Time for a Deep Clean: Restaurant Cleaning Checklist and Guide

Keeping your restaurant clean is a big job.

Implementing a restaurant cleaning checklist for daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning tasks will help keep your professional commercial kitchen thoroughly cleaned and in order. Not only will you reduce food waste, but you’ll avoid risks to your customers and staff. Have a safer, cleaner kitchen with this restaurant cleaning guide and checklist.

In any restaurant, cleaning needs to be done regularly throughout the day. Washing dishes, cleaning and sanitizing tables and surfaces, condiment bottles, and cutlery, to name just a few constant tasks.

Other tasks get done at the end of a shift or the end of the day, like prepping tables for the next service, cleaning the floors and walls, and disposal of food waste. Cleaning fryers, ovens, and refrigerators should be done weekly, along with shelves and storage areas.

Keeping a high standard of restaurant cleaning is vital not only to comply with regulations but to keep your customers safe, healthy, and coming back time and time again. Online reviews with high star ratings encourage new customers to give your place a try. In contrast, a low star rating and damning reports turn off even the most enthusiastic regulars, and a clean atmosphere is high on the list of customer expectations. Who would want to go to a place with reviews that read “Good food, but dirty restaurant?”

While the daily and weekly tasks keep the restaurant sparkly on the surface, a routine of deeper cleaning is essential to maintain high health and hygiene standards. Now and then, your restaurant needs a thorough deep cleaning.

You’ll want to bookmark this restaurant cleaning checklist and important tips to help ensure you pass every surprise health & safety sanitation inspection.

Restaurant Cleaning Guide: General Tips to Keep Your Restaurant Clean & Safe

Cleaning Supplies to Keep on Hand

Keep accessible cleaning supplies on hand to ensure all tasks on your restaurant cleaning checklist are completed.Here’s a basic supply list of equipment and supplies you’ll always need on hand to keep your restaurant clean and up to health and safety codes:

  • Cleaning cloths or paper towels
  • Hot water
  • Brooms and dustpans
  • Mops
  • Buckets
  • Telescopic duster and spiderweb brush
  • Vacuum
  • Lint brush or roller for cloth upholstery
  • Antibacterial freshener spray (like Febreze) for cloth upholstery
  • Specialized metal cleaners for different types of metals in your restaurant (stainless steel, copper, and brass are common)
  • Drain cleaner
  • Antibacterial sanitizer/spray bottles
  • De-liming agent

General Restaurant Cleaning Tips

  • Always use the top-down method—clean the highest surfaces first. If you’re cleaning the pantry, start with the top shelf and work down each level, ending with the floor. That way, drips, dust, and debris knocked off shelves are cleaned at the end.
  • Your staff can accomplish many of these tasks during regular business hours. A dishwashing machine, for example, can be thoroughly cleaned during a quieter day or at the beginning of a shift when it won’t constantly be running.
  • Keep a written record of what tasks need to be done, how often, when tasks are completed, and by whom. Hang a physical restaurant cleaning checklist in strategic locations and assign each worker specific jobs at specific times.
  • Ensure plenty of dedicated cleaning cloths or paper towels are available.
  • Keep cleaning materials easy to access in case an emergency cleanup is necessary.
  • Nobody likes to clean, and your staff may be resistant. Get them on board with incentives and keep them engaged by reminding them that happy customers leave bigger tips.

In the restaurant business, hot water is crucial to every step of the cleaning process. Ensure your hot water heater is working correctly and maintaining the temperature necessary to clean and sanitize dishes and equipment and activate cleaning chemicals. If your hot water is difficult to maintain, your water bills are higher than expected, or your equipment is more than ten years old, replacing it with a new Energy Star appliance or leased water heater makes sense.

How to Keep Your Restaurant Clean: Area-by-Area Cleaning Guide

Front of the House

The front of the house is where the customers experience your restaurant. From the exterior, through the entryway, dining room, bar area, and yes, even the restroomsall customer areas are considered the front of the house.

  • Check all ceilings and windows for cobwebs. Remove them using a broom or a telescopic duster.
  • Dust ceiling fans.
  • Clean windowsills.
    • First, use the dustpan and brush or vacuum cleaner to remove dust and debris.
    • Wipe the area with a cloth dipped in hot water and wrung out.
    • Dry with a clean, dry cloth.
    • Spray antibacterial cleaner, sit for a few minutes, and wipe the surface down again with a fresh cloth.
    • Wipe the sides and tops of the window frames with the damp cloth, dry cloth, and disinfectant.
  • Vacuum soft furnishings over and under the cushions. Use a lint remover if necessary. Spray all cushions with antibacterial soft furniture spray to refresh their aroma and ward off any lurking viruses.
  • Dust artwork, paintings, photographs, and decorative items.
  • Wipe the tops of doors and door panels.
  • Remove any marks on the walls.

Serving Stations

Daily cleaning tasks, like cleaning bar areas and coffee machines, are vital restaurant cleaning tasks.The serving stations see a lot of action, and even though they get cleaned thoroughly daily, these critical deep-cleaning tasks should never be overlooked during daily cleaning sessions.

  • Empty garnish containers and run through the dishwasher.
  • Empty and clean flatware containers.
  • Clean the shelving where bus tubs are stored; grime and bacteria can quickly accumulate there.
  • Take rubber mats outside for washing.
  • Clean walls.
  • Sweep and mop floors.

