What is the clean as you go method?

Table of Contents

Today, I want to talk about the clean as you go method. This is a method that is used often in the food industry.

Cleaning as you go is important for businesses in the food industry to reduce food safety and health and safety risks and ensure happy customers who want to come back.

Unfortunately, some businesses are not aware of exactly what this method involves or they don’t always follow it in practice. The result is that their business operates in a less efficient and safe manner and could end up with a low food hygiene rating.

In this blog you will learn about the clean as you go method and how you can implement it in to your business.

1. What is clean as you go?

Effective cleaning is essential to get rid of harmful bacteria, and prevent contamination and cross-contamination. The premises, all equipment and surfaces that come into contact with food must be kept clean, and where necessary, disinfected. This includes tasks such as washing dishes.

Clean as you go is the recommended way of keeping your kitchen clean as you work. It helps you to maintain high food hygiene standards and also to mitigate health and safety risks such as slips and trips. Essentially, it is the easiest and safest method to keep your kitchen clean and organised.

Sadly, over the years I’ve inspected many businesses where their kitchens are messy and lacking organisation. This doesn’t create a great first impression and makes it harder for Environmental Health Officers (EHOs), like me, to have confidence in how your business is managing food safety.

2. What are the benefits of clean as you go?

It is easier to keep premises clean when cleaning is done immediately after soiling. Otherwise, dirt may build up and a food business may not meet the food hygiene standards required.

I have inspected food businesses where large amounts of food debris, dirt, and grease have built up. In particular, around floor edges, in the corners, and under equipment. In these circumstances, the business will generally be given a very short period to carry out a deep clean. This will be a very big task and could mean they also receive a low food hygiene rating. Therefore, a benefit of cleaning as you go is high standards of food hygiene and you will be more likely to achieve a good food hygiene rating.

If standards are cleaning are so poor that they pose a ‘serious and imminent risk’ to the health of customers, a business could actually get closed down. In my experience, very poor standards of cleaning are often accompanied by a pest infestation.

By keeping your premises clean you are also less likely to attract pests.

Overall, cleaning as you go enables staff to work in a safer and more efficient manner. It also signals to the EHO that you have an effective cleaning strategy in place.

3. What is urgent cleaning as part of clean as you go?

This is immediate cleaning that is required where there could be an immediate risk to health, safety, or hygiene. For example, as spillage or breakage. These things happen so it is useful to plan for them. This includes keeping a bucket and hazard signage in accessible locations. Spill kits and a cleaning kit containing standard cleaning equipment may be required.

Spill kits should include:

  • Absorbent materials such as sawdust or sand
  • A bucket or bin bags to place the absorbent materials into after use
  • Disposable cloths such as paper towels or blue roll
  • A disinfectant or sanitiser
  • A dust pan and brush
  • Disposable gloves

An example would be the breakage of a glass light bulb in the kitchen. The shards of glass may have contaminated work surfaces and food and could pose a serious food safety risk. Not to mention, staff members could injure themselves on the glass.

4. What is non-urgent cleaning as part of clean as you go?

Non-urgent cleaning is part of your daily cleaning tasks.

Examples include:

  • Cleaning and disinfecting food preparation surfaces and equipment
  • Washing of dirty plates and dirty dishes
  • Remove outer packaging and food waste from raw food
  • Keeping the kitchen clutter free
  • Removing rubbish
  • Cleaning and disinfecting sinks
  • Cleaning floor edges and under equipment

It is good practice to document these cleaning tasks onto a cleaning schedule and reliable methods followed. These essential cleaning tasks should be carried out regularly using the correct cleaning equipment and cleaning materials.

EHOs will be sure to check cleaning around floor edges and under equipment. They know the difference between dirt that has appeared during service and that which has been there for weeks or months. When you find rotting food or sprouting potatoes under equipment, it’s a pretty big indication that the area has not been cleaned for some time!

5. How should I wipe surfaces as part of clean as you go?

Food preparation areas and any food surfaces that may come into direct contact with foods must be cleaned and disinfected between uses. This is especially important to prevent cross contamination between raw meat and soiled vegetables and ready-to-eat foods and to control cross-contact between allergens.

A dirty cloth must not be used for wiping surfaces! I’ve seen many dirty cloths in kitchens, sat on work surfaces or sinks and even used for wiping surfaces. Make sure dirty cloths are thrown away. If you use a dirty cloth you will spread bacteria around the kitchen!

Single-use cloths such as blue roll should be used and thrown away after each task.

6. How should I ensure waste management as part of clean as you go?

For waste management, staff should be trained in the correct disposal of waste including food waste from the kitchen. This means removing waste from the kitchen when the bins are full and at the end of each shift. This should be standard working practice. Don’t forget waste oil that will require proper and safe disposal too.

Waste should never be left in the premises overnight as it could attract pests. Instead, it should be taken to the external waste storage area and stored in bins with tight fitting lids so that flies and other pests are not attracted.

Bins including lids should be cleaned and disinfected regularly and waste should be regularly collected by licensed waste carriers.

7. What is a clean as you go policy?

A clean as you go policy is a way of formalising your expectations and to help ensure a consistent attitude among your staff members. It helps people to know what they need to clean and when.

It should also set out important information such as:

  • The location of cleaning equipment and chemicals.
  • The location of spill kits, buckets etc.
  • What chemicals should be used for what tasks.
  • How to dispose of different types of waste and the location of bins.
  • Key cleaning tasks to be completed during service and at the end of the shift.

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