Whether you have a walk-in cooler or freezer, commercial refrigeration is essential to any food establishment. It should be no surprise that proper cleaning maintenance is a top priority for every manager, as any issues can quickly bring service to a halt. Staff also need to understand how to clean and organize your refrigerators to ensure easy accessibility to ingredients and avoid accidents. Today, we’re going to discuss some tips for cleaning out your fridge. Before getting started, you must make sure your unit is unplugged.
Inside the Refrigerator
Apart from food care, your refrigerator’s floor, shelves and walls should be cleaned on a regular basis, usually once a week. Avoid using steel wool and toxic chemicals, such as bleach, as these can damage the finish to your refrigerator. Chemicals can also leave behind strong scents that can affect the flavors of food. Burnt-out interior lights should be replaced immediately. Make sure that the same bulb type and wattage is used for replacement. Shelves and drawers should be left to air dry before being placed back into the refrigerator.
Cleaning out your refrigerator is also a great time for component inspection to make sure your unit is operating at its best. Some things to check out include:
Condenser Coils – In most refrigeration units, the condenser coil is responsible for removing heat by drawing out air. If the coil is left uncleaned, dirt and other debris can collect and cause issues ranging from increased electrical consumption to failed compressors. Condenser coils can usually be cleaned with a Philips screw driver.
Door Seals – Also known as gaskets, door seals prevent warm air from entering your refrigeration unit. Any rips or tears in the gaskets mean your refrigerator is working over-time to keep itself warm, so it’s important to check for them on a regular basis. Cleaning can be handled by rubbing over sealing with soapy water. Another option is to let them soak in a soapy water mixture for a half hour. Make sure gaskets are dry before putting them back onto the unit.
Fan Blades – Cleaning should be handled by rubbing over blades with a dry, soft cloth. Avoid using damp cloths to prevent damage to nearby components, including the motor.
After you’ve cleaned your commercial refrigerator, it’s time to re-stock the shelves. Though refrigerators keep food fresh for days, poor organization can lead to misplaced items that can spoil before they’re found. Avoid this by keeping food rotating and culling food on a regular basis. Re-stocking is a great time to make sure all food is placed in containers that are properly labeled. Raw food must be kept in separate containers from cooked food.
It’s also important to check the holding temperature of your refrigerator throughout the day. Not only do temperatures within the “danger zone” cause food to go bad, but can point to issues with refrigeration parts.
Even if you clean your commercial refrigerator on a weekly basis, take the time to train employees on how to keep a clean unit. After every shift, employees should wipe down the refrigerator’s exterior. Refrigerator doors should never be left open for long periods of time. If someone takes containers off shelves, they should be replaced in the same spot to avoid confusion for other workers.