The Ultimate Restaurant Cleaning Checklist to Keep the Pests Away

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The movie Ratatouille was cute, but no one wants a rat in their kitchen in real life, no matter how “helpful”. Unfortunately, because kitchens and restaurants are stocked with food, it’s going to attract unwanted critters at some point if not kept clean.

Here’s your ultimate restaurant cleaning checklist, to help you keep the pests at bay and keep your customers coming back for more.

Daily Duties

The day to day responsibilities add up and if kept up, they will ensure that your restaurant stays as clean as possible. Here is the restaurant cleaning schedule that you should be keeping up with on a daily basis.

Clean Your Equipment

Your restaurant’s kitchen gets a lot of use and everything you use on a daily basis will need to get cleaned on a daily basis. If not, you’re just asking for pests to come in and visit. It’s virtually impossible to cook without leaving some sort of mess. Especially when you run a restaurant in which people are waiting for their food and there’s a sense of urgency. The kitchen is often left a mess, but the food looks (and tastes!) impeccable of course. To keep your kitchen looking the same once the day is done, you’ll want to stay on top of certain tasks.  

After using the range, make sure it’s free of oil and grease to prevent accumulation which will make it harder to clean later. Don’t just focus on your range, clean the doors and interior to wipe up any spills there as well. Same applies to your flattop or grill.  Clean out the deep fryer and drain out any oil and wipe down the sink and make sure there’s no food in it.

Sanitize to Prevent Food Contamination

Wash out all utensils and sanitize all surfaces, including your cutting boards.  This isn’t just a cleanliness issue, it’s a health issue and you’ll want to make sure these surfaces are kept as clean as possible, at all times to prevent food contamination.

Vacuum and Clean the Area

Once you’re done cleaning up your equipment, don’t forget the floors. It’s easy for crumbs to accumulate and little pieces of food to end up on the floor and under the cabinets and equipment. You should vacuum every single day to make sure you leave nothing behind, as food particles are basically invites to pests to come calling. Take out the trash at the end of each day. Essentially, you want to remove all traces of food that is not stored and not in the freezer or fridge.  Clean around the tables and chairs to remove all food debris and wipe down and sanitize the tables before you leave for the night. This should be done after every customer, but you’ll want to make sure it’s done when you close so you don’t miss anything.

Clean the Beverage Station 

The coffee, tea, and other beverage areas are prone to spills, and spills are going to attract pests like ants, flies, rodents and other creatures that simply don’t belong in your restaurant.  To prevent this from happening you’ll need t clean up this area thoroughly every day. 

Clean the tea and coffee brewers and wipe down the equipment to ensure you get all spills and sticky messes. 

Clean the Bathrooms

You need to keep your kitchen and your food service area clean, and the bathroom is just as important for your restaurant cleanliness standards. How many of you judge a business on the cleanliness of its bathroom?  If a bathroom isn’t clean, it hardly matters whether the rest of the area is. Because that’s what your customer is going to remember.  Wipe down the stalls, clean the toilets and mop the floors. Install air fresheners and make sure they’re not empty.

These are daily activities because they’re essential to keeping your restaurant truly clean and safe.

Weekly Duties

There are activities that are still important but don’t need to be done daily. However, don’t skimp on these weekly tasks or you could still find unwanted pests.

Inspect Your Food Storage

Check out your dry food storage area and make sure all dried goods are fresh and unexpired. Make sure it’s organized and if not put everything where it’s supposed to be. It’s easy to lose track and overtime to let it get to the point where things aren’t in their proper places. This becomes an issue when you have new people come in and can’t find anything.  To make this easier on you and on any newbies, you can label your shelves to show what belongs where. Same with the fridge.

Clean the Fridge

Speaking of fridges, here’s another area to clean on a weekly basis. Much like your dried food storage, make sure the items in your fridge are fresh and unexpired. You’ll also want to keep it organized so it’s easy to find on those hectic days (i.e. every day in the restaurant business).

Clean the Doors and Windows

Moving out of the kitchen, you’ll want to ensure you’re always making a great first impression. Windows and glass doors will show smudges and handprints, which is not what you want to display to your customers. Grab the Windex and wipe down all windows and your doors, so they can clearly see what you have to offer within your venue.

Clean the Floor Drains

The last thing you need is buildup in your drains. It’s important to use drain cleaner and make sure that they’re working at full capacity. Don’t get backed up otherwise your drains will and can result in bad odors and bacteria growth. This applies to your kitchen and bathroom drains.

Monthly Duties

These are tasks you can do less often, but they’re a little heftier than the daily or weekly tasks. Keep up to date with this restaurant deep cleaning checklist because you don’t want to find yourself playing catch up.

Wash the Walls (and Ceilings!)

Over time, all the grease and smoke in the kitchen is going to wreak havoc on your walls and ceiling. You’ll want to make sure you wipe down the walls monthly, so it doesn’t get to the point where you’ve got smoke-covered walls or evidence of splatter. Doing so will keep your environment fresh, and it will prevent pests from being attracted to the build up on your walls.  

Thoroughly Clean Ranges and Grills

Oil and grease buildup around your ranges and grills is a fire hazard. Do a monthly deep cleaning to ensure that nothing is built up that can pose a hazard to your employees and your restaurant.  Exhaust hoods are a magnet for grime and debris. You’ll want to clean your exhaust hood to remove any buildup there.

Empty the Grease Traps

To stay up to code you need to stay on top of this task. It’s an important part of your restaurant deep cleaning. The last thing you need is for grease to clog your plumbing. Remove the traps, place grease in a separate container to discard (do not empty into the drain) and submerge the traps into a large tub of water with a degreaser. Soak for 10 minutes, dry and then reinstall them.

Sanitize the Ice Machine

Who would’ve thought the ice machine would get dirty too? Like anything else in the kitchen, the ice machine will have to be emptied, cleaned and sanitized at least once a month.  

Check Your Equipment and Workspace

When conduction a restaurant cleaning, you’ll need to keep on top of all your stuff to make sure it’s working as it should be. This includes sharpening knives, calibrating your thermostat and oven and checking for evidence of pest droppings. 

Success with the Restaurant Cleaning Checklist

Food should attract customers, not pests. If you’ve followed this restaurant cleaning checklist you’re closer to a cleaner kitchen with less chance of unwanted rodents and other pests.

However, sometimes against your best efforts you may run into issues and need to call the pros in for pest control.  

If you find yourself in this position,  contact us and we’ll help you get rid of the problem and get back to business, quickly.

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is President of Inman-Murphy Inc., one of the fastest growing pest control companies in Memphis, TN.