The cleanliness of your bar—even your customers’ perception of the cleanliness of your bar—has a huge impact on your business.
A 2015 poll found that a whopping 85% of customers would not visit a business with negative online reviews about its cleanliness.
Bar cleaning is obviously important. And it’s best to solve any problem with it before it starts.
Here’s what we’ll cover to help you maintain and manage a bar that's squeaky clean:
- Bar cleaning checklists (there’s a free one to download here)
- How to deep clean your bar
- When bars should clean their lines
- How much cleaning costs
We've also got a handy restaurant cleaning checklist, too.
Bar Cleaning Checklists
Click the image below to download our free bar cleaning checklist. It's an editable spreadsheet, so you can customize it to fit the needs of your bar or restaurant. It's also helpful to store these checklists in your bar sop manual.
In addition to a downloadable version, here’s everything broken down for you:
Daily Bar Cleaning Checklist
It’s important to clean before opening. You don’t want to start your day with a dirty bar and be left scrambling when your guests start coming in. After clocking in, go through this list and check off the following tasks:
□ Melt any remaining ice from the night before
□ Restock ice for the day
□ Check keg levels and restock if they are running low
□ Refill fridges with bottled and canned beer
□ Make notes of liquor, wine, beer and mixers that are running low
□ Check dates on juices and discard them if they are more than two days old
□ Prepare lemons, limes and other fresh fruit for garnishes and drinks
□ Set up bar mats, trays, stirrers, and other tools
□ Restock disposable items like napkins, straws, plastic utensils, etc.
□ Inspect and clean beer taps thoroughly
□ Wipe down glasses, cups, mugs, etc.
□ Wipe bar counter and chairs
□ Wipe down any table tents or displayettes used for QR codes for restaurant menus.
□ Check dates of open wine bottles and discard if they are five or seven days
□ Stock up clean towels, beer openers, wine keys and pens
□ Count the cash in your register and stock with extra change
Feel free to add or remove items from the list depending on the unique needs of your bar.
During the Shift
It is even more crucial to keep your bar looking at its best throughout the day for every guest that comes in.
No one wants to drink at a dirty bar. It only takes one bad impression to turn away a guest who could’ve become a regular.
Here are our suggestions for things to look out for throughout the day. You can either check on them during your downtime or assign them to your staff as their shift duties.
□ Wipe down the bar after each patron
□ Straighten chairs whenever possible
□ Clean glassware, shakers, and other tools
□ Refill coolers with bottled or canned beer
□ Take out the trash once it is full
□ Refill napkins, stirrers, straws, and toothpicks
□ Switch to clean linens for wiping regularly
It is just as important to clean your bar thoroughly before after close for the night. Not only will this help keep your bar clean, but it also lessens the work when you open the next morning.
□ Sanitize the bar top and stools
□ Sanitize all menus (a moot point for a menu using disposable menus or QR codes in restaurants)
□ Sweep and mop the floor behind the bar
□ Wipe liquor bottles and beer handles
□ Clean out beer taps with a keg-line brush
□ Clean the speed rails
□ Sanitize soda guns
□ Rinse drains and wash drain covers
□ Empty trash bins
Weekly Bar Cleaning Checklist
In addition to the daily cleaning tasks, there are a lot of areas and equipment that require deeper cleaning around your bar. These include drawers and cabinets, coolers, keg lines, and more. While you don’t need to clean them daily, we do recommend checking and having them cleaned at least once a week.
□ Empty and clean reach-in coolers
□ Clean storage equipment
□ Sort and reorganize drawers and cabinets if necessary
□ Clean shelving for glassware and liquor bottles
□ Sanitize keg lines
□ Take preventative measures for bugs and other pests
□ Run floor mats through the dishwasher or power wash outside
Depending on your bar's traffic patterns, you may want to prioritize certain tasks for a particular day of the week. You can include these tasks to your closing checklist on Sunday night as an end-of-the-week cleaning.
Bar Cleaning 101
Use Bar Cleaning Checklists
Here's the obvious one! The first step to learn how to clean a bar is to come up with a bar cleaning schedule. Decide what needs to be cleaned and how regularly it needs to be cleaned (daily, weekly, monthly, etc).
