The Importance of Your Back Bar Cleaning Checklist
Cleanliness is one of the most important aspects of running a bar, staying up-to-code, and keeping your customers happy. Click here to learn more about the bar cleaning checklist.
For a minute, step back and stand in the shoes of your customer. Your favorite watering hole has been closed for a month because of COVID-19. You’re ready to get things back to normal.
You stop in, order your favorite IPA, and there’s no collar, the rim has greasy residue, and bubbles sticking to the side of the glass. Your heart sinks.
You wouldn’t want to drink out of a dirty glass, and you certainly don’t want to serve your customer’s drink in one.
Following our bar cleaning checklist can help maintain your reputation. Read tips designed to keep customers and the local health department in good spirits.
Starting the Day with a Dirty Bar
Even if your establishment uses a professional cleaning service, they’ll only clean the bar area, not the glassware or your taps.
Most people don’t like to prepare a meal in a dirty kitchen. Think of walking into a dirty bar in the same way. You’ll feel more inspired to do what you do best—make your customer’s day better—in a clean bar area.
You’ll also feel better prepared for those impromptu visits by your local health department.
Of course, you hope the night bartender did their part so that you can minimize cleanup before you open. Here’s your checklist for opening the bar:
- Wipe Bar Counter
- Wipe Down Chairs
- Wipe Down Glassware
- Inspect and Clean Beer Taps
- Stock Clean Towels
While not a comprehensive list, it covers the basics.
You’ll also want to stock clean beer openers and wine keys. Also, don’t forget to melt ice from the night before and restock with fresh ice.
During Your Shift
Once things get rolling and you have a steady flow of customers, don’t let your clean bar go to the dogs. It’s even more critical to maintain a sparkling clean bar area when things get busy.
Who wants to drink at a dirty bar? No one! Serving even one guest a drink in a dirty glass can ruin your image and make that guest go elsewhere.
Keep your regulars loyal by keeping an eye out for things that need cleaning throughout your shift. Use the bar cleaning checklist and schedule routine checks during downtime. You can also delegate tasks on the list as shift duties for your staff.
Here are our suggestions for things to look out for throughout the day. You can either check on them during your downtime or assign them to your staff as their shift duties.
- Clean Bar Counter
- Straighten Chairs
- Swap Out Dirty Linens
- Take Out the Trash
Again, we’re not covering every last cleaning detail, but don’t forget refilling napkins, straws, toothpicks, and drink stirrers. Did you notice we didn’t mention cleaning glassware?
That’s because it’s such an essential item on any bartender’s cleaning list that it deserves a section of its own.
Clean Glassware Can Make or Break Your Bar
Remember earlier when we mentioned bubbles clinging to the sides of a beer glass? If that’s a trend in your bar, you’re not getting the glasses clean enough. It turns off your guests. Dirty glassware is also a huge turnoff for the health inspector!
Now is the time to perfect your bar sanitation procedures, especially those pertaining to clean glasses. Remember the 3 keys to getting glassware clean: temperature, chemical, scrubbing. This applies to kitchen dish machines and your 3-compartment sink:
Get the Water Temperature Right
Use the first sink for scrubbing and washing away residue and soils. You’ll want the water temperature at 110° F. Use the second sink for rinsing and make sure you use the same water temperature.
The third sink is where you’ll sanitize. Here, you’ll follow the sanitizer manufacturer’s directions for water temperature. It’s usually between 75°F to 120°F.
Note: some bartenders rinse glasses again before serving a drink to their customers.
Choose the Right Chemicals
Make sure you use a detergent designed specifically for cleaning bar glassware. Your sanitizer should kill Ecoli and staph germs, but not leave any residue, aftertaste, or odor. We recommend Ecolab’s Bar Dandy detergent and sanitizer!
Use the Best Scrubber
Lipstick doesn’t melt off, so a key component of your glass cleaning procedure is scrubbing. Our KissKleen Glass Washer ensures you won’t have lipstick, pulp, or greasy residue left on glassware. The device will sit in the first sink compartment, and it is also great as a pre-scrub to your dish machine to ensure residue free, sparkling glassware.
Finally, you’ll air dry glasses upside down on a corrugated drainboard. Voila—you’re ready to wow your customers with sparkling clean glasses, and an excellent brew (or their favorite mixed drink).
Bar Cleaning after Last Call
If you’re too tired to clean at the end of the night, either you or the day shift bartender will get stuck cleaning before serving the first beer of the day. Make a point of checking these end of shift tasks off of your bar cleaning checklist:
- Sanitize the Bar Counter
- Sanitize Stools
- Sweep and Mop
- Wipe Down Liquor Bottles
- Wipe Down Beer Tap Handles
- Clean Out Beer Taps
- Sanitize Soda Guns
Your last bartender cleaning tasks of the night should include rinsing drains, washing drain covers, and taking out the trash.
Your Weekly Cleaning List
To keep your bar clean and running efficiently, you’ll have a list of weekly tasks.
For example, your coolers and keg lines need deep cleaning at least once a week. Drawers and cabinets should also get a thorough cleaning every week. Here are a few other weekly tasks to include on your checklist:
- Clean Shelving
- Clean Storage Equipment
- Sort and Reorganize Drawers and Cabinets
- Clean Floor Mats
Most bartenders also take preventative measures against pests in the bar area. Whether that’s something you take care of personally or call your exterminator about is up to you.
What Do You Have on Your Bar Cleaning Checklist?
As you can see, it’s essential to have the right bar cleaning supplies and a checklist you and your staff can use as a guideline.
How you manage your bar cleaning checklist will depend on the size of your staff and the size and traffic patterns in your establishment. You’ll likely have several to-do items not on our list, but just as critical to your daily operations.
Your health department will also likely have their list for you to follow so that you stay up to code.