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Spraying Windex everywhere even though you're still eating?

This has happened to me on at least three occasions. And it doesn't matter whether it's high-end dining, low-end, or in between. What prompts staff to spray cleanser around people who are eating? Ignorance? Maliciousness? Just not caring?

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  1. Health department rules that require sanitizing of tables between seatings?.
    A $300 to $500 fine for each violation observed by inspectors?.

    They should be somewhat discreet, spraying their wiping cloth instead of the table or seats.

    9 Replies
    1. re: hannaone

      Well, that makes sense. They SHOULD be discreet, but I have NEVER seen someone spray their cloth instead of the table.

      1. re: monkeyrotica

        Interesting, I only see them wiping with a (presumably) treated rag. never seen anyone spray the table itself, either here in Honolulu or when I am visiting family in LA. Wonder if it is a regional thing?

        1. re: KaimukiMan

          In FL, the cloth is usually coated before they come out, they wife they table and leave. I have never seen sprayed used either.

      2. re: hannaone

        >>""They should be somewhat discreet, spraying their wiping cloth instead of the table or seats.""

        In my state the spray sanitizers/germicides goes directly on the contact surface, spread with the clean/sanitized towel, and allowed to air dry. Federal Law, however, prohibits the use of sanitizers/germicides inconsistent with the product label. (Both are technically the same as spraying just the towel will result in ineffective bacteria/germ killing.

        1. re: RShea78

          And one of the operative terms here.... CLEAN towel. Some rags I see servers wiping with are disgusting.

          1. re: RShea78

            "Spray sanitizers/germicides". Who says they have to be sprayed? This may be out of convenience but is there a law saying they must spray?
            I am going to say this again elsewhere: this is a huge pet peeve. I don't like table crop-dusting right next to me!

            1. re: Scargod

              >>Who says they have to be sprayed? This may be out of convenience but is there a law saying they must spray?<<

              Did you read my post below? (RShea78 Feb 25, 2009 04:54PM )

              ME QUOTES: "The tables, on the other hand, can be sanitized with a "final sanitizing towel in solution of sanitizer" in order to lose the sprayer."

              1. re: RShea78

                Guess not! I jumped on that comment because you said "in my state the spray sanitizers/germicides goes directly on the contact surface". This means it must be sprayed or poured on the table surface.
                I still don't know what the "both are technically the same as spraying" refers to. Which boths are the same? Wiping being one of them?
                Later you say wiping is acceptable. You seem knowledgeable in this area; is Windex, or window cleaning solutions (with their isopropyl alcohol content, I presume), acceptable to health departments?

                1. re: Scargod

                  If then else, Scargod. IF A SPRAY is used it THEN has to be used as intended, "sprayed directly on the contact surface". ELSE is a bucket of sanitizer.

                  Windex, I believe is a out of context of being used as a sanitizer, even though some sanitizers can be of an ammonia base. (Generally quaternary ammonium) Whatever used must be properly labeled as a sanitizer- not as a glass cleaner.

        2. I had this happen to me at a restaurant once. The server started spraying and wiping MY table while I was sitting there eating!! Then slopped the dirty cloth up around by plate!! I left my food on the table and complained to the manager. YUCK

          1. I say, "pure ignorance!". There is a time to clean the windows (Windex) vs keeping the tables sanitized. The tables, on the other hand, can be sanitized with a "final sanitizing towel in solution of sanitizer" in order to lose the sprayer. Unfortunately, some chain restaurants are set in their ways of doing things inconsistent with what is the right ways and wrong ways of sanitation.

            1. When you can get employees to follow rules and use common sense, LET ME KNOW!

              1. I agree, I hate this. Both my brother and my sister have the habit of using spray cleaners (e.g. 409) on kitchen surfaces right after cooking, but before they actually put all of the food on the table. So the mist of the cleaner is in the air, and probably on the food they just prepared. Why they think eating chemicals is any healthier than allowing a few germs to potentially bloom for a couple of minutes is beyond me.

                1. This drives me frigging nuts...it happens mostly to me at some hole in the wall places and they bring out the windex and start spraying away and all those moisture droplets that you can see in the sun rays just waifing over to my table and to my food and drink...being a clean freak, I appreciate wanting to sterilize but not while I am eating.
                  I am chemical sensitive and the smell is overpowering..the double exacta is when the windex is brought out and then someone blows their nose..YUK!

