Proper Techniques for Washing and Sanitation for the Food Service Industry

Handwashing thoroughly and often is extremely critical in foodservice facilities. Contaminated hands are often the source of foodborne illness. Good hand hygiene in any establishment must be emphasized often. It must be controlled, evaluated, enforced, and reinforced all of the time. We are all human. We get busy and focused on our work. But we must be cognizant of our hands at all times.

To wash hands properly, use running water at a temperature of 100˚F or above with soap. Handwashing should occur for 15-20 seconds, which will seem like a lifetime! Rinse and use a dry paper towel.

Washing dishes and equipment should not be overlooked. Keeping food contact surfaces clean and sanitized will reduce the chance of cross-contamination within the facility.

  1. Scrape off excess food
  2. Wash with soap or an approved cleaner (~110˚F) 3
  3. Rinse with clear water
  4. Sanitize with an approved sanitizer at the correct strength (check with test papers)
  5. Air dry To sanitize, there are two basic options: chemical sanitizing or heat sanitizing. The FDA Food Code has extensive requirements for manual vs. mechanical sanitizing/dishwashing, but generally:

Chemical Sanitizing
(Concentrations and minimum temperatures)

  • Chlorine: ~50ppm-100ppm @ 55˚F-100˚F (dependent on the pH of the water)
  • Quaternary ammonium (‘Quat’): ~200ppm-400ppm @ 75˚F
  • Iodine: ~12.5-25 mg/L @ 68˚F

Note: Always follow the manufacturer’s labeling instructions. Sanitizer test strips must be used to verify the concentration.

Heat Sanitizing

  • Manual: 171˚F—Final immersion rinse
  • Mechanical: 180˚F—Final rinse (not above 194˚F)

In this changing and innovative world, chemicals are often being reformulated or being made new and better. When using any chemical, follow the EPA-approved label instruction for approved use, concentration, and temperature parameters.

The above is an excerpt from the article, “Back to Food Safety Basics” For more information, please visit

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