Restaurant Kitchen Cleaning Checklist

Filippino Cooks preparing meat
••• Thierry Dosogne/ The image Bank. Getty Images

One of the biggest challenges of running a busy restaurant is keeping the kitchen clean. With a multitude of activities happening all the time, regular cleaning can seem overwhelming if you don't have a system in place.

To help maintain a hygienic commercial kitchen, develop a handy list that outlines how to keep your restaurant kitchen spic and span. Some jobs should be done several times a day, while others need to only be done weekly or monthly. Regular cleaning of your regular kitchen is essential for food safety and can help reduce food waste, lowering overall menu costs. 

Items to Clean Each Cooking Shift

These actions are commonplace for cooks to do, and they will have already subconsciously worked into their schedule how to get it done in a timely manner.

  • Brush grill between cooking red meat, poultry and fish
  • Wipe down the line and prep areas
  • Switch cutting boards
  • Change sanitizing water and cleaning rags
  • Empty trash bins

After Each Shift

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner shifts should share responsibility in keeping the kitchen smart. Charting a specific time each day for these items to be dealt with ensures there is no gap in cleanliness.

  • Clean the fryers
  • Brush the grill
  • Empty sanitizing buckets
  • Put all cleaning rags in dirty laundry
  • Put all aprons and chefs coats in laundry (not with cleaning rags)
  • Wash and sanitize all surfaces (cutting boards, reach-in, line, prep tables)
  • Empty steam table and clean
  • Wash meat and cheese slicer after each use
  • Cover all bins in reach-in cooler with plastic wrap
  • Wash floor mats
  • Sweep and mop the kitchen floor
  • Sweep walk-in refrigerator

Daily Tasks

To save money and time, some restaurants will hire a cleaner who comes at night, someone called a "night porter," who makes sure the kitchen is up to cleaning standards for the next day of service.

  • Clean out grease traps
  • Change foil linings of grill, range, and flattops
  • Wash the can opener
  • Run hood filters through the dishwasher

Weekly

Each of these duties can be rotated throughout the week so that every shift gets an equitable amount of side work. 

  • Empty reach-in coolers and wash and sanitize them
  • Delime sinks and faucets
  • Clean coffee machine
  • Clean the ovens. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instruction on this particular job.
  • Sharpen knives (okay, not cleaning, per se, but needs to be done)
  • Oil cast iron cookware
  • Use drain cleaners on floor drains

Monthly

As with the weekly cleaning list, these monthly jobs should be scheduled throughout the month, on different shifts, so that staff shares the burden of side work. 

  • Wash behind the hotline (oven, stove, fryers) to cut down on grease build up, which is a major fire hazard
  • Clean freezers
  • Empty and sanitize the ice machine
  • Calibrate ovens
  • Calibrate thermometers
  • Sharpen the meat and cheese slicer
  • Wash walls and ceilings
  • Wipe down the dry storage area
  • Change any pest traps
  • Restock your first aid kit
  • Update your material safety data sheets, which outline how to safely use any chemicals in your restaurant.

Annually

There are also several important things to do each year, to make sure your kitchen is clean and safe. Most require the help of a professional. It's good to schedule them during slow seasons, or just before your busy season starts up. That way, if there are any issues or repairs needed, you won't lose too much business, if any. 

  • Check fire suppression system
  • Check the fire extinguishers (this may need to be done twice a year, depending on where you live)
  • Clean the hoods twice a year. Use a professional company that specializes in hood cleaning rather than doing the job yourself (very messy and time-consuming).
  • Clean the pilot lights on any gas kitchen equipment (Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instruction).

Implementing each of these schedules will help your kitchen be safe for employees and customers. It will prevent possible food contamination and help reduce food spoilage and waste, keeping profits high and staff happy.