Store Cleaning

Cleaning is an important step in good store management. It is usually associated with hygiene, reducing transfer of disease inoculum from one season to the next. It also has implications for chemical residues, particularly since the loss of approval for CIPC. Cleaning your stores as soon as they are empty will be critical to help avoid residue exceedances.

Minimising CIPC residue risk 

Cleaning will be one of the key pillars of industry-wide efforts towards minimising CIPC residues.  Filling stores with hot CIPC fog and, in later years, using fans to recirculate it, will have ensured all surfaces in stores are covered with CIPC-contaminated dust. With some fabrics, like concrete, CIPC can even penetrate inches below the surface. Add a bit of condensation, dust and soil and deposits can become a firmly attached layer (Figure 1). Taking the following steps will help to effectively remove CIPC-contaminated dust and deposits.

A Europe-wide protocol has been released to help store managers with this task and the details are available via the link below

European guidelines

Cleaning guidelines for reducing chlorpropham (CIPC) from potato stores and equipment

Floor of a potato store before cleaning

Figure 1. Concrete floor of main duct before cleaning

Inside a potato store after cleaning

Figure 2. Main duct after cleaning

Minimising disease risk 

Ventilation and convection currents, caused by respiration heat from the crop, will circulate dust containing disease spores throughout the store. Cross-contamination of potato stocks is therefore inevitable. Major dust movement and dispersal also occurs when store activity, e.g. forklift truck movement, stirs up dust on the floor. The resultant dust cloud will settle on top of the crop, where the risk of condensation needed for spore germination is greatest.

Clearing dust and stray tubers from storage areas and ducts will normally remove the majority of residue or disease inoculum present. This is usually adequate for most ware crops.

  • Use a vacuum for removing loose dust
  • If wet rots have been a problem in previous seasons, pay attention to particularly affected areas of the store and boxes.

When should I use disinfectant to clean my store?

If total removal of viable disease spores is required, e.g. for high‑health crops, disinfectant can be used. This is particularly relevant in stores where bacterial soft rotting or damage-related fungal diseases such as dry rot have occurred. Most disinfectants will not work without prior cleaning and removal of dust and debris as they are readily deactivated by organic matter.

Make sure any disinfectant used on parts of the store that are in contact with crops are food-safe and acceptable to your intended market.

Soft rot in box store

Store hygiene checklist

✔ Remove all dust and debris as soon as store is empty, in preparation for following storage season 

✔ Vacuum dust – don’t sweep as it just relocates most of the dust

✔ If required, disinfect only after cleaning