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  • Lesson 3: Cleaning Your Professional Kitchen

    A clean and orderly kitchen is a safer kitchen. With rigorous cleaning procedures, you can minimize slips and other accidents, greatly reduce the risk of causing foodborne illness, and make your health inspections a breeze. There are less-tangible benefits, too. Starting the workday in a spotless environment is not only more enjoyable, it also helps staff be more focused and productive. When the workplace is spic and span, employees will likely respond in kind, with positive attitudes, better care of equipment, and neater work habits.

    Daily, weekly, and monthly checklists make the cleaning tasks less daunting. Spread the duties among all shifts so the closing crew doesn’t bear the burden.

    Clean as if you are expecting a surprise health inspection every day. If you don’t allow grime to build up, the daily to-do list can be completed quickly.

    File all appliance manuals where staff can find them. Consult the manuals when developing your cleaning protocols. Manufacturers often have recommendations for appropriate cleaning products and best practices.

    Check your inventory of cleaning supplies regularly. Make sure all employees using disinfectants and other chemicals can read and understand the labels.

    Cleaning Versus Sanitizing

    Understand the difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning requires only hot, soapy water and a cloth, sponge, scrubber, or stiff brush. Sanitizing is the critical next step. It eliminates pathogens that can cause foodborne illness. Sanitizing relies on disinfectants or heat. The more concentrated the disinfectant or higher the heat, the less contact time required. To effectively sanitize, follow sanitizer directions regarding concentration and contact time.

    Proper sanitizing consists of five steps:

    1. Scrape to remove caked-on food debris or grime. Heavy-duty scour pads and commercial sponges make this task easier (Source: Scotch-Brite™ Dual Purpose Scour Pad 96HEX).
    2. Wash with hot, soapy water.
    3. Rinse thoroughly.
    4. Apply sanitizer as product label directs.
    5. Air-dry to avoid re-contamination with a towel.

    Ongoing Cleaning Checklist:

    • Sanitize work surfaces after handling meat or seafood.
    • Sanitize work surfaces at least once every four hours that they are in use.
    • Brush the grill frequently, but always between cooking meat and fish.
    • Clean and sanitize the slicer frequently.
    • Change out sanitizing buckets frequently.

    Daily Cleaning Checklist:

    • Clean flat-top griddles and cooktops. New griddle-cleaning systems are more effective and easier than the old griddle-brick method (Source: Scotch-Brite™ Quick Clean Griddle Liquid 700 and 701).
    • Scrub grill grates and empty drip trays.
    • Clean fryers.
    • Replace soiled foil linings on hot-line equipment.
    • Wash floor mats.
    • Sweep or vacuum floor, then mop with cleaning solution; use degreaser on grease spills.
    • Sweep or vacuum walk-in and dry storage area.
    • Sanitize all sinks.
    • Empty and sanitize steam table.
    • Clean grease traps.
    • Wipe down small appliances such as coffee machines and toasters.
    • Wipe down backsplashes and any splatters on walls. For any stainless surfaces, ready-to-use degreaser wipes are a convenient and effective option.
    • Clean mixers, grinders, blenders, and slicers. Take the equipment apart and sanitize removeable parts in the dishwasher or with sanitizer. Dry thoroughly before reassembling.
    • Refill soap dispensers and paper towel holders.
    • Put chef’s coats and aprons in a laundry bag.
    • Put cleaning rags and kitchen rags in a different laundry bag. If you do your own laundry, wash these items separate from apparel.

    Weekly Cleaning Checklist:

    • Empty, sanitize, and re-organize reach-in refrigerators.
    • In hard-water areas, de-lime sinks and faucets to prevent buildup of scale.
    • Thoroughly clean coffee machines, toasters, microwaves, and other small appliances.
    • Wipe down the oven, including the racks, walls, and door.
    • Apply floor-drain and sink-drain cleaners.
    • Boil out the fryer.
    • Clean range hoods. Put filters through the dishwasher.
    • De-lime sinks to prevent buildup of scale.
    • Clean and sanitize walk-in refrigerator.

    Monthly Cleaning Checklist:

    • Clean walls and ceilings, using degreaser wipes or cleaning solution.
    • Clean behind the hot line to eliminate grease.
    • Clean and sanitize the walk-in refrigerator.

    Quarterly Cleaning Checklist:

    • Clean dry-storage area and cabinets. Remove contents. Vacuum or sweep. Clean racks and shelves with a soft cloth and warm water with vinegar.
    • Empty and sanitize ice machine.
    • Clean and sanitize the freezer.

    Downloadable Handout: Restaurant Cleaning Checklists