End users sometimes experience confusion when choosing the appropriate wipes, especially those used to clean food contact surfaces. So, should restaurants use sanitizing wipes or disinfecting wipes?
“Sanitizing wipes are the best way to go in a food processing or food serving area,” says Rathbun. “They’re safer, and you don’t have to worry about chemical residue or disinfectant residue afterward if you don’t rinse [the surface].”
According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education, disinfectants are generally not used for food contact surfaces because they can leave behind harmful residues. Instead, food contact surfaces should be properly cleaned with a detergent and then rinsed with warm potable water. Those same surfaces should then be sanitized as a final rinse after cleaning.
“When you start working around food, you’re looking at a different standard,” says Davis. “You clean with a wet wipe, then rinse with potable water, and then sanitize using either a bleach or quaternary ammonium solution.”
Wipes can also be used to sanitize food contact surfaces following cleaning, says Rathbun. 
“A food-grade sanitizer does not need to be rinsed,” he says. “If you’re using a sanitizer [wipe] you need to preclean first, and then sanitize. If you’re using a disinfectant wipe you need to rinse with potable water. So either way, it’s a two-step process.”
With so many different wipes to choose from, restaurant owners can get overwhelmed. First and foremost, wipes should be labeled as sanitizing wipes approved for foodservice facilities. Beyond that, restaurant owners have some leeway based on their personal preferences and the task at hand.
“Some people are concerned with the size of the wipes,” says Lettero. “There are manufacturers that offer dry towels in a canister, and you add your own disinfectant. A lot of schools use these to wipe down cafeteria tables. The advantage is it’s a bigger towel, you control what’s going in there and the cost tends to be less.”
Customers can also purchase wipes with varying levels of chemical strength, depending on what they’re cleaning, says Davis. However, he notes that most people don’t buy wipes for cleaning heavily soiled surfaces. 
Restaurant owners are also sensitive to fragrance, particularly if wipes are being used around customers and food. Lettero stocks a wide range of wipes and recommends letting the customer test the product first. 
“I had a restaurant customer, and we had to switch out the wipes they bought because they got a couple of customer complaints about an odor coming from the wipe,” he says.
Although wet wipes tend to be more expensive, distributors feel that the benefits outweigh the higher price tag.
“One of the objections to using wipes is cost, but you’re not buying additional chemicals or spray bottles, and you have a product that’s safe and easy to use,” says Davis. “It’s also easy to train people how to use them, and you’re not misting chemical into the air, so it’s very user friendly. In my opinion there are multiple benefits and very little downside.”  

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