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Restaurant practice of using bleach in rinsing glassware??

  • j
  • 7

I have noticed occasionally a faint smell of bleach on water glasses in some restaurants. A waiter friend told me that it is a common practice to add some liquid bleach to the rinsewater as a disinfectant. I really can't stand the smell of bleach and always politely ask for another glass. I was wondering if all restaurants do this? Is there a non-smelly alternative?TIA,Jon in NYC

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  1. Oddly enough, I had this conversation with some friends about a week ago. We concluded based on our shared experience of about 8 restaurants that approximately half of restaurants use bleach on their glassware. The one I worked at did bleach, but before we put things through the high temperature wash, so if they came out smelling like bleach, that would be a pretty big surprise.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jacquilynne

      Bleach is also very commonly used to soak coffee mugs to remove stains. But it's almost always a pre-soak before normal washing.

    2. The health dept in this area requires a sanitizing rinse for glassware. No wiping or polishing. Sani-tabs are available, but it may just be cheaper or easier to use bleach. It only takes about an ounce to a gallon.

      2 Replies
      1. re: yayadave

        Health Dept. rules are the same here. If the glass is hand washed, it must be done in a three-part sink. The first sink holds the soapy water where the glass is washed, then it is placed into the rinse water (clean water only) in the second sink, then finally in the third sink which contains water plus an approved sanitizer at the appropriate concentration (it's different for each type of sanitizer). The glass must be left in the sanitizer solution for a specified period of time (a minute or two, if memory serves), then put on a rack to AIR-DRY (drying with a cloth is a no-no!). Bleach, in the proper concentration, is an acceptable sanitizer. It's cheaper than many other sanitizers, and can be readily found when you suddenly find you've run out of the other stuff! Although it's used in a low concentration, the bleach taste/smell could linger if the lip of the glass causes the rinse to pool before it dries. Since all the glasses would be the same and washed in the same manner, I doubt requesting another glass will solve this problem. It may smell/taste bad, but it won't harm you.

        1. re: yayadave

          On the Sanitabs container, it clearly states "Prevents AIDS": well that sounds weird but I knew a girl who claimed she got herpes from a glass at a bar, so I'd rather taste a little bleach (or vinegar, another cheap cleaning agent), it tastes better than musty/moldy/disease-y. I like smelling pine sol or bleach in a restaurant, at least they try to disinfect!

        2. Most restaurants use low temp dishwashing machines with a sanitizer added to the rinse cycle. This sanitzier most of the time contains a chemical in the bleach family. You do not notice the smell on plates becuase of the large surface area of the plate exposed to the air. The inside of the water glass due to the shape "traps" the smell of the sanitizer. So, there is your smell.

          1. m
            Morton the Mousse

            This is often the result of a problematic sanitizer. When used correctly, a sanitizer should not leave a noticable residue. However, some restaurants do not properly balance their sanitizing solutions and use a bit too much bleach, hence the residue. It can be fixed by rinsing out the cup but most places don't have the time to do that. It's such a small amount of bleach that it's not going to hurt you, but it does make the water taste bad. I'm in the habit of bringing my own drinking water to restaurants where I know the water is not reliable.