Behind the Bar

Bartenders constantly clean throughout their shifts and at the end of the night. Make sure these deep-cleaning tasks are included on their cleaning checklist:

  • Check the ceiling and corner areas for cobwebs and remove them with a broom or telescopic duster.
  • Clean and polish any brass, chrome, copper, or other metallic decor using the metal cleaner.
  • Clean and sanitize refrigerators and freezers, wiping handles, shelves, and exteriors.
  • Check light bulbs and temperature readings to verify appliances are in good working order.
  • Clean condenser coils in fridges and freezers every two months.
  • Clean and de-lime coffee machines monthly or more frequently if required.
  • Empty, clean, and sanitize the ice machine every three months according to machine instructions.
  • Keep drains clear with a chemical drain cleaner once a month to unclog any potential blockages.

Restaurant Kitchen Cleaning Checklist

The kitchen is the hub of your restaurant’s success. Food is prepared in the kitchen, servers, managers, and other staff are constantly moving in, out, and around this space. Keeping the kitchen clean and sanitary is one—if not THE—most important restaurant cleaning task your staff should focus on regularly. In the hectic arena of a busy kitchen, finding time to clean is challenging. Much of it is done at the end of the shift, but some jobs are big, time-consuming, and cannot be done during open hours.

We’ve all seen those cringe-worthy episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, where Gordon Ramsay busts open all the nooks and crannies of a struggling restaurant kitchen to uncover unpleasant dirt and grime. This comprehensive restaurant cleaning checklist focuses on the basics of deep cleaning your restaurant kitchen. 

Include these daily, weekly, and monthly deep-cleaning tasks on your restaurant’s cleaning checklist to ensure your kitchen is always healthy, safe, sanitized, and in perfect working order.

Deep cleaning, like sanitation of oven doors and handles, is an essential task on your weekly restaurant cleaning checklist.Daily Kitchen Cleaning Tasks:

  • Sweep out kitchen, pantries, and walk-in fridges.
  • Clean floor mats. If possible, take floor mats outside, hose off, spray with cleaner, and hang to dry.
  • Mop the floors with degreaser solution.
  • Clean the dishwashing stations and sinks.
  • Clean spills and splatters off the walls.
  • Wash and sanitize countertops and prep area surfaces.
  • Clean beverage dispensers and soda gun heads.
  • Clean and disinfect stovetops and other cooking surfaces.
  • Change oven and grill liners.
  • Clean the exterior of the deep fryers, remove the baskets and run them through the dishwasher, then dry thoroughly before replacing them in the fryer.
  • Bundle cleaning cloths, bar towels, aprons, and other laundry items for pickup.

Weekly Kitchen Cleaning Tasks:

  • Thoroughly clean lesser-used kitchen appliances. Make sure to check appliance owner’s manuals for any specific cleaning instructions for industrial or commercial grade appliances.
  • Pour chemical drain cleaners into the floor and sink drains and check for clogs.
  • Clean coffee makers with a de-liming product.
  • Clean the interior and exterior of ovens and other cooking appliances.
  • Clean the exteriors refrigeration units.

Monthly Kitchen Cleaning Tasks:

Monthly tasks can be broken into rotating weekly tasks.

  • Scrub splatters from the walls and ceilings.
  • Clean refrigerator coils:
    • Unplug refrigerator.
    • Locate refrigerator condenser coils – check your manual.
    • Put on a mask to prevent breathing in dust. Remove the grate covering the coils if applicable and use a stiff refrigerator coil cleaning brush to gently brush away dust and debris from the coils and fan.
    • Use a vacuum hose with a long, narrow attachment to remove loosened dust on the coils and floor under the unit.
    • Clean and replace the cover grate.
    • Plugin the refrigerator.
  • Clean refrigerator drain pans, tubes, and air filters
  • Clean the interior of reach-in or walk-in refrigerators: top, walls, shelves, and bottom
  • Clean the stove exhaust hoods with a good quality degreaser.
  • Empty stove grease traps.

Bi-Annual Kitchen Deep-Cleaning Tasks:

  • Empty, clean, and descale ice machines every three to six months.
  • Clean and delime dishwashers every three to six months.
  • Deep clean your fryer every three to six months:
    • Remove and clean baskets
    • Drain used oil from the fryer.
    • Fill the fryer with warm water and a cleaning solution.
    • Turn the fryer to warm – not hot enough for a full boil.
    • Use a soft, long-handled brush to clean the fryer vat.
    • Drain and rinse the fryer. Be sure to rinse out all cleaner.
    • Let the fryer dry completely before refilling with oil.
  • Disassemble and clean the stove hood exhaust fan every six months.
  • Schedule plumbing and HVAC maintenance once per year.

Following these restaurant cleaning checklist tasks will ensure that your kitchen is in clean and sanitary working order on a regular basis, keeping both your customers and employees safe and healthy.

Maintaining a deep-cleaning schedule is the responsibility of the restaurant owner and management staff, so make sure your staff is always aware and on board with cleaning procedures and schedules. Find ways to incentivize staff to prioritize cleaning, or invest in outsourced kitchen cleaning services, to keep your restaurant kitchen spic and span.

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