How To Properly Clean Your Commercial Fridge
Perhaps the most commonly used kitchen appliance — and top bacterial hotspot — is the commercial refrigerator. Designed for long-term storage of various food items and key ingredients, the fridge is no stranger to high-volume activity: constant opening and closing of doors, and storage and consumption of inventory.
Combined with tight schedules for food prep, it’s no wonder that the fridge sees spills, stains, and bacterial growth from expired and poorly sanitized shelves and food items. This high risk of contamination could easily result in foodborne illnesses — a threat to any foodservice operation catering to customers who should be able to trust your ability to deliver fresh, quality taste.
A regular cleaning protocol can restore a cluttered, bustling kitchen in a safe and pristine condition. With regular and proper cleaning of commercial kitchen equipment, you can ensure long-lasting function, along with utmost food safety, and fresh, quality taste that comes with every bite. Here’s how:
Quick Hacks for Cleaning a Commercial Fridge
These quick and easy cleaning hacks allow you to maintain a clean and safe kitchen, starting with the fridge. Follow these steps for daily and weekly cleaning, and stay on top of food safety and quality taste with every cook:
1. Empty the shelves
You can’t fully wipe and scrub down a full fridge — it’s why the first step is to empty the entire unit. Prepare coolers to temporarily store must-refrigerate items and prevent spoilage, and keep dry goods and produce in separate containers.
Take this opportunity to do an inventory check: remove expired, mouldy, and discoloured items and discard them to prevent storing them back inside and risking contamination. Check the condition of other perishables — how close are they to their sell-by date? Make a note to organize these items accordingly after cleaning, ensuring that those nearing their expiry date are used up first.
2. Unplug the unit
Once the fridge is cleared, you can safely unplug the unit. This prevents the risk of electrical shocks and work-related injuries to kitchen staff tasked with cleaning.
3. Wipe down the fridge interiors
The bulk of cleaning commercial kitchen equipment like a fridge is in wiping down the interiors. Using warm, soapy water and highly absorbent microfibre cloths, scrub down the shelves and walls to remove pesky stains from spills and built-up grime. For tight, hard-to-reach corners, use a brush with strong but flexible bristles. Once all the surfaces are thoroughly wiped down, rinse with clean water.
4. Disinfect with a food-safe sanitizer
There’s no shortage of chemical cleaners promising a thorough clean and disinfection of commercial kitchen equipment — but not all of them may be safe for surfaces that regularly come in contact with food.
When disinfecting your commercial refrigerator, make sure to opt for a food-safe sanitizer. Wipe down all surfaces using a gentle, food-safe cleaner without any toxic chemicals. Remember that when cleaning kitchen equipment, it’s best to opt for frequent cleaning with a gentle cleanser than an infrequent schedule with a harsh cleanser.
Regular disinfection also helps you stay ahead of spills and stains and prevents them from turning into stubborn, crusty spots, mould, and bacterial hotspots.
5. Clean the fridge exteriors
Commercial kitchen equipment maintenance should be a complete job. Don’t forget about the fridge exteriors — they’re hotspots for dust and grime build-up too. Mop the floor under and around your commercial freezers, and make sure to pull the casters away from the wall to clean the surrounding areas thoroughly. And don’t forget to dust and wipe down the top of the unit.
6. Clean the door gaskets
The door gaskets of a commercial refrigerator ensure a tight seal and optimal climate control. When doors are tightly closed, cold air can’t escape, and warm air can’t enter, so items stored inside are properly chilled, and spoilage is easily prevented.
Stubborn, crusty stains, grime, and dirt reduce the tight seal of door gaskets. To restore the seal and optimal climate control, make sure to clean the gaskets using a soft cloth with soapy water. A maintenance service technician can also apply a vinyl seal annually to extend the life of door gaskets.
Deep Cleaning Your Commercial Fridge
On top of the regular kitchen cleaning protocol, a commercial refrigerator requires routine professional cleaning and maintenance. A certified commercial kitchen equipment technician can safely clean the delicate parts responsible for the cooling mechanism and advise you of any issues and necessary repairs early, helping to prevent larger damage. Here’s what they will usually undertake.
1. Condensing coil vacuuming
The condenser and coils are responsible for optimal climate control and food storage inside a commercial fridge — but they’re no stranger to dust and debris. These tend to collect and clog air intake, which forces the condenser to work overtime and consume more energy to maintain optimal cooling temperatures. The burden of higher utility bills is only worsened by the risk of overwork and eventual untimely breakdown.
To prevent this, a certified commercial kitchen equipment technician can regularly clean the condensing coil. At least twice a year, they will safely remove the protective grill, brush the coils and fan unit, and use an industrial vacuum to remove built-up dirt and dust.
2. Clean the evaporator coil
Just like the condenser, the evaporator coil collects sediment throughout long-term use. As part of your regular commercial refrigerator maintenance, a professional technician can safely remove the bottom of the pan and use a specially formulated evaporator coil cleaning solution to remove the built-up sediment on coils and tubing.
3. Clean the drain lines
Debris and mould can clog the drain lines and reduce the function of a commercial fridge. These must be cleaned out at least once a year to restore optimal flow and maintain regular function. Trust only a professional commercial kitchen equipment technician to handle drain lines safely.