How to clean and prepare a grain store

Thorough grain store preparation and hygiene help to eliminate sources of contamination from storage fungi, insects and mites. Use these checklists to help ready and monitor the health of your stores.

Grain storage guide home

An integrated pest management (IPM) approach

Insects and mites are most likely to be introduced from the store structure and equipment. Even small quantities of grain provide a food source, allowing pest problems to build. It is also essential to manage rodent populations.

However, cleaning alone does not eliminate all pests in empty stores, nor will pesticide treatment. The key to safe storage of grain is to use an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to prevent, monitor/detect and control any issues.

Pre-harvest store preparation checklist



Inspect/repair areas of potential water ingress (e.g. external fans, guttering and roofs)

Check that the store is proofed against rodent and bird entry

Ensure there is adequate space above grain for ventilation

Test/maintain equipment

Use shatter-resistant bulbs and fit shatter-proof light covers

Know the storage history (e.g. livestock housing or potato storage)

Clean the store and equipment thoroughly

Set up insect traps and rodent bait boxes

Use an industrial vacuum cleaner to remove debris, including from harder-to-reach areas. Conveyor systems may harbour relatively large amounts of the storage fungus Penicillium verrucosum. Ensure rubbish, including vacuum-cleaner contents, is removed and disposed of well away from the store.

Use appropriate food-approved disinfectant/sanitiser and leave to dry before storing grain. The permitted cleaning products and previous store uses may depend on supply chain restrictions – check for approval and suitability before use.

Use of insect traps

Place insect traps, such as pitfall cone traps, floor traps and bait bags, in corners and at wall/floor junctions every 4–5 metres around the store. Check them weekly. If stored product insects or mites are found, place additional traps to pinpoint the source of the infestation. Further hygiene measures may help eliminate the source.

Rodent management in and around stores

The presence of rats and mice, in and around grain stores, may result in losses to grain and grain quality, and damage to buildings and machinery. As part of a rodent-management plan, always:

  • Use secure, commercially approved bait boxes
  • Have a sufficient number of baiting points
  • Note the locations of bait boxes
  • Record bait quantities
  • Place bait boxes outside the store
  • Prevent bait contamination of grain
  • Minimise exposure to non-target animals
  • Collect and dispose of dead rodents
  • Inspect regularly
  • Remove bait at the end of the treatment

For information on rodent-bait use, visit the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) website.

Store preparation: hazards and management

Key hazards

Risk score


Preventative measures

Monitoring procedures

Corrective actions

Fungi with potential to cause mycotoxins


Clean equipment and store

Inspect cleanliness

Targeted cleaning

Insects and mites


Clean equipment and store

Use traps

Apply pesticide at recommended rate

Pesticide residues


Use approved products in recommended manner

Check records of pesticide application

Review applications and practices

Rodents and rodent faeces


Clean store, remove (where possible) potential places of shelter and prevent entry

Check for rodent presence

Use rodenticides in recommended manner; targeted cleaning and proofing

Birds and bird faeces


Clean store and prevent entry

Check for bird presence

Targeted cleaning and proofing



Glass control procedures

Check for compliance with procedures

Remove and replace or protect glass

HACCP risk rating: *** high risk, ** medium risk, * low risk

What is HACCP?