Wet Wiping Cloths Should Be Laundered

  • While wet wiping cloths don’t seem to hold particular importance in our lives at first glance, they’re not only essential in every kitchen, but they can even pose life-threatening health hazards.
  • That’s why wiping cloths come together with rules to follow, daily laundering being one of them. 
  • Let’s tackle the issue of cleaning food contact surfaces with chemical sanitizer solutions and frequent laundering of wiping cloths—and let’s talk about it not after but before we serve food and get ready to eat.

What are wet wiping cloths?

Whether it’s about polishing your gorgeous glass table, removing visible food debris and cleaning food spills from around the house, or sanitizing food preparation areas, various types of cloths accompany us daily.

We tackle household issues on House Rituals, so let’s see what types of wiping cloths we traditionally use in housekeeping. 

Tip: If cleaning makes part of your business’ activity, consider color-coding your cloths. This simple act will make it easier for your employees to remember which type of cloth serves for which operation. 

For the cleaning to run perfectly, use one of the following:

1. swabs—all-purpose cloths made of soft, absorbent material used for wet cleaning and damp-dusting surfaces above floor level and sanitary fittings, such as bathtubs and washbasins,

2. wipes—loosely woven or knitted cotton cloths, non-woven cloths, and sponges, which are better than cloths for washing walls, woodwork, glass, and upholstery,

3. dusters—meant for buffing or dusting; when you use them for damp dusting, spray them with a fine mist of water or dusting solution,

4. cloth mittens,

5. floor cloths—used to remove spills from floors, wipe WC pedestals, clean tile, marble, granite floors, etc.

6. scrim—loosely woven, high-absorbent, lint-free linen material similar to fine sackcloth; often used instead of chamois leather for cleaning windows and mirrors,

7. glass cloths—made of linen tow yarns; they don’t leave any lint behind; perfect for wiping mirrors and cleaning glasses,

8. chamois leather—manufactured from the skin of a chamois goat (antelope), used for cleaning windows and mirrors when dry and polishing silver, 

9. dust sheets—made of thin cotton material or other natural fabrics, used to cover floors, furniture, or other articles during light spring cleaning or decorating,

5. druggets,

5. rugs—disposable cloths used for applying polish or powerful cleaning agents,

5. hearth and bucket cloths,

5. polish applicators;

Read more on Set Up my Hotel.

While there is at least one kind of cleaning equipment for each part of your house, food preparation areas require predominantly wet wiping cloths.

Around the kitchen, you’re most likely to use 

  • dishcloths, 
  • wiping cloths (also microfiber cleaning cloths), and
  • tea towels;

Did you know that more than half of Americans use dishcloths as a cleaning tool to wipe up spills on counters, clean up after cooking, wipe kids’ hands and faces, and do other general cleanups?

Important: Keep in mind that, similarly to sponges, dishcloths harbor pathogenic bacteria and spread germs if not cleaned frequently. (read more on Canr)

You can use clean, dry wiping cloths for wiping food spills from tableware, plates, or bowls served to the table.

Moist cloths are ideal for wiping food spills on kitchenware and food-contact surfaces or equipment. We should store these cloths in a sanitizing solution between uses.

Use different moist cloths to clean other surfaces—those that don’t directly contact food (like counters, dining tabletops, and shelves). Store them in a sanitizing solution between uses as well.

Laundering wiping cloths

As a rule of thumb, wet wipes should be laundered daily. 

Important: Bacteria grow and multiply in moist environments, so in enterprises where wet wiping cloths are used often, they should be stored in a bucket of water and sanitizer when not in use.

While moist wiping cloths require everyday cleaning, dry wiping cloths are okay with “as necessary” frequency—to prevent food contamination.

Remind employees to use and sanitize cleaning cloths the right way. 

Caution prevents contamination

One of the most dangerous foodborne disease pathogens is Listeria Monocytogenes, one of the leading causes of death from foodborne illness.

It may cause:

  • nausea, 
  • vomiting, 
  • aches, 
  • fever, 
  • diarrhea, and
  • it can spread through the bloodstream to the nervous system, resulting in possibly fatal meningitis.

Listeria Monocytogenes cases have been traced back to, for instance, raw or under‐pasteurized milk, smoked fish and other seafood, meats, cheeses (soft ones), and raw vegetables.

According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if you don’t want Listeria remain around the house, use a suitable cleaning agent to wash: 

  • the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, 
  • cutting boards,
  • countertops, and 
  • to clean serving utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods;

That’s why it’s so essential to disinfect surfaces often. 

Preventing cross-contamination can be achieved with a well-known method: by washing hands with soap and hot water before and after handling food, as well as after playing with pets, using the bathroom, or changing your kiddo’s diapers. 

Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. 

Wash cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

All wet reusable towels and cloths should be laundered or discarded daily and replaced regularly. 

You may launder the wiping cloths in a mechanical washer, a sink designated only for laundering wiping cloths, or a ware washing equipment (such as dishwasher) or food preparation sink that is cleaned and sanitized before use.

Why is laundering cloths so critical?

According to Food Safety, there is an interesting process standing on the way of destroying the organisms picked up during the cleaning process while storing the cloths in a sanitizer solution. 

Organic material present in sanitizing solutions might bind to the active agent, lowering the concentration of the solution, which results in the chemical concentration being ineffective. 

Hence, organisms picked up during the wiping process can survive that treatment and be transferred to subsequent surfaces. 

Additionally, after you sanitize food contact surfaces, fats and proteins from food particles collected may form films that help microorganisms “hide” from the molecules of active ingredients present in the solution. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Cleaning removes dust, dirt, and other soils, and sanitizing removes bacteria from surfaces. Disinfecting refers to killing harmful bacteria and viruses from surfaces.
The category of foods that supports the rapid growth of microorganisms is called Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHFs). PHFs include all cooked and raw animal food, meats, poultry, milk and milk products, fish, shellfish, tofu, cooked rice, pasta, beans, potatoes, and garlic in oil.
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