Residues of quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) remaining after sanitising were evaluated for a number of materials used in food plants. The residues were collected by swabs and measured using a spectrophotometric method. Surface topography and energy affected the QACs recovery. Highest percentage of QACs recovery was achieved for the tile material (102.2%) which had the most hydrophilic properties and least irregularities in surface topology, followed by stainless steel (82.1%). Meanwhile, the lowest recovery occurred in PVC (42.1%) and resin (44.3%) that exhibited hydrophobic characteristics and abrupt changes in height profile in a given surface area. Monitoring of QACs residues deposited on the surfaces after 7 days showed that the recovery of QACs in PVC and resin reduced significantly (P < 0.05), supposing that QACs might be degraded or interacted with the materials. However, no significant changes in residue recovery were observed for tiles and stainless steel surfaces after 7 days.