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How To Clean Drinking Fountains

How To Clean Drinking Fountains Blog


Cleaning drinking fountains is an important and ongoing task for many maintenance personnel. Fountains are commonly found in most commercial facilities, including schools, hospitals, commercial businesses, churches, grocery stores, shopping centers, as well as countless other facilities. Read this article to review how to clean every type of water fountain no matter if it’s stainless steel, polyvinyl, composite, glass, powder coated, stone, plastic, or chrome. Also learn how to safely clean the electronic displays and sensors for touch-free units.



Why is it important that facilities maintain clean drinking fountains, water coolers, and bottle fillers?

It’s important primarily because water fountains need to provide safe drinking water. The fixture that dispenses drinking water has to be clean so that the water does not become contaminated before it reaches the patron. Secondly, patrons notice when a water fountain is not clean. This can determine whether a user perceives a facility as sanitary and well maintained, or dirty and neglected. 

Did you know? Letting a drinking fountain run for a few seconds before drinking from it can help rinse off some of the bacteria, if there is any on the unit.


Cleaning Drinking Fountain Units

Cleaning Drinking Fountain Units

Chrome Surfaces:
Wipe surfaces clean with an ordinary, mild, food-safe detergent and a soft cloth, then towel dry.


Composite surfaces:
Wipe surfaces clean with water or a non abrasive foam cleaner using a soft sponge or cloth. Mild abrasives like baking soda paste or liquid automotive cleaning compound can remove small scratches and stains. Do not use harsh abrasive cleaners. 

Periodically applying automobile wax or similar products will keep the finish looking new. 


Electronic components:
Wipe with a soft, dry cloth (ideally microfiber). If needed, mist cloth lightly with ionized water. 


Glass surfaces:
Wipe surfaces clean with ordinary, mild glass cleaner using a soft cloth, then towel dry.


Plastic surfaces: 
Wipe surfaces clean with ordinary mild detergent using a soft cloth, then towel dry.


Polyvinyl surfaces:
Wipe surfaces clean with ordinary mild detergent using a soft cloth, then towel dry.


Powder-Coated surfaces:
Wipe surfaces clean with ordinary mild detergent using a soft cloth, then rinse and towel dry.


Stainless steel surfaces:
Wipe surfaces clean with ordinary mild detergent using a soft cloth, then towel dry. Do not use a steel soap pad. 


Stone Aggregate surfaces:
Spray clean with a garden hose to remove dirt and debris. 


The above cleaning recommendations are from Elkay Manufacturing. 



Disinfecting Drinking Fountains

Disinfecting Drinking Fountains


Murdock Manufacturing says they recommend using rubbing alcohol to disinfect surfaces on drinking fountain units. Spray it on areas like the bubbler, basin, and any push buttons or push bars, then wait 20-30 seconds to let it work and disinfect the unit. Then use a clean, soft cloth to wipe it off. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), isopropyl alcohol sanitizer products can be used to sanitize equipment and surfaces used in food manufacturing and food preparation. According to the CDC, isopropyl alcohol kills coronavirus and most bacteria, fungi, and many viruses. It is ineffective against bacterial spores.

Providing drinking water to patrons via a drinking fountain, water cooler, or bottle filler is an amenity provided in most public and private commercial facilities, which means that most maintenance professionals need to know how to clean them correctly and safely. Share this article with the rest of your maintenance crew to make sure they are being cleaned properly.


Drinking Fountain Cleaning FAQs

Drinking Fountain Cleaning FAQs


How often should your drinking fountain units be cleaned?
This depends on usage/traffic to the fountain. Generally, any fountain used by children should be cleaned daily. High traffic fountains like those found in airports or sports complexes should also be cleaned daily. Fountains used in sports complexes and other facilities that experience very high use over a short period of time can periodically be cleaned throughout the event to keep the unit clean.  

How can we check that our drinking fountain water is safe? 
Periodic water testing from the fountain is the best way to ensure that your drinking water is safe for consumption. There are water testing agencies throughout the country that can assess your water and verify the presence of any risks or contaminants. 

What are safe cleaners or disinfectants to use on drinking fountains?

  • Anti-abrasive dishwashing cleaners like dawn should be good options for cleaning. Be sure what you use is food safe, since drinking fountains provide drinking water. 
  • Rubbing alcohol can be used to disinfect surfaces.


What should you NOT use on your water fountain units?
Harsh, abrasive, or non-food safe cleaners.

Can patrons get diseases from unsafe drinking fountains?
Yes. Drinking fountains can harbor Legionella, as well as other harmful bacteria and viruses through the water source or in contact areas such as push buttons or the bubbler. Drinking fountains used in child centers have been found to have rotavirus, the flu, and various strains of the common cold on them.

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