A 5-star restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist

Next to cooking, cleaning is the most important process in your restaurant. Rigorous cleaning and sanitization helps kill bacteria, which prevents a variety of contact and food-borne illnesses. When the procedure is compliant with federal, state and local food codes, it’s easier to maintain a high restaurant health score, even after a surprise health inspection.

Cleanliness also benefits your bottom line — when diners can enjoy their meals in a fresh, spotless setting, they’re more likely to give you positive reviews and repeat business.

Need help with consistency and accountability? Try standardizing the process with a restaurant cleaning checklist. That way, employees don’t need to rely on memory after a long shift; they can simply work through the list and sign off on each task.

Front-of-house cleaning checklist

The commercial kitchen is often the focus of a restaurant cleaning procedure, but the front-of-house matters, too. Because this is the only part that restaurant customers see, it shapes their opinion of your business. For most establishments, it makes sense to separate the cleaning procedure into daily, weekly and monthly tasks. This ensures high-contact areas are always fresh; it also prevents dirt buildup, so deep-cleaning days are easier.

Before you start, make sure to have common cleaning supplies on hand:

  • Cleaning gloves
  • Surface cleaner
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Cleaning cloths
  • Sponges
  • Paper towels
  • Glass cleaner
  • Brooms
  • Vacuum
  • Fool
  • Buckets
  • Floor cleaners
  • Scrub brushes
  • Garbage bags
  • degreasing solution

Daily front-of-house restaurant cleaning checklist

During each shift, perform these tasks as needed:

  • Wipe down and sanitize tables, counters and seats
  • Clean and sanitize bathrooms
  • Sweep or vacuum floors
  • Wipe food and drink off of the menu
  • Wipe down condiments

At the end of the day, do the following:

  • Clean and sanitize tables, counters and seats
  • Clean and sanitize bathrooms
  • Clean and sanitize railings and door handles
  • Clean and sanitize menus
  • Sweep and mop hard floors
  • Vacuum rugs and carpeted areas
  • Clean streaks, fingerprints and smudges from windows
  • Refill disposable supplies
  • Wipe down walls if needed
  • Take out the trash
  • Take out recycling
  • Sanitize recycling containers
  • Send dirty linens to the laundry

Weekly front-of-house restaurant cleaning checklist

  • Clean and sanitize doors
  • Wash windows
  • Wash mirrors
  • Dust light fixtures
  • Dust decor and signs
  • Deep-clean toilets and sinks
  • Dust liquor bottles behind the bar, if applicable
  • Clean draft lines, if applicable

Monthly front-of-house restaurant cleaning checklist

  • Deep-clean all bathrooms
  • Clean and dust light fixtures
  • Clean and dust ceiling fans
  • Vacuum all carpet thoroughly

Back-of-house cleaning checklist

Cleaning a commercial kitchen requires constant attention — in this fast-paced environment, it’s best to clean regularly throughout the day to prevent big messes. In the process, you’ll increase food safety and reduce the risk of cross-contamination and food-borne illness. Regular cleaning can also improve restaurant kitchen safety, which protects your employees and your business.

As with front-of-house cleaning, there are some tasks you should do every day. Others, you can do every week or month. To help your staff clean efficiently, stock up on these key cleaning supplies:

  • Cleaning cloths
  • Steelwool
  • Scrub brushes
  • Fool
  • Brooms
  • Cleaning gloves
  • degreasing spray
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Surface cleaner
  • Commercial floor cleaning solutions
  • Commercial dishwasher detergent
  • Dish detergent
  • hand soap
  • hand sanitizers

Daily restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist

During the day, keep the kitchen clean by running through this restaurant cleaning checklist as often as necessary:

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Clean surfaces before switching foods or dishes
  • Clean and sanitize food-prep areas after preparing raw meat
  • Wipe up messes
  • Clean and dry spills on the floor
  • Scrape the griddle
  • Brush the grill
  • Move utensils and dishes to the dishwashing area between tasks
  • Package ingredients safe for storage
  • Mark ingredients and prepared dishes with the date
  • Run the dishwasher

At the end of the shift or the day, do the following:

