The Right Way to Clean Shelves at Your Operation


Shelves of every kind and all materials, even antimicrobial, need regular cleaning. Too often, though, employees overlook them or improperly clean them. Storeroom shelves, in particular, are left untended for long periods of time, with employees only cleaning them when something spills. Also ignored are high shelves and shelves around areas like cashier’s stations, bussing stations and drive-thru service areas.

How employees clean shelf surfaces matters, too—particularly stainless. Though seen as impervious, stainless has a few weaknesses. When stainless shelves get really dirty—on the cookline, for example—employees make the mistake of using abrasive metal scrubbing pads or cleaners like bleach to help break through grease and grime. Both can quickly degrade stainless and ultimately cause it to corrode. Harsh cleansers and abrasives are hard on plastic, too.


What to Do

  • Clean dry storage shelving weekly; assign cleaning tasks and schedules to staff.
  • Clean spills immediately.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for each type of shelving when possible.
  • Wipe down shelves with a clean cloth or sponge and warm water with mild detergent.
  • Wipe food contact surfaces with a second cloth immersed in sanitizing solution; let air dry.
  • For dirtier surfaces in cooking areas, for example, use a spray degreaser and nylonbristle brush or nonabrasive scouring pad.
  • Never use chlorine bleach, hydrochloric (muriatic) acid or metal scouring pads on stainless; they’ll cause pitting and corrosion.
  • Keep cleaning kits and sanitizing solution buckets handy at all stations. Store kit components in a caddy, including: spray cleaner, spray degreaser, gloves, sponges, scrub brush, microfiber cloth and even safety glasses.
  • Creating a cleaning schedule, training employees and keeping tools close by will help keep shelving in top condition.


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