Running a busy catering business means that keeping your commercial kitchen spotlessly clean is a top priority. Meeting the stringent standards for food hygiene in commercial kitchens is not just a legal requirement; it's essential to safeguard the health of your customers and maintain your business's reputation. In this comprehensive guide, we will outline the commercial kitchen cleaning procedures that every restaurant should follow to ensure compliance with legal cleanliness standards. We'll go over everything you need to know in order to properly clean and maintain your commercial kitchen.
Official Rules and Regulations:
All professional caterers are legally obligated to adhere to the regulations set by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Failure to meet these standards can result in your restaurant being closed temporarily or even the revocation of your food license. Maintaining good hygiene practices in your commercial kitchen is a fundamental aspect of food safety. We'll delve into the four Cs of food hygiene: cooking, chilling, cross-contamination, and cleaning. In particular, we'll emphasise the importance of thorough cleaning practices to prevent food contamination and ensure the safety of your customers and staff.
Different appliances and equipment in your commercial kitchen require varying cleaning frequencies. We'll provide a general guideline on how often different areas and appliances should be cleaned to ensure a clean and safe kitchen environment.
- Hobs and Ovens: After each shift, promptly wipe away any spills to prevent the accumulation of grease and grime. Weekly, use a specialised oven cleaning product to clean the oven's interior. Additionally, commercial catering ovens should undergo a deep cleaning by professionals at least every six months.
- Coffee Machines: Espresso machines require weekly cleaning and flushing with hot water and a specialised cleaning solution.
- Kettles: Clean and descale kettles and water boilers either once a month or, if you serve numerous hot drinks daily, once a week.
- Microwaves: Clean the microwave's interior at least once a week, and promptly address any spills during shifts. To ease the removal of dried-on dirt or grime, you can microwave a bowl of water for one minute before wiping down the interior with an antibacterial cleaner and cloth.
- Refrigeration: Wipe and sanitise the interiors of your fridges between every shift. Conduct a deep cleaning of your fridges once a week. Proper fridge hygiene significantly impacts food quality and safety.
- Hoods, Vents, and Exhausts: A clogged ventilation system or cooker hood can lead to hygiene issues in your kitchen. It's advisable for restaurants that don't use deep fat fryers daily to clean their vents and hoods at least once every 90 days. For fast-food establishments or frequent deep fat fryer users, deep cleaning should occur once every 30 days.
- Floors: Address major spillages immediately during shifts to prevent hygiene hazards and staff accidents. After each shift, sweep or vacuum the floor, followed by mopping with a disinfectant antibacterial floor cleaner.
- Countertops and Work Surfaces: Wipe down surfaces used for food preparation between tasks and thoroughly clean and disinfect them at the end of each shift.
Sinks and Washing Stations:
- Sinks, Taps, and Draining Boards: After every shift, clean and sanitize these surfaces as you would with any other kitchen area.
- Drains: Although often overlooked, regular cleaning of kitchen drains is crucial to prevent blockages. Clean your kitchen drains approximately every couple of weeks using a professional-grade drain cleaner, followed by flushing them with hot water to ensure a hygienic sink area.
- Waste Disposal Units: It's recommended to wash professional waste disposal units once a month to eliminate build-ups and odors. Avoid pouring bleach or drain cleaner into the unit, as this can damage plumbing. Instead, flush the unit with hot water and add dish soap. Specialized cleaning products are available for stubborn build-up and lingering odors.
- Grease Traps: Grease traps are essential in commercial kitchens to intercept waste fats, oils, and grease. While most are self-cleaning, it's important to maintain them to ensure effectiveness. Some models can be emptied by hand, so refer to the manufacturer's instructions for guidance.
- Dishwashers, Cutlery, and Glassware Cleaners: Weekly cleaning ensures optimal dishwasher performance. Wipe down the inside with an antibacterial cleaner and run a sanitising self-clean cycle.
- Hand Washing Stations: Maintain the cleanliness of the area where staff sanitize their hands. After each shift, clean sinks and taps with antibacterial cleaner. Don't forget to sanitize wall-mounted soap dispensers, which are frequently touched by staff, especially when their hands are dirty.
Creating a Kitchen Cleaning Schedule:
Maintaining a rigorous cleaning schedule is crucial for consistent cleanliness in your kitchen. We'll discuss the benefits of implementing a comprehensive cleaning schedule, including increased accountability, fairness for staff, task prioritisation, evidence of due diligence, consistency, improved food quality, and prevention of infestations. We'll guide you on how to create a detailed cleaning schedule that specifies which surfaces, appliances, cleaning chemicals, and equipment to use and how often each task should be performed.
Before the start of each shift
It's crucial for kitchen staff to ensure the kitchen is in a sanitary condition. This includes:
- Wiping down all surfaces using a food-safe antibacterial cleaner and a clean cloth or sponge.
