Go Green At Work: The Case For Reusable Food Wipes



A lot of environmentally conscious restaurant and cafe owners would like to find sustainable solutions for their establishments which would help them go green.

If you are unsure of what you could do to make your business eco-friendly, try thinking about small things – they can often make a difference.

For example, the cloth wipe is one of the often neglected, but enormously useful products which can help you get rid of loads of waste otherwise generated by paper towels.

Read on to find out what more you can do to make your establishment environmentally more sustainable.

The Green Kitchen

It cannot be overemphasized how important it is to have a clean kitchen if you are running an establishment that serves food and drinks. Even though customers don’t often get to see where the food is prepared, the consequences of dirty kitchen can be far reaching and potentially very dangerous.

Unclean kitchen is a breeding ground for all kinds of germs, and you need to set the health of your customers as your top priority.

Cleaning Chemicals For Every Part Of Your Kitchen

If you want to keep your kitchen clean, get ready to use a number of chemical products, because each part of the kitchen requires different treatment:

  • Acid based cleaners are used for cleaning ovens, floors and walls.
  • Regular detergents can be used in many areas, from washing to general cleaning.
  • Chlorine bleach and iodine are very effective when used to disinfect work surfaces and cooking equipment.
  • Alkali detergents are used for heavy duty requirements.

It is important to point out that the home-use varieties of these products aren’t good enough for professional standards. You need industrial strength products because the are much more effective and have less “fillers” than their home counterparts.

Polyester Wipes As The Optimal Solution

The use of cotton or polyester wipe cloths provides a more hygienic solution for keeping a restaurant clean. A systematic approach has been developed for the use of cotton cloth wipes.

Different coloured cloths help identify where they should be used so cross contamination is minimised.

The Problem With Paper Based Products

While paper based products can be used for cleaning in a kitchen, these products need to be disposed of after use and generally cannot be recycled effectively. Paper based wipes are less durable and are a one use only type of cleaner. Continued use of these products can lead to bacterial contamination of sterile areas.

There are a number of stronger “paper” based cloths available which have a reasonable life durability, but are unable to be recycled and have a tendency to be used beyond their usable “sterile life”

Color Coding As A Standard

There are four available colors of cotton wipes, which helps your staff know which part of kitchen should be cleaned with which wipes.

  • Green wipes are used in areas where you prepare raw food.
  • Blue wipes are used to clean spaces where you cook food.
  • Pink wipes are for general use in restaurants.
  • White wipes are all purpose wipes.

These colors conform to the HACCP Food Safety System rules and using them properly is required, especially if you go through an audit.

Cotton Cloth

You don’t have to use a cotton cloth only for the food preparing part of the kitchen. As a matter of fact, they are very useful for drying dishes and similar activities.

  • In the case of detailing of glassware, in particular wine glasses, the best solution is a slightly damp polyester cloth.
  • While cotton cloths are effective in glass detailing, polyester cloths have the advantage of leaving no lint.
  • For drying of dishes nothing beats a cotton tea towel, which also has the advantage of being ideal for use as a general cleaning cloth.

For general restaurant use, polyester cloths have the disadvantage of not being able to be used near hot surfaces as the polyester will melt. However their inherent natural properties make them an ideal cloth for cleaning up.

Cotton wipes are produced using natural materials, in contrast to micro-fibre cloths made of polyester threads. Even though these two types of cloths do not differ much visually, they differ in many other important aspects.

Micro-fibre fibres are thinner than a strand of hair, in comparison to cotton which, despite similar feel and texture, has a thicker thread. Micro-fibres have strong elasticity content, and resist shrinking or stretching.

The angled edges of the fibres contain deep splits to attract moisture and dirt, leaving no residue after cleaning. The dirt is trapped and held in the fibres until the cloths are washed. This is very practical because no impurities can escape and re-contaminate the area.

A micro-fibre cloth can be washed between 100 and 500 times in cold or warm water, but to achieve thermal and chemical disinfection need to be washed in an Industrial Laundry operation.

Cotton is the most widely used textile fibre in the world.

Natural cellulose is spun with long staple cotton and woven into a 100% natural cloth. The result is a soft and absorbent cloth that will not cause scratching, ideal for glass cleaning.

Once this type of fabric has been through its first few washes it becomes more absorbent but has the disadvantage of potentially leaving lint when used as a glass wipe.

Both micro-fibres and cotton absorb well. Cotton can absorb 3 to 6 times its weight, and micro-fibre can absorb 6 to 10 times its weight.

Micro-fibre cloths can be used damp, but should not be used wet. If a micro-fibre cloth is too wet, the elements of the fibre designed to hold dirt will be filled with liquid and the cloth will be ineffective.

While both cotton and micro-fibre are soft and unlikely to scratch, in general the natural fibres in cotton are less likely to scratch than synthetic fibres.

Reusable Wipes – Clean To Green

Call Alsco if you would like to know more about various types and uses of cotton wipes. Alsco offers both micro-fibre and cotton wipes, but Alsco experts will be more than willing to help you find out what type of wipe will suit your needs best. Visit Alsco’s website or call +65 64550150.


Photo courtesy of Flickr.com Image by Jun Seita



Disclaimer – These articles are provided to supply general health, safety, and green information to people responsible for the same in their organisation. The articles are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs.