Cleaning and Sanitizing Food Contact Surfaces

The following cleaning and sanitizing information is as required by Ontario Regulation 493 Food Premises, sections 18-23.

Are cleaning and sanitizing the same thing?


  • Cleaning removes oil, dirt and debris using soap, warm water and friction followed by rinsing.
  • Sanitizing kills many harmful germs that can lead to foodborne illness. Sanitizing is done either with heat or chemicals, and always after cleaning.

How do I know what sanitizer to use?

You can use one of these three types of sanitizers:

  1. Iodine (label may say “Iodophor”, “ammonium iodide”, etc.)
  2. Quaternary Ammonium (label may say “benzalkonium chloride”, etc.)
  3. Chlorine (label may say “hypochlorite”, “sodium hypochlorite”, etc. (The most common chlorine-based chemical is household bleach.)

Ensure that label directions are followed and that the sanitizer is appropriate for use on food contact surfaces.

How much sanitizer is enough?

Here are the concentrations to use that are safe without needing to be rinsed off, when sanitizing dishes and when sanitizing surfaces:

  1. Iodine: 25 parts per million (ppm)
  2. Quaternary Ammonium: 200 ppm
  3. Chlorine (e.g. bleach solution): 100 ppm

If concentration is higher than outlined above, it needs to be rinsed off.

How do I know how strong my sanitizer solution is?

You must have a test kit that measures the concentration of the sanitizer you are using. Test kits are available at restaurant supply stores or your chemical supplier.

Is too much sanitizer a problem?

Yes, it may leave a residue and you are wasting product. Use a test kit to ensure your solutions are at, but not higher than, the concentrations shown above. If you use a solution that is too strong, it will need to be rinsed off.

What about cleaning and sanitizing of large items that don’t fit in the sink or dishwasher?

You can use a wash-in-place method. Wash the item with soap and rinse with clean water. Sanitize with a hot water spray (82°C / 180°F or higher) or an approved chemical sanitizer listed in the chart above.

Is there a convenient way to keep a sanitizer solution ready for sanitizing work surfaces?

Yes, keep a small amount made up in a spray bottle or in a bucket. Use the test kit to make sure that the sanitizer is at the correct concentration.

Can wiping cloths spread contamination around the kitchen?

Yes, damp cloths are breeding grounds for bacteria, which you can spread around the kitchen when you use the cloth. To reduce the problem, store the cloths in a bucket of sanitizer. After using the cloths, rinse them before returning them to the bucket. To be sure the sanitizer in the bucket stays at the right strength, check it with the test kit. Frequent use of the cloth will require more frequent mixing up of new sanitizer solution for the bucket.

Can I use alternative things to kill bacteria, like tea tree oil and microfiber cloths?

No, no other sanitizers are acceptable in a food premises (unless it has been approved for use by Health Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, or the local Medical Officer of Health). Tea tree oil, baking soda, vinegar, electrolyzed water, microfiber cloths, ozone, silver and hydrogen peroxide are simply not to be used.

Can I just wipe my cutting board or meat slicer with sanitizer throughout the day, instead of washing, rinsing and sanitizing?

No. Sanitizing is less effective if washing and rinsing haven’t been done first.