- Cleaning sinks, taps, and handwashing stations.
- Inspecting ingredients and disposing of any that have expired.
- Maintaining a ready supply of clean cloths and sponges for quick wipe-downs between tasks.
During the shift
Even though these tasks are typically part of the routine for kitchen staff, it's beneficial to have a formal checklist. Consistently managing these tasks reduces the amount of cleaning required at the end of the shift:
- Brushing grills to remove accumulated grease and food debris between cooking.
- Switching and cleaning cutting boards between different tasks, ensuring knives are cleaned between cutting assignments.
- Regularly emptying trash as needed instead of waiting until the end of the shift to prevent overflow, which can lead to contamination.
- Promptly addressing spillages instead of leaving them unattended until the end of the shift.
After the shift
a more comprehensive cleaning process is essential. Kitchen staff must ensure the following tasks are completed before leaving for the day:
- Changing cleaning cloths and sponges, discarding those that are no longer suitable for use.
- Emptying and cleaning deep fryers.
- Thoroughly cleaning hobs using a specialised hob cleaning product.
- Collecting dirty chef uniforms and aprons, placing them in a designated area for laundering.
- Properly sealing and covering all ingredients before returning them to the fridge overnight.
- Sweeping the floor in walk-in fridges and storage areas.
- Sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor using a disinfectant or floor cleaner.
Post-shift cleaning can be time-intensive, which is why many restaurants opt to employ a night porter. This individual takes on the responsibility of cleaning the kitchen after all other staff members have departed.
On a weekly basis
It's important to dedicate time to deep cleaning appliances and equipment, as well as addressing hard-to-reach or easily overlooked areas. If your restaurant is closed for a day or two, this presents an excellent opportunity to attend to the following tasks:
- Cleaning and sanitizing fridges, along with sweeping and mopping the floor if you have a cold storage room.
- Performing cleaning and sanitization procedures for beverage machines, kettles, and coffee machines, including descaling as needed.
- Conducting a thorough deep cleaning of fryers, which may involve boiling out.
- Addressing less accessible areas such as those underneath or on top of cabinets, ensuring they are cleaned and sanitized.
- Wiping clean the inside of dishwashers and glassware cleaners using a surface cleanser and running a hot sanitizing cleaning cycle. This not only maintains hygiene but also prolongs the lifespan of the washer and ensures excellent results.
- Ensuring that kitchen waste bins are cleaned and sanitized.
Additionally, it's advisable to review your inventory of cleaning products and equipment and reorder or replace essential items such as sponges or cloths as needed.
On a monthly basis
Incorporate the following tasks into your cleaning routine:
- Cleaning and sanitizing drain pans and tubs to prevent build-up.
- Performing maintenance on the waste disposal unit, including cleaning and sanitisation.
- Descaling dish and glassware washers using specialized cleaning agents.
- Inspecting ventilation units and extractor fans for dirt and grime. If they appear dirty, consider scheduling a deep cleaning service. The frequency of such cleaning may vary but is typically recommended every three months, depending on kitchen activity, with more frequent cleaning needed if deep fryers are frequently used.
Essential Cleaning Products and Equipment To maintain a clean and hygienic kitchen:
You'll need essential cleaning products and equipment. We'll provide a list of must-have items, including:
- Cloths: Disposable cloths for wiping, polishing, disinfecting, and drying surfaces.
- Sponges and scourers: Essential tools for cleaning surfaces and equipment.
- Mops: A professional-grade mop for thorough floor cleaning.
- Vacuum cleaner: A powerful vacuum cleaner for daily floor maintenance.
- Griddle brush: Ideal for keeping griddles clean between cooking.
- Cleaning chemicals: Various cleaning agents for drains, surfaces, and appliances.
- Hand soaps: Antibacterial hand soaps and hand towel dispensers for staff hygiene.
- Floor cleaner: Antibacterial floor cleaner for safe and sanitary flooring.
Deep Cleaning Equipment Occasionally, your kitchen will require deep cleaning to ensure optimal hygiene and extend the lifespan of your equipment. We'll discuss the importance of using steam cleaners and jet washers for deep cleaning tasks, including carpet and tough stain removal.
Colour-Coded Cleaning Equipment Implementing a colour-coded cleaning plan is essential to prevent cross-contamination and ensure that the right equipment is used in designated areas. We'll explain the benefits of colour-coded cleaning and how to adopt this method in your kitchen.
Maintaining cleanliness in your commercial kitchen is a non-negotiable aspect of your catering business. By following the commercial kitchen cleaning procedures outlined in this guide, you'll not only meet legal standards but also protect your customers, maintain food quality, and safeguard your restaurant's reputation. Regular cleaning, adherence to hygiene regulations, and the use of appropriate cleaning products and equipment are key to your kitchen's success. For more insights into running a successful catering business, explore our advice centre, where we share valuable tips and knowledge.