Cleanliness Is an Invaluable Skill To Have as a Restaurant Worker. Here Is Our Guide To Keeping Your Cleaning and Sanitation Skills up to Standard
Cleaning is not the most glamorous part of working in restaurants, but it is definitely the most integral—especially in a post-COVID world.
Whether customers dine in or take out, restaurants and bars see a great deal of traffic. This means there are plenty of areas, in both the front and back of house, that should be regularly maintained to keep spaces clean and sanitary.
It’s no surprise that customers would prefer to dine at a clean restaurant than one with a reputation for being dirty. Even before the pandemic, 75% of diners would stay away from a restaurant with bad reviews of its cleanliness.
Apart from the obvious health concerns, keeping your sanitation and cleaning practices up to standards will keep you, your coworkers, and your customers safe.
Cleaning AND Sanitizing
Food safety regulations are put in place because maintaining a clean work environment is critical in our line of work. It should be every restaurant’s and worker’s top priority to keep the stations and communal spaces clean, as it will make everyone’s job easier in the long run.
The first step in keeping a space clean is knowing the difference between ‘cleaning’ and ‘sanitizing’ and that these two tasks are not the same.
Cleaning is the removal of grease and debris using soap or another cleaning product mixed with warm water. Sanitation is the removal of bacteria using a sanitizing product like bleach and water. These tasks go hand in hand, you must clean a surface before it can be effectively sanitized.
Don’t let your eyes fool you—while equipment or cutting boards may seem clean, there could still be invisible contaminants beneath the surface that only sanitary chemicals can bring back to safe levels. It is always good practice to get a fresh towel and sani bucket and wipe down areas prior to starting any task.
Proper Food Handling Training
Though it’s not required in every state, you should get a food handlers certification. An up-to-date certificate shows your employer that you will be prepared with current food safety knowledge.
Food safety courses teach workers how to properly prepare and serve food in a way that won’t make guests sick. Find an affordable online resource to get a basic education on what you can do to prevent the spread of foodborne illness, food temperature danger zones, and cross-contamination.
The Health Department has different regulations depending on where you live, and they change frequently, so make sure to stay current with the health code requirements in your area.
A lot of restaurant workers cut corners when it comes to cleaning, don’t be one of them.
Since cross-contamination of food items from bacteria found on dirty equipment or surfaces is a leading cause of food-borne outbreaks, the best offense is a good defense.
First, be sure to follow best practices for food storage and produce placement. Foodborne illnesses, such as E. coli, salmonella, or norovirus, can quickly multiply when food is kept in unsafe conditions. It is imperative that workers know to rinse and store ingredients properly at the appropriate temperature.
Next, don’t be the messy one of the crew. Cleaning and sanitizing your station, surfaces, and tools before, during, and after your shift will prevent you from poisoning your customers (and instill good habits). Who knows, you might even prefer working in a clean station!
Lastly, and I shouldn’t have to remind you of this, but washing your hands frequently is an effective way to avoid cross-contaminating.
Here is your friendly reminder to always wash your hands:
- Before you start prepping food
- Before you touch any food
- Before you put on gloves and after you remove them
- After handling raw meat, fish, and poultry
- After you handle trash
- After you handle dirty dishes and glassware
- After cleaning or using chemicals
- After using the bathroom AND before you get back on the floor or line
- After touching your mouth, face, or hair
- After touching bodily fluids
- After returning from a break
- After eating
Be a Team Player
Don’t wait until the manager on duty says the dreaded words, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean!” Prove yourself to be a team player by taking on easy tasks but not necessarily on your side work list—there’s always cleaning to be done.
While tables and bar seats often get bussed immediately, as managers want quicker turnovers, there are often dirty menus, full bus tubs, or empty cambros that pile up that need attention—especially on a busy Friday night.
Take the time to change out that sani bucket when it looks too grimy or check the bathrooms after a rush. These tasks might seem small, but they’re vital to keeping up your restaurant’s appearance to guests and maintaining a safe workspace.
Customers are notorious for judging our efforts, leave a good impression by ensuring that our dining rooms are spotless. Having proper cleaning and sanitation habits will help you out in the long run.
Making an effort to learn about safe food handling and keeping your skillset up to standards will not only help you prevent the spread of foodborne illness but will also portray you as a responsible and reliable employee that takes pride in your role at the restaurant.