Fire departments address over 7,400 restaurant fires each year. Commercial kitchens bear greater fire risks than many other locations. Risk is heightened by cooking elements, like the kitchen’s gas stove or exhaust.
In April 2022, videos of a dramatic fire in a Sydney restaurant went viral, as flames burst through the chimney to engulf the roof. Diners had mere minutes to evacuate.
Nobody was injured. But, the damage to the restaurant was substantial.
Fortunately, these fires are preventable with proper maintenance. One of the best ways to ensure that maintenance is to work with professional kitchen exhaust and specialist cleaning businesses.
And fire prevention isn’t the only benefit of a commercial kitchen cleaning service.
Different states establish different safety codes to protect diners from fire, toxic gases, or foodborne illness. Lax cleaning practices could lead to a code violation—an offence that, typically, incurs a fine.
So, what can a commercial cleaning service do to keep you legal—and your customers happy? And what should restaurant managers know before choosing a kitchen specialist cleaning business?
Learn the answers to all of those questions and more with this guide. Read on, and discover everything you need to know about commercial kitchen cleaners.
10 Key Things to Know About Kitchen Exhaust and Specialist Cleaning Businesses
As a restaurant manager, kitchen cleaning is critical. It also isn’t as intuitive as you might hope.
Fortunately, professional kitchen cleaning services can help.
The core principles of cleanliness are the same as they are in your day-to-day life.
Washing with soap and water disrupts the molecular bonds on the surface of skin (and other materials). This makes it easy to wash away that top layer and all the germs it might contain.
But, while the same general principles apply, kitchen exhaust cleaning can be a bit trickier than hand washing.
For one thing, the molecular bonds that make grease and particulates cling to surfaces are often stronger than the “dirt layer” on your hands. You’ll need a stronger solvent than most soaps to scrub the layer away.
Second, it’s not just solid grime that poses a problem. If you clean with the wrong chemicals, the solvents can contribute to indoor air pollution. In the long run, this can pose as much of a hazard as the fire risk.
It helps to have a kitchen cleaning expert when navigating these risks. Before you hire one, though, it’s smart to learn the basics about the work.
These ten facts about kitchen exhaust specialist cleaners can empower you to choose a service wisely.
1. IKECA Sets the Bar
IKECA is the International Kitchen Exhaust Cleaning Association. It develops and sets technical standards for equipment and practices in the field.
IKECA frequently publishes and updates resources informing cleaning professionals of ground breaking research. Kitchen cleaning professionals must clear a high bar for excellence to maintain membership.
2. The Kitchen Owner Is Responsible for Code Compliance
Cleaners, public health officials, and patrons each have a vested interest in kitchen cleanliness. But, at the end of the day, the owner of commercial kitchen companies is responsible for keeping it up to code.
A non-compliant kitchen will earn fines for the owner.
3. The Kitchen Exhaust Hood Needs Cleaning WAY More Often Than You’d Think
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) sets the standard for fire prevention measures in commercial enterprises worldwide. NFPA 96 describes how frequently a kitchen exhaust system should be inspected and cleaned.
Exhaust systems that serve solid fuel cooking operations must be inspected and cleaned every month.
In contrast, systems that serve 24-hour cooking, charbroiling, or wok cooking at a high volume should be inspected every three months.
4. White Vinegar Solution Can Cut Through Grease
Commercial kitchen cleaners may choose different solvents and solutions from one another. For routine kitchen surface cleaning, products like white vinegar solutions can be effective.
White vinegar solutions are much less toxic than other chemical cleaners.
5. “Clean” Means You Can See Bare Metal
NFPA and IKECA agree: if you can’t see the metal surface, it doesn’t count as clean. Grime and grease should not visibly coat a surface, including exhaust surfaces, after cleaning.
Professionals must be able to meet this visual standard. IKECA also offers a grease gauge, which quantifies the amount of grease on a surface. The gauge delineates the level of acceptable grease build-up.
6. Access Doors Are Mandatory—and Yours May Need a Re-Design
The NPFA recommends an exhaust system to incorporate access doors or panels at intervals of every twelve feet of ductwork. Often, older models have access doors that are too narrow to offer easy access to the duct interior.
Your kitchen exhaust may require additional panels, or resized panels, to comply with best practices.
7. Necessary Assessment and Documentation Varies by State
Each state, municipality, and region may impose its own regulations on commercial kitchens, regarding best cleaning practices.
The regulations may describe slightly different, necessary assessments and documentation to stay legal.
For example, consider the Food Safety Assessment and Cleaning Schedule set by the state of Victoria. While it incorporates NPFA recommendations, it also sets additional standards.
8. Restaurants Can Reduce Indoor Air Pollution on Three Levels
Commercial kitchen cleaning companies can improve your space in more ways than one. In addition to preventing fires, deep cleaning services can decrease indoor air pollution.
Many of the practices that reliably reduce indoor air pollution at home have an even greater impact in restaurant kitchens.
9. Controls Can Mitigate Kitchen Hazards
Routine commercial cleaning is one practice that can mitigate kitchen hazards. You can further mitigate these risks by incorporating controls—like signage and cleanliness rules—into your kitchen daily.
Appropriate protective equipment also limits the potential impact of hazards.
10. Exhaust Fans Need Hinges
One underrated commercial kitchen hood cleaning code requirement concerns exhaust fans. Exhaust fans need hinges.
Hinges reduce the risk that cleaning will contribute to misalignment. If your system fan is hingeless, you’ll need to install hinges soon.
Top-Tier Commercial Kitchen Cleaning
If you manage a commercial kitchen, safety is one of your top priorities.
Kitchen exhaust and specialist cleaning businesses can make compliance with safety standards easy. At Lotus Commercial, our complete suite of kitchen cleaning services does just that.
As a commercial cleaning business partner, we maintain IKCEA membership in good standing to keep up-to-date with the current best practices.
- Understand and comply with all codes and documentation mandates in your state
- Clean with effective, safe, eco-friendly supplies
- Implement and facilitate upgrades and processes that can make your kitchen safer year-round
Ready to learn what commercial cleaning can do for your kitchen? Contact us today.