Whether you own a bakery or a restaurant, keeping your commercial fridge in good shape is extremely important. Failure to do so can cost your business heavily.
But, cleaning and organizing such big refrigeration equipment is not that easy. Consistency and proper planning are crucial in ensuring the longevity of your commercial fridge.
There are many simple ways and best practices you can follow to keep your fridge going. This blog will shed light on some of them. I won’t talk just about using a dishwashing liquid but also show you some more effective ways.
So let’s begin!
Clean the Interior and Exterior Regularly
You should schedule a thorough cleaning of your fridge on a weekly or biweekly basis. Remove the existing items from the interior and place them in a temporary cooler. Scrub the shelves using a soft brush along with soap or a vinegar solution. Soak the drawers and shelves for a while and rinse when clean.
If your fridge has a stainless steel exterior, it’s important to use proper cleaning solutions and materials. Using abrasive scrubbers or sponges as well as chlorine cleaners will damage the exterior. You can use a soft brush or washcloth to clean the surface. It’s best to use a combination of warm water and vinegar or detergent-based solution. Use baking soda if you need to remove grease or baked-on food from the surface.
Discard All Expired and Moldy Food
When you are cleaning the interior and exterior of the fridge, it’s a good opportunity to discard the old stuff. Start with the perishables that have got concealed behind other items in a large refrigerator. Don’t keep anything you suspect of being spoiled. You are not in a position to take the risk of making a customer sick. Already-opened cans and jars should also be thrown in the trash You should follow the mantra: “When in doubt, throw it out.” In addition, if there is any other food or ingredients you haven’t used for months should also be discarded without any hesitation.
Clean the Condenser Coil Regularly
Make it a point to routinely clean your commercial refrigerator or freezer condenser coil. Most manufacturers’ recommendations mention cleaning once every three months. If the coil is dirty or dusty, it will become difficult to maintain temperature, cause overheating and component failure.
You will find the coil near the unit’s condenser. Disconnect power to the unit, and then remove dust and dirt using a stiff bristle brush. Subsequently, clear any remnants with a strong vacuum or air compressor. Your manual will also provide specific decreasing tips, which are important if your unit is in a kitchen near fryers.
Always Clean Drain Pans and Tubes
It’s normal for a large commercial fridge to attract big amounts of sludge and slime. This can cause your unit to freeze up. You should check your drain pan and any tubing that could experience such buildups. Remember to clean the pan at least once a month using either a vinegar solution or with soap and warm water.
In addition, excess grime can cause drain tubes to clog. Check the tubing every couple of months to notice and prevent a significant blockage. In case there is a major clog in your drainage hoses, it will cause your defrost system to overflow. Thus, you will notice calcium or water spots on the exterior of the hoses. You can remove them with soap and water.
Clean Underneath and On Top of the Fridge
Keeping the area around your refrigeration units clean is as important as cleaning the units themselves. You should thoroughly mop the floor underneath and around the fridge. If your units have casters, pull them away from the wall to clean the walls and floor behind and beneath the unit. Also, don’t forget to dust the top of the unit.
Disinfect with a Sanitizer
Cleaning not only includes normal mopping but also disinfection. Bacteria and mold are known to accumulate in the fridge over time. So you should always include a disinfectant or sanitizer in your shopping list of wholesale cleaning supplies. You should use a food-safe sanitizer, as your fridge will contain food items.
Restock Shelves in a Systematic Way
Post-cleaning, use proper food placement procedures when placing food back in your commercial fridge. Place ready-to-eat foods, like butter, produce, and condiments, on the top shelf. Next comes any seafood and it’s followed by whole cuts of raw meat. Beneath the raw meat, keep ground meat in proper containers. Raw poultry like chicken and turkey should be kept on the bottom shelf. This order prevents the bacteria from dripping down and contaminating other foods below it.
Here are some helpful things you can do to organize your commercial fridge:
- Add labels to any opened products. This helps you track the freshness of your food and you can dispose of it upon expiry.
- Use color-coded bins for different products so that they are easy to differentiate. It will help your staff find what they’re looking for.
- Follow the “First In, First Out (FIFO)” method. It is an inventory management method according to which, you use the freshest food first.
Store Delicate Produce Away From Fans
Fans of commercial refrigeration units are extremely strong in encouraging circulation, but this airflow can damage some of your food. Berries and fresh greens are most affected by these fans. Storing food close to fans increases the chances of a freezer burning. It’s true that you need to fully utilize the space in your freezer but use the items closest to the fans quickly.
Summing it up
Proper cleaning and organization of your commercial fridge will save you money in the long run. You can invest this saved money elsewhere in your food business. Last but not least, teach your staff some basic skills of fridge organization along with some good hygiene. In your absence, they are the ones who are responsible for the system. Follow all these tips and you should not have any problems in the long run.