Here’s what you’ll need:
Daily Bar Cleaning Checklist
Daily cleaning tasks should cover things like cleaning glassware, refilling coolers with beer bottles and cans, taking out trash, and more. For the full list, check out our free daily bar cleaning checklist template.
Weekly Bar Cleaning Checklist
Weekly cleaning tasks should cover things like empty out and clean reach-in coolers, clear off and wipe shelving units, power wash floor mats, and more. For more, take a look at our free weekly bar cleaning checklist template.
Bar Deep-Cleaning Checklist
Since deep cleaning is a little more involved, there are a few special things to consider when creating your checklist. The first is how you’ll actually deep clean your bar: who’s going to do it and when. The second, if you serve draft beer, is how often you should clean your keg lines.
How Do You Deep Clean a Bar?
That means each bartender has a deep cleaning shift once every few weeks, every month, or every few months. It depends on what’s being cleaned. Alternately, if you have a lot of cleaning that needs to be done at the same time, you can throw a cleaning party!
Close the place down for a bit, give your bartenders some food, and let them clean …
... As one.
Some biweekly deep-cleaning tasks include:
- Changing beer lines
- Empty out and clean any refrigerators
Some monthly deep-cleaning tasks include:
- Remove all bottles and glassware from shelves and wipe down the entire shelving unit
- Empty out and clean and freezers
- Restaurant hood cleaning if your bar has a nearby range or grill
Some bimonthly deep-cleaning tasks include:
- Cleaning and polishing light fixtures and decor
- Scrub and polish floor
- Descale espresso machine
There is a bit more to say about cleaning beer lines, though, because when you need to clean beer lines isn’t cut and dry.
How Often Should Bars Clean Their Lines?
Bars should clean their beer lines at least once every 6 weeks. And at least once every 2 weeks if they're serving small-batch, unfiltered craft beers.
Cleaning your lines weekly is ideal.
Mold and bacteria can form in the lines, especially with unfiltered beers that still contain yeast. Add cleaning your beer lines to your cleaning checklist. Use a schedule that aligns with the types of beers you have on draft and you’ll be set.
Who Should Clean the Bar?
Everybody who works near it, to be honest. It mostly comes down to being a part of bartender or barback responsibilities, though. But any time you're hiring bar staff, you should make sure the person is ready and willing to contribute to the physical maintenance of your bar. Constant cleaning should never tumble too far downhill. If you see something, clean something. Part of being a good bar manager is imparting this precious wisdom on your bar staff.
How Much Does it Cost to Clean a Bar?
Want someone else to clean your bar? Fair! On average, it costs about $37 per hour for bar cleaning services. Most cleaners charge for materials used and square footage covered. So, the final cost depends on how big your bar is and whether it’s a deep clean or not.
The majority of commercial cleaning services don’t list prices online. They’ll gather your information and provide an estimate. Sometimes that involves a walkthrough of the space to be cleaned. It’s also worth noting that commercial bar and restaurant cleaning services may charge a flat fee instead of an hourly rate.
But those who don't may be amenable to a flat fee instead of an hourly rate if that’s your preference. No harm in asking!
Use QR Codes and Touchless Menus
Here's another cleaning cost and contamination risk that often slips through the cracks: menus. The National Restaurant Association now suggests that all paper menus be discarded and replaced after each use.
But the cheapest and cleanest menu a bar or restaurant can get is a digital one. Digital wine lists are blowing up right now, thanks to the reality of post-covid menus. The cleanest, cheapest, and by far safest strategy is using a QR code for a restaurant menu.
Clean Bar, Clean Slate
The takeaway here is that how to clean a bar is all about schedules. Use checklists to make sure you’re hitting everything, and stick to it. And pick up some top-notch restaurant cleaning supplies. The importance of turning cleaning into a set of boxes to be checked off and getting your staff into a rhythm cannot be understated. Include all your checklists and documentation in your bar staff training manual for reference.
One opportunity that consistently cleaning your bar gives you is to consistently take your bar’s inventory. If you’re pulling all the bottles and ingredients out already, it’s the perfect time to count them.
If you use liquor inventory software BinWise Pro, counting bar inventory becomes effortless, speedy scanning. Before you know it, all your inventory is accurately accounted for and your shelves are sparkling. Your bar will feel like a brand new place. Book a demo!