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Server Tip: Personal Hygiene

Bath bottles and towels.

When you think of important traits for servers, what comes to mind? A personable attitude? A good memory? A talent for balancing dishes? But, what about personal hygiene? Well if that’s a priority for you, then you’re not alone—customers and industry professionals agree that a clean, well-kept server is essential to great foodservice. Here are simple tips for becoming a clean, crowd-pleasing server:

1. Shower and launder your uniform before every shift. For the guests you serve, you are the face of your restaurant. Present yourself as neat and professional. Not only will you support your restaurant’s success, but you will also see an increase in the tips you take home.

2. Wash your hands regularly and well. Scrub your hands with soap for twenty seconds every time they need a wash, and dry them with an air dryer or paper towel—not your uniform. Wash your hands after using the bathroom (of course), after touching your hair or clothing, and after handling money, credit cards, or dirty dishes. This is as important for your restaurant’s reputation as it is for your guests’ health; guests notice if a server neglects hand washing, and they are never impressed.

3. Keep your body free of strong scents, including perfumes, colognes, and cigarette smoke. Guests throughout a restaurant should be able to smell food being prepared, not their servers, and some guests may be allergic to chemicals using artificial scents. Any grooming products used by servers should be unscented, and servers who smoke should keep a few extra strategies in mind:

  • Use a breath spray after smoking.
  • Hold your cigarette downwind as you smoke to prevent smells from clinging to you.
  • Always wash your hands after smoking.
  • Rub lemon or orange zest between your hands after smoking to keep your fingers smelling fresh and natural.

Remember: a hygienic server boosts food safety, customer satisfaction, and server tips.

—Katie Heil

Spencer, T. (2001). Tips: The server’s guide to bringing home the bacon. Riverside, CA: Lilac Bloom Press.

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