The Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting in Foodservice?

Image showing cleaning 3 compartment sink

Do you know the difference between cleaning and sanitizing, or when to disinfect? With restaurants and other foodservice facilities, understanding the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting is critical to ensure your facility is safe and up to code. By taking some time to learn the difference between each task, you can ensure your foodservice business is compliant and personnel, customers, and your food are safe. In this blog post, we’ll cover:

What Is Cleaning?

Cleaning is the process of removing food and other types of dirt from surfaces. It is essential for cleaning and sanitizing foodservice equipment and surfaces, but it’s also necessary for general hygiene and maintenance purposes. Whether you are wiping down your counters, washing dishes, or taking out the trash, you are cleaning.

The most efficient way to clean is to use hot water, soap and a sponge or cloth. This process works to dissolve the dirt and allow it to be wiped away. During cleaning, the surface must be washed with a wet cloth or mop and soap, and then rinsed with clean water. Then the surface should be dried with a paper towel, cloth, or air drying.

What Is Sanitizing?

Sanitizing is the process of reducing the number of germs on a surface or object to a safe level. It is a critical step in foodservice maintenance as it helps keep foodborne illness at bay. Sanitizing is typically accomplished through chemical disinfectants or hot water.

When using a chemical disinfectant, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, concentration, contact times (the length of time a surface must stay wet for it to have an effect), and safety precautions. Common chemical sanitizers used in foodservice include quaternary ammonia, chlorine bleach, and hydrogen peroxide.

What Is Disinfecting?

Disinfecting is the process of killing bacteria and viruses on surfaces or objects. It is used in health care facilities, commercial kitchens, and other foodservice establishments to reduce the risk of contamination from foodborne pathogens. Disinfecting is often accomplished with chemical disinfectants, but it can also be achieved with hot water.

When Should Each Process Be Used?

Cleaning should be done regularly throughout the day, before and after each customer, and at the end of the day. It should also be done before sanitizing or disinfecting surfaces.

Sanitizing should be done before each customer and at regular intervals throughout the day to reduce the number of germs on surfaces.

Disinfecting should be done when there is a risk of contamination or before new customers enter the restaurant.

Safely Clean, Sanitize, and Disinfect for Foodservice

Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are all important processes in the foodservice industry. Without them, bacteria and other germs could spread and lead to foodborne illness and other health risks. To ensure your foodservice business is safe and up to code, make sure to clean, sanitize, and disinfect regularly, according to the guidelines provided by ServSafe and other industry organizations. Don’t forget to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and safety precautions — it could mean the difference between keeping your customers and employees safe or not.

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