Implementing color-coded cleaning plans in food-safe and hygiene-sensitive environments offers many benefits, above all helping to ensure quality and safety in a facility. For a color-coding plan to be successful, the planning process must be approached thoughtfully.


Here at RSQP, we offer our customers guidance on color-coded cleaning and encourage reaching out for assistance on everything from drawing up a plan from scratch or revising an existing one. We’ve also created this page to serve as a resource for all things color-coded cleaning and an introduction to the most commonly used plans.



A strategy for a food-safe or hygiene sensitive facility that designates certain colors for a specific area or purpose, designed to promote safety and cleanliness.


  • Food Manufacturing & Processing
  • Meat & Seafood Processing
  • Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
  • Brewing
  • Healthcare


  • Ensures longevity and proper handling of tools
  • Helps meet FDA and HAACP requirements
  • Reduces pathogen and allergen contamination
  • Promotes a hygiene-focused culture
  • Helps with long-term money saving



Facilities that handle common allergens are at a higher risk for contamination issues. Most commonly, this pertains to food manufacturing and processing, brewing and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Here, those affected would assign a special color to tools that come into contact with the allergen. To learn more, visit our full guide on color-coding by allergen here.

Additionally, any plant that handles both chemicals and food product would want to similarly assign a color for tools used with chemicals as they present a high contamination risk.

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Many larger facilities, particularly manufacturing facilities, are built with designated areas or zones sectioned by step in the production process or by product. For that reason, it’s popular to designate colors to zones to differentiate tools and cleaning supplies that belong to each area. This can help with everything from prevention of contamination between zones and ensure proper organization and storage of tools by holding each zone accountable.

Similarly, healthcare centers often color-code by floors or wings.

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Shift Distinction

Employing a large staff sometimes makes it difficult to hold people accountable on tool care and cleanup duties. It is a common practice to assign colors to shifts to tackle both of these problems. Additionally, for wet cleaning facilities, this allows drying time for cleaning tools between shifts.

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Assembly Process Distinction

Facilities that have any type of assembly process in place often look to color-code by assembly process. This is especially important in food manufacturing and processing plants, where these steps need to be kept separate.

One common example of this method in practice can be seen in meat processing facilities and kitchens where colors designate tools and utensils for raw and cooked meat.

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Cleaning Purpose Distinction

For many facilities, there is a clear distinction between cleaning and sanitation procedures. Those concerned with upholding these high cleanliness standards often choose to implement two-color plans to distinguish tools for cleaning and sanitation.

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Best Practices for Creating a Color-Coded Plan

Step: 1 

Keep the plan simple

If your facility only requires a two-color plan, don’t implement a third just because you can. Keeping it simple helps everyone remember the plan and stick to it.

Step: 2 

Involve employees at all levels in planning process

Managers and workers in plants have very different perspectives of the daily operations in a facility; therefore, it’s necessary for those at all levels to have a hand in the planning process. This ensures your plan will work for everyone from the start, saving time and money in the long run.

Step: 3 

Contact color-coding manufacturers and distributors with questions

Producers and distributors of color-coded tools are a great resource if you run into any questions or concerns when developing your color-coding plan.

Step: 4 

Expand color-coding to include all necessary tools

You need to color-code all of the tools possible according to your plan to be successful—including things like the storage racks for the tools. Encouraging employees to follow procedure requires ensuring they will be able to do so in all aspects of their daily job. If only some tools are color-coded and others are not, procedures vary and may not be carried out properly.

Step: 5 

Begin all color-coding at one time

A color-coding plan needs to be rolled out all at once, so there is no confusion. Be sure you have all tools in place before beginning.

Step: 6 

Provide ample training & signage on color-coding plan

Before expecting employees to follow a plan, adequate training needs to occur. Managers must communicate the meaning of the colors and all expectations for carrying out the plan on a daily basis. In addition, posting signage around the facility that is readily visible is essential. Depending on your staff, you may want to consider getting multilingual posters to ensure that all employees can read them.

Step: 7 

Reevaluate the success of the plan often

Plan to set aside time about every six months for the first couple of years to evaluate how the color-coding plan is working. If any issues are identified or major changes occur in the facility, consider modifying your plan.