Cleaning involves three types of energy:
- Physical - That's you scrubbing and wiping. There is no getting away from it, cleaning requires effort. The more you put in the greater the effect you achieve. If you don't like cleaning, work harder. That way the cleaning will be done better and quicker.
- Thermal - that's heat. Mostly it will be hot water, but in the case of a drier cycle it will also include hot air. Make the heat work for you, it has some kill power by itself. The hotter the water the faster the cleaning or the more efficient the sanitising. Wear some strong rubber gloves to protect yourself and allow the heat to help you clean.
- Chemical - that's what does the main part of the work. In theory you can do all the cleaning you need with hard work and baking soda, but using other specially designed chemicals will make the work easier and more effective. The term cleaning really means a number of different things. So, there are different chemicals available to help you do those different aspects of cleaning as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Detergents or degreasers
Detergents and degreasers (sometimes called surfactants) clean. They work best in a hot water solution. These are your soaps, dishwashing liquids and anything 'sudsy'. Once your suds have popped and the water is cold and grey you are wasting your time trying to clean anything with it. Get a fresh bucket. Detergents and degreasers remove dirt and grease to obtain a "squeaky clean" surface that supposedly cannot support bacterial life. But they cannot actually kill anything. Because at the microscopic level surfaces aren't really as smooth as they seem to us, high risk surfaces need to be sanitised as well.
Disinfectants or sanitisers
Disinfectants and sanitisers do have some kill power but they don't work on an unclean surface. A surface to be sanitised must have been cleaned first. There are different kinds of sanitiser to recognise. These are products like phenols, like the old lysol soaps; alcohols, such as methylated spirits or isopropyl alcohol; or chlorine products. Ammonia products are really heavy duty cleaners, but they do have some kill power if allowed a contact time to do this. You need to know the products you use to ensure you use them correctly and that you get your money's worth out of them. Firstly, read the label to confirm that the product is a cleaner or a sanitiser.
Secondly, read the label to confirm whether it is likely to give an instant kill effect or it needs contact time to do its job. Chlorine products like bleach will have instant kill effect and can be used concentrated or diluted in a bucket or spray bottle - just read the instructions on the container.
Some other products may call themselves a cleaner and sanitiser. If they do, this probably means they are more likely to be an ammonia type product, not a straight out chlorine, and therefore require contact time to have any kill power. These products are also not likely to kill viruses, whereas a chlorine product will. Most of the "spray and wipe" products are like this. When you simply spray and wipe, you are cleaning. If you spray, wait and wipe, you are much more likely to be sanitising (assuming you cleaned first of course).
It is also important to use the right dilution strengths. Many people just pour a random number of gurgles into the bucket and add some hot water until it is too heavy to lift. You may be wasting money by putting too much in the bucket or you may be wasting your own time and effort by not putting in enough.
Make the chemical you use work properly for you.
A steriliser will kill all microbial life, but these tend to be used in the medical surgical fields, not the food environment. Food isn't sterile, nor are we. We don't need to try and make the food environment sterile, just sanitised to control the harmful pathogens. If we killed off every bacteria, there would be no bacterial defence against pathogens to help us out.
Which surfaces to clean, and which to sanitise
The best cleaning is done by a combination of physical, thermal and chemical energy by way of cleansing with a detergent, then disinfecting or sanitising. In a food premise, all surfaces, equipment, utensils, appliances and service items must be taken into consideration.
For instance: floors, walls, ceilings, cupboards, shelves and benches will be cleaned with a detergent. But particular attention to sanitising as well as cleaning would be made to food preparation surfaces, fridges and freezers, appliances, chopping boards, dishes, glassware and utensils. Often this will be done with heat from the dishwasher. Ensure your dishwasher provides a 10 second rinse cycle of at least 80°c. This requires a commercial appliance.
The oven is also likely to keep itself safe with heat. Well designed premises and equipment with continuously smooth, impervious to water and lightly coloured surfaces makes the job a lot easier.
But don't just think of food preparation surfaces. Remember also to sanitise surfaces that are frequently handled by food preparers. Surfaces such as the fridge and freezer handles, light switches, taps, cupboard and drawer handles, ingredients containers e.t.c. There is no point carefully washing your hands if then every thing you touch is contaminated with food goop.
