleaning and sanitising fact sheet for an example cleaning schedule.

Creating the schedule

Walk through your premises and make a list of all the items that need cleaning. Start with items like the structure (floor, walls and ceilings), equipment, fittings, and fixtures. Consider items cleaned daily, weekly and monthly.

Next to each item listed to clean, write down the cleaning product and cleaning method.  Write down how often it should be cleaned (i.e. daily, weekly). Also write down the person responsible for making sure the task is completed and the date or time to be completed by.

Implementing the schedule

  • Laminate the chart and use a water-based marker to tick the completed column when the task is done.
  • Ensure staff know how the schedule works and the role they should play.
  • Ensure staff carry out regular checks on their areas.
  • Place the schedule on the wall so it can be easily seen by all staff.
  • Review the schedule regularly and check that all tasks are completed.

General cleaning guidelines

  • Clean up all spills straight away.
  • Clean and sanitise all cutting boards and preparation benches after each use. This is very important when changing from preparing raw to cooked foods.
  • Each day, clean and sanitise areas and appliances directly involved with food preparation.
  • Schedule areas, such as shelving and exhaust canopies, for cleaning and sanitising on a weekly basis. Exhaust canopy filters can be cleaned by external contractors.
  • Store cleaning products away from food.
  • Use different cloths for cleaning different types of food areas and equipment i.e. one cloth may be used for the waste area and another for the handwashing basin.
  • Soak cleaning cloths in sanitiser on a daily basis.
  • Guidelines for cleaning  - read the Queensland Government - shopping trolleys, baskets and checkout conveyors information.