As a restaurant owner or manager in today’s chaotic health climate, one of the most integral aspects of running a successful restaurant is implementing regular and thorough cleaning in your establishment. In the past, it may have been common for you (and for hundreds of other restaurants) to focus on cleaning at the very end of the day; however, in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, proper sanitation has become absolutely essential to ensure your staff and patrons remain healthy and safe.
To help you pinpoint the most important sanitation measures you should be taking throughout each shift, we’ve compiled a comprehensive checklist of tasks sorted by recommended frequency, so you can easily stay on top of what and how often you should be cleaning.
After Each Dine-In Guest
Thoroughly disinfect tables and chairs
This is a huge one — you’ll want to take extra care to vigorously and effectively clean all previously-occupied tables and chairs after each use. This is probably one of the best ways to avoid the spread of germs, and to protect incoming patrons from being potentially exposed to the virus. Spray tables and chairs/booths with an EPA-registered disinfectant, and forcefully wipe down after spray has settled.
Clean non-disposable menus
While it’s a great idea to consider replacing laminated menus with disposable options (or replacing menus altogether by providing an electronic version that patrons can access via their phones), if you keep your current menus, ensure they are thoroughly cleaned every few hours with an effective disinfectant spray or wipes. This will reduce the likelihood of germs from previous customers being carried over to the next party.
Clean booster seats/high chairs
If applicable, thoroughly wipe down all booster seats and high chairs after each use to prevent the spread of bacteria and germs. This may action may be repeated more frequently than every two hours.
If customers are using communal pens that you’re providing to sign receipts, wipe them every few hours with an EPA-registered disinfectant spray/wipes. Consider replacing them altogether at the end of the day with a fresh batch as an added precaution.
Every 2 Hours
Doorknobs and front door handles are one of the primary breeding grounds for germs and bacteria in your restaurant, as either you, your staff, or your patrons are consistently touching doors on your way in and out of the establishment. To reduce the accumulation of bacteria, keep a tub of disinfecting wipes on hand to quickly and easily wipe down knobs and handles every few hours.
Disinfect counters and food prep surfaces
To ensure that customers are served safe meals, minimize the risk of contamination by keeping all prep counters clean. Thoroughly wipe down prep surfaces every few hours with hot water and disinfecting soap to effectively sanitize without risking chemicals leaching into food.
Disinfect water pitcher handles
An item as frequently-touched as a water pitcher should be disinfected with an EPA-approved disinfectant as often as possible, but at least every two hours to prevent the spread of germs to other surfaces.
Clean ice scoops/beer tap handles
If your restaurant has a bar area, it’s important to stay on top of cleanliness in this area, as well. Spray or wipe ice scoop handles every few hours, and wipe tap handles/dispensers with hot water and soap to disinfect.
Clean cash registers and credit card machines
Cash registers and credit card machine/screens will be among the most frequently-touched surfaces in your restaurant when you reopen for dine-in services. To combat the spread of germs, disinfect registers and card-swiping systems approximately every other hour with an EPA-registered disinfectant.
Wipe down phones
If you or your host are taking calls throughout the day, bacteria can quickly build up on the dial pad and receiver as you touch other surfaces. Keep a tub of disinfectant wipes handy to quickly and effectively sterilize your phone every few hours.
Every 4 Hours
Disinfect bathroom surfaces
Since bathrooms are an extremely high-traffic area that can’t be avoided, clean as often as possible — preferably every four hours. Focus on the most regularly-touched items, such as flushing handles, sinks, soap dispensers, and stall locks. Spray with an EPA-approved disinfectant spray, allowing cleaning solution to settle before wiping thoroughly.
Disinfect surfaces inside delivery vehicles
If your restaurant provides delivery services, it’s necessary to wipe down all high-touch surfaces of the delivery car, including the steering wheel, door handles, and gearshift, with an EPA-approved disinfectant. This will reduce the risk of contaminating customers as food is transported from the car to their door.
Clean all waiting room seating
If you have a waiting room or lobby area in your restaurant, begin by limiting the number of occupants in the space by determining how many customers can be seated at least six feet from each other. Every several hours, wipe down booths and other seating with disinfecting wipes to reduce the risk of contamination.
Disinfect communal table condiments/caddies
Communal condiments that are kept at dining tables, such as sugar caddies, ketchup bottles, and salt and pepper shakers will be loaded with fingerprints and germs from each customer who sits at the table. Target these condiments by wiping them thoroughly with effective disinfecting wipes every 2-4 hours.
Wipe down all serving trays
Since wait staff will be using trays to carry out several plates at a time to larger parties, these need to be frequently disinfected, as well. Spray with an EPA-approved disinfectant, and thoroughly wipe trays once solution has settled.
Clean front counter
Considered a “high-traffic area,” the host’s counter or front counter should be disinfected every few hours, since this is typically one place where menus, phones, computers and keyboards, etc. are kept, all of which accumulate bacteria throughout the day. Spray and wipe the front counter with an EPA-approved disinfectant at least every 4 hours for effective sanitation.
Wipe down restaurant controls (temperature controls, alarm panel, lights, etc.)
Since main controls probably won’t be touched too frequently throughout the day, it’s safe to stick to bi-daily disinfecting practices for your temperature controls, light switches, alarm panels, etc. Wipe with effective disinfecting wipes for best results.
Clean Grill & Range Knobs
Germs can easily spread during the cooking process, too. Ensure that oven gauges and grill knobs are wiped with an EPA-approved disinfecting solution throughout the day (twice per day, minimum) to prevent a build-up of bacteria.
Disinfect Carts & Trolleys
If carts and trolleys are used in your restaurant to showcase or deliver food to tables, ensure these are disinfected throughout the day, and no less than twice per day. This will prevent harmful bacteria from spreading to other plates and surfaces.
Clean walk-in fridge handles
Keep in mind that your chefs/kitchen staff will be constantly touching fridge doors as they prepare food and touch other surfaces. Of course, you should be able to count on your kitchen staff to keep their hands especially clean, but as a precaution, fridge handles should be disinfected at least a few times per day.
Clean oven doors and handles
Frequently disinfect oven doors and handles throughout each shift, or at a minimum twice daily. Use an EPA-approved disinfectant for best results, as these are extremely high-touch surfaces that regularly accumulate germs and bacteria.
Wipe down walls
Naturally, walls should only be wiped if they are high-contact surfaces — namely your front lobby area — or if they are sticky or dirty in any particular areas. Clean all applicable areas with a disinfectant spray and clean dish towel for best results.
Sweep and mop floors on a daily basis, as per usual. However, do consider adding a bit of bleach to the cleaning solution for floor-washing, as people can track bacteria in on their shoes!
Clean all front lobby ornaments/decor
If there is any decor featured in your front lobby area that is prone to being touched or handled, be sure to disinfect these surfaces at least once per day to reduce the spread of germs and bacteria.
Disinfect glass (windows & doors)
Keep in mind that windows and glass doors tend to be frequently-touched surfaces, so disinfect these with an effective glass cleaner at least once at the end of each day.
Following these basic guidelines, you’ll be able to significantly reduce the risk of your staff or patrons contracting COVID when dining in your establishment. When in doubt, clean any and all high-traffic surfaces as often as possible, and remember to reference the CDC guidelines for COVID safety any time.