Cleaning and Sanitizing Cider Production Areas

A cleaning and sanitizing program is essential for minimizing food safety risks in the production of apple cider. Cleaning involves the removal of food residues and non-organic debris from food and non-food contact surfaces, while sanitizing reduces the number of pathogenic and/or spoilage-causing organisms to safe levels. It is important to understand this distinction.
The cleaning and sanitizing protocol for all food processing/packing facilities, including those producing apple cider, should follow seven steps.

  1. Rough Clean
    The rough clean eliminates as much gross soil and debris as possible from surfaces before wet cleaning begins. Brooms, shovels, scrapers, etc. should be used to physically remove debris from equipment, utensils, walls, and floors. Dismantling equipment may be required to remove trapped food debris.
  2. Pre-rinse
    In this step, equipment and the production area are flushed with potable water until they are visibly clean. Hard-to-reach areas and areas where materials accumulate, such as the apple chopper and press, may require particular care. Stubborn soils can be addressed using mechanical action or increased water pressure. However, caution must be exercised as higher water pressures can generate bacteria-laden aerosols (fine droplets in the air) which can cross-contaminate other surfaces. The use of high-pressure washers is discouraged.
  3. Wash/application of cleaning agent
    The objective is to remove soils at the microbiological level. Washing requires application of the right cleaner at the right concentration, with water at an appropriate temperature, adequate contact time, and the use of mechanical action when necessary.

    Always read and follow cleaner label instructions.

    • Organic soils - Soils associated with apple cider production are mostly organic. Except when cleaning is delayed and soils have dried to surfaces, organic soils are easily removed using a mild to moderately alkaline detergent in warm water.
    • Inorganic minerals - Inorganic mineral deposits from hard water require acidic cleaners.
    • Biofilms - When cleaning is inadequate or infrequent, biofilms form on surfaces. Biofilms are difficult to remove, and as such require stronger, more sophisticated cleaners along with extra mechanical action to eliminate.
  4. Post-rinse
    To remove detergent and any remaining soils, the wash step is followed by a rinse with potable water. The lowest effective water pressure and volume should be used to reduce the risk of aerosols and overspray.
  5. Inspection
    A visual inspection of all equipment, utensils, walls and floors should follow the post-rinse to verify their cleanliness. Any areas or equipment parts that fail this inspection should be re-washed, rinsed, and re-inspected.
  6. Sanitizing
    Only when surfaces are clean can sanitizing take place. Sanitizers, especially chlorine, are rendered ineffective by organic matter-hence the importance of clean surfaces!
    Several types of sanitizers may be used, including chlorine, peroxyacetic acid (PAA) and quaternary ammonium compounds (Quats). Each type has an optimal contact time, temperature, and concentration, and all can be applied by spray or by foam. Always read and follow label directions.

    After a sanitizer has been applied, surfaces should be left to air dry. When equipment is not used for four hours or more, the sanitation step should be repeated before production resumes to address remaining microorganisms that may have propagated to dangerous levels. In some instances, a potable water rinse may be necessary.

  7. Record
    All cleaning and sanitizing activities should be recorded. Deviations from the protocol or expected results should also be recorded along with the corrective actions taken. Records are both a management tool and proof of due diligence.

Additional information regarding cleaning and sanitizing is available at

For food safety information on apple cider production, please visit

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: Louise Agius, Risk Management Specialist/OMAFRA
Creation Date: 22 September 2014
Last Reviewed: 22 September 2014