How to keep your restaurant kitchen clean - some tips for chefs and restaurant owners

Clean kitchen restaurant

If you’re new to the food or restaurant business, you might think that closing is easy. Hold on to that dream for the next ten seconds, because it’s about to become a fond and fleeting memory.

Once the last orders are out, the last diner shooed gently through the door, and the front lights switched off, you aren’t going anywhere.

Why? Because the kitchen is still finishing their daily clean up.

How long does a daily clean take?

A daily clean-up can vary in length depending on the size and type of your restaurant, but at the very least you should expect walls to be wiped down, grills, griddles, flattops and fryers cleaned (and those cannot be lifted to clean underneath until they’re cool), prep areas sanitised – there’s a reason most commercial kitchens shut down at around ten.

Chefs will have started cleaning stations and shutting off unnecessary equipment during the last cooking round of the night, but cleaning properly takes a while. Expect at least a couple of hours spent per night.

Morning, Sunshine

Now for some very bad news: if you run a lunch or breakfast shift, you’re going to need extra chefs if you have them doing the complete clean down each night, because two or three hours of sleep and then back in the kitchen makes for exhausted workers, and exhausted workers make mistakes.

Setting fire to the food, the restaurant, or themselves from sheer exhaustion is not a winning business strategy.

Is there an alternative?

Get in an after-hours cleaning crew. Yes, it’s going to cost you. But the additional two to three hours of time your chef’s spend cleaning will cost you more in the morning.

Keep in mind, that’s the regular, nightly clean.

You still haven’t touched on the weekly clean (joyous tasks like cleaning the ovens and boiling out the deep fryer) and the monthly clean, when fridges and freezers get sanitised and some poor so-and-so has to empty the grease traps.

(Yes, it’s usually the new guy, most senior chefs holding the view that they’ve wrestled with the things already and paid their dues as juniors, thank you.)

Clean kitchen, happy kitchen

Cleaning is legislated in the UK

If you haven’t started twitching yet, this is a gentle reminder that cleaning is a legal requirement, for very good reasons: dirty kitchens are dangerous.

Food contamination can kill or make people violently ill, untended grease traps are a fire waiting to happen, and forgetting to delime the taps can result in a pricey plumbing bill.

Your extraction system should also be serviced on a regular schedule.

A kitchen fire from a dirty duct will close you down – and if you haven’t maintained the required schedule, your restaurant insurance might not pay out.

Cleaning crew. Trust me. Especially now, when Covid regulations mean extra attention and lots of surface sanitising.

The kitchen brigade will still be cleaning their own stations – no chef worth their salt is going to leave that dirty – but letting the pros do the heavy lifting will save you a lot of time and trouble.

So we’re good and clean, right?


None of the above is a deep clean, which in the UK is legally required for a commercial kitchen every six months.

Most busy restaurant kitchens opt for a deep clean at least every 3 months, and the high-end side tends to get their contractors in as often as monthly.

All of that routine cleaning – daily, weekly and monthly – is done by hand. Which is great for a surface clean and doesn’t get into all the nooks and crannies that grease and dust adore.

Grease and fat heads for the corners of your kitchen like tweenagers heading for a Selena Gomez concert: fast, emphatically, and uncontrollably. If you bent over and took a look at the table undersides, you probably wouldn’t like what you saw very much.

A professional deep cleaner will first tape off the electrics, spray every surface with a cleaner, and use a steam cleaner to remove every trace of dirt, dust and grease on your surfaces.

They’ll clean behind the pipework, clean the ducts, and return your fryer baskets to something that looks like you just picked it up new from the shop. They’ll do the same in the bathrooms, and of course you can get them to do your front of house as well for outstanding results.

Best of all, they’ll do this out of your operating hours, so you don’t need to worry about your business or staff being impacted.

You’ll be able to walk into your business without panicking about a surprise health inspection, your kitchen will look like it came out of a catalogue, and your customers will happily note the food hygiene rating on the door. It’s a win-win all around.

And finally - don't forget your restaurant insurance

No matter what size or what type of food you serve, we can help. Don’t forget to check your restaurant insurance policy to make sure your business is properly covered

Need a good restaurant business insurance broker? We’ve got you covered – click here to fill out a short form and we’ll pass your details onto our list of brokers.