                  1. It's always too late when I realize "Hey this is good- ut oh what's that in his hand? Akkk! No tablecloths! He's got the spray!! Noooooooooooo!!!!!!!"

                    I hate it, hate it.

                    1. What gets me is people using Windex as if it really was a disinfectant. The gym at the condo complex I used to live in provided windex to de-sweat everything. That said, never had it happen to me in a restaurant. Ever.

                      1. Question: what does *Windex* or any of it multitude kockoff actually do? Is this truly *disinfecting* or is this just looking like cleaning is going on.

                        (I for one can't stand the smell of Windex. Give me vinegar or give me bleach any which way.)

                        Note to eatery owners: no blasts of Windex-type cleaners while I'm eating. Wet rags with disinfectant do as well, and don't settle on the dish from which I'm eating.


                        1. this one bugs me, but it's mostly when they start mopping or sopping with bleach or other strong industrial cleaners. I've only ever seen it in fast-food places though, or maybe cafeteria style. I do NOT want to smell bleach when i'm trying to eat.

                          also: windex is totally unnecessary IMHO.....try some vinegar.

                          1. This happened to me last night. SO and I were at a Korean BBQ place enjoying our meat-fest when one of the waitresses started cleaning other tables with Simple Green. I absolutely *hate* that smell. It was a bummer, but I just tried to ignore it. Oh well. I think the main problem is that the smell is so strong because (being winter) it's an enclosed space. I don't think they are trying to be malicious, they just want to keep the place clean (this is good) and unless they only have one seating per night (not likely), they have to clean while other patrons are in the resto. There are less smelly ways of cleaning than spraying, but they probably figure the spray works the best and if patrons had to choose between smelling windex (or simple green) or being seated at a table with leftovers from the previous patrons stuck on, they'd choose smelling the cleaner.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: akq

                              or they could use a real sanitizer like they are supposed to, which doesn't smell at all, and is applied with a cloth.

                            2. I hope someone hears this, far and wide!: There are many here who find this practice unacceptable!
                              I cannot tell you the times this has happened to us and we choke on the vapors and overspray! It doesn't have to be this way! Employees don't need to be this insensitive! Is it passive-aggressive? We'd just about rather a seventy-five year old woman, who bathed in strong, flower-scented toilet water sit next to us! Both cause us to lose our appetites, become very annoyed and move far away or leave.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Scargod

                                I think I sat next t that 75-year-old woman! The flower water was in a death struggle with B.O. and the flower water lost.

                              2. In the restaurant which I was co owner, we had a fresh bin of towels, kept warm that were in a sanitizing solution. They pulled one out for each table. Each person only bussed 1 table or cleaned and prepped one table at a time. Just a rule.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                  How did you manage to keep the sanitizing solution warm through service?

                                  1. re: KTinNYC

                                    I had a small heater under the water bath, we kept a sanitizing solution and had a large pot for fresh rags. The bus boys used to take the clothes back to a washer and they were washed and they were brought to the bin, soaked in the solution and wrung out and then used for a table. 1 per table. My rule. It was sanitizing but scented with lavender. That way the guests didn't smell windex type smell.

                                    I still believe that is good service. Clean tables Nicely wiped down. fresh napkins, silverware and plates. My bus boys had a cart, with a cloth drape, looked nice, had the settings all on the cart, nice and clean, all lined up. Just made it look nice when they were setting, even if they were just bus boys. Appearance is everything.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      with all due respect, I can't stand the smell of lavender.

                                      just out of curiosity, why does the solution need to be warm....? And were cloths washed every time they were used ? Just seems a bit of overuse of the washer to me.

                                      1. re: im_nomad

                                        They did one or maybe two tables, but yes, washed, a light rinse wash and then we put in lavender. You could hardly tell but it cut the smell of the bleach. We did use other fragrances. Lavender just was most liked by our constituents. It was very very mild

                                        Warm just worked best. It seem to work well on the table and it heated the scent of the lavender or what we were using. Just a win win.

