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Bar & Restaurant Cleaning Guide | A Primer for 2020

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How clean your bar or restaurant obviously has a huge impact on your business. Even a customer’s perception of the cleanliness of your business matters. A poll in 2015 found that 85% of customers will not visit a business with negative reviews online regarding its hygiene. 

But now, the importance of cleaning goes above and beyond internet strangers. A restaurant’s hygiene is not only crucial to its bottom line, but can have seriously detrimental effects on its customer base. Keeping contamination to a minimum and sanitization to a maximum is the new normal.

And a great illustration of the new normal is The National Restaurant Association recommending that paper menus be removed from circulation and recycled after one use. That also happens to be why hospitality businesses are now smartly integrating a digital wine list and digital menus.

The best strategy is to handle all this before it becomes a problem. Right now, the stakes are too high not to.

In this guide, we’ll cover some basic tips for cleaning your bar and restaurant. Then we’ll give you the tools you need to make it a reality. Checklists. Two checklists, to be exact. One for bars and one for restaurants.

Let’s get to it.

Bar & Restaurant Cleaning Basics

Use Checklists

The first step to learn how to clean a bar or restaurant is to come up with a cleaning schedule. Decide what should be cleaned and how frequently (every day, every week, every month, etc.) 

These cleaning and maintenance cadences are imperative to running an organized and hygienic business. They’re also some of the most important bar manager responsibilities. Once your cleaning cadences are down pat, you create a spreadsheet. Each cleaning task occupies a row and each frequency occupies a column.

Thankfully, we have downloadable bar and restaurant cleaning checklists right in this guide. They include:

  • Daily cleaning tasks
  • Weekly cleaning tasks
  • Monthly cleaning tasks
  • Some deep-cleaning tasks

Speaking of deep-cleaning...

Deep-Cleaning Bars and Restaurants

Deep-cleaning responsibilities either rotate between staff members or a group of staff members will all tackle it together during off-hours. For bars, that usually means bartenders and barbacks. It’s one of the main bartender responsibilities and a bartender duties checklist usually includes it.

To give you an idea of what deep-cleaning addresses, some examples are changing beers lines, cleaning restaurant hoods, emptying out and cleaning refrigerators and freezers, removing all glassware and bottles and dusting shelves, or descaling the espresso machine.

Two of the most impactful deep-cleaning tasks, changing lines and cleaning restaurant hoods, are covered in detail in a later section.

Who Cleans Bars and Restaurants?

All staff members are responsible for a bar or restaurant’s cleanliness. Though, it mostly comes down to the cleaning staff, bussers, barbacks, and bartenders. You can check out our barback responsibilities to read more about what they’re up to. 

But any time you’re hiring restaurant or bar staff, make sure the candidate is willing to contribute to the physical maintenance of the space. Cleaning should not be delegated downward constantly. If a staff member sees something that needs to be cleaned, and it’s not a huge time commitment to do so, they should do it. Getting your staff on board with this strategy is a big part of being a good bar manager.

How Much Does it Cost to Clean a Bar?

If you want someone else to clean your place, that’s understandable. It costs about $37 per hour for bar and restaurant cleaning services. Cleaners charge for materials and coverage by square foot. That means the final cost depends on the size of your space and whether or not the cleaners are deep-cleaning (i.e., using more and different materials).

Maybe inconveniently—but understandably—most commercial cleaning services don’t have prices online. It’s impossible for them to know exactly what the cost will be until they see your space. So it usually involves an initial consultation or walkthrough.

Commercial bar and restaurant cleaners may also charge a flat fee instead of an hourly rate. But those who do charge a flat fee may be open to hourly rates, if that’s your preference. Doesn’t hurt to ask.

Restaurant Cleaning Supplies

No restaurant cleaning primer would be complete without some direction regarding restaurant cleaning supplies.

Because cleanliness is now in the spotlight (more than it usually was, which was very often), we wanted to put together a reliable list of cleaning supplies. So we talked to our friends, families, and colleagues in the food and beverage industry. We asked what simple, useful list of cleaning supplies they depend on. 

We also read up on read up and critically considered all the guidance from local and federal governments, the FDA, the CDC, and the NRA (National Restaurants Association)

And we came up with this list of restaurant cleaning supplies. Happy scrubbing.

Two Bar and Restaurant Cleaning FAQs

How Often Should I Clean Beer Lines?

Bars should clean their beer lines about once every 6 weeks. And biweekly if they’re pouring unfiltered, small-batch craft brews.

The reason being, mold and bacteria form in the lines. And that’s especially an issue with unfiltered beers that still contain years.

