Before Covid-19, keeping your kitchen clean was always crucial. Few food businesses managed to pull in a profit without a four-or-five star hygiene rating and failing to keep your appliances spick-and-span has always been a sure way to end up spending a tonne of cash on repairs and replacements.
But now cleaning has become something far more important than simply keeping the grease and grime which naturally accumulates at bay. With coronavirus ever-present, cleaning has come to mean, more than ever, soothing anxieties and keeping your customers safe.
So, how do you do it?
How do restaurants, cafes, bistros and pubs persuade a wary public that it is safe for them to return?
Let's take a look, starting with the why:
Why Are Customers Afraid Of Coming Back?
The answer isn't too complex.
For months now, we've all been told that close contact is a definite no-no - and those months of home-cooking and avoiding dinner dates has taken its toll.
Many are reluctant to venture out because they fear for their safety. They worry that they will be put in close quarters with someone who has the virus and they fear that they'll pick the bug up off of the surfaces they touch or the plates they lick clean...
How do we assuage that anxiety about cleanliness? By keeping clean and making it easy to see that we are keeping clean.
To do that, we first need to know:
How Clean is Clean?
Handwashing is one kind of clean. Handwashing has been a cornerstone of the fight against Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. And public health awareness campaigns have drilled into all of us that we should be stopping as often as possible to soap-and-water or sanitize our hands (for at least 20 seconds a pop).
These are both good solutions to the problem: both soap molecules and the alcohol in most hand sanitizers work to break down virus particles, while the water will wash the residue away.
But handwashing isn't the be-all and end-all of pandemic health and safety. Before you pump that household soap onto those tables, plates and prep-surfaces, know this: while warm soapy water is ideal for scrubbing dirty mitts, it isn't ideal for cleaning everything else.
What is the cleanest clean?
56 Degrees + The Strongest Soap
We know from studying COVID-19's relatives that water temperatures of above 56 degrees C are best able to break the virus down. Meanwhile: the stronger the soap, the more effective it will be against all kinds of bacteria and viruses.
Combining this knowledge of what will certainly get rid of the bug with our knowledge of what it is safe to use on certain surfaces, we can figure out the ideal cleaning solutions for your floors, prep-counters and cookware.
For your floors and your toilets it may be easy to work out: using a strong disinfectant and close-to-boiling water is usually a good bet for getting the grime off of those kitchen tiles and they will do their bit to clear your utilities of COVID-19.
But high temperatures and high-strength disinfectant are not fit for all uses - so, sometimes we just need to get as close to the ideal as we can, while keeping safe.
Don't destroy your tables and prep areas by pouring boiling bleach onto them, for instance: find a reasonably strong disinfectant spray which is safe for use on your surfaces, and stick with that, cleaning thoroughly after each use.
And you certainly shouldn't swap out your standard dish-soap for industrial-strength-cleaning-solutions. Stick with what you know in terms of soap. But, certainly think about the other element of keeping clean during a time of COVID-19: temperature.
56 degrees C is certainly too hot to handle and so, if you are still handwashing those plates, dishes, knives and forks, it may be time to look at upgrading - both to protect your customers and to keep them feeling safe as they lap up the products of your cook and dinnerware. Get a machine capable of handling the heat:
Invest in a Quality Ware-Washer
Maintained well - cleaned regularly, and always topped up with the right levels of detergent, rinse aid and water softeners - a ware-washer can work miracles, ensuring that both your cooking and dining equipment is kept sparkling safe between each and every use.
What's more, with COVID on the march, many ware-washer manufacturers have responded by making their offerings that bit more enticing:
Meiko are issuing stickers that operators can display where recently serviced Meiko warewashers are in use - reassuring customers that their plates are sure to be COVID-free.
Meanwhile, Winterhalter warewashers are available with a Pay Per Wash scheme, great for keeping control of finances during this difficult time.
And finally, DC are ensuring that upgrades don't cost the planet, with their tree planting initiative - do your bit for the environment whilst keeping your dinnerware hygienic and free from Covid-19.
But, whichever ware-washer you choose, be sure to:
Keep Clean to Keep Your Customers Calm
The pandemic is big, complicated and certainly scary. While taking a wrecking ball to the economy, it has also prompted many to fear getting back to business-as-usual. The impact of the pandemic on how people think and feel can't be ignored.
So, if you're planning on reopening, make sure you address those fears.
Make it clear that your staff are regularly and thoroughly washing their hands and make it easy for your customers to sanitize their own as they enter.
Make it clear that your surfaces, your tables and your prep counters, are being kept COVID-free.
Make it clear that your plates, dishes, knives and forks are being washed well after each use, in a good quality ware-washer.
And be sure to have a reassuring answer if anybody asks: "how clean is your clean?"