Out of all the surfaces in an eating establishment, one of the most vulnerable to dirt and grease buildup is the kitchen floor, which ironically tends to get less attention than cooking counters. When it comes to kitchen floor cleaning, the task is sometimes perceived as arbitrary, and thus little attention is actually given to the steps required for a shiny, non-slippery, grease-free kitchen floor.
Truth be told, restaurant staff are often ill-equipped and undertrained in the steps required for kitchen floor maintenance, which makes it vital to grasp the rules and tips outlined below.
Reasons Why Kitchen Floors Get Dirty
- Clogged Drains
One of the handiest features that a kitchen floor can have is water drains, which allow cleaning water to empty from the surface without forming puddles. Drains make it easier for floors to dry faster, which in turn makes the task of cleaning more efficient because less time is needed to dry the floor after mopping.
However, problems can occur when the drains get clogged and water is left to stand on the tile and settle into the surface. When this occurs, mold can form, both on and between the tiles. If the problem is allowed to persist, it can lead to bacteria, which carries a host of unsavory elements for any eating establishment. Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure kitchen flow drains are unclogged and freely flowing.
- Tile Pores
In the world of foodservice, kitchen floors are usually tiled with red or gray quarry. Due to the porous nature of these tiles, grease is liable to work its way into the microscopic holes, and this can result in chronically slippery floors. If the floor is only superficially cleaned — especially with ineffective products — the slippery floor problem can worsen with time.
As the condition accelerates, the floor can become dangerous for employees to walk on. Slips, falls and injuries are among the worst consequences of poor floor maintenance, not to mention stalled orders and unhappy diners in the event that a food tray gets knocked over or spilled. Therefore, kitchen floors need to be coated with anti-slip sealant, which not only boosts sanitation, but also makes the kitchen environment far safer for restaurant employees.
- Cleaning Things in the Wrong Order
During the cleanup of a restaurant kitchen, a typical mistake that employees make is to clean the food-processing equipment in advance of cleaning the floor. While it might seem intuitive to do the floor cleaning last, particulates of the dirt and germs from a kitchen floor can actually go airborne and land in the worst possible places, such as in the food supplies and on the cooking equipment.
When kitchen floors are cleaned at the end of each workday in advance of all other cleaning, everything is liable to be far more sanitary. The risk of airborne germs landing in opened food cans and spice containers is significantly reduced.
- Dirty Mops
Another big mistake that often occurs in foodservice environments is the use of dirty mops on kitchen floors. For example, when the same bucket of diluted cleaning fluid is used throughout a mopping session, the fluid will often get dirty. Within minutes, the person handling the mop will no longer be cleaning the floor, but instead be spreading more dirt around, which in turn is often left to evaporate.
Therefore, mop water must be changed out as soon as it darkens. If the last round of mop water remains clear after the mop has been wrung, it generally means that dirt has been effectively removed from the floor for that cycle.
Mopping can also become problematic when the same mop is used in not just the kitchen, but in all corners of an eating establishment, including the bathroom and the trash/recycling area. In order for a mop to be clean, sanitary and effective in the food-prepping portions of a dining establishment, kitchen mops must be exclusively designated for that area only.
How to Keep a Kitchen Floor Clean
- Use a Squeegee
When it comes to the removal of caked-on dirt and grime, a squeegee often serves as the secret weapon against the buildup of insanitary elements on kitchen floors. Whereas mops work to loosen and absorb dirt from the ground, a squeegee can peel off the harder bits of dirt and gunk that remain after an initial mopping. Of course, it also takes a diluted cleaning fluid to emulsify or at least soften the dirt, but a squeegee can sometimes do what a mop cannot.
Once the day’s floor cleaning has ended, a squeegee can serve the additional purpose of wiping moisture and leftover mop water off the tile and into the drains. In fact, the squeegee could be seen as the perfect complement to the mop, because the latter cleans and the former wipes.
2. Clean Once or Twice Daily
While the kitchen floor of an eating establishment should be cleaned each day — or even twice daily, if the hours of operation are split between lunch time and evenings — there’s also a more serious measure that should be taken every four to seven days. On a weekly or twice-weekly basis, the floor should be buffered with a 20-inch, scrub pad-equipped cleaning device that can run at 175 rotations per minute.
The purpose of this special, more intense cleaning ritual is to loosen the types of harder, stickier gunk that can accumulate in spite of daily mopping. The floor cleaner should be long enough to buffer the floor with relative ease, but also narrow enough to reach as many spots as possible. The benefits are often most felt in narrow and harder-to-access areas that aren’t always reached by a mop or squeegee.
- Keep All Cleaning Devices Properly Stored
Another key component of sanitation in the food service environment is proper storage for all cleaning devices. When mops and buckets aren’t properly stored, lingering dirt and fluid smells can aerosolize and spread to more vulnerable places — namely, the food-prep area. The fact is, cleaning devices need to be stored in a back room or closet where things are kept away from the foods or cooking devices.
- Use Mats
To ensure employee safety after each mopping session, the walking and standing spaces along kitchen tiles should be covered with anti-fatigue mats. This makes things safer for kitchen personnel, because the mats prevent slips and falls during food prep. Of course, the mats must be cleaned at the end of each day, and preferably hung-dry to prevent water absorption.
- Use Proper Cleaning Formulas
When a cleaning formula is advertised to work on all surfaces, chances are good it’s an inadequate product for kitchen floors in foodservice establishments. The problem comes down to the porous nature of quarry tiles, which — unlike kitchen counters and appliances — tend to attract thicker layers of grease.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid general cleaning products, and instead choose high-grade cleaners that are specifically formulated for kitchen floors.
