Due Diligence - Cleaning


When things are slow, do you tend to send the cleaning staff home early for the sake of efficiency and to meet budgetary goals? What short cuts does your staff take when that happens? What important cleaning and sanitizing tasks are left undone as a result?

One restaurant sent the dishwasher home early for two weeks during a slow period. The restaurant was inspected by the health department the week after that occurred and was closed down for 48 hours. The closure represented a total monetary loss of $19,200.00, as well as numerous negative comments on Yelp which remain on the website to this day. Was it REALLY worth it?

One of the best defenses against foodborne illness is your commitment to a thorough cleaning and sanitizing routine.

Some key points to consider:

a) ensure that the cleaning procedures follow manufacturer’s guidelines;

b) develop standard operating procedures to reduce misuse of equipment which can lessen the effect of cleaning;

c) clean and sanitize as often as possible or necessary to leave the kitchen spotless; and

d) document and train staff on the proper use of chemicals per SDS standards.

For cleaning, only use the approved chemicals for your establishment. Follow the directions for cleaners and sanitizers EXACTLY. If you’re unsure what to utilize, ask your chemical supplier or your health inspector. Clean and sanitize equipment and work areas after each use. Check water temperature and sanitizer concentrations frequently (every 4 hours) to insure proper sanitization. Don’t clean or use chemicals near open or exposed food. Examine metal scrappers for missing filaments. Inspect metallic scrub pads which tend to break apart and end up in food containers. Comply with the pest control instructions for pre and post treatment. NEVER use the same mop and bucket to clean the RESTROOM that you use to clean the KITCHEN. Have a specified mop and bucket of different colors for the kitchen versus the bathroom to eliminate cross-contamination. Lastly, store chemicals away from food preparation and lock them up for safety. Do not allow chemicals to be stored in employee lockers. Supervisors are responsible to enforce the proper use of safety equipment when working with hazardous chemicals.

Hopefully now you understand there may be long term consequences for taking certain people and processes for granted. Any time you choose to reduce staff or processes think about what the overall impact may be on your reputation and your revenue. Remember, the devil is in the details. Hints and Tips Have a clean as you go philosophy. Remember your mother doesn’t work here. Clean out dishwashing machine- Turn off and drain machine, clean scar trays, wash inside with soapy water and rinse, spray with light sanitizer. Sweep and mop floors, walk-ins, storerooms and employee lockers. Don’t allow food in employee lockers. Do monthly locker checks. Treat monthly for pests.