A Checklist for Sanitizing your Restaurant

Keeping your sanitized kitchen open for business during stay-at-home orders is essential as restaurants are estimated to lose around $240 billion by the end of 2020. While sanitizing a restaurant is always important, during the unprecedented times surrounding COVID-19, cleaning a restaurant, maintaining food regulations, and keeping your employees and guests safe is more important than ever.

“What exactly does sanitizing entail?” you might ask. Because sanitizing restaurants requires many steps outside of the typical food safety rules, here is a guide for creating a sanitized kitchen.

Difference Between Cleaning and Sanitizing

Cleaning a restaurant entails removing food and other substances from plates, utensils, or other substances. Meanwhile, sanitizing removes most pathogens to a safe level, going beyond visible surfaces.

When you sanitize a surface, it removes up to 99% of fungi, bacteria, and some microbes.

Why Protect Against COVID-19?

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and/or shortness of breath. It can present in younger people with mild to moderate symptoms. Yet, it can escalate in severity and complications in older people.

What to Do If Your Employee Has Symptoms of COVID-19 Or Other Illnesses?

Employees should not work if:

  • They have E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Shigella, and Norovirus.
  • They’ve had fever, diarrhea, vomiting, or abdominal cramps within the last twenty four hours.

If they have the above diseases, the head of the restaurant must report to the Health Department.

For employees with COVID-19, they must stay home and quarantine for at least 14 days, isolating themselves from co-workers, restaurant guests, and anyone they may have had contact with while at work. They should also follow guidance from their doctor and the CDC. According to the CDC, if an employee has been in a certain area for less than 7 days,  Employees confirmed to have COVID-19 are excluded from working directly in a food facility or restaurant.

If you’re unsure of the best guidelines to use, check standards set by the health department.

Preventing transmission of diseases and viruses must always be a priority for restaurants, equal to the food served.

An Easy Process for Sanitizing Restaurants

Here is an easy step-by-step process to follow when sanitizing a restaurant.

  1. Remove food from the surface with a disposable cloth or  paper towel.
  2. Wash the surface with a cleaning solution or disposable wipe
  3. Sanitize the surface using chlorine or sanitizer
  4. Let the surface dry for at least a minute before reusing it

It is also good to tell anyone visiting your restaurant the above process and other steps of action you and your business are taking. This can be alongside mask and glove-wearing and maintaining social distancing.

Reinforce Safe Cleaning Practices

Restaurant staff should be trained to follow food safety guidelines and reminded to not touch their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. All employees must wash their hands after using the bathroom before returning to work. You, as the employer, should post signs that encourage food safety at

  • restaurant entrances
  • restrooms
  • employee break rooms
  • other visible areas.

Surfaces in a restaurant that should be cleaned often include tables, chairs, kitchen surfaces, chairs, and remote controls for any equipment present i.e. speakers or a TV monitor.

Regular household cleaners and a simple bleach solution (with a ration of ½ cup bleach to 1 gallon of water) have been shown to be effective in preventing the spread of bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.

All food-contact surfaces should be sanitized after each use, with the minimum amount of time being every 4 hours. This includes utensils, glasses, and any surface that can touch a person’s hands, nose, and mouth.

For airborne illnesses like COVID-19, social distancing guidelines must be maintained, such as tables and chairs remaining six feet apart, all guests and employees wearing masks, and wearing gloves inside the restaurant. If you have outdoor space, this can also be done with outdoor seating.

Remember, Wash Your Hands!

One of the best ways to reduce the risk of contamination in your restaurant’s food and surfaces is for employees to routinely wash their hands.

Employees must wash their hands when:

  • Sneezing,Coughing, and wiping their nose.
  • Using the bathroom.
  • Preparing foods.
  • Touching their face or hair.
  • Touching animals.
  • Eating and using tobacco/nicotine products.
  • Handling money or other methods of payment.
  • Handling dirty equipment or utensils.
  • Before putting on disposable gloves.
  • Hands become dirty.

Washing your hands might seem like common sense, but in times of epidemics and pandemics, it’s important to know that a customer will have a safe, sanitary dining experience. Washing your hands is one way your restaurant employees can do their part in reducing the risk of transmission.

Sanitize Your Restaurant and Do Your Part

Cleaning a restaurant is not always the most exciting part of running a restaurant. During a pandemic, sanitizing restaurants can seem more of a hassle than the usual cleaning methods to fit food regulations. But, it is necessary to help keep you, your employees, and guests safe from possible contamination to viruses and other pathogens. The impact of COVID-19 has been devastating for many restaurants across the country, so do not let your business be affected and follow these tips.

The above cleanliness and sanitizing tips should, in the end, be the minimum, but maintaining those standards and rewarding good cleaning behavior will help make your restaurant stand out from the others and keep your customers’ trust. When customers know you are doing all you can to keep everyone safe– and serve great food– they are sure to want to come back again.

Look at more of our articles for the best tips for your service and business.

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