A guide to colour coding for cleaning equipment

Cross-contamination is one of the highest risks in the spread of infection. To most effectively reduce this risk, we strongly recommend that everyone in the cleaning industry follows the same procedures that have been outlined by the British Institute of Cleaning Science.


To standardise cleaning practices in terms of the prevention of cross-contamination in an easy-to-understand way, the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) developed and refined their Recommended Colour Chart for the Cleaning Industry.   Particular colours are designated to cleaning areas in which certain risks have been identified. These colours can then be transferred as colour coding on cleaning equipment and products which are to be used in these areas only (see below). This will help to set apart these cleaning items so helping to prevent the transfer of bacteria through cross contamination to other areas.  The need for colour coding is particularly significant in hospitals and other healthcare sites where it is especially important to promote thorough hygiene standards but this is of course good practice in any setting.

The Four Colours

There are four colours in the BICSc colour scheme: red, blue, yellow and green. The chart below shows which janitorial areas each of the colours correspond to:

colour coded cleaning



red bucket


Red is a colour that is universally associated with hazards.  This red colour code has been assigned to areas such as urinals, toilets and washroom floors. The reason for this is that these areas are regarded as posing a high-risk of bacterial contamination, particularly in hospitals. By using only red-coded cleaning products such as cloths, mops, buckets and gloves to clean them, the risk of spreading bacteria outside of these areas is minimised.


yellow cloth

The yellow colour code is associated with clinical use.  In terms of cleaning it has been assigned for use on all other washroom surfaces, including sinks, mirrors, cubicles, tiled walls, glass and metal. Two different colour codes for high risk areas such as washrooms ensures that the same cleaning products are not used, for example, on toilet seats and bowls as on sinks and taps so helping to further prevent the spread of infection.



 green bucket

 The colour green has been assigned to food and drink preparation areas. These areas include kitchens and bars, but also other areas such as factories where food is processed.  Exposure of uncooked meat and fish to surfaces and utensils poses a particularly high risk in terms of cross-contamination. It is therefore  vital to regulate the use of cleaning equipment and products in these areas.



blue mop 

The colour blue has been coded for low-risk area. These include areas such as office and classroom desk tops, window ledges, hallways, and for general dusting and polishing.  These are areas where there is generally a lower risk of bacterial contamination than in other areas e.g washrooms or kitchens.  Blue coded cleaning products and equipment can be used across a broader range of surfaces.

These BICSc guidelines are relatively to understand and use yet have still not been adopted by all contract cleaning companies.   If you wish to use the BICSc colour coding system for your cleaning company, then we stock a wide variety of bucketsmicrofibre clothsbrushes and brooms and many more red, yellow, green and blue-coded cleaning products. We also offer a selection of janitors trolleys which enables you to neatly keep all of your colour coded cleaning products in one place.

Posted: 14/03/2018

Vijay Narayanan
Give me more informations
Ananias Shilongo
What colour code do we use for table wood?
Clena Helpdesk
Hello Ananias. The colour coding system relates to areas not specific items, therefore if your table is in a 'low risk' area such as an office or communal area Blue would be the colour to use. If however, the table was in a catering environment or kitchen, the recommended colour would be Green.
I attended a course in April 2018 and it was Red for toilets, Green for general areas, Blue for bars and Yellow for kitchen. Why have the colours changed?
Clena Helpdesk
Hello Kate, there are no hard and fast rules about what colours you use for different areas. So long as you use a consistent approach to colour coding across all areas that you clean, this will ensure cross contamination does not occur. However, the guide we have published above is the recommended colour coding approach by BICS (British Institute of Cleaning Science) who are the largest professional and educational body in the cleaning industry which is why we advocate using this recommended colour coding approach.
Hi Kate, I was wondering if you could help me . Can I wash colour coded mops together for different areas or not. What would you suggest than is the safest way to clean mops. Thank You
Joanne Hodson
What colourr would you use for laundry room
Clena Helpdesk
Angela, we would recommend washing mops of the same colour together (for example put all your blue mops in the same wash-load). We would advise keeping different colour mops in separate wash-loads as the safest way to wash them.
Clena Helpdesk
Hello Joanne, a laundry room would usually fall in the category of 'general lower risk areas (excluding food areas)' and therefore blue colour coded cleaning equipment would normally be used.
Since doing the BIC's course where it was blue to clean shower basins, I have been advised that the colour should really be red. Is this correct.
Clena Helpdesk
Hello Fran - the colour red is recommended for use on high risk surfaces in the washroom such as toilets, urinals, floors etc. Yellow is recommended for lower risk areas such as basins and walls etc - so either Red or Yellow depending on the level of risk associated with the surface you are cleaning.
Tricia Oconnor
Hi what colour would you use for full shower rooms .due to bics Stander's I say red others say blue
Hello I am working in school and we used red color cloths for toilets and blue for sinks etc .Tables in classroom we used yellow and green for general for example ledges ,shelves,etc.Is it alright to use cloths how we used in school .
Hi. What colour would you recommend for cleaning up vomit in a normally 'blue' area?
Clena Helpdesk
Hello Tricia, under BICS guidance shower rooms would be cleaned using red colour coded equipment which is what we would recommend.
Clena Helpdesk
Hello Eliza. If you have a colour coding system that is understood and adhered to throughout your school then this will prevent cross contamination so you will achieve the objective of colour coding however you segregate the colours/areas. However, the BICS colour coding guide is the most recognised standard in the UK so it is always the methodology that we promote. There is no right or wrong to colour coding but adopting industry 'best practice' can help to avoid confusion.
Clena Helpdesk
Hello Brad, with vomit and other body fluid spills we recommend that disposable equipment is used for cleaning and that this is immediately disposed of after use. Therefore, the colour becomes less relevant for this type of application as you will use the cleaning equipment for the job on hand and then dispose of it in a hazardous waste bag. We do recommend however, that organisations have a body fluid spill kit available which contains a full set of equipment for dealing with these types of spills. You can view our range using the following link: https://www.clenasupplies.co.uk/category/FBH


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