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The Ultimate Office Break Room Cleanliness Guide

Company Kitchen knows breakrooms. Each year, we transform hundreds of break rooms into interactive markets offering fresh, healthy food. We see how people interact with the food and each other. Last year, we offered Nine Tips for Great Break Room Etiquette. Since being published on our blog, that article has been read thousands of times and has amassed hundreds of shares.

So, we decided to publish our Ultimate Office Break Room Cleanliness Guide. Whether your office has five employees or 500, these rules will help keep your office kitchen and breakroom clean, organized, and germ-free.Break room cleanliness guide

  1. Keep an organized fridge. If you know where everything is, food is less likely to get “lost.” Lunches and leftovers should not stay in the fridge more than two days. Prepared, packaged food shouldn’t stay more than a week. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and salad dressings will probably get used before they expire, but should not be left open more than two months.Using clear boxes or baskets with handles, like those shown below, can help you group like-items together. Plus, employees can put their food in a box rather than in a large plastic bag.
  1. Properly label food and containers. Label each container for condiments, dressings, sauces, etc. Have blank stickers so employees can put their names on their items, as well as pre-printed stickers with each day of the week on them. After a day or two, you will know it’s time to throw out the leftovers.
  2. Avoid sponges – Use brushes or disposable towels. Sponges are not allowed in restaurants for a reason – they are prime breeding ground for bacteria. The damp, dark environment begs for unhealthy spores to multiply. If you do have a sponge, make sure to wring it dry after each use and have a holder for it to sit in. Do not let it sit on the bottom of the sink!
  3. Have an ice scoop (and use it)! Do you really want everyone’s hands touching the ice you’ll be putting in your mouth?
  4. Prepare an emergency kit. While you should have a first-aid kit for cuts and scratches on hand, think of the emergency kit as a first-aid kit for cleanliness. Include a mop, absorbent towels, wet-floor signs, anti-bacterial or disinfectant counter top cleaner, plunger, and gloves. (It may be more like an emergency closet)
  5. Always have dish soap, hand soap available and disinfectant counter cleaner on hand. Dishes need to be cleaned, hands need to be washed, and counters need to be sanitized. All these products are readily available and do not cost much, but can save your office from getting sick.
  6. Place a box of baking soda in the fridge. DSC_6631
    You can’t control what your coworkers bring for lunch, but you can prevent smelly foods from lingering in there.
  7. Clean coffee pot, fridge, sink and microwave regularly. Especially the handles! These items are touched many times per day be nearly everyone in the office. Regularly cleaning the coffee pot with bleach or Lime Away will prevent it from staining or accumulating lime deposits. The refrigerator and microwave handles and sink faucet should be wiped down daily. Pay close attention to the back – it’s not always visible, but a lot of crud accumulates back there. Finally, when cleaning the inside of the microwave, put a cup of water in there and microwave it for several minutes. The steam will loosen up any spills and splatters and make it easy to wipe off.
  8. Keep trash can dry. If there is a hole in the trash can liner, unknown liquids will drip out. At first, you will not notice it, but after a few days, bacteria can grow and it will stink up the break room. Trash cans are never fun to clean, so prevent them from getting wet in the first place.
  9. Do not leave communal food out for more than 4 hours. This is more about food safety than cleanliness, but it will help your break room look neater. After those birthday pot lucks or holiday parties, so not leave food sitting on the counter all day. Prepared food needs to be refrigerated under 40 degrees or be kept over 140 degrees. Anything in between is optimal conditions for bacteria to thrive. If food has been out more than four hours, throw it away.

Hopefully these tips help you keep your kitchen clean and your employees safe and healthy. Please feel free to leave comments below and let us know what rules you have to keep an orderly break room.