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By Katherine Pendrill
Hygiene has always been an integral part of the foodservice industry, but there’s one question that seems to stump even the most cleanly restaurateurs: how to clean a credit card reader. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, sanitizing credit card readers and other technological devices frequently handled by customers and staff has become essential to preventing surface-based transmission of the virus.
The problem is, credit card readers, iPad POS systems, barcode scanners, and other restaurant tech can malfunction or break when cleaned with the wrong methods or tools. And the repairs and replacements resulting from improper care are not only costly, but they can also cause major service interruptions.
Therefore, as your restaurant adjusts to the “new normal,” it’s important to learn how to properly clean these gadgets to protect both your people and your equipment.
We’re here to help you clean your high-touch devices the right way by explaining:
Proper restaurant cleaning goes beyond wiping down tables and mopping floors. Here’s the scoop on precisely why you should keep your restaurant’s hardware squeaky clean:
Keeping your customers and staff safe from COVID-19 is top of mind right now. Although the virus spreads primarily through the air, there is still some risk of transmission through surfaces. While COVID-19 can live on most surfaces for up to 72 hours, one study found that the virus can survive on smooth surfaces – like credit card readers and touchscreens – for up to 28 days.
While this scary fact has inspired lots of people to sanitize high-touch surfaces, new CDC guidelines say that cleaning surfaces with soap and water, rather than alcohol or another disinfectant, works just as well. Stay tuned for tips on how to clean your devices without damaging them.
No one wants dust bunnies, grime, or oil from fingers to stop their hardware from working. Learning how to clean your devices properly will help keep them functioning like they just came out of the box.
Not to mention, treating your restaurant tech with care will save you money because you won’t have to invest precious resources in replacing them. And when your tools work properly, you’ll have fewer service interruptions and fewer missed sales opportunities.
Clean hardware leaves a good impression on your customers. On the other hand, if your credit card reader looks grimy, customers may make assumptions about the cleanliness of the rest of your operations and think twice about dining with you.
Now we’re finally getting to what you came here for: how to clean a credit card reader without damaging it. Keeping in mind that cleaning guidelines will vary from device to device, make sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions before you get out any sprays or wipes to find the best credit card reader cleaner for your machine.
With that being said, these are general tips you can follow for most credit card readers.
1. Unplug: Turn off and unplug the device.
2. Clean: Lightly dampen a lint-free microfiber cloth with water. You can alternatively use water that has been enhanced with a few drops of pH-neutral, non-abrasive soap. Use the cloth to gently wipe debris and dirt off your credit card reader.
3. Sanitize: Sanitize the device by gently wiping it – making sure not to press it – with an alcohol-based wipe, or with a microfiber cloth that’s been dampened with an alcohol-based cleaner.
Remember to check the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper sanitizing solutions for your credit card reader. The best credit card reader cleaner for Verifone devices, for example, is 70-90% isopropyl alcohol.
WARNING: Some popular credit card readers, like those made by Ingenico, should NOT be cleaned with alcohol. If you have an Ingenico credit card reader, you should skip step three and find approved cleaning solutions here.
4. Plug In: When the reader has dried completely, plug it back in to a power outlet and turn it on.
In addition to the above, keep the following dos and don’ts in mind when cleaning your credit card readers.
For specific instructions on how to clean a credit card reader safely, always check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Download our restaurant cleaning checklist for front of house and back of house cleaning.
If you want to know how to clean other high-touch devices found throughout your restaurant, you’ve come to the right place. We’re covering how to properly clean your POS, thermal printer, router, barcode scanner, and cash drawer.
If you have an iPad POS, you need to know how to clean an iPad screen without damaging it. Why? Because your POS is arguably your restaurant’s most important software, and your iPad is therefore its most important hardware.
Not to mention, if you have an integrated restaurant management system, your POS controls the rest of the technology in your restaurant – making it even more critical for your iPad to run smoothly. In other words, if your iPad isn’t working, you’re going to have a difficult time running your restaurant.
Here’s how to clean an iPad screen:
Your credit card readers and iPad screens may be some of your most high-touch devices, but that doesn’t mean your other restaurant tech can’t benefit from a proper cleaning as well. Below, we’ve rounded up cleaning guidelines for other frequently-handled devices found in your restaurant.
A barcode scanner is a high-touch item used at restaurants that also sell merchandise and food items to go. Clean your barcode scanner by:
If you’re using a SocketScan barcode scanner, you can find the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning it here.
Did you know that while bacteria typically live on surfaces for up to two days, the flu can live on paper money for 17 days?
In other words, cash is germy, so your cash drawer will be too. Fortunately, this is a device meant to withstand a lot, so it won’t need to be cleaned as delicately as your display screens. You can quickly clean your restaurant’s cash drawer in five easy steps:
Curious about going cashless? Find what you need to know about making the transition here.
While staff don’t have to interact much with your router, keeping it neat and tidy will go a long way in helping you avoid internet outages that can slow down credit card processing. Here’s how to keep your router clean and operating like new:
You need to regularly clean the ink residue that forms on the head of your printer – that metal bit with the ridges – to ensure your receipts and kitchen tickets are crisp and easy to read. Here’s how to clean your restaurant printer:
Looking for a visual guide? This video has more helpful tips for cleaning restaurant printers.
You now know how to clean a credit card reader and other high-touch restaurant tech, but how often should you be doing it?
As a general rule, the more frequently your customers and team use a tool, the more often you should clean it. As you know, the COVID-19 virus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours, so regular cleaning is non-negotiable.
Follow these general guidelines on how often to clean each piece of hardware in your restaurant:
Now you know how to clean a credit card reader, why keeping your restaurant’s devices neat is critical, and how often to sanitize your most important hardware. With this information at your fingertips, you can be confident that you now know how to properly clean your restaurant’s high-touch equipment – like its credit card reader – so can protect customers and staff from COVID-19, while keeping service running smoothly and preventing equipment from malfunctioning.
Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.
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