The Importance of Cleaning and Sanitation in Professional Kitchens

The Importance of Cleaning and Sanitation in Professional Kitchens

Cleaning and sanitation are vital components for protecting the public against food borne illnesses. However, many food handlers are unaware of the distinction between the two. This common misunderstanding may contribute to undesirable outcomes that chefs and restaurant managers would be well-advised to avoid. The points below are designed to use as conversation starters with your staff on this topic. They may be used in relation to the kitchen premises and the equipment it contains.


Cleaning is the process most staff are familiar with. It the removal of food waste, dirt, grease and other visible matter that is in contact with dishes, utensils, floors, sinks, walls, filters, storage areas, containers, fittings and all equipment. This process is usually carried out using detergent and hot/warm water and may be done by hand or machine. For baked on grime, an abrasive pad and elbow grease may be required. A soft cloth is usually sufficient for most other handwashing. Floors require a thorough sweep followed by mopping with a soapy solution.


While cleaning removes the visible dirt and scraps, sanitising targets the invisible bacteria and germs that are left behind. No matter how smooth kitchen surfaces, equipment, dishes and utensils may appear, under a microscope they look like a mountain range of peaks and valleys. In this minute terrain, the germs and bacteria gain a foothold and multiply and no amount of scrubbing with soap will remove them.

Ensure Your Cleaning and Sanitation is Effective

Anything that comes into contact with food and the environment it is prepared in must be both cleaned and sanitised. All cleaning/rinsing water must be potable.

1.     Scrape away loose food and dirt before rinsing.

2.     Wash with hot water (600C) and a quality detergent then rinse again.

3.     Heat treat with very hot water (750C) for two minutes then apply sanitiser as directed to kill germs and bacteria.

4.     Air Dry. Even the cleanest towels will spread bacteria.

Economical and Sensible Cleaning and Sanitising

Budgeting for labour and supplies to fulfil your cleaning and sanitising obligations is essential. However, it need not break the bank. Below are a few tips that will help your establishment save money while still providing a safe, clean and sanitised kitchen environment.

1.     Do not store items on the floor. They require effort to move and replace and are much more easily damaged by accident.

2.     If using wood for cooking (eg: pizza oven) store it outside. Wood is a breeding ground for bacteria so keeping it away from the kitchen will reduce the sanitation required.

3.     Regularly maintain all equipment. It’s cheaper to service than repair.

4.     Replace any cracked material (eg: tiles, benchtops) in the kitchen. Cracks are breeding grounds for bacteria.

5.     Display and enforce a cleaning roster. Encourage thorough and efficient cleaning/sanitising habits to reduce labour and train staff in these methods.

6.     Use paper towel to wipe down utensils as tea towels spread bacteria.

Keeping in mind the considerations above will help to ensure your kitchen is clean and sanitised and your patrons have an experience to remember – for all the right reasons.


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