Whether you’re preparing food in a residential kitchen or running a commercial kitchen, following proper sanitation measures for cleanliness is a must. Of course, commercial kitchens must follow certain procedures as determined by individual state regulations (as required by their respective health departments) to stay up to code or risk being fined, shut down, or forced into doing costly adjustments. However, many of these often mandated cleaning tips are good measure for everyone!
1. Plan ahead to keep your kitchen up to code.
Even though customers might not see the kitchen, food safety is a must and mandated by law for public health protection. You never know when an inspector might show up! Given the importance of following these required protocols and the effect it can have on your business, take time to plan and invest in safety procedures. This includes buying products that are NSF certified to meet these strict standards. These can include purchasing a commercial-grade stainless steel sink, prep tables, work tables, utility tables, and more. Don’t forget about stainless steel kitchen islands and a kitchen work table, too – even if you are only working at home or working in a smaller-scale kitchen operation.
To eliminate the potential risk of being fined or shut down by the state health department, it is highly advisable to check with your individual area’s requirements and apply for plan review before you begin any renovations, construction or plumbing installation. For instance, drain boards are typically required to meet health codes, as they help limit the growth of mold and bacteria growth. Separate attachable drain boards can be purchased to bring existing equipment up to current code, if purchasing all new equipment is not currently in the budget.
2. Choose low-maintenance, easy- to-clean surfaces such as stainless steel.
As mentioned, planning out your kitchen equipment is a vital step in keeping your kitchen clean. Stainless steel is one of the most popular materials for not only kitchen sinks but also utility sinks, garage sinks, laundry sinks, and more because it is nearly indestructible, affordable, easy to clean, low maintenance, and well-known for its antibacterial properties – making it ideal for commercial kitchens.
In addition, there are many grades of highly durable stainless steel that will meet the necessary FDA conditions to be considered food-safe. Therefore, it is wise to consider investing in stainless steel for not only the sink, but also for the other important surfaces in your kitchen area, including prep tables, work tables, kitchen work table, utility tables, and stainless steel kitchen islands.
3. Sanitize all surfaces thoroughly
When cleaning up after meals, it is common to just wipe up the areas that were directly used in the preparation process, such as the countertop. However, to avoid cross-contamination, it is imperative to thoroughly sanitize all surfaces, especially kitchen work tables, prep tables, wall mounted shelfs, and even the stainless steel sink or the stainless steel kitchen islands.
In addition, there is a distinction between cleaning and sanitizing, as anyone in the food handling industry should know. “Cleaning” often refers to simply removing food and other soiling at a surface level (that is, visible to the naked eye). “Sanitizing” actually utilizes heat or chemicals, intended to reduce the amount of microorganisms on a clean surface to safe levels (beyond those visible to the eye). Sanitizing should be done on a regular basis, but is absolutely necessary after any surface contacts raw food, which includes cutting boards and knives.
Also, avoid common kitchen cleaning mistakes, such as allowing certain items to dry on the sink’s surface, such as sponges, towels or rags. Doing so can harbor bacteria. Also, avoid leaving rubber dish mats and cleaning pads in the sink. Since they are designed to trap water, they too can lead to harmful harboring of bacteria.
4. Use specific cleaning solutions for different areas of the kitchen
To avoid cross-contamination, it is important to execute a variety of different cleaning methods, as appropriate for different zones of the kitchen. For instance, front of house areas versus back. These methods often employ higher levels of cleaning, such as disinfection and sterilization. These include the utilization of higher heat and higher chemical concentration. For example, non-food contact surfaces such as floors and walls of a kitchen might use disinfection. Sterilization is typically used for medical equipment and food processing equipment, but not in a standard kitchen environment.
Because of the often varied ways to clean, having separate cleaning stations is a must. Front of kitchen areas need at least one stainless steel sink, while back of house areas need a separate utility sink for mops and such. In a typical residential household, having a separate laundry sink or garage sink would be very useful to avoid tracking dirt and bacteria into the kitchen sink area.
5. Practice correct washing and cleaning procedures for sinks.
Sinks require certain cleaning procedures to be up to code and meet minimum health safety standards, so it is important to factor in the time and labor involved to stay compliant. This includes factoring in your daily customer volume, as well as staff. Regularly cleaning your sinks and surrounding areas is a vital part of any business.
First, thoroughly clean each sink, drain board, and surrounding areas before cleaning any dishes, glasses, pots, pans, or other kitchen wares. Next, rinse out each sink and use a commercial sanitizing agent that is intended for use in a food prep area to wash all surfaces. Don’t forget to include the drain boards and faucet handles. When finished, rinse the entire sink with clean water and allow it to drain. Then, begin the cleaning and sanitizing process as required for all items needing to be washed.
In addition, properly cleaning, whether for a kitchen or a utility sink, ensures long-term use and performance. For best results, combine a basic daily treatment with thorough weekly cleansing. For a stainless steel sink, this might include weekly use of a soft abrasive cleaner, followed by cleaning with warm water, sponge or clean cloth to maintain a shiny finish.