Towels are an important part of foodservice and restaurant cleanliness. They’re used to sanitize various items from tabletops to counters to bars and chairs. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration states, “Wiping cloths for cleaning and sanitizing must be available in every work area for equipment such as meat slicers, counters, food preparation tables, cutting boards, and utensils. Always wash, rinse, and sanitizer these surfaces before and after they have come into contact with food.” Proper towel sanitation and storage procedures are necessary to reduce the risks of cross-contamination that can cause foodborne illnesses.
According to the FDA, you should store moist wiping cloths in a bucket of sanitizer when you’re not using them. That’s because bacteria grown and multiply on those moist cloths. You need to change sanitizing solutions frequently as food particles and debris use up the sanitizer quickly. To do this, follow all instructions on your approved sanitizing solution. The FDA recommends using test strips designed for your sanitizer to ensure it maintains the proper concentration to destroy germs and keep the solution from becoming dangerous.
To clean your cloths:
- Pre-soak in your approved solution, checking to ensure it reaches the proper temperature for the prescribed amount of time.
- Wash dirty towels in your washing machine. Often a hot/cold setting works best, but make sure you check with your towel’s manufacturer and read the instructions on your laundry/sanitizing solution to ensure you’re washing towels at a temperature that won’t damage them.
- Make sure to clean and sanitize your towel storage container regularly as well to remove any soils or pathogens that might remain.
- Fill a clean towel pail with your approved sanitizer solution.
- Place clean towels into the Sanitizer solution and secure lid.
- When needed, remove a towel and wring it out before use.
- DO NOT PLACE USED TOWELS BACK INTO THE CLEAN TOWEL PAIL. Used towels should be placed in a pail clearly marked for soiled towels.
- Follow sanitizer testing procedures regularly to ensure it maintains the proper concentration.
- Always make up a fresh solution of sanitizer each time you place clean towels in your container, if your solution becomes dirty or dips below the necessary concentration levels.
Food and Drug Administration: Food Safety Manual