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How Do You Clean a Restaurant Kitchen?

The woman at table six says she ordered her eggs scrambled, not easy over. 

The couple at table three with the fussy toddler is in need of a child seat.  

And can someone assist the three patrons who are waiting at the register to pay their bills?  

When you run a busy restaurant, it can be hard enough just to keep up with the demands of your clientele let alone make sure the front and back areas are spic and span. But, as we all know, a clean restaurant is an absolute must for the health and safety of your patrons and workforce, and the best way to keep from falling behind on that all-important requisite is to establish a firm cleaning schedule.  

So, where do we start? 

Breaking Down the Tasks 

It should go without saying that some cleaning tasks must be taken care of immediately. If a member of your waitstaff accidentally drops a plate of spaghetti on the floor, no one would expect him or her to ignore the mess and move on to folding napkins. Other tasks may need to be done after each shift, on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and some may only necessitate an annual or bi-annual schedule.  

Creating and posting a list of cleaning chores, who is responsible for them, and when the work should be undertaken is a good best practice for every restaurant manager. Cleaning tasks should be spaced out accordingly to help ensure a smooth operation and that no area becomes too unkempt: 

After Each Shift 

Grease buildup is the bane of nearly every restaurant’s existence, and it is why fryers and grills should be cleaned and brushed down respectively at the end of every shift. No exceptions! 

What else should be done after every shift? Use a wet cloth and gentle sanitizing detergent to wipe down kitchen surfaces. Any equipment used on food, such as meat slicers should be washed after each use. Sanitizing buckets should be emptied at this time as well.  


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Floors, including the walk-in refrigerator area, can get dirty and greasy, and it can be very easy for staff to track whatever is on the floor throughout the restaurant. Floors should be swept and mopped preferably with an industrial kitchen degreaser. Floor mats should also be washed thoroughly. Cleaning cloths should be kept separate from aprons and coats and put in the laundry.  

Daily Chores 

The last thing any restaurant manager wants to find out is that their sewer line is plugged. Not only will it create headaches, but it can also get you in trouble with the health department. That’s why it’s important to clean out your grease traps on a daily basis. This is also a good time to change the foil linings on your grill and range. 

No doubt, you’ll be running your dishwasher several times throughout the day, but make it a point to run your hood filters through during one wash.  

Weekly Chores 

Cleaning your coffee machine should be done at least once a week, possibly more if yours is a breakfast operation where coffee is always brewing.  

Your ovens should also be cleaned on a weekly basis, as should your reach-in coolers. This is a good time also to check and clean your floor drains and to de-lime your sinks and faucets.  

Monthly Chores 

Back again to the grease. Have you noticed a pattern? However, grease can be a serious fire (and slip) hazard and if you don’t keep up with it, you may pay for it later. On a monthly basis, you should be washing behind your oven, stove, and fryers. You should be degreasing your exhaust fans. And you should also be washing down your walls and ceilings. Seriously, grease gets everywhere. 

Your dry storage area should also be wiped down on a monthly basis, and your freezers should get a cleaning. Empty out and sanitize your ice machine at this time as well. 

Know the Jobs that Should Be Outsourced 

While many routine cleaning tasks can and should be handled in-house, there are others that are best left to a professional cleaning service. Monthly or less frequent projects that require a significant investment of time or which are particularly taxing, such as the previously mentioned removal of grease buildup behind ovens, stoves, and other large equipment are typical jobs that can be outsourced.  

Other cleaning projects worth outsourcing include cleaning kitchen hoods as well as pilot lights on gas-powered kitchen equipment, two things that should be done at least once a year. Cleaning freezers and dry storage areas, ice machines, and thoroughly washing down walls–basically the tasks that fall into the monthly category–can often also be outsourced. Many professional cleaning companies specialize in this messy and time-consuming work.  

Additionally, if your staff is already overtaxed, it often makes sense to hire an outside janitorial service to come in after-hours on a regular basis. Such an individual or crew can vacuum, clean kitchen floors, clean and sanitize the kitchen and bathroom, wipe down menus, and take care of all the little details you can’t think about when your restaurant is in full swing. They can ensure both your kitchen and front of house reception and dining areas as well as bathroom facilities are clean and in top-notch order before the start of each new workday. 

By having a firm understanding of which roles can best be handled in-house and which should be handled by professionals, you will not only maintain a smooth-running operation but also control cleaning costs.