Also don't forget items such as salt and pepper shakers, vases, the outside of dusty wine bottles and other things that might not get regularly cleaned.
Any item, that by its level of damage can't be properly cleaned, such as cracked crockery or cutting boards, must be thrown out. If a surface can't be cleaned easily, then it must be cleaned with difficulty. Either way - a safe environment must be provided.
The other important things to keep clean and sanitised are your cleaning tools. You can't sanitise a food bench with a cloth that is crawling with the bacteria you wiped off the floor a while ago and you can't safely dry your hands on a towel that is crawling with bacteria left there from another staff member before lunch.
Cloths and sponges must be numerous enough that you always have plenty of fresh dry ones at hand should one become unclean with risky juices such as from raw meat. Soak them in a sanitising solution before they are washed, put them through a hot wash and dry then in a hot air drier or in the sun. rinsing is not enough.
Buckets and mops must also be washed out with a hot sanitising solution after each use and allowed to dry in between uses.
If anything is allowed to sit around soggy, you can guarantee it will be multiplying bacteria at the same time.
How to clean?
Although you may think you know how to clean already, this section is designed to set out the ideal cleaning method to raise your awareness of what you are doing so that every time you clean anything it is done with maximum effectiveness and efficiency. There is no point wiping something that should have been scrubbed and there is no point doing the most important job of a food business ineffectively. You have to do it so you might as well do it well.
- Firstly, remove any matter that doesn't need cleaning, such as scraping plates, picking up spills and 'droppings'
- Rinse to remove any other residue.
- Next, wash and scrub in a hot soapy water to degrease and remove dirt. If the surface is a high risk one, you then sanitise with a hot sanitising solution and rinse in hot water.
- It is best if possible to allow the surface to air dry to prevent re-contamination, but if there is neither time or space for this ensure that the cloth used to dry the surface is a fresh clean one that will not simply wipe back on a bacterial loading from previous wiping of another surface.
- Finally, if the surface is a mobile item, put it away in a clean storage area. That is, not a sticky shelf or a drawer filled with crumbs or somewhere where flies are going to come and poo on it.
If a piece of equipment can be broken down into parts, do so and clean each part separately. Parts with direct food contact must also be sanitised.
Make sure you don't leave cleaning product residue behind on high risk surfaces or you may have swapped a microbial contaminant for a chemical one. Always rinse off afterwards with a hot water solution and a clean cloth.
Cleaning practices must be thorough, stringent, regular and monitored. A written cleaning programme allows each person responsible to know exactly their duty, how to do it, when to do it and it acknowledges a job well done or whether something needs to change. A supervisor using a written cleaning programme to monitor cleaning can tell if a problem is due to a lack of effort, the wrong cleaning frequency or method or if a different product may be necessary.
An effective and efficient cleaning programme removes attraction to bacteria and pests, allows sanitation to provide a safe and wholesome food is produced and ensures a safe and pleasant work environment for you and your colleagues.
The plan should list each item or surface to be cleaned, the product and method to be used, the frequency with which it should be cleaned, who is responsible, an indication that it has been done and an indication that it has been checked. Make the "what to clean" list as detailed as possible, then less things will be forgotten. If you laminate your cleaning programmes, with the right felt pen you can use it like a white board and reuse it each week or shift. See example below, but remember you need to make your programme apply to your premise, staff numbers and food preparation types. It may vary considerably from this one.
|Surface /item||Product used||Method used||Frequency||Person responsible||When done||Checked by|
|Appliances, utensils, crockery||Dishwasher||As used|
|Benches, boards & shelves||Cleaner then sanitiser||Scrub||Each time used|
|Cupboards & drawers||Cleaner then sanitiser||Wipe||Weekly|
|Fridges & freezers||Cleaner then sanitiser||Wipe||Weekly|
|Display cabinets & containers||Cleaner then sanitiser||Wipe||Daily|
|Handles, Switches & taps||Cleaner then sanitiser||Scrub||Daily or when soiled|
|Toilet & Bathroom.||Wipe||Weekly|
|Vent hood filters||Fortnightly|
|Grease trap||Three monthly|