How Often Should You Clean Your Commercial Refrigerator?
Cleanliness and hygiene are two of the most important principles for any successful commercial restaurant. Not only does regular cleaning give your kitchen a professional aesthetic, but it also ensures the food you serve is safe for customers to eat. While there are countless health and safety regulations in place for companies in the foodservice industry, many commercial kitchens fail to maintain basic cleanliness in crucial areas, such as their refrigerators. Regardless of the cleanliness of the rest of your kitchen, commercial refrigerators can be loaded with harmful mould, bacteria, and other debris that can compromise the food stored within it. Depending on the size of your kitchen and the volume of food you cook on a consistent basis, you should perform a basic cleaning daily and a comprehensive cleaning at least once per week. With that in mind, here are a few reasons why you should clean your fridge on a regular basis:
Prevent Bacterial Growth
Old food is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. The longer a dish sits in your refrigerator, the more likely it is to become contaminated with bacteria that can cause serious health hazards if served to a customer. In this case, not only is the customer’s health at risk but so is the reputation of your restaurant. To prevent bacterial contamination, be sure to rid your fridge of old dishes that cannot be served as soon as they pass their expiration. Beyond that, aim to cook everything to order, so that food left sitting in the fridge is never served to customers.
Combat Foul Odours
A vital sign that your fridge needs to be cleaned is that foul odours are coming from within it. Whether the culprit is expired food, bacteria, or mould, foul odours can be caused by a variety of things. Not only does this taint all of the food in the refrigerator and make it virtually unusable, but it can also have negative health implications for your kitchen employees. If foul odours are present in your fridge, it is time for a complete clean.
Minimize Electricity Costs
As regular cleanings are ignored, bacteria, mould, mildew, and other harmful germs can develop in your fridge. This will have a significant impact on your refrigerator’s ability to operate at an optimal level, which can further compromise food in your fridge. If your commercial refrigerators are not functioning at their optimal level, they will consume more electricity for less production. This can result in wasted energy and can even cause your utility bill to increase.
Prolong Your Fridge’s Lifespan
If your refrigerator starts to deteriorate because of a lack of cleaning, it is the beginning of the end for your appliance. This can lead to expensive premature replacements, forcing you to spend money on a new refrigerator much sooner than if it was maintained correctly. To prolong your refrigerator’s lifespan, perform regular cleanings and test the temperature of your fridge to ensure it is operating properly.
Comply With Health and Safety Regulations
Commercial restaurants have a variety of health and safety regulations to which they must comply. These regulations include basic hygiene and cleanliness, and failing to meet the requirements can result in significant fines, temporary closures, and irreparable blows to your reputation in the community.
So, how should you clean your commercial refrigerator? Here is a step-by-step guide to cleaning and maintaining your refrigerator:
To avoid wasting energy while you clean your commercial refrigerator, be sure to unplug it first. This also prevents you from being electrocuted if there are liquid leaks or other hazards present.
Empty all contents
For a truly comprehensive cleaning, you must first empty the fridge entirely. Unfortunately, many restaurants think they can get by with simple, convenient wipe-downs while food is still in the refrigerator. Not only can this cause food to become contaminated with cleaners, but leaving food in an unplugged fridge can increase bacteria production. It is crucial that you empty the fridge to perform the cleaning.
Discard old, expired food
Your restaurant’s reputation hinges on the quality of the food you serve. Take this opportunity to discard any food that is not up to the quality of your restaurant. Your customers will be delighted to have fresh food cooked to order, and your reputation will reflect that quality.
Wash and disinfect the interior
The interior of a fridge comes into contact with a variety of foods, which can involve the cross-over of bacteria. Be sure to wipe down the entire interior of the refrigerator—including every shelf and the door—with warm water and a natural, organic disinfectant to prevent bacterial growth and ensure your food is safe.
Vacuum the condenser and coils
Once you have cleaned the interior, you can shift your focus to the exterior. Often, dust and debris collect in the condenser and the coils, which can significantly impact your refrigerator’s ability to function at its optimal level. In extreme cases, this build-up can also cause a fire. Simply vacuum the condenser and coils on a regular basis to prevent this kind of emergency.
Wipe down the exterior
Now that the interior and the condenser are clean and ready for operation, simply wipe down the exterior of the fridge with warm water and a natural cleaner. This will kill any bacteria on the exterior while also restoring your refrigerator’s pristine shine, making it look brand-new again. This simple task can revitalize the aesthetic of your kitchen.
Restock the shelves
Once the fridge is completely clean, feel free to restock the shelves with food and beverages that can still be served to your customers. Perform this basic cleaning on a daily basis—with more comprehensive cleanings at least once per week—for optimal results.
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