Cleaning with Colors

A simple touch or even a small contact on a contaminated surface could lead to serious infection. Once this small contact leads into contact with another surface, it will spread the disease quickly around the area. This is called cross-contamination. 

Cross-contamination is one of the leading causes of infection dispersal. This is a big issue that should be prioritized by your cleaning company or the janitorial service you hired, if not, then they are not safeguarding the health of you and your employees and should not be hired.

To effectively reduce cross-contamination, the British Institute of Cleaning Science developed a color chart for the cleaning industry to which everyone can easily utilize.

The Color Code

The British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSs) began developing a color code for the cleaning industry in the late 1990s. Over the years, it has been reviewed and refined to match the recommendations of organizations such as the National Patient Safety Agency. 

Colors are assigned in areas in which risks have been identified. These are then placed in a standard color-coding chart. This color-coding chart will help prevent materials and equipment from being used in multiple areas, which will then reduce the risk of cross-contamination. 

The Four Colors

There are four colors included in the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSs) color scheme: red, blue, yellow, and green. Here the areas that each color is assigned to:


  • It is a color that is commonly linked to hazards. The red color is assigned for general washrooms. These areas include the urinals, toilets, bathrooms, and washroom floors. These areas are regarded as high-risk zones that are prone to bacterial contamination, especially in hospitals. By using only the cleaning products and materials that are red-coded such as mops, cleaning cloth, buckets, aprons, and gloves to clean them, will minimize the spread of bacteria. 


  • This color is associated with clinical use. The yellow color is assigned for use in clinical areas which includes all other washroom surfaces, including sinks, mirrors, cubicles, tiled walls, glass, and metal. Having yellow as the color code for these areas instead of red will prevent the spread of infection. Imagine using the cleaning products and materials in the toilet seat and bowls as on sinks and taps. It doesn’t sound very hygienic, right?  


  • This color is assigned to food and drink preparation areas. These areas include the kitchen, bars, catering departments, ward kitchen areas, and factories where food is processed. Having raw or uncooked meat and fish on surfaces and utensils poses a high risk of cross-contamination. It is vital to regulate the use of cleaning equipment and products in these areas to make sure that such a case won’t happen. 


  • It is the color assigned for low-risk areas. These low-risk areas are general areas including wards, office and classroom desktops, window ledges, hallways, and for general polishing and dusting. These areas where there is a generally lower risk of contamination compared to washrooms or kitchens. Cleaning products and materials that are assigned with the blue code can be used across a broad range of areas and surfaces. 

Why Use Color?

Color, in any way you use it, is a language that is recognized by anyone – regardless of their native language. By applying color coding in your cleaning plan and strategy, you are removing any uncertainty which results in consistently high-quality cleaning from your office janitorial cleaners

Having a color-coded cleaning program will help eliminate confusion among the cleaning staff as well as simplifying the process. Using different colored towels, cleaning cloths, rags, and mops to represent the cleaning task and area will be helpful and beneficial in ensuring that cross-contamination will not be an issue.  

Common Color-Coded Cleaning Equipment List

There is a variety of color-coded cleaning equipment available to help in maintaining the cleanliness of the facility. While any equipment can be color-coded, there are a number of critical pieces of equipment that are often used in the color coding scheme for cleaning. 

  1. Mops – Color-coded mops will avoid cross-contamination of bacteria during mopping. It is vital in maintaining the hygiene standards of your facility. Even when using bleach, mops can still spread bacteria when used improperly. It is not always that you use bleach when cleaning the floor, making mops a magnet for germs. Keeping it color-coded will reduce the risk and safeguard public health. 
  2. Mop Buckets – Similarly, mop buckets should be color-coded and should not be mixed with each other. There are different products used in each area, and keeping different buckets for each would ensure that mops and buckets aren’t intermingled. 
  3. Brushed and Dustpans – Just like the fibers of the mop, the bristles of a brush can spread bacteria and cause a health hazard if used in the wrong environment. A brush used in cleaning windows should not be used in cleaning the floor. That is unhygienic and will surely spread bacteria. Keep a color-coded brush and dustpan for maximum protection.
  4. Cloth – Cloths have fibers that can house germs and bacteria. If not color-coded, these bacteria and germs could easily be transferred from one area to another. Have a supply of color-coded cloth to ensure that no cross-contamination will happen.     

Hiring a Commercial Cleaner

When hiring a commercial cleaning service, it is a good idea if they use color coding in their cleaning material and process. This will be an assurance that they are well-trained professionals that would give a top-quality cleaning service. 

Avoiding cross-contamination should a top priority for the cleaning service you hire. Having a color-coded scheme ensures that they have different cleaning equipment for every area and they are kept separate. 

Check if the cleaning company is using a color-coded scheme. If they are not, find another cleaning company that will guarantee the best cleaning service for your facility. To find out more about our cleaning practices, contact us.