Managing a restaurant kitchen is so much more than overseeing the staff and placing food orders. All of the equipment, systems, and services in a commercial kitchen require routine maintenance.
Not only does this include daily cleaning your cooking appliances and work surfaces, it may also mean scheduling a professional deep clean of ventilation hoods and walk-in fridges and freezers.
In addition, motors, hinges, and glides need to be lubricated periodically. You should also inspect and test all appliances and systems on a regular basis so you can keep everything in working order. Be sure to budget for any necessary repairs so they can be performed as soon as possible.
We recommend creating a detailed schedule to reap the rewards of cleaning and maintenance. The benefit of routine restaurant equipment maintenance is that your machinery, appliances, and systems will function more efficiently.
Efficiently running equipment will result in energy savings, fewer failures, better food quality and service, extended lifespan, and a safer work environment for you and your employees.
Train your managers about the manufacturing guidelines for your cooking equipment so they know how to take care of it. Well-maintained kitchen equipment is essential to preparing safe food.
How often should cooking equipment be cleaned?
According to the Food Code, you should be cleaning your kitchen equipment at least once every 24 hours.
That means cleaning your ovens, cooktops, grills, salamanders, deep fryers, ventilation systems, everything — every day. Look for cooking grease and food particles that could clog vital openings and conduits.
These appliances can also benefit from periodic deep cleaning by a professional restaurant cleaning service that has the appropriate means and methods to do the job correctly.
Refrigerators and freezers should be cleaned out and wiped down to prevent cross-contamination and expired food needs to be discarded safely. Also, don’t forget to clean the dust and grease out of your fridge’s compressor and fan.
Dishwashers and grease traps should also be cleaned out often to keep solid matter from clogging them. When cleaning a large appliance, follow the steps for cleaning in place.
Cleaning does not stop with large appliances. You also need to clean coffee makers, steamers, meat slicers, pressure cookers, rice cookers, and any other piece of equipment that is coming in regular contact with food or drink.
These smaller machines often have gaskets and seals that can fail and will eventually need replacement, so be sure to regularly test their functionality daily while conducting upkeep.
While you are cleaning your machines, it is important to remember to lubricate the motors and moving parts of appliances with food-grade lubrication. Regular lubrication is not sanitary for machines that handle the processing or preparation of foods, so food-grade lubricant is essential for ensuring your machines are both sanitary and well maintained.
Properly lubricating your equipment helps reduce friction between parts that make constant contact with each other, which in turn reduces the temperature in the machine and keeps it from overheating.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at six benefits you can enjoy by keeping your equipment clean and in good repair.
1. Reduced utility costs
Any piece of equipment that uses electricity, gas, or water will run much more efficiently if it is kept clean and is serviced regularly. Machinery that is properly cleaned maintained will inevitably lower your utility costs, as clean and efficient equipment requires less electricity to accomplish its purpose.
2. Fewer major failures
Unanticipated equipment breakdowns can close your business down in an instant, which will result in lost revenue and unhappy customers. To prevent major malfunctions, all equipment should be inspected and serviced routinely by a reliable and certified commercial appliance repair company.
It is also a good idea to carry extended warranties on appliances in case they need to be repaired or replaced quickly. It goes without being said that you should budget for any failures that occur out of warranty.
Routine cleaning, testing, and servicing can help prevent catastrophic and unexpected failures — failures that could have catastrophic effects on your organization or even force you to shut down temporarily.
3. Consistently good food quality and service
If your kitchen equipment is not functioning properly or is not clean, the quality and taste of the food is sure to be compromised. This could ultimately result in the loss of your customer base to your competition. There is nothing worse than serving food that all tastes the same because of dirty equipment, including cookware.
Appliances that are clean and running at maximum efficiency will also ensure that the meals the kitchen puts out will be consistently good and will get to the table quickly. Good food and speedy service could lead to more customers and increased income potential.
On the flip side, no one pays good money for food that is prepared with second-rate equipment, and if you use underperforming appliances, your customers are bound to notice the decline in food quality.
4. Longer life expectancy for equipment
It is well known throughout the industry that commercial kitchen equipment is costly to replace. You could spend several thousand dollars on just a single appliance that has broken or has simply worn out because of lack of care and following the proper guidelines to keep it clean and efficient.
By taking good care of your appliances, you can significantly extend their lifespan. Just like a car, the machinery needs to be cleaned, oiled, and serviced on a regular basis to ensure a long and useful life.
Go above and beyond to get the most out of your equipment for as long as possible – it’s well worth it in the long run!
5. Increased resale value
The hospitality industry often buys and sells used machines when upgrading or moving a business to a new location. There is a fairly big market for used equipment and plumbing fixtures that are clean and in good working condition. Start-up restaurants will often seek out good deals on well-maintained equipment to help with the initial costs associated with opening a new establishment.
You may also be able to catch a tax break by donating properly maintained machinery to a nonprofit organization or school in need of kitchen equipment.
Regardless, maintaining your equipment preserves not only its life expectancy, but also its physical value.
6. Safer work environment
Keeping your employees safe at work should be one of your highest priorities, if not the very highest. This is not limited to hygienic food storage and preparation practices. Your equipment, large and small, must be operating properly and up to the codes and standards of the local health and fire departments.
Keeping cooking appliances free of food, grease, and debris will help prevent dangerous flare-ups of hot flames that could injure your cooks.
Also, assuming you have a kitchen fire suppression system, you need to keep the system functioning to protect your employees and your building if a stove catches fire. Smoke and heat detectors, sprinkler systems, and fire extinguishers also need to be routinely inspected, tested, and maintained or replaced.
Of course, your staff should take proper safety measures while cooking, like wearing protective equipment. But caring properly for your machinery will reduce the chance of having a fire in the first place.
In conclusion, it is extremely important to have a regular maintenance and cleaning schedule for all restaurant equipment and systems. This includes ovens, ranges, ventilation systems, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, and many more.
Putting a schedule in place for maintenance, and sticking to it, is one of the best things you can do to keep your kitchen running efficiently and safely with the highest quality of food and service.
— Austin Winder
Austin Winder is a Public Relations Specialist and contributing author for Mystik Lubricants. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee and holds a business and marketing degree from the University of Memphis.