Application, Application, Pickup: The Special Demands of Restaurant Floor Care

October 22, 2001
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Facility managers in restaurant kitchens spend many hours dealing with grease spills, filthy shoes and food and animal by-products. The work isn't for the faint of heart. How do you do it right and keep your books in the black? Put away the generic cleaning products and the mop. Yes the mop.

Before telling you how to do it right, here's how it's done wrong. Don't worry. These aren't hard-kept industry secrets. Jerry, the facility manager down the street, cleans his restaurant this way. You know Jerry, the one on the Health Inspector's speed dial?

First, Jerry probably takes the same amount of time to mop his floor as the chef takes to cook his limp French fries. What he doesn't know is that he's setting himself up for failure. Ready for the golden rule of restaurant cleaning? It's not as complicated as you think.

There are three very simple steps to cleaning a floor:

* Application of chemicals
* Agitation
* The pickup

If you foul up the first step, you might as well use toilet paper to do the rest. No matter what you do, it's not going to work. We know it's hard to sit back while the product sits on the floor. It's usually late when you're servicing your restaurant, and you probably want to get home sooner than later. However, if you don't take the time to let your chemicals set, you're going to see the inside of your restaurant longer than you'd like. In regards to chemicals, consider citrus-based degreasers, which successfully remove food and animal by-products and act like a deodorizer.

Application of Chemicals
No matter what your grandma taught you about cleaning the kitchen, avoid the mop like Chef's fries. Why? Because mopping doesn't get the grease up; it just spreads it around. There's only one way to get grease off, and that's up. You may already have the necessary tool: A wet/dry vac. You can make magic with a wet/dry vac. The best trick is making grease disappear.

The biggest failure is going too fast. Time is money and too often a facility manager doesn't wait long enough for their cleaning product of choice to take effect. Depending on environment, the product needs 5 to 10 minutes to react with the floor. Practicing a little bit of patience will go a long way.

Agitation
Get yourself an auto scrubber or a low speed swing machine. Some people say you can use a deck brush to do the same job for less money. Don't kid yourselves. Sure, you're saving money up front, but in the end you'll have still have a dirty restaurant floor to contend with.

If you use a deck brush, floors will never get really clean and you could cause accidents by leaving the floor slippery. Manual labor can't compete with a cleaning machine working at 175-375 rpm. It's that simple. Machines don't get tired and they don't need rest. The cost of a new machine and maintenance will pay for itself.

The Pickup
The last tip? Go back to the golden rule. No mops, no mops, no mops and always remember to scrub and pick it up. An auto scrubber will do the trick if you have enough clearance for the machine, but most kitchens are too narrow. If you can't use an auto scrubber, a wet/dry vac will work.

There it is, the big three. Write them down; tape them up; but remember them. Following these three steps will keep your restaurants clean and, most importantly, your customers will keep coming back. Nothing exhibits courtesy and professionalism than a clean restaurant.

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