Using a Detailed Checklist to Keep a Restaurant Clean

Restaurant Manager in Back of House using a checklist

With the hectic pace of dining establishments today, keeping organized in all aspects of restaurant management, both front, and back of the house, can be a challenge. One of the most important responsibilities of a restaurant owner or manager is maintaining a clean and sanitary environment and following all health and safety standards.

Creating and following a checklist is a useful way to stay in control of all the areas and protocols needed to keep a restaurant clean and up to code. They can also be used to prepare restaurant operators for an impromptu health inspection.

Keep Supplies and Inventory in Stock

The first step in successful cleaning is ensuring that proper, effective supplies and products are available and in stock. Cleaning and sanitizing products should be efficacious against common bacteria and pathogens – and easy-to-use and convenient for staff. All products should be used according to labels and instructions. 

Key supplies to include on a restaurant cleaning checklist include:   

Front-of-the-House Cleaning

Restaurant worker cleaning back-of-office food preparation surfaces

Keeping a restaurant’s front of the house clean and organized is essential as it’s where guests make first and lasting impressions. The entranceway, dining area, and other heavy-trafficked, high-contact areas need to be thoroughly and regularly cleaned and sanitized to reduce the spread of germs and illness.

Important areas to address include: 

  • Entry: The entrance area sets the stage for a guest’s entire restaurant experience. It should be free of clutter, swept and cleaned regularly, and kept at a moderate temperature so it’s always welcoming to customers.
  • Waiting area: Guests should have a comfortable and clean area to wait for their tables. Since this is a high-contact area, it should be wiped down with disinfecting wipes every time a party moves into the dining room.
  • Restrooms: Men’s and women’s bathrooms should be disinfected regularly throughout the day, following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines on cleaning restrooms in public places.
  • Dining room: Since this is where patrons spend most of their time, the dining area should be the primary focus of front-of-the-house cleaning. 

Front-of-the-House Cleaning Checklist

Daily Cleaning Tasks:

  • Wipe, clean and sanitize tables and chairs (ongoing)
  • Clean and sanitize furniture and surfaces
  • Clean and sanitize menus and placemats
  • Inspect, clean and sanitize salt/pepper shakers and other table-top containers
  • Launder all napkins, tablecloths, and aprons
  • Empty, clean and disinfect trash and recycling containers
  • Sweep and mop floors
  • Vacuum carpets
  • Clean and disinfect the bathrooms

Weekly Cleaning Tasks:

  • Wipe and clean walls and mirrors
  • Dust and clean light fixtures
  • Clean and disinfect doors
  • Clean window blinds, windowsills, and shutters
Worker comparing and reviewing checklist for cleaning in a restaurant

Monthly Cleaning Tasks:

  • Clean artwork and decorations
  • Clean air vents and ceiling tiles

Bar Cleaning Checklist

The bar is part of the front of the house but needs a detailed checklist to make sure it is properly cleaned. Many bars have specialized equipment, such as soda dispensers and blenders, that also require regular maintenance and cleaning.

Daily Cleaning Tasks:

  • Wipe bar top and sanitize often
  • Clean glassware in the dishwasher
  • Refill napkins, straws, and stirrers
  • Clean and disinfect all stools
  • Sweep and mop the floor
  • Clean and disinfect garnish tray and other canisters
  • Wipe and sanitize speed rails/wells
  • Empty, clean and disinfect trash cans and recycling bins

Weekly Cleaning Tasks:

  • Clean and flush out all the keg lines
  • Clean and sanitize large equipment and appliances 
  • Dust off and wipe bottles, decorations, and shelves
  • Defrost, wipe and sanitize surfaces of refrigerators and coolers

Back-of-the-House Cleaning

Restaurant worker wiping surface withy wipe Back-of-House

Keeping the back of the house clean and disinfected is especially crucial as it incorporates food preparation, which makes it more susceptible to bacteria, pathogens, and the spread of foodborne illness. Various cleaning tasks should be performed throughout the day, with a more thorough job done after the kitchen closes. 

Every person in the kitchen should be responsible for daily, continual cleaning – with dedicated staff focused on deep cleaning and disinfecting processes. Any breakrooms or offices also should be kept organized and clean, especially if there is food being consumed or prepared in the area. Keeping to a schedule and using a checklist will help restaurant operators be organized and compliant with all safety standards.

Back-of-the-House Cleaning Checklist

Daily Cleaning Tasks:

  • Prep Station
    • Wash and sanitize all food contact surfaces
    • Sweep and mop the floor
    • Wipe down appliances
    • Clean and sanitize dishes and utensils in the dishwasher
    • Clean and sanitize cutting boards and containers
    • Empty, clean and disinfect trash and recyclable bins
    • Clean towels
    • Refill any soap or hand sanitizer dispensers
  • Cooking Area/Line:
    • Clean all spills and spatters
    • Scrape griddle and grill between usage
    • Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces
    • Wipe appliances, such as coffee maker, toasters, and microwave
    • Sweep and mop the floor
    • Clean all tools and equipment after use
    • Empty and clean grease traps
  • Dishwashing Area:
    • Mop the floor frequently and keep the area dry
    • Clean and sanitize sink and washing stations
    • Handwash equipment and tools that cannot be placed in the dishwasher
    • Launder or dispose of used towels and linens 
    • Run dishwasher overnight to clean remaining tools and equipment

Weekly Cleaning Tasks:

gloved hand cleaning surface in a restaurant
    • Descale all sinks and faucets
    • Clean oven, fryer, grill, griddle, and flat top thoroughly
    • Clean and sanitize all equipment such as toaster, microwave, and coffee maker
    • Disinfect food preparation stations
    • Disinfect all waste disposal areas
    • Use the washing machine to wash uniforms, linen, and towels
    • Clean walls and doors
    • Wash and sanitize freezer and refrigerator
    • Clean the floor with a drain cleaner
    • Clean behind the oven areas, stove, and fryers
    • Inspect and replace pest traps

Annual Cleaning Tasks: Some kitchen equipment and areas require an annual inspection and deep cleaning, including: 

  • Clean, disinfect, sanitize and inspect large equipment, such as dishwashers, ice machine, refrigerators, and ovens
  • Clean and disinfect vent hoods
  • Check pilot light and lines on gas equipment
  • Check the fire extinguisher
  • Check the fire suppression/sprinkler system

With the high prevalence of foodborne illnesses in restaurants and food establishments, maintaining a clean and sanitary environment is critical for businesses to keep staff and customers safe. Using a checklist to keep on track with cleaning, sanitizing, and organizing the front and back of the house is an excellent tool for a manager or owner who has a lot on his or her plate!