Color-Coded Cleaning: Preventing Cross-Contamination

Selecting the right tools for each housekeeping task is imperative, not only to achieve a high level of cleanliness, but also to prevent cross-contamination and to control potential infection. Consider implementing a color-coded system for rags and cleaning chemicals that can alleviate such potential problems.

Most toilet bowl cleaners are blue or green. Matching the right color rag to the cleaner will minimize cross-contamination. Toilet-cleaning rags must never be used for any other purpose and should only be used to clean the exterior of the toilet bowl.

Tub and Shower
Attendants should use a different color rag for bathtub and shower cleaning. Since many hotels use foaming-bubble style cleaners, white color rags would be appropriate.

Glass, mirrors, and windows
Blue is the logical color for cleaning glass, mirrors, and windows. Attendants should directly spray the rag to avoid drips.


Most wood furniture and case goods can be cleaned and preserved using furniture polish. A gold, tan, or yellow rag will be easily identifiable by room attendants for this purpose.

General cleaner
As most general surface cleaners are pink, red or pink colored rags are ideal for cleaning vanities, chrome, door handles, television remotes, telephone receivers, lamps, light switches, and other surfaces.
Minimize the temptation to use the wrong rag by laundering them daily and ensuring that staff has a full complement colors at the start of their shift.


About the Author
Dr. William D. Frye is an Associate Professor in the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Niagara University and co-author of AH&LEI’s housekeeping textbook Managing Housekeeping Operations.

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Dr. William D. Frye is a hospitality educator, researcher, consultant, and former hotel general manager. He is the co-author of AHLEI’s housekeeping textbook Managing Housekeeping Operations.