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Avoiding Cross-Contamination with Colour Coding

02 January 2020

Jennie Hollingsworth

Why Colour Coding is essential for avoiding cross-contamination

We have all heard stories in the media about stomach-bugs and sickness afflicting holidaymakers in hotels and on cruises. But the dangerous consequences of cross-contamination is not confined to tourists and can affect office workers, pupils in school, hospital patients and in fact any private or public building facility.

At phs Direct, we are here to advise you on and supply you with the right products to meet your building hygiene and cleaning needs, to ensure that you meet your legal obligations and duty of care for staff and visitors.

For example, if you are a business or a school with a food preparation area and the same cleaning equipment is used for the washroom as well as the kitchen, bacteria and germs will spread. This may well lead to illness affecting people throughout the building.

Allowing cleaners to use the same mops to clean your staff kitchen as they do on the floors of your washrooms is an absolute no-no.  People may erroneously think that washing out the cleaning bucket and mop and using fresh cleaning chemicals is acceptable, but it absolutely is not.

This not only applies to washrooms and high-risk areas such as toilets but throughout your entire building, in all workspaces and is an essential part of cross-contamination prevention.

To begin implementing a colour-coding system, divide your building into stand-alone cleaning zones, with their own allocated cleaning equipment. The four areas are broadly washrooms/toilets, public areas such as foyers and corridors, dining areas and food preparation/kitchen locations

As part of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, businesses and organisations must adhere to correct cleaning procedures. By implementing a thorough colour coded system, you can avoid potentially heavy fines if found to be negligent in your cleaning and hygiene operations.

With twenty years of experience in supplying consumables for a complete building hygiene and cleaning solution, we at phs Direct are experts in colour-coding and are on-hand to guide clients through any complexities involved in the system.

The 4 colours and where to use them

Depending on the industry and work environment you work in, there may be slight differences in colour coding systems, and we at phs Direct can advise you on your specific needs.

Colour-coding designates cleaning equipment for exclusive use in specific areas. The four colours for use in these separate locations are red, blue, green and yellow. 

For example, designate a different mop to its own zone, differentiated by the colour of its head or handle. This applies to each piece of cleaning equipment, so that only blue buckets can be used in the blue zone, only red in the red zone and so on, including cleaning cloths and protective gloves.

Once assigned cleaning equipment must only be used in the areas to which they are allocated now and in future. If a mop or bucket needs replacing, never be tempted to substitute it with cleaning equipment from a different zone, simply re-order from phs Direct.

At phs Direct, we supply all the cleaning equipment, cleaning chemicals and protective ware you need for a comprehensive colour-coded system to be implemented at your premises.

These are the colour-codes and suggestions on how to use them:

Red High-risk areas such as bathroom floors, sanitary fittings and toilet areas.
Yellow Clinical settings.
Green Public areas and Low-risk areas where there is a minimal risk of bacterial contamination.
Blue Kitchen and food preparation areas.


Red applies to high-risk areas such as bathroom floors and toilet areas. Within female toilet areas, sanitary bins contain the highest concentration of germs.


Yellow is for clinical settings as well as kitchen and food preparation areas where applicable. Yellow equipment should be used for other washroom facilities such as sinks and washroom surfaces, this allows no cross-contamination between the toilets and sink areas.


Green is for low-risk areas such as office workstations. Although it’s important to keep your work area clean as 1 in 5 office workers do not clean their desks before and after eating. Due to this, some work areas can be 400 times dirtier than a toilet seat!


Whether you run a restaurant or have a communal kitchen area within your office it’s important to use Blue products in the general food and kitchen area. This will ensure no illnesses as 30% of microwaves and 40% of kettles are contaminated with dangerous levels of bacteria.

phs Direct offers a range of specialist cleaning services to ensure a thorough clean of your kitchen areas to reduce the spread of germs and many other cleaning services to suit your needs.