Cleaning your food businesses

It is important that all food businesses are kept clean so food can be prepared hygienically. This means ensuring the structure, equipment and work surfaces are in good condition and can be cleaned and disinfected easily. It is the responsibility of the owner or manager to make sure proper cleaning is carried out.

Good structure and equipment kept in good repair will help you clean easily. This is our advice for business.

Types of cleaning chemicals

Different chemicals will be used for cleaning and disinfection.

Detergents  e.g. washing up liquid, are used to remove grease and dirt. They do not kill bacteria.

Disinfectants  e.g. diluted bleach solution, are used to reduce bacteria to a safe level. Any disinfectants must be safe for use in food areas. Disinfectants with a scent e.g. pine, jasmine etc. must never be used where food is prepared as the food could be affected by the strong smell. Ensure you rinse the areas with hot water before they are used for food preparation.


One stage process products  can be used to both clean and disinfect at the same time. They can therefore save time when cleaning. Most one stage process products are able to kill most bacteria and viruses. We recommend you to use these in your business and on food preparation surfaces. Be aware that there are many chemicals are not suitable as a one stage product, so if you are using a sanitiser to clean and disinfect surfaces or equipment which come into contact with raw and cooked process you may need a two stage cleaning process. You will need to clean the area as instructed by the manufacturer to remove any debris, then repeat the process to allow the disinfection process to be effective.


The British Standard for cleaning chemicals. Cleaning chemicals use to control risk of contamination between raw and cooked surfaces or equipment must comply with the requirements of BS EN1276:1997 or BS EN 13697:2001. By doing an internet search of these terms you can find a number of results of companies selling compliant cleaning chemicals.


For advice on the most appropriate materials for your needs I would recommend that you contact your supplier. I would recommend that fresh supplies are made up regularly.


Using chemicals correctly

Chemicals must be used in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions. The three main instructions to check are;

• the dilution rate (if having to dilute the chemical from concentrate)

• the contact time and

• the process required.

The Dilution rate: this is normally listed in the instruction on the concentrated bottle, if not it may be on the data sheets, or if not, you will have to contact your supplier directly. The dilution factor should not be guess work. It should be measured out accurately at least once, and the level marked onto the spay bottle, if this is what is used. Some manufacturers provided accurate measuring devices.

The Contact time: this is the time stated by the manufacturer on how long the chemical is required to be left on the surface in order to kill the required amounts of bacteria. This can normally vary between 30 seconds and 15 minutes. You should factor this time into account when purchasing your cleaning chemicals as to the practicality or leaving something for 15 minutes in order to effectively complete the cleaning process.

The Process required: The way in which a chemical must be used is specific to that product. You must ensure that you are following the manufacturers instructions for the process, some require a clean, rinse and wipe, some spray and wipe with damp cloth then dry, and some spray and dry. Check your cleaning instructions and ensure you and any staff are using the chemical in accordance with the instructions.

Rules for cleaning and disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection normally consists of five stages:


Clean - remove dirt and grease by washing with hot water and detergent.


Rinse - remove dirt and detergent with hot water.


Disinfection - use a disinfectant or sanitiser on all equipment and surfaces to reduce bacteria to a safe level.


Final rinse - use hot water to rinse off the disinfectant or sanitiser so it doesn't transfer on to food (although STERI-7 XTRA at a dilution of 1% does not need to be rinsed).


Drying - air dry or use paper towels / cloths. Disposable single-use cloths are recommended for cleaning surfaces and equipment. Where these

are not used you must ensure that separate cloths are used for ‘dirty areas’ such as, where raw meat is prepared and, and ‘clean areas’ where ready to eat food is served and or handled. All cloths should be changed at least daily. If cloths are re-used they must be suitably cleaned after use.


Important things to remember

It is possible that detergents, if not completely rinsed away after use, may affect disinfectants. The disinfectant may not work properly and may not reduce bacteria to a safe level.


All chemical disinfectants have a recommended contact time. This is the time needed for bacteria to be reduced to a safe level. Equipment must be left in contact with disinfectants for at least the time given by the manufacturer.


You must use all chemicals at the dilution recommended by the manufacturer, especially for disinfectants and sanitisers.


If the solutions are used by dipping equipment or cleaning cloths into them they will become less effective. You can make sure solutions stay effective by making up small amounts and replacing the solution regularly or by using the solutions as a spray.


Make sure the temperature of the water used to dilute the solutions is right. If it is too hot or cold they may not work properly.


Always make sure chemicals can be mixed together. Sometimes chemicals can react together to produce gases and other chemicals that can be dangerous. Never mix chemicals together unless the label says it is safe to do so.


Even though a food surfaces may look clean, they may not be hygienically clean so it is always good to sanitise before it is used for food preparation.


Always follow the manufacturer's instructions on correct and safe use of the chemicals.


The cleaning schedule

Staff should be encouraged to "clean as they go". However, it is a good idea to have a cleaning schedule. The schedule can be followed and checked to help to stop some areas or equipment being missed. The schedule should show:


What is to be cleaned


Who is to clean it


When it is to be cleaned


How it is to be cleaned e.g. what detergents/disinfectants to use, cleaning equipment to use and any precautions to take.


Some cleaning contractors will provide schedules and advice.


For cleaning advice in the home visit the Food Standards Agency website.



To view a copy of the regulation please click on the relevant download below:


Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 Hygiene of Foodstuffs


The Food Hygiene (England) Regulations 2006