6 Essential Maintenance Tips for Commercial Catering Equipment

Your catering equipment is a member of your team like any other. It needs time and attention to do its job properly. Give it the bare minimum of care and you will find yourself losing time, money and staff morale.

We get it, though. Managing a kitchen isn’t easy; you’re always short on time.

That’s why we’ve created 6 simple tips to make caring for your catering equipment painless. Put them into practice and benefit from:

  • Huge cost savings
  • Faster operations 
  • Better food quality
  • Health and safety compliance
  • Improved staff morale

1. Learn how to treat stainless steel 

dishwasher catering equipment

Most catering equipment is made of stainless steel because it’s resistant to corrosion and oxidation – it produces its own oxide film that coats the metal, helping it repair itself. 

But as you probably already know, that doesn’t make it invincible. 

The film breaks down over time, resulting in pitting and corrosion. To slow degradation, you need to clean your stainless steel appliances properly. 

To clean stainless steel effectively, you’ll need:

  • A soft cloth
  • An alkaline washing detergent (pH over 8)
  • Warm, clean water

Daily cleaning is essential to really make an impact. Already got stains? Removing rust, grease, coffee stains or salt marks requires a cleaning paste like Cif Cream. Spread the cleaner with a soft cloth then let it sit for 15 minutes. Afterward, rinse with warm water and wipe dry. 

To remove lime stains, a 25% vinegar solution should do the trick.

Pro tip: avoid using soaps containing citric acid with a pH under 6. And try not to leave wet cast iron pans or other metallic utensils on stainless steel appliances for long periods as this will encourage rust.  

2. Create a cleaning schedule

Cleaning should be habitual when it comes to your commercial catering equipment. Regular cleaning keeps your equipment in good health but also your staff and customers too as you maintain a safe and hospitable working environment.

Creating a cleaning schedule makes this task much more manageable while ensuring those responsible stay accountable. High Speed Training offers a cleaning schedule template here

Equipment that should be on your cleaning checklist includes:

  • Combi Ovens
  • Hobs and ovens
  • Coffee machines
  • Boiling Kettles
  • Microwaves
  • Refrigerators 
  • Freezers
  • Hoods, vents, and exhausts
  • Floors
  • Sinks, taps and draining boards
  • Drains
  • Waste disposal units
  • Grease traps
  • Dishwashers, and cutlery and glassware cleaners
  • Hand washing stations 

A few items on that list may require special attention. Learn more in our next tip.

3. Invest in deep cleaning services

Sometimes deep grime and dirt get into places you can’t reach, such as extractor systems and grills. Left unchecked and this can lead to safety hazards. 

It’s instances like these where hiring professional cleaners is a must. 

But you don’t want just any old cleaning service. Hire a cleaner for commercial kitchens with experience working in catering environments. That way you can ensure the job will be done efficiently and your money is well invested. 

A deep cleaning checklist can include:

  • Structural deep cleaning (ceilings, walls, floors)
  • Equipment deep cleaning (cookers, fryers, grills, griddles, refrigerators, freezers and more)
  • Worktop and storage deep cleaning (worktops, trolleys, shelving)
  • Extraction cleaning (canopies, filters, ducting, extractor fans)

Pro tip: when it comes to hiring cleaners for extraction systems, look out for members of the National Association of Duct Cleaners (NAAS) that adhere to TR19 standards. ISO 9001 quality assurance certification is a bonus too. 

4. Know the manufacturer’s guidelines 

There are two types of people – those who file their manuals in dedicated draws and those who toss them in the trash faster than you can say “Adios”. 

If you belong to the latter type, you’re going to have to fight that urge the next time you purchase new equipment. Because contained within that boring manual is information critical to preventative maintenance, including:

  • Cleaning and maintenance schedules
  • Instructions on use
  • Warranties to activate
  • Service records
  • How to claim in the event of issues

These essential details help you maintain and use your equipment properly, ensuring you can get the most out of your investment. 

Pro tip: following the manufacturer’s guidelines is key to keeping warranties valid. 

Missing a manual? You should be able to find a digital copy online by searching for the manufacturer and item code. 

5. Schedule routine inspections

Just as you need to maintain regular cleaning for all your catering equipment, you need ongoing maintenance inspections. So you can address small problems before they turn into expensive headaches.

Generally, equipment that needs routine inspections include:

  • Deep fat fryers
  • Automatic extinguishing systems 
  • Gas appliances
  • Pressure cookers 
  • Ventilation systems
  • Electrical plugs, cables and appliances
  • Gas appliance controls

Some inspections you can do yourself with a manual, such as calibrating your cooking equipment. Anything that feels too technical, bring in the professionals. For example, you should hire a Gas Safety engineer for gas equipment.

6. Train your staff on proper care

catering staff

Staff training on cleaning and maintaining equipment should be an essential part of your onboarding process. Otherwise, your kitchen might suffer from longer preparation times, ineffective cleaning, a drop in hygiene standards and rising energy costs. 

Training in these areas is also key to getting the most out of your equipment and ensuring valid warranties. 

It’s up to you to decide how you train your staff. You can do it yourself, use instructional videos online provided by the manufacturer or send staff on a private course. 

Pro tip: avoid training staff on the job. Otherwise, they might be too stressed to learn effectively. 

It’s all about the prep 

Proper cleaning and maintenance of your commercial catering equipment can feel like an overwhelming task. But not if you prepare properly.

Use these tips to plan your maintenance and cleaning schedules. And study your manuals in advance to make staff training and regular inspections hassle-free.

Got a question about caring for your equipment? We’re here to help. Call us on 0113 833 1234 or send us an email at info@northerncatering.co.uk.