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Cleaning and Sanitizing Utensils and Equipment
A Food Center Resource Page

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View and print the official fact sheet (Requires MS Word).

After dishware, glasses, flatware, pots, pans, utensils, cutting boards, prep tables, and other equipment have been soiled from food storage, preparation, cooking and /or service, they must be cleaned and sanitized before re-use to avoid microbial contamination. Failure to adequately clean and sanitize any food contact surfaces can lead to food-borne illnesses.


"Cleaning" is the physical removal of soil and food matter from a surface. "Sanitizing" is the reduction of the number of contaminating microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, on tableware, flatware, equipment, and any food-contact surface. These two actions are not the same.

Dishwashing Machines

Dishwashing machines, when properly operated and maintained, can be reliable in removing soil and microorganisms. There are two types of dishwashing machines, and they differ in their sanitizing cycle:

  • High Temperature Machines sanitize dishes by reaching at least 180 degrees F during the final rinse cycle.
  • Chemical - Sanitizing Machines automatically dispense a chemical sanitizer into the final rinse water (sanitizer strength shall reach at least 50 ppm chlorine solution).
Wiping cloths

Cloths used to wipe service counters, scales, and other surfaces that may directly or indirectly contact food shall be:

  • Used only once until laundered, or
  • If used repeatedly, held in a sanitizing solution of the proper concentration when wiping. (100ppm chlorine*, 200 ppm quaternary ammonia, or 25 ppm iodine)

Wiping cloths used to wipe customer tables and seats shall not be used to wipe any other surfaces.

* 100ppm chlorine solution = approximately ½ fluid oz of bleach per 1 gallon of water.

Manual Dishwashing

Washing, rinsing, and sanitizing of equipment, utensils, and food-contact surfaces can also be done manually.

Sanitizing of Contact Surfaces

All utensils should be cleaned and sanitized as circumstances require. See cross-contamination fact sheet.

If equipment food-contact surfaces and utensils are used with potentially hazardous foods, they should be cleaned throughout the day at least every four hours.

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