  • Clean and sanitize counters and food-prep areas
  • Clean and disinfect cutting boards
  • Degrease and wipe down appliances
  • Clean the surface of the ice machine
  • Clean and sanitize sinks
  • Clean the grill, griddle, range and fryer
  • Empty drip trays
  • Filter the oil in the fryer
  • Clean and sanitize handles and knobs
  • Send all dishes, pots and utensils for dishwashers
  • Put away clean items
  • Send uniforms, aprons and towels to the laundry
  • Clean floor mats
  • Clean beverage-dispenser heads
  • Take out the garbage
  • Sweep and mop the floors

Weekly restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist

  • Go through inventory and dispose of expired items
  • Delime sinks, faucets and coffee makers
  • Clean coolers and refrigerators
  • Clean ovens
  • Boil out the fryer
  • Switch out the oil in the deep fryer
  • Wipe down vent hoods
  • Pour drain cleaner in floor and sink drains

Monthly restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist

  • Clean vent hoods and fans
  • Clean behind major appliances
  • Clean and sanitize the interior of the ice machine
  • Empty and clean the grease traps
  • Wash the walls and ceiling
  • Deep clean the floors
  • Clean and sanitize inside refrigerators and freezers

7 Restaurant cleaning tips

Every restaurant will have a slightly different commercial cleaning checklist — a takeout sandwich shop requires a different process than a family pizza place. As you design and implement a custom procedure, use these tips to improve everyday cleanliness.

  1. Encourage frequent handwashing

Ask your staff to wash their hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs. At a minimum, they should wash before and after preparing food, after coming back from a break or the bathroom and after handling potentially dangerous foods such as raw meat. It’s also important to wash your hands after touching garbage, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. According to the CDC, the process should involve at least 20 seconds of scrubbing with soap.

  1. Follow the state food code

In most states, health inspectors visit restaurants one or more times per year and any time someone makes a complaint. To make sure you’re prepared, design your restaurant cleaning checklist to match your state’s food code; the city or county health department can provide a local inspection standards guide.

  1. Store foods quickly and correctly

Don’t leave ingredients or cooked food on the counter — instead, put them in the refrigerator quickly. By keeping the food below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, you can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. And when foods are off the counter and safely in storage, they’re less likely to be cross-contaminated. This can help you limit food waste.

  1. Store cleaning supplies safely

When storing cleaning chemicals, consider your kitchen layout. Your storage area should be located away from heat, food-prep and storage areas and air intake vents. Ideally, choose a space with ventilation to prevent the buildup of fumes. Keep your restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist in mind, and place items when workers can get to them without interrupting the rest of the team.

  1. Delegate cleaning tasks

One of the best ways to clean a restaurant is to spread out the tasks. When everyone knows exactly what they’re responsible for, your team is less likely to skip steps. Consider creating individual commercial kitchen cleaning checklists for different employees or teams to streamline the process.

  1. Focus on daily cleaning

When your employees clean the kitchen and front-of-house on a daily basis, it’s easier to prevent dirt, dust and grease build-up. Over time, small cleaning tasks become a habit that’s tightly woven into your regular workflow.

  1. Minimize cell phone use

Cell phones are covered in bacteria — in fact, the University of Michigan found that phones are often 10 times dirtier than the average toilet seat. To prevent employees from transferring germs from their phones to food or appliances, ask them to minimize phone use while on the job. If they must touch the phone, ask them to wash their hands afterwards.

The importance of a clear cleaning checklist

A restaurant cleaning checklist is a simple tool, but it can transform your kitchen and front-of-house operations. When employees have a clear list of duties, they never need to wonder what’s been done; it’s easy to identify outstanding daily cleaning tasks at a glance.

This process benefits your restaurant by:

  • Standardizing a compliant cleaning process
  • Ensuring key areas are cleaned regularly
  • Improving food safety
  • Helping new employees contributing effectively
  • Reducing the risk of missed cleaning tasks, even during busy shifts
  • Holding employees accountable for assigned tasks
  • Tracking weekly and monthly cleaning jobs

Without a checklist, it’s easy to skip small jobs — especially during busy shifts. This situation tends to have a snowball effect that affects cleanliness, food safety and the customer experience.

If you’re looking for ways to improve your restaurant’s cleaning process, a checklist is a simple and affordable solution. By designing it to match the state food code and dividing tasks among the kitchen and front-of-house staff, you can create a better system with minimal costs and little to no training.

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