There really is no substitute for a high-grade cleaner that’s made specially to work on kitchen floors. In fact, a typical mistake made at places of dining is when staff will use any old product, such as bleach or laundry/dishwasher detergent, for the purpose of cleaning tiles. The latter product is an especially poor choice, because detergents contain lard, which acts as an emulsifier that consequently makes tiles more slippery.
How to Clean a Kitchen Floor
- Sweep the Floor
Before mopping commences on a kitchen floor, the tiles should be swept of any lingering dirt or debris. In fact, it’s often best to sweep two or three times during the course of daily operations at an eating establishment. It can really depend on the volume of business and the amount of foot traffic that goes in and out of the food-prep area.
- Properly Mix the Cleaning Fluid
During the preparation of cleaning fluid, a lot of people either overestimate or underestimate the cleaner-to-water ratio. Truth is, the proper balance is exactly what the cleaning fluid lists on its label. Never assume that adding extra cleaner will make the floor even shinier than an ordinary clean, because it never works that way.
Too much water spreads the cleaner too thin, but too much cleaner leads to suds that dry into residue.
- Apply Cleaning Fluid and Mop
With the cleaning formula mixed and ready inside a bucket, pour modest amounts of the fluid over the areas that need to be mopped. Saturate the mop within the bucket, then pull it out and begin mopping the floor with circular and back-and-forth motions. Devote a minute to each area of the kitchen’s tile.
- Scrub With a Sponge and Let Sit
With the floor now fully mopped, take a long-handled sponge and scrub the floor area for up to 10 minutes. This will loosen up any harder gunk that has immersed itself into the tiles. As the cleaning fluid sits, do make sure that warning signs are posted to alert other staffers to the fact that the kitchen floor is wet and potentially dangerous to walk over.
Better yet, keep the area off limits to non-cleaning personnel while the mopping is in progress.
- Wipe, Rinse and Dry
Once the cleaner has had time to set and emulsify the grease, take the squeegee and wipe the sitting fluid into the floor drains. If possible, rinse the floor with a hot-water hose, then wipe the rinse water down the drains as well. In cases where the floor hasn’t been given a serious cleaning for some time, you might need to perform this process of mopping, scrubbing, rinsing and wiping up to five times in a row.
Additional Tile Cleaning Tips
- Mop or Vacuum Water (If No Floor Drains)
If the kitchen lacks floor drains, rinse out the mop, then use that mop to soak up the cleaning fluid. Make circular motions across the floor to absorb standing water and moisture into the mop, then rinse the mop each time it becomes saturated. The water in the mop bucket should be changed out each time it begins to darken. Alternately, remaining water from the cleanup can be removed with the use of a wet/dry vacuum.
- Keep Kitchen Mops Marked and Designated
Make sure a single mop or set of mops is reserved for use in the kitchen area and nowhere else. Have them stored on a specific rack or within a particular closet space to ensure that all cleaning personnel know how to properly distinguish the various mops. Better yet, color-code the handles of the cleaning mops with a red-for-kitchen, blue-for-restrooms method, or something similar.
- Apply Slip-Resistance Treatment
On some kitchen floors, a thorough mopping and degreasing might fail to bring luster to the tiles. This would indicate that the floor is due for more than just a cleaning, because the tiles are actually in need of chemical etching. With the application of an anti-slip treatment formula along the floor, the benefits are twofold. For starters, lingering traces of filmy, soapy residue will be removed. As a result, the floor will regain more of its natural shine and actually resemble a clean set of tiles.
- Reapply Degreaser Daily
Once the floor has been revitalized with a cleaning, degreasing and anti-slip treatment, the degreaser should be reapplied daily to prevent the formation of dirt and grease deposits. This way, the floor builds up more resistance to the unsavory elements can nest and spread germs throughout the food-prep area.
With each daily application, it’s important to follow the principles of dilution ratio and emulsification time. In other words, only add the label-specified amount of water to the degreaser, and allow the scrubbed-in fluid to sit and eat through the dirt and gunk for at least 10 minutes before wiping, rinsing and drying the floor.
- Pick Up and Wash Away All Food Droppings as They Occur
Throughout each daily work shift, monitor the floor-care habits of the restaurant staff. Make sure the kitchen crew is advised not to let food particles or spices slip or trickle off the cooking counters. Furthermore, ensure that everyone understands the proper cleanup procedures when accidents do occur.
For example, if condiments or beverages spill onto the floor, it’s not enough to simply throw down paper towels, soak up the mess and then dispense with the towels. With gloved hands, the area must also be cleaned with a disinfectant especially formulated for use on kitchen tiles.
Likewise, if a food particle drops onto the floor from a counter, plate or tray, it’s not responsible to simply kick the particle under a counter and allow it to be swept up later in the day. The particle must be properly dispensed then and there, and the tiles on which it landed should be sprayed and wiped.
Hire Commercial Kitchen Cleaning in San Francisco
A clean kitchen is one of the key elements to a sanitary restaurant. That said, the labor required to maintain a kitchen floor can often be strenuous and time-consuming, particularly in fast-paced eating establishments where remnants constantly fall and dirty the tiles.
The crew at No More Dirt have been providing commercial kitchen cleaning in San Francisco Bay Area for almost 30 years. In everything from restaurants and bars to hotels and wineries, we leave kitchen floors looking spotless. To find out more about the types of cleaning we offer, click on over to our services page today!