Foam cleaning refers to the cleaning process where the main detergent is applied as foam.
With increasing commercial and technical pressure placed on the food manufacturing industry, the time window and manpower required for cleaning has been squeezed and decreased. Foam cleaning was introduced during the last 40 years and has proven to be a very effective, efficient and popular method for cleaning factories and equipment. Along with the improvement in foam technology, such as long cling foams and quick break foams and the introduction of different types of foam detergents, it has become possible to apply foam cleaning to almost all types of environments and materials of construction.
Foam is created by mixing water, detergent and air together and applying it via a hose with a special nozzle or lance onto the surfaces and equipment. The foam detergent will typically be applied at 3 to 5%v/v, depending on the soil to be removed, materials of construction and water hardness. Gels are applied in the same way as foam detergents.
The main advantages of foam cleaning in comparison to manual cleaning are:
- Detergent solution can be applied to large and difficult to reach areas in a short period of time.
- Extended detergent contact times.
- Less manpower required.
- Control of detergent use.
- Speeds up the cleaning process.
- Safer application of aggressive detergents.
Although foam cleaning is used predominately in most food manufacturing sectors it is usually not suitable in areas such as bakery, pastry processing and packaging areas where the introduction of water and detergent can have a detrimental effect on the cleaning result. Foam cleaning may be successfully used in some areas of a bakery, such as conveyor systems, but provisions should be made for water removal.
A common misconception of foam cleaning is that it negates the need for any type of physical action. Physical energy must be applied after suitable detergent contact time. The physical energy can be applied by either scrubbing with a brush or pad or by energy from a high or medium pressure water jet. In high care environments where a milder foam detergent and low/medium pressure systems are usually utilised it will probably be essential that scrubbing of equipment and surfaces takes place.