Food Service Cleaning Chemical Guide

Food Service Cleaning Chemical Guide

You want your restaurant to be safe, tidy and spotless—but where should you start? Food service comes with unique needs and challenges, making it easy to get lost in a sea of cleaning products.

With this guide you’ll understandwhat each chemical’s job and know which cleaning supplies are right your business.

The Basics

Each of your restaurant’s  different areas have designated cleaning requirements that shouldn’t get mixed up. For example, you wouldn’t want to use dish detergent to clean a toilet, or floor cleaner on your tabletops. If you have a specialty cleaner, it’s purpose will be indicated in the name or on the label.

In order to choose the correct cleaning chemicals, it’s important to understand if your soils (grease, drime, dirt) are organic or inorganic. Organic soils, such as those from food and plant and animal matter need different chemical cleaners than inorganic soils (such as lime and hard water buildup).

Ware wash

Dishes effect your patrons view of your kitchen’s cleanliness as much the food you server on them. If your not using the correct chemicals or giving proper attention to your dishes, customers will take notice and  likely not come back.

For sparkling glassware and dishes, you need rinse aid, detergent, sanitizer and a dishwasher or a multi-compartment stainless steel sink.

If using a dishwasher, you need to know if it’s a high or low-temperature machine due to different chemical needs. Both use detergent and rinse aids, but high-temperature machines typically don’t need sanitizer. Many ware wash chemicals will state if they are meant for high or low temperatures.

Your three compartment sink has a compartment for each step in the cleaning process: one nfor washing, rinsing and sanitizing. The sanitizers usually used during manual washing are quaternary sanitizers and iodine-based sanitizers.


Sanitizers and disinfectants do the microscopic cleaning typically left behind by soap and water. Often used interchangeably, disinfectants and sanitizers have one big distinction. While sanitizing lowers the number of germs on a surface, disinfecting kills the germs on a surface. Both significantly reduce the risk of infection from said microbes, but the two chemicals are used differently.

Not all sanitizers and disinfectants are created equal. Many are created with specific tasks in mind, so the sanitizer you use in your bathrooms may not be the right choice to use on your prep station or in your three compartment sink. Save time, room and money by choosing a multipurpose formula.


Grease is a common residue found all over kitchens and can be difficult to clean up. Removing grease buildup regularly helps to improve food quality and flavor while also keeping your equipment in better condition.

Degreasers and decarbonizers are an efficient tool to cut through grease. All purpose degreaser is multiuse and can be used to remove grease from most surfaces. Citrus-based degreaser uses the power of orange and other citrus fruit peels in order to absorb grease while also leaving behind a clean citrus scent.


W.A.T.C.H. is a simple and easy acronym to help you remember the key factors in effective cleaning. With the correct balance and understanding of these five items, your food service establishment will be the cleanest and most efficient it can be.

  • Water: Hard water can skew dilution rates and cleaner effectiveness, so always take hard water amounts into account for the correct chemical strength.
  • Agitation: Most chemical cleaners require some degree of friction, whether it’s a mop, a scour pad, washcloth or other scrubbing tool. Choosing the correct tool can significantly speed up the cleaning process.
  • Time: Always reference the product’s packaging to ensure you give the chemical cleaner the proper amount of time to work its magic.
  • Chemicals: Always check the dilution guidelines on your product’s packaging to achieve the proper water-to-concentration ratio.
  • Heat: Cleaning with warmer water is more efficient, because for every 20 degrees warmer your water is, the cleaning power of your chemicals doubles.


Call us today at 402.331.3243 for a FREE, no-obligation analysis with one of our food service specialists to see how much you could save!

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