Cleaning and Sanitizing in Commercial Kitchens

A clean kitchen

Residues on food-contact surfaces and equipment can provide an ideal environment for the growth of disease-causing bacteria, which can easily contaminate other foods. Routine cleaning and sanitizing of food-contact surfaces and equipment helps to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Chemical Sanitizers:

Soaking clean equipment in a chemical solution is one way to sanitize food-contact surfaces. Always follow the manufacturer's label instructions; using sanitizers above recommended concentrations does not sanitize better and may corrode equipment. High concentrations can be unsafe and leave an odor or bad taste on surfaces. Low concentrations will not provide disinfection. Chlorine and quaternary ammonium (quat) are commonly used as chemical sanitizer solutions in food service operations, but other suitable sanitizers are detailed in 4-501.114 of OAR 333-150 (the Oregon food code).

Sanitizer Concentration Temperature Contact time
Chlorine (bleach**) 50-100 ppm 55-75⁰F 10 seconds
Quaternary ammonium (quat) 200-400 ppm Stable at high temperatures of up to 100⁰F 30 seconds

**Note: Ensure that your bleach is safe to use for food contact surfaces.

Hot Water Sanitizing:

Heat is another way to kill microorganisms present on clean food contact surfaces of equipment. For manual warewashing using heat, soak all equipment in water maintained at or above 171⁰F for at least 30 seconds. For mechanical warewashing, water temperature and pressure requirements vary depending on the type of machine being used. More detail can be found in 4-501.110 and 4-703.11.

Sanitizer solution test strips with red boxes around required range for chlorine (50-100ppm) and quat (200-400ppm)

A suitable test kit must be available and used regularly to ensure correct sanitizer levels throughout the day. For chemical sanitizing solution test kits, the measurements must register concentrations in milligrams per liter (mg/L), which is the same as parts per million (ppm).

  • Chlorine (bleach)
  • Quaternary ammonium (quat)
  • Temperature: irreversible registering temperature indicator:
    • Plate simulator thermometer
    • Wax strips that register when temperatures at dish surface reach 160⁰F.
  1. Scrape or soak as needed to remove larger food particles.
  2. Wash in hot, soapy water. Detergents and scrubbing loosen food debris from surfaces.
  3. Rinse in clean water. Rinsing removes the detergents and prepares the surface for sanitizing.
  4. Sanitize in chemicals or hot water. Sanitizing kills bacteria on clean food handling equipment.
  5. Air dry all equipment before storing. Towel drying is not allowed.
Examples of appropriate warewashing equipment, a 3-compartment and a mechanical warewasher

All food service establishments must have a
3-compartment sink for manual warewashing
or a commercial warewasher for mechanical warewashing.

Temporary alternative warewashing procedure:
If you do not have a 3-compartment sink and your warewasher is not properly sanitizing, you can manually wash, rinse, and sanitize dishes in bus bins. This is intended to be a temporary solution while equipment is being fixed and should not be used in place of properly functioning equipment.

  • Buckets that are easily identifiable (e.g. red buckets) and not used for any other purposes do not require labels. Buckets that are not easily identifiable must be labeled “sanitizer,” or the name of the chemical.
  • Store buckets below and away from foods and food contact surfaces.
  • Keep wiping cloths stored in bucket with sanitizer solution when not being used. Rags in use should test positive for sanitizer.
  • Replace solutions when the concentration gets weak or when the solution becomes cloudy.
  • Designate a separate sanitizer bucket strictly for raw animal product(s) where needed.

Spray Bottles

  • Properly label spray bottle(s) “sanitizer,” or name of chemical.
  • Never spray around open food and only where foods are protected with an impermeable cover.
  • Replace solutions when the concentration gets weak or when the solution becomes cloudy.
  • Allow for the appropriate contact time before wiping off.
  • Use disposable cloths for use with spray bottles. Do not use cloth towels.