Mold and bacteria can form in the lines, especially with unfiltered beers that still contain yeast. So be sure to use cleaning cadence that aligns with the beer types you serve and you’ll be good to go.

How Do I Clean My Commercial Range Hood?

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requires that commercial cooking operations take preventative and maintenance measures to prevent occupational fires.

And one of their areas of concern is restaurant hood cleaning. Failure to adequately clean restaurant hoods results in fines, closures, and, most importantly, health and safety hazards.

Here’s the quick version of how to clean your hood. Consult the above resource for a much more detailed version.

Step 1: Preparation

Turn everything off, all gas valves and nearby ranges. Everything should be unplugged and allowed to cool down. Then cover everything around you with plastic sheeting. Also get your supplies and equipment in order: sheeting, degreaser, a scrubbing pad, PVC gloves, and a sanitizing bucket. 

Step 2: Cleaning the Filters

Remove the filters and use non-abrasive scouring pads or soft-bristled brushes and scrub them down. If they’re not caked in grime, you can run them through the dishwasher. But if they are, soak them in a water and degreaser concentrate solution for a minimum of three hours.

Step 3: Cleaning the Grease Traps

Now remove the grease traps from each side of the hood. Once you remove the grease traps, remove the grease from them. Pour it into a separate container of durable plastic. Allow the grease to dry and solidify. Then throw it out when your local laws dictate grease be disposed of. 

Then wipe down the traps with non-abrasive scrubbing pads or soft-bristled brushes. If your traps are too big to go through the dish pit, which most are, soak them with the filters.

Step 4: Cleaning the Fans

Now remove the fans by first removing each fan’s protective fan cover. Then you can uncover and unscrew the hub in the center of the fan. Scrub the fans and run them through the dishwasher. Though, like most pieces of the hood, if it’s particularly dirty, soak it in the degreaser solution.

Step 5: Cleaning the Ducts

Now to clean the parts you can’t detach. Use some concentrated degreaser solution and water from a sanitizer bucket and scrub the interior and exterior of the exposed hood. Only after doing this can you reinstall the other pieces.

Step 6: Putting it Back Together Again

Everything you’ve been soaking or running through the dishwasher must be dried. Then put the fans back in first. Remember that they’re directional. They must go back to the same sides you initially removed them from.

After you reinstall the fans, put back the grease traps and filters. Remove the plastic sheeting, mop the floors, and you’re done.

The NFPA recommends that hoods be cleaned monthly for cooking operations that use solid fuel, quarterly for non-solid-fuel, high-volume establishments, annually for low-volume cooking operations like camps and seasonal outfits, and semi-annually for the rest.

Can you clean your restaurant hood yourself? You sure can. What’s much harder to do is clean the entire duct system, though. You’ll likely need to get professional duct cleaners involved to tackle the ductwork that goes up and through the ceiling and out the building. They’ll typically steam clean your restaurant hoods and the rest of the ductwork.

Bar Cleaning Checklist

Our free downloadable bar cleaning checklist, above, is a great way to keep your bar clean and well-organized. In fact, using a checklist like this is one of the easiest ways to run a successful bar.

It’s broken down daily and weekly by:

  • Opening tasks
  • During-shift tasks
  • Closing tasks

If you’re managing a bar, keeping it clean is the way to keep guests coming back (and protect them). Download these checklists and put them in your bar sop manual, too. 

Next up, restaurants.

Restaurant Cleaning Checklist

The downloadable restaurant checklist that can be found by clicking the above link has a lot more sanitization than other, similar checklists you may find online. This reflects the shifting priorities of today’s hospitality industry. From an abundance of caution, restaurants should err on the side of sanitizing.

The checklist is broken down by front of house and kitchen, and covers:

  • Daily tasks
  • Weekly tasks
  • Monthly tasks

And to help you knock all the cleaning out, we’ve put together an industry-vetted list of restaurant cleaning supplies.

What’s really great about this restaurant cleaning checklist is that it also includes a totally blank version that you can completely customize.

Clean Restaurant, Clean Slate

The main thing to take away here is to use schedules and checklists to clean your bar and restaurant. The cleaning operations of your business should be turned into a set of boxes to mark. Your staff should get into a rhythm. Cleaning should be a part of the ebb and flow of simply existing in your bar or restaurant.

A great opportunity that consistent cleaning opens up is taking inventory consistently. If you’re removing all the liquor bottles so you can dust your shelves, it’s a good time to count them.

Liquor inventory software like BinWise Pro can speed that process up and make it darn near error free. Book a demo and we’ll show you how taking bar inventory becomes an effortless series of easy scans. And before you know it, everything’s counted, everything’s clean, and everyone’s happy.