The Best Way to Clean a Countertop
No one wants to eat at a dirty countertop. Stained and sticky with crumbs wedged into the seams, a dirty countertop is more than unpleasant. It might harbor dangerous germs and pathogens that can actually make customers sick. In fact, the CDC reports that more than 50% of foodborne outbreaks are linked to restaurants.
True, most of that threat comes from poor food handling practices, but improper countertop cleaning only adds to the problem. And that's true for the back-of-house, kitchen prep areas too.
Maintaining countertops doesn't have to be hard or time consuming. So, put down that rag and keep reading to learn the best way to clean a countertop.
Materials Matter: What Countertops are Made Of
Restaurant countertops take a beating. Whether it's a fancy bar in the front of the house or a busy workstation in the back, countertops have to be robust, functional and good looking. Luckily there's a variety of countertop materials that meet that criteria.
Some common countertop materials include:
- Granite: A gorgeous, high-end choice, granite countertops are scratch resistant and hold up well to heat. Perfect for customer-facing environment, granite countertops also perform well in the busiest kitchen setting. Note that granite is porous and requires sealing to prevent stains.
- Solid Surface: Non-porous and seamless, solid surface is an easy, low maintenance choice. The material comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns and can even be cut, drilled or sculpted to fit any decor. Be warned, solid surface may scratch and is not very heat resistant.
- Laminate: Affordability is laminate's biggest selling point. Inexpensive to purchase, install and maintain, it's the perfect choice for a restaurateur on a tight budget. The material comes in a wide variety of attractive colors and patterns and is very easy to maintain.
- Stainless Steel: Strikingly elegant and modern, stainless steel is as robust as it is good looking. The material holds up to heat, acid and oil spills easily and can be installed in one piece so there's no seams to catch crumbs and harbor germs. The material does scratch over time.
The Best Way to Clean a Countertop
Cleaning a countertop seems intuitive. Grab a rag or sponge, a bucket of soapy water and get wiping. This tried-and-true method leaves surfaces looking nice, but are they clean?
No, they're not because the rag or sponge itself isn't clean.
Rags are "… ideal placed for pathogens to multiply," according to the Michigan State University Extension web page. They provide the perfect warm, moist, food-rich environment to host all kinds of bacteria like campylobacter, salmonella, staphylococcus, E. coli, and listeria – all of which can cause mild to severe intestinal and skin infections.
The page specifically warns against using sponges and rags on countertops as they greatly increase the chance of cross-contamination by spreading large quantities of bacteria on a surface. Plus, the more a rag is used the dirtier it gets so the last surface cleaned can have two to eight times more dirt and contaminants than the first.
Instead, they suggest single-use paper towels or a disinfectant wipe. But realistically, how many busy restaurants, bars or kitchens are going to do that?
So, it's back to the rag and bucket of soapy water. Or maybe a rag and spray bottle of chemical cleaner. Either way surfaces are left with a film of dirt, bacteria and unpleasant cleaning chemical residue.
Try a KaiFly™ system instead. This system combines microfiber, window squeegee and chemical injection technology to remove 99.9% of bacteria quickly and easily.
Simply spray diluted cleaning chemical directly on the microfiber pad, wipe the counter with the pad and then follow up with the hand held window squeegee. Surfaces are left clean, dry and ready to use.
The pad and squeegee are so effective that just using plain tap water delivers similar results.
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Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines.
Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.
She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.