                                        Maybe a over use, but to me it was worth it and our guest loves the great smell and the heated cloths. It just made the ambiance and a great appeal for the guests. We had then lined up, so something apparently worked. If it is a simple washing the cloths ... why not. The guest loved it. And after all, we are here to please our guests not to please our selves. So I did what was liked and appreciated. That was.

                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                          Color me impressed that you ran a restaurant that was profitable enough to have a heater dedicated to keeping a water bath for disinfectant warm. Why would you and your partners ever give up such an operation. BTW, I'm sure you know but you can buy commercial disinfectant that is pretty odorless, you didn't have to use bleach.

                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                            True, just something I grew up with so we continued it. it was easy quick and efficient. It was just a old heater his father had so we kept it. Worked great. I suppose if it died we would look for a new solution. But it just worked. The 2 runners as we called then not just bussers took care of that and it always worked. Low on the beach, but it just worked.

                                2. Man - this is a huge pet peeve of mine! Windex or worse, bleach when people are still eating..aaargh! I wish they'd use white vinegar if they have to wipe while people are eating...

                                  1. I have an excellent sense of smell and i don't like the restaurants that smell of pesticide spray. If I can smell it when I walk into the restaurant, or at my table, I have to leave because I can't get past it.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Bite Me

                                      I can tolerate deep fat fryer grease or smoke or almost any cooking-related odor, but cleanser odors makes me lose my appetite.

                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                        For me "Bleach" takes my wind away. (aka- chemical hypoxia/chemical suffocation). Due do an intolerance to bleach and its misuse/abuse, I had to leave the foodservice industry. Anytime they go glub-glub-glub with bleach jug, I drop to the floor.

                                        1. re: RShea78

                                          I'm pretty close to that with ammonia and products containing amines, like epoxy. This is a result of, or related to, my isocyanate sensitization. I can have an allergy attack or get congested from these and strong fragrances.

                                    2. I walked out of a local restaurant a couple of years ago because they were just starting to wipe down the tables with a very strong bleach solution at the start of lunch service. I complained, but they pressed on. I left, never to return.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                        I was literally evacuated from a restaurant when they had a bleach spill. (several years ago) The employee failed to properly dilute the stuff and where the spill occurred their carpet got an instant case of bleach rot on several square yards of carpet.

                                        Sad fact is that chemicals are dangerous, if not deadly, around the ignorant.

                                        A good friend of mine was hospitalized with near respiratory failure, when a fellow employee (frigging clown) poured some incomparable substance into his bleach water. He fortunately survived, however- now at 35 years of age, he is on home oxygen for 24/7 and very much disabled.

                                        1. re: RShea78

                                          I figure it's just a matter of time before some genius restaurant employee mixes bleach with ammonia and creates a toxic chlorine gas attack. I'm kinda surprised nobody's tried to create an authentic WWI-era trench warfare themed restaurant, complete with mud, C-rations, and mustard gas attacks. It only makes slightly less cuilinary sense than that chain of supermodel themed restaurants.

                                      2. Great topic to post about! I hate it when this happens. I try to look for some pattern when things upset me this badly, it's a hobby of mine. What I have noticed is that the wanton spraying seems to happen with young noobish employees when there is no management around. I think it is oblivious over eagerness sometimes. Once I was at a Pumperniks during Hanukah about half an hour before closing and my party was seated right next to the kitchen door. No sooner had our food arrived than the crew started mopping the kitchen floor with really strong bleach. We complained and got our table moved but we were all pretty upset. I think the bosses had all taken off early to enjoy the holiday with their families and the staff was in a rush to get out of there too. My one friend refuses to ever go back. I've only had one experience where the young waiter (not our waiter) sprayed the table next to ours in a deliberately sloppy careless way. Our eyes met and yeah he thought it was funny to mist us with chemicals while I was eating my shrimp cocktail. That whole night was a disaster, it was at a Red Lobster and the entire experience was very chaotic. Again, no managers around. My theory: while the cats are away the mice will play. Shrug.

                                        1. Reminds me of watching a guy spray bleachy water on a glass case used to hold fresh fish....while the fish was still in there. he just raised up the glass and sprayed away while I watched misty bleach water coat the fish.....lol....will never get fish from there again