Office kitchens are heavily used; most employees have at least one meal in there during the course of the day, and sometimes as many as two or three, depending on their working hours. And, of course, little time is given to clean-up after meals as the employee will be needing to get back to the business of making money for the company as soon as possible! Once a year or so, the kitchen should be involved in your commercial cleaning regime and deep cleaned to ensure that it remains hygienic and safe for your staff to use.
- Move everything
One thing that is easily ignored in an office kitchen is the fact that dirt builds up behind large – and sometimes even small – appliances. On the day that the deep clean is happening, ensure that staff know that the kitchen is going to be unavailable for a short time, or perhaps arrange for it to be cleaned while the office is closed.. This will allow the cleaner to get behind large appliances to clean the walls, floor and other normally inaccessible areas that are usually hidden from view.
- Small appliances
Small appliances that are in constant use tend to get grubby quite slowly and it can be hard to realise just how grimy they are until you look at them. Toasters, kettles and microwaves should be wiped down externally, but they should also be cleaned internally the toaster should be emptied out and the crumb traps cleaned, the kettle will usually benefit from a descaling (a limescale removing tablet can be popped inside the kettle and brought to the boil to soften and loosen the build-up), while the microwave can be scrubbed out and disinfected. A quick and easy tip to loosen baked on food is to spray a very damp microfibre cloth with an anti-bacterial kitchen cleaner and pop it in the microwave on full power for 1 minute. The steam from the cloth will loosen and soften any debris. Beware the cloth will be piping hot so using rubber gloves wipe the ceiling, sides and base of the microwave with the cloth. This is also an excellent tip for disinfecting a smelly cloth at the same time.
In all cases, wherever possible, use cleaners that will act on the dirt and grease while you get on with something else: often a human scrubbing and wiping will not be as effective as applying a cleaner and allowing the correct amount of contact time for it to get to work, cutting through grease and removing stains. Remember to use a kitchen cleaner which doesn’t have any odour on the benchtops.
Many office kitchens have dishwashers, and these can become traps for dirty water, holding debris and food remnants in the water tank underneath the main body of the dishwasher. If your office dishwasher is beginning to smell unpleasant, an effective way to clear this is to run a hot long wash, with the dishwasher empty and using a dishwasher cleaning product. But first, clean out the filter at the bottom which can often house all kinds of rotten food. Top up with salt and rinse aid and the usual detergent and to ensure that your dishwasher smells completely fresh pop in a dishwasher freshener to leave your dishwasher lemony-fresh and ready for use. Repeat monthly to ensure great cleaning results from your dishwasher.
- Oven and fridge
Office kitchens sometimes have a small oven in them, particularly for bigger companies, or those that run long shifts. Ovens are notorious for building up grease and dirt and it can be particularly hard to shift baked-on grease. Purpose designed oven cleaners will cut through the worst of grease and caked-on detritus: read the instructions, use protective gloves and goggles, and allow the chemicals sufficient contact time to do their work. Once the oven is clean, allow it to heat up for around forty minutes, ensuring that there is good ventilation. This will allow any chemical residues to burn off harmlessly – but wiping out the cleaned oven with a clean damp cloth can also help you there. Office fridges are home to anything and everything from leftovers to drinks to raw ingredients, and over time they can acquire items that no one claims: and that no one throws away! Fridges should be completely emptied once a month of anything that has been in there for longer than four days (depending on what it is) and once a year should be defrosted, cleaned and wiped out with a disinfectant to fend off the growth of mould or mildew. Good practice is to have a clear fridge policy and to throw away all food on Friday’s to minimise the risk of harmful bactieria growth.
- Clean the floor
The floor in an office kitchen is almost always neglected: and moving the fridge and oven will show just how much dirt can build-up without being noticed. A fresh mop and hot soapy water will move most of this, as long as the floor is watertight, with vinyl or linoleum tiles. A steam cleaner is a quick and effective floor cleaner too, loosening dirt and making it easy to simply wipe off. Be a bit more careful with wooden floors that will need special treatment if they are to avoid warping or damage.
The walls are often neglected, but splashes and smears can accumulate causing unsightly griminess or allowing mould and mildew to build up. While the large appliances are being moved to clean under them, the walls should be tackled too: sprayed with cleaners, wiped clean and a disinfectant/ mould prevention spray used. Splashbacks benefit from a good scrubbing too, and grout can be cleaned, whitened and, if necessary, redone. The area behind the bin often gets splashed with food and drink as its emptied so consider painting the wall in a washable paint, or putting a vinyl or glass splashback over the area. Areas underneath soap and paper towel dispensers often become unsightly from splashes from wet hands. This is usually fat deposits such as natural oils or moisturers and can often harbour bacteria. Clean using a microfibre cloth sprayed with a kitchen degreaser.
- Look up!
Do not neglect the windows or the ceiling in your kitchen. Fumes, steam and smoke all rise and can cause staining on the glass and the ceiling, especially if the windows are high up and not easily reached. Dust can build up on light fittings and cornices, while spiders will take up residence anywhere that it is warm and that offers them a food source. You can use a feather duster or hoover to lift off any superficial dust, while greasy build-up will need a degreaser to cut through to the original paintwork. A micorfibre pad sprayed with a kitchen degreaser on a long handle works very well to reach those high up areas.
- Extractor fan
Most kitchens have extractor fans to whisk away any steam, smoke and food smells, and it is very common for these built-in features to be ignored. However, a neglected extractor fan can fill up with dust and grease: the perfect combination that just needs to overheat or a single spark to burst into flames. But even without it being a fire hazard, extractor fans should be cleaned regularly to keep them working efficiently.
When you are drawing up your cleaning checklist for your kitchen, make sure you add checking the smoke and carbon monoxide & CO² detectors that are fitted, to be certain they working and clean. If full of dust they can be vacuumed to quickly and effectively clear them out. A clean kitchen is an inviting place, and often this will encourage those using the kitchen to leave it in as good a condition as they find it, so the next year’s kitchen deep cleaning will not be as bad!