30-Second Summary

  • Regularly cleaning your POS system is crucial for health and safety, and creates a positive impression for customers.
  • Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific POS hardware.
  • Encouraging the use of contactless payments means fewer people need to touch your point of sale system.

We live in a world where hygiene is of paramount importance. Obviously it always was, especially in food service businesses. However, the pandemic has brought cleanliness and safety into sharp focus – both for companies, and for their customers.

This has particular relevance for point of sale systems. The reason for this may not be immediately clear, but if you think about it, your POS system is likely one of the most frequently touched things in your store or restaurant. Sales staff touch it, and the customers often touch it when making payments.

In this article, we discuss some strategies to help you keep your POS system clean and safe. This isn’t just a question of good practice and civic duty. Customers increasingly notice these things. If it’s clear you take health and safety clearly, this creates a good impression. Customers with doubts about hygiene may not necessarily voice them – but they may also take their business elsewhere.

We will cover specific ways to clean your POS system in a moment. But first, let’s look at something that can vastly reduce the amount of contact people need to have with it in the first place. 

Contactless Payment Options

Contactless payments were growing more and more popular even before the pandemic. Covid has accelerated this popularity, and with 55% of US consumers now wary of handling cash, this trend will certainly continue.

Facilitating contactless payment clearly helps with hygiene. It means that your staff don’t need to handle as much cash, and that your customers don’t all need to touch a PIN pad.

Thankfully, most modern POS systems provide plenty of contactless options, including support for NFC credit and debit cards, and systems such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. Increasingly, POS providers include a contactless reader even with their cheapest hardware. For example, the inexpensive Square Reader accepts a range of contactless payment methods.

Offering contactless payment gives you another huge benefit beyond keeping your point of sale system clean and safe. The statistic above is significant here, because if people are reluctant to handle cash, they’re less likely to carry it. It’s not unheard of for businesses to lose out on sales because they cannot accept a customer’s preferred payment method. As such, these payment facilities can boost sales too. 

Not only should you make efforts to provide contactless options, you should also be sure to promote them. Clear signage that reminds people you accept these payments can jog customers’ memories, and prompt them to use a contactless means of payment.

Encourage (and Enforce) Hand Hygiene

There’s no disputing the effectiveness of hand hygiene – the statistics speak for themselves.

If the people in your business – the customers and the workers – have clean hands, then clean hands are what will touch your POS system.

The key to ensuring this is making it easy for everybody to sanitize their hands. On the customer side, it should be both easy and appealing. We’ve all been in shops and seen grubby sanitizer stations and empty dispensers – so make sure that’s not what you’re presenting to your customers.

When it comes to staff, hand hygiene can and should be enforced, as well as encouraged.

Clean Regularly

So far we’ve looked more at prevention than cure, but you obviously need to clean the equipment too.

This should be done to a regular schedule. It may be that your country’s health and safety regulations dictate a particular cleaning frequency, especially if you’re working to some kind of “Covid Secure” accreditation. Regardless, that frequency should be seen as the bare minimum.

When it comes to the cleaning itself, you should check your manufacturer’s specific recommendations. Typically, you’re advised to use a microfibre cloth, alongside a solution based on Isopropyl alcohol. Some manufacturers state 90% ISO, but other such as Clover, recommend 70%. This emphasises the need to read the manual!  

Switch Off or Log Off

One thing you should always do when you clean a POS system is switch it off or, as a minimum, log off from the POS application. Once again, follow the manufacturer’s guidance.

In many cases, if you’re using something damp, you may be advised to power down completely. If you’re doing something more like an hourly wipe-down, this may not be necessary. However, it’s still wise to log off from the software. This is because it’s very easy to accidentally press buttons (and perhaps accidentally log sales) during cleaning – especially on touchscreen devices.

Invest in Some Compressed Air

One particularly useful product for cleaning all kinds of electrical equipment is compressed air. This comes in spray-cans, usually with a straw-style attachment to direct the flow of air.

These compressed air cans are very effective for clearing away dust and crumbs, and great for dusty fans and clogged ports. Do check before using them they are suitable for your equipment.

It’s also important to use compressed air correctly. Generally, you need to hold the can upright, and not too close to the equipment. If you ignore these instructions, you can end up with a cold, damp spray, instead of just air.

Ensure you Don’t Damage your Equipment

We’ve mentioned checking the manufacturer’s documentation a couple of times, and there’s good reason for that. Different equipment may need to be treated differently, and if you ignore the instructions, you could invalidate your warranty.

Damaging your equipment isn’t just about obvious stuff like not getting your POS system soaking wet. You could find that the wrong kind of cloth scratches your screen, or that certain solvents can fade labelling.

If in any doubt, ask your equipment provider’s technical support department.

How Often Should You Clean Your POS System?

The simple answer to this is to clean as often as you need to to ensure that everything is as hygienic as humanly possible. This could, for example, mean a wipe of the PIN pad every time a customer has used it, a wipe down of everything each hour, and a full clean every day.

Much will depend on your type of business, how much the system is used, and how many people you are serving. As previously mentioned, you may be subject to specific rules in order to comply with health and safety guidance.

Keeping a POS system clean isn’t difficult. Familiarize yourself with what you need to do with yours, and ensure that you and your team stick to the schedule. Your health, and your customers, will thank you for it.