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  • TLC and Handling - Sanitation A Dirty Word in the Floral Industry
    By Brian Myrland, db Manufacturing


    If you ask most of us in the floral industry how often we clean our flower containers, the response is usually, "not often enough." Buckets, cooler walls, coils, and floors, design benches and tools - the list of what needs effective sanitation seems to go on forever. So when should we clean these items, how and how often should we do it, and why should we do it at all?

    To kill fungi, bacteria and other microorganisms is the primary goal of a thorough sanitation program. Bacteria are the culprits that reduce vase life; they interfere with the hydration of flowers. Like ethylene gas, bacteria cannot be seen, and often we fail to control these micro-beings until it is too late.

    What needs to be sanitized? Anything that comes in contact with cut flowers. Begin with containers; wash them after every use. Don't fall into the trap of "it still looks clean." You can't see bacteria. Stack used buckets upright in a pile. Train everyone to know that an upright bucket is a contaminated bucket.

    Cleaning solutions that remove bacteria and fungi are available. These solutions have a residual effect to keep levels down. Bleach is not the best choice. It has no residual effect. To increase effectiveness and reduce your per cost use, try the following "dry washing" technique. Mix your cleaning solution at the recommended strength in a spray bottle. Spray inside the bucket to kill the bacteria, scrub the bucket and rinse. Stack the clean bucket upside-down to drain.

    Other sanitation tasks should be handled on a routine basis. Carts and design counters should be sprayed with a cleaning solution and wiped down once each week. While you're at it, wipe off knives and other tools. If you soak your foam in a bucket, change the water at least daily. Scrub the bucket before adding more water.

    Ceilings, floors and your cooler's walls should be sprayed and wiped down quarterly. Mark your shop calendar right now to remind yourself, "clean cooler." To do this job completely, vacuum condenser coils. Clean coils reduce the workload on your cooler and do a better job of removing contaminants.

    Proper sanitation is not difficult, but it must be done. Include these routine processes in your training programs and insist that they be done. Your flowers, customers, and income statement will love you for it.


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