How to Establish a Regular Cleaning Schedule in Your Bar

By Ray Foley, Heather Dismore

Create daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedules for your bar to make sure all areas in your bar are cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis. Besides the obvious reason (most people prefer to be in clean and sanitary conditions), the law requires you to keep your bar clean to inhibit the growth of bacteria and pathogens that can be a serious public health risk.

Here are some things that need to be done several times each shift, as needed:

  • Change water in the glass-washing sinks behind the bar.

  • Change sanitizer water.

  • Empty trash.

  • Break down boxes.

  • Clear dirty dishes from tables and the bar top.

  • Wipe down the bar top, tables, and seats after each use.

  • Wash hands.

You can have workers do these cleaning tasks on a shift-by-shift or daily basis:

  • Sweep the walk-in and dish area.

  • Wipe down bottles in the speed wells.

  • Run bar mats through the dish machine.

  • Empty and sanitize all ice wells.

  • Mop the entire kitchen.

  • Clean the fryer and filter the fryer oil.

    Depending on how much food you’re frying, you may need to do this only two to four times a week. For best results, do this before the bar opens (rather than after it closes), so the oil will be nice and cool.

  • Send range grates to the dish machine.

  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces, such as reach-in coolers, prep tables, counters on the line, and so on.

  • Sweep and mop the main bar and any other floor areas.

  • Empty the steam table. Clean, sanitize, and refill the steam table with fresh water.

  • Clean employee bathroom and locker room.

  • Wipe down all tabletop items, like salt and pepper shakers and table tents.

  • Clean public restrooms. Many bar owners recommend checking the restrooms at least every hour to make sure they’re in tiptop shape for your patrons.

Sunday and Monday make great days to do some more-intense cleaning jobs, like these:

  • Empty reach-in coolers and thoroughly clean and sanitize them. Toss any items past their prime.

  • Empty walk-ins and thoroughly clean and sanitize them. Reorganize and replace things as needed.

  • Pull any movable kitchen equipment away from walls. Clean the walls and floor behind them. Grease can build up here quickly and catch on fire. Bugs like to find little bits of stuff that fall back here. If you don’t have anything for bugs to eat, they’ll likely go elsewhere.

Monthly cleaning jobs are reserved for more time-consuming projects. Here are just a few examples:

  • Empty out all salt and pepper containers and run them through the dishwashing area. Let them drain overnight and dry thoroughly before refilling them or you’ll have some clumping condiments on your hands.

  • Remove all glassware from shelves and thoroughly clean the shelves before restacking glassware.

  • Hire an exterminator to preventively treat for pests. On “bug night,” staff members will need to cover any food items that normally stay out (like crackers, salt and pepper shakers, and so on) to protect them from harmful pesticides.

Failing to do these things on a regular basis will lead to problems with food safety in your restaurant and will eventually show up in lower inspection scores.