How to keep a school canteen clean: Guidelines and best practices

Education | 20/7/2021

Now more than ever, schools should be laser-focused on developing a healthier and safer learning environment for students. Beyond classroom cleanliness, communal areas like the canteen should also be a priority to custodial staff. Because children are more susceptible to food-borne illness, creating a cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising strategy and following proper protocols are essential pieces to the puzzle of keeping children safe. 


Food safety starts with personal hygiene
Staff and students are responsible for their personal hygiene, which can ultimately dictate how germs spread and cause potential food safety hazards. 


Staff working directly in the school canteen need to take personal hygiene seriously in an effort to create a safe eating environment. General hand hygiene or hand washing may seem like a simple task to remember, but doing so ensures students safety is top of mind. Hand-washing before touching food is critical, as is washing hands before and after meal preparation and before and after serving students. 


Hand-washing takes more effort than simply rinsing with water, as the Australian Institute of Food Safety stressed. Staff should wash with warm water, lathering up their hands thoroughly to ensure soap gets in all cracks and crevices from palm to finger. Once rinsed, staff should use disposable paper towels to dry — this is a simple way to avoid the collection and spread of germs that could cause contamination of food. 

Providing hand sanitiser for students and staff to utilise after washing hands can be another way to safeguard against germs. 

Best practices for food safety

Schools should keep the Food Standards of Australia & New Zealand in mind while serving food, which ensure that food handlers understand safety and hygiene protocols and take all required precautions to ensure contamination risk is always minimised. 


For example, paying close attention to how potentially hazardous foods are handled can prevent a bigger issue from occurring down the line. Anything that contains dairy, seafood, raw eggs, nuts or meat should be handled with additional care, as such foods either have a short shelf life or are known allergens.  


How to keep a school canteen clean

Neglecting to keep the school canteen well kept can lead to various foodborne illnesses among students, teachers and staff. While personal hygiene is essential, keeping the dining area itself clean on a regular basis will prevent the spread of bacteria germs. Here are some tips for cleaning the school canteen:


  • Mop spills as soon as they occur to reduce germ spread and prevent falls from occurring.
  • Clean and sanitise cutting boards after each use to reduce risk of cross-contamination.
  • Properly store foods in sealed containers and keep them in the appropriate temperature.
  • Always wear clean clothing and protective equipment like an apron, and be sure to use a hair net to keep hair from touching food during preparation.


Rubbermaid school resources and product cleaning recommendations
Having the appropriate commercial cleaning tools at your disposal is essential to understanding how to keep a school canteen clean. Rubbermaid knows how important food safety is, especially in the presence of children, so utilising the proper products can help you meet those high quality standards parents and students expect. 


Rubbermaid has a variety of valuable resources your faculty and staff can get familiar with to ensure the cleanliness and safety of the school canteen and all other areas of the campus, such as:


  • Our Education Cleaning Checklist: This safety guide can be used to create a total cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising strategy, ridding individual desks, shared classroom spaces and other shared spaces of germs and infectious disease. 
  • Did you know that 22 million school days are lost annually due to the common cold? Our Cold & Flu Prevention in Education guide highlights the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in using preventative measures to stop the spread of germs in an effort to keep kids in school and healthy during cold and flu season.


With an understanding of best practices for cleaning, finding the right products to get the job done is critical for reducing the spread of germs and potential infection within a school system. In dining spaces like the school canteen, as well as other high traffic areas around the campus, we recommend products such as HYGEN™ Microfibre Cloths, the Executive Janitorial Cleaning Cart, the HYGEN™ Quick Connect Handle,Quick Connect Frame & MicrofibreDust Mop Pad and AutoFoam with LumeCel™Hand Sanitiser Station. Check out our Education Product Recommendation Guide for further product suggestions and information.


With proper safety protocols and commercial cleaning tools, you can reduce the spread of harmful bacteria and germs and create a space where students can thrive and stay healthy.