Cross-contamination is a high risk that everybody understands, and to reduce it most effectively everyone in the cleaning industry must follow the same procedures.
To standardise janitorial practices of cross-contamination prevention in an easy-to-understand way, the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) has developed and refined their Recommended Colour Chart for the Cleaning Industry, which assigns particular colours to designated cleaning areas in which certain risks may be present.
The purpose of assigning colours to areas for cleaning is so that colour-coded cleaning products can be used within those areas, and those areas only, to segregate them and prevent the transfer of bacteria to other areas. This is of most significant importance in hospitals and other healthcare sites, but preventing cross-contamination and promoting thorough hygiene standards is good practice in any setting.
The Four Colours
There are four colours in the BICSc colour scheme: red, blue, yellow and green. The chart below shows which janitorial areas each of the colours correspond to.
A colour that typically connotes hazards, has been assigned to areas such as urinals, toilets (also known as ‘sanitary fittings’) and washroom floors. This is because these areas are universally regarded to have a high-risk of bacterial contamination, particularly in hospitals, and by using only red-coded cleaning products such as cloths, mops, buckets and gloves to clean them, the risk of spreading bacteria outside of these areas is minimised.
The yellow colour code is primarily intended for clinical use and has been assigned to the cleaning of all other washroom surfaces, including sinks, mirrors, cubicles, tiled walls, glass and metal. Having two different colour codes for washrooms ensures that the same cleaning products are not used on toilet seats and urinals as on sinks and taps, for example, and helps to further contain the spread of infection.
Green has been assigned to food and drink preparation areas, including kitchens and bar areas, but also other food processing areas such as factories. Food preparation areas pose a high risk of cross-contamination particularly from uncooked meat and fish, therefore it’s crucial to regulate the use of cleaning products in these areas.
Finally, the colour blue has been coded for low-risk areas, including classroom and office desk tops, window ledges, and hallways, and also for general dusting and polishing. As there is usually a lower degree of bacterial contamination in these areas compared to washrooms and food preparation areas, blue coded cleaning products can be used across a broader range of surfaces.
While the BICSc cleaning colour codes are easy to understand and use, they have not yet been universally implemented – so if you would like to adopt them for your cleaning company or establishment, take a look at our range of colour coded cleaning products, We have a variety of buckets, microfibre cloths, brushes and brooms and many more red, yellow, green and blue-coded cleaning products, as well as the Numatic NC4 Carousel Cleaning Kit which enables you to keep all of your colour coded cleaning products organised and in one place.