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Help guests feel safe: Tips for cleaning POS equipment

The following was published by the National Restaurant Association

While your restaurants operate according to state and local COVID-19 guidelines, everyone plays a role in maintaining public safety, including you, your employees and your guests.


In many municipalities — and with the right precautions — customers are able to safely dine on-premises after months of takeout and delivery only, but they’ll need to feel safe to make it a regular practice.  While social distancing is one practice assigned to us all, regularly cleaning and disinfecting point-of-sale (POS) equipment and using handheld POS devices are some of the most effective and prominent contributions you can make.  Create a safe environment for guests and employees. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, door handles and equipment in view of dine-in guests throughout the day signals your diligence and reinforces their decision to enjoy a meal at your restaurant.  Similarly, setting out pump bottles or contactless dispensers of hand sanitizer for guests and employees, including by every stationary POS station, makes another good precaution highly visible.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using hand sanitizer containing at minimum 60% alcohol for effective germ-killing power after touching surfaces and between hand washings.  Use handheld POS devices to elevate safety measures. Uphold COVID-19 safety standards with handheld POS devices. They allow you to eliminate queues at the register by completing transactions tableside or in other socially-distanced locations.  Guests are overwhelmingly using credit and debit cards in lieu of cash to improve hygiene and reduce contact. The National Restaurant Association recommends the use of contactless payments during the pandemic.  As with stationary POS stations, all handheld equipment needs to be disinfected, as well. Do’s and don’ts of cleaning products on POS equipment Before cleaning or disinfecting your POS equipment, it’s imperative to read your user’s manual cleaning instructions, or look them up online. Some may require you to power down and unplug POS devices prior to cleaning or disinfecting. Others may let you keep the devices on if, for example, you’re only cleaning the touchpads or touchscreens. Read the manufacturer’s instructions first.  Next, wash your hands or at least rub them thoroughly with hand sanitizer, and wait for them to dry completely before touching the equipment. Never use soap or other cleaners on POS equipment. Instead, use a clean microfiber cloth or soft towel very slightly dampened with water. Carefully and gently wipe all surfaces, taking care not to shake or drop the device which could trigger the device’s tampering sensors (designed to prevent theft).  While cleaning removes visible marks, dust and debris, sanitizing a surface removes germs listed on a product’s label while disinfectants actually kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces.  Put a small amount of alcohol-based cleaner (again, that contains a minimum 60% alcohol; this is a disinfectant) onto a clean microfiber cloth or soft towel or use alcohol-based wipes.  Never expose your equipment directly to liquids; don’t ever squeeze a cloth or a disinfecting wipe over your POS devices — this equipment is not designed to be waterproof and liquids could damage components.  Some cleaners have the power to destroy plastic (making it “fog up”) and rubber components. The manufacturers’ instructions will detail which disinfectants are safe to use, but in a busy restaurant, your employees might not know to never use cleaners containing these ingredients on POS components:

  • ketone-based solvents

  • bleach

  • paint thinner 

  • trichloroethylene

You might want to hold shift sessions to train them on the proper products and methods to use on POS equipment. Clean and disinfect your equipment throughout the day — POS equipment, whether stationary or handheld — comprises some of the most prominent high-touch surfaces throughout your restaurant. Thoroughly and carefully clean and disinfect these high-touch surfaces, and do it in view to put guests at ease.

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