What is The Three Bucket System

01/08/2015 13:24

red mop squeezer and 3 gallons of cleaning chemical on the cleaning cabinet rack  elevated of one shelve

The Three Bucket System


The Three Bucket System

This is a procedure for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing where a different bucket and sponge or mop is used for each task.


In washing:

1) For example, one bucket with water and soap/ detergent, is used only for this purpose and will not be used for rinsing or sanitizing.


For Rinsing:

2) Another bucket with water only, will be used solely for this purpose.


A third bucket:

3) Containing water and a sanitizing solution shall be used for sanitizing only.


There are color-coded for the purpose of easy recognition and minimizing mistakes.


For example:

The red bucket may be assigned for washing, white for rinsing and gray for sanitizing.

The liquid are changed frequently so as to maintain the consistency of the solutions.

A litmus paper test should also be frequently done on the sanitizing solution to ensure its effectiveness.


The three bucket system may be expanded to include the use of three separate sinks for each of the three tasks.



Washing    - Red Mark

Rinsing      - White Mark

Sanitizing  - Gray Mark


Important points to three bucket system


a) The main task done in this system are:

Washing with water and soap/ detergent

Rinsing with water

Sanitizing with water and sanitizing agent


b) The use of a different bucket for each task.  This will also include a different sponge or mop for each particular task


c) Color code the bucket for easy recognition  so as to minimize mistakes


d) This system includes the use of a separate sink for each different task.


e) Hot/ cold water is used depending on what is being cleared for utensil or other food handling tools use hot water. The temperature will defend on the company standards.


f) Allowable sanitizing solutions are

5% solution household bleach: one oz. for four gallon of water or 100 parts chlorine to one million parts water.

5% solution quaternary compounds: two oz. for four gallon of water


g) Change solution often to maintain consistency


h) Use Litmus paper to check sanitizing solution. If paper turns blue, it is okay. If grey, it lack concentration needs to be replaced


I) After sanitizing, drip and air dry or place in dryer


j) Don't use towel or cloth to take off moisture or water. These themselves are healthy homes of bacteria and viruses and will negative whatever sanitation process you had made sure. This technique may make your glasses look sparkling clean. But are they sanitized?