Restaurant Deep Cleaning: 5 Hidden Hygiene Risks

How often do you deep clean your restaurant’s kitchen? There can be hidden hygiene hazards in the kitchen that should be addressed.

Before an inspector finds mold you missed, or worse, an illness is traced to your restaurant, make sure your cleaning crew knows where to find lurking nastiness.

Deep cleaning in restaurants usually involves things you don’t do every day, like draining the fryer and refilling it with fresh oil, cleaning the ovens, and scrubbing refrigerator shelves. However, unexpected areas are easily overlooked and can lead to foodborne illness or low indoor air quality.

Here are the hidden areas you should check when daily cleaning and deep cleaning your restaurant.

Restaurant Deep Cleaning Guide: 5 Crucial Areas to Clean

1. Ice Machine

A metal ice scoop sits in a bucket of clear ice cubes.Dirty commercial ice machines are full of nasty germs. If these machines are not cleaned properly, they can make customers sick. In 2013, the Daily published a story with an uncomfortable title: “Ice in six out of ten restaurants has more bacteria than water from toilets.”

Sound disgusting? It’s not new, and their findings are borne out by study after study. In fact, a 2018 study of ice machines in hospitals and healthcare facilities found that 100% of the machines were contaminated by gram-negative bacilli and Candida species.

These contaminants can cause a variety of illnesses, ranging from stomach flu to food poisoning.

Studies have found that ice machines in restaurants were more likely to be contaminated than those in other businesses. This is likely because restaurants typically have more opportunities for cross-contamination due to the number of people using the machine.

How to Deep Clean Your Restaurant Ice Machine

To keep your ice sparkling clean, you should deep clean your ice machine once a month. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Unplug the machine and remove all the ice from the storage bin.
  2. Use a soft brush or cloth to remove any built-up ice from the evaporator coils.
  3. Mix a solution of equal parts water and vinegar and use this to scrub the interior of the machine, including the door seal and storage bin.
  4. For customer self-service machines, don’t forget the ice chute. Look for anything black, brown, or worse, pink, and slimy.
  5. Rinse the interior of the machine with clean water.
  6. Wipe down the exterior of the machine with a damp cloth.
  7. Once everything is clean and dry, plug the machine back in and resume service.
  8. Check the surroundings to make sure nothing is dripping into the machine.

2. Drink Dispensers

Drink dispensers are touched by many different people, and if they are not cleaned properly, they can become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Cleaning soda machines and drink dispensers during restaurant deep cleaning will help ensure they are free of harmful pathogens.

It’s also important to clean the surrounding area, such as the counter or table where the machine is located. By taking these simple steps, restaurants can create a safer dining experience for their customers…and avoid run-ins with the health inspector.

How to Clean Restaurant Drink Dispensers

Beverage dispensers can get pretty gross if they’re not cleaned regularly. Here’s a deep cleaning process that will ensure your drink dispensers are squeaky clean:

  1. First, empty the beverage dispenser and disassemble all removable parts. Soak all of the parts in a sink full of hot, soapy water.
  2. Next, clean the inside of the beverage dispenser with a fresh solution of hot, soapy water. Use a clean cloth or sponge to scrub the inside surfaces, being sure to reach all the nooks and crannies. Rinse well with hot water.
  3. Now it’s time to disinfect the beverage dispenser. Make a fresh solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water and use it to wipe down all surfaces of the dispenser, both inside and out. Rinse well with hot water and allow the dispenser to air dry completely before reassembling.
  4. To help prevent build-up, wipe down the outside of the beverage dispenser with a mild cleaner after each use.

3. Kitchen Cleaning Tools

A white tiled wall in a restaurant kitchen is lined with a stovetop, metal prep tables, containers of ingredients and spices, and has kitchen utensils hanging on a wall-mounted bar.You can clean all day with a dirty sponge and accomplish only spreading germs to new areas.

A study done in 2017 found that there are 360 different types of bacteria that could be found in a kitchen sponge.

To avoid cross-contamination issues from dirty cleaning tools, keep a huge supply of towels handy and make sure your staff uses a clean one for each table. Make sure all cleaning rags from both the front and back of the house are washed in hot water with bleach and thoroughly dried before the next use.

If your dishwashing staff must use sponges or scrub pads, change them frequently and make sure pots are disinfected after they are scrubbed.

Scrub brushes, mops, and other cleaning materials should also be disinfected and air-dried each night.

4. Behind Restaurant Equipment

Restaurant kitchens are busy places, and it can be difficult to keep everything clean. However, it is important to make sure that all surfaces are cleaned on a regular basis, including behind large pieces of equipment.

Cleaning behind restaurant equipment is important for several reasons. First, it helps to ensure that food is cooked properly and safely. When grease and other food particles build up on surfaces, they can create a fire hazard. In addition, the buildup of grease and grime can attract pests, which can contaminate food and spread disease.

Finally, deep cleaning behind restaurant equipment helps to prolong the lifespan of your most critical equipment. Grease and dirt clings to exposed wiring and works its way into the moving parts. This can cause parts to wear out more quickly.

How often cleaning should be done depends on the type of equipment and the amount of use it receives, but most experts recommend doing it at least once a month.

How to Clean Behind Restaurant Equipment

  1. Move the equipment away from the wall. Depending on the size and weight of the equipment, this may require multiple people.
  2. Sweep or vacuum the floor to remove any debris.
  3. Wet a sponge or mop with warm water and soap. Wipe down the entire area, paying special attention to any areas that seem particularly dirty.
  4. Rinse the area with clean water.
  5. Dry the area with a clean towel or mop head.
  6. Move the equipment back into place. Make sure all cords and hoses are securely attached so that they don’t pose a tripping hazard.

5. Cooler Doors

Cleaning inside the cooler is on every restaurant cleaning checklist, but it’s easy to forget the doors.

Commercial refrigerator doors might not seem like high-priority areas for cleaning. However, the door is one of the most important parts of the fridge, and it needs to be kept clean and free of debris for the fridge to function properly.

The door seal keeps cold air in and warm air out, so it’s crucial that the seal is free of dirt, dust, and food particles to maintain a consistent temperature.

Cooler door seals can develop mold or mildew if they are not cleaned regularly, which can pose a serious air quality hazard and possibly contaminate food.

How to Clean Restaurant Walk-In Cooler Doors

  1. Begin by removing any loose debris from the doors and seals with a soft brush or cloth.
  2. Next, mix together a solution of warm water and mild detergent. Check manufacturer instructions for recommendations.
  3. Use a sponge or cloth to apply the solution to the doors and seals, scrubbing gently to remove any dirt or grime.
  4. Rinse the doors and seals with clean water to remove any residual detergent.
  5. Finally, dry the doors and seals thoroughly with a soft towel or cloth.

If your cooler has vinyl strips for easy access, each strip should be cleaned top to bottom with disinfectant cleaner.

Hygiene hazards in the kitchen are serious, and a poorly trained staff can jeopardize your business. Nothing will earn you worse reviews than a dirty restaurant or sick patrons. Make sure your workers are trained, prepared, and have all the supplies they need for deep restaurant cleaning on a regular schedule.

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