Cleaning should be a regular part of your back of house routine, but even the most conscientious restaurant employees won’t have enough time to clean everything–especially if your establishment is always busy. That’s what an annual spring cleaning is for.

Ideally, this once-in-a-blue-moon cleaning session will be so thorough that it may even need you to shut down the restaurant for a day (or require lots of overtime). As such, you need to make sure you spend your time effectively and ensure it’s done well enough to last you until the next time.

Here are some tips on how to accomplish this:

Have a detailed and realistic checklist

Establish a detailed checklist of whatever areas and equipment you will be cleaning that day, and put the list in chronological order. This will encourage you to approach cleaning in a logical fashion and move equipment around accordingly.

Also, make sure your checklist is realistic given the time you have. Don’t do daily or weekly cleaning tasks on the same day as your spring cleaning, because you may end up running out of time for the big things. Keep smaller cleaning tasks separate (and more regular) and focus on areas of your kitchen you rarely get to, such as:

  • Grease traps
  • Cooker hoods
  • Pilot lights

Also check essential safety equipment like fire extinguishers, sprinklers, and smoke detectors.

Prepare your staff accordingly

Train your staff on correct cleaning procedures and the proper use of cleaning equipment. They need to know how to safely use, remove and store cleaning chemicals–especially those that touch cooking surfaces.

Make it clear which of your staff is assigned to which cleaning tasks, and distribute those assignments well in advance so that you don’t waste time arguing about individual responsibilities.

Don’t be afraid to call in the pros

Some areas of the kitchen can be tricky and time-consuming to clean, like the hoods and the ventilation system. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to get it done faster and more efficiently while your staff focuses on other areas of the kitchen or preparing for the next dinner service.

Don’t ignore the rest of the year

Your spring cleaning session will go much more smoothly if you have already made cleanliness a habit. Equipment will be easier to move and wipe down. There will be fewer grease stains to eliminate. And (if you practice low-stock inventory) there will be less stock to clear from the freezer and refrigerator in preparation for cleaning.

In addition to less work, your staff will also be easier to work with during the cleaning process. Employees will already know the value of keeping a clean kitchen and will have performed these tasks many times before.

You absolutely must have to do your spring cleaning. But you don’t have to view it as a chore. Instead, consider it an opportunity to show pride in your restaurant and ensure your patrons have the best possible experience you can give. Yes, it’s in an area they will never see, but it matters the most because it protects them from foodborne illness and contamination. So approach the task with enthusiasm, and encourage your staff to do the same.