Cleaning and maintenance of your kitchen equipment is a tedious task, but is very important for maximizing equipment efficiency and keeping your food operation running smoothly. It will result in energy savings, fewer failures, better food quality and service, extended lifespan, and a safer work environment for you and your employees. Not only is daily cleaning of your kitchen equipment recommended, it is also required by the Food Code. That means cleaning your ovens, cooktops, grills, salamanders, deep fryers, ventilation systems, and everything else — every day.
Cleaning the oven is probably the last thing you want to do after a long hard day in the kitchen, especially if you have spent hours at the pot and plate wash up station. But if you commit to wiping down the oven daily it will be much easier to clean, and you will avoid the nasty grease build-up.
Cleaning Commercial Oven – Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Power off
Before you get to work, turn the oven off, either from the disconnect switch, or by unplugging the power cord. Let the oven cool down before you get to cleaning.
Step 2: Remove the racks
Remove the wire racks and supports from the oven. Run each rack in warm water and scrub thoroughly using mild dish soap. Avoid using steel wool, it can damage the racks finish. If there is a lot of grease or food stuck on, use a nylon brush or let the racks soak in warm water and soap while you clean the rest of the unit.
Step 3: Clean the interior
Use a non-abrasive sponge or cloth to scrub the interior. A mixture of warm water and dish soap should do the trick to remove grease, residue or baked-on product. Be sure to thoroughly wipe down the areas around fans as removing any debris here maximizes efficiency by promoting airflow.
While it might be tempting, never use wire brushes, scouring pads or scrapes. These can damage the stainless steel interior or scratch the porcelain enamel. Use a blunt instrument, such as a spoon, to loosen food residue without harming the surface of the oven. If the mild soap is not enough to remove baked-on stains, use a cleaning product, like oven degreaser, but make sure to follow MSDS instructions on the product.
Be careful when scrubbing near any wiring, switches, or light sockets. These are generally well-protected, but you should still avoid getting water and soap on these components.
Step 4: Wipe down the exterior
Use the mixture of warm water and mild dish soap to clean the exterior of the oven. Make sure to scrub in the direction of the polish lines with a cloth or non-abrasive sponge. Again, avoid using abrasive tools, scrapers and harsh chemicals like chlorine and corrosive cleaners. These can damage the exterior surfaces.
Refer to your oven’s manual for recommended cleaners and materials.
Step 5: Don’t forget the doors
Wipe down the inside of oven doors using a damp towel. Some commercial ovens have removable doors, making them even easier to clean.
Step 6: Put everything back together
Place the supports and racks back inside the oven.
Here is a video that shows the process of cleaning a commercial oven:
Dealing with stubborn stains
In a busy restaurant kitchen it is hard to avoid spills and boil-overs. Attending to spills immediately will keep your oven’s performance throughout the day, and it will also spare you the challenging task of cleaning the mess up at the end of the day after they’ve carbonized.
For baked-on spills and burnt-on grease, you can go two ways. First one takes more time and effort, but it’s much more environmentally friendly and not dangerous. Second one is quicker and effective, but it involves potentially toxic chemicals.
Removing stains with baking soda
Measure out three tablespoons of baking soda into an empty spray bottle, then fill with water and mix the solution until all of the baking soda has dissolved
Spray the offending areas on the top and side of the oven and leave overnight. The next day, the grease deposits should have come unstuck and began to slide to the oven floor. Wipe up the residue from the bottom of the oven with a damp cloth. If grease persists, repeat the process between meals (again, ensuring the oven is cold)
The effectiveness of this solution hangs on making sure the baking soda is wet, and giving it enough time to dissolve off the grease.
Using specialized oven cleaner
Baked-on stains are no match for professional kitchen cleaning products. However, when using these make sure to wear gloves to protect your skin from exposure to harsh, potentially toxic chemicals. There is a variety of fast-acting, heavy-duty cleaners that work great.
Professional oven cleaning supplies are not cheap though, and they usually have to be purchased in bulk. Apart from being expensive, chemical cleaners have other downsides: caustic oven cleaners may be great for degreasing and shifting baked-in grime but they are corrosive and potentially toxic.
Make sure to use products that are recommended by your oven manufacturer, and also to read the warning label and follow the instructions.
Commercial Convection Oven Maintenance
Regular maintenance will keep your equipment in good shape and make them last longer. Here are few things that you can do yourself or train your staff to do in addition to cleaning to keep your cooking equipment in the best shape possible
Removing back baffle plate
Convection ovens have a baffle, or a diffuser plate that encases the convection fan, typically located on the rear wall of the oven cavity. Grease can build up behind baffle plate, so you need to take it out and clean behind it at least once a week.
It is usually held in place by 4 screws, so you need to undo them in order to remove fan baffle. Clean fan baffle with mild anti-bacterial detergent, hot water solution and a soft bristled brush. Dry the fan baffle thoroughly with a soft dry cloth before re-fitting.
Check the condition of door gasket
Visually inspect the gasket for any damage, such as tears, cracks or permanently compressed areas. To test the gasket seal, close a piece of paper or a currency bill between the gasket and the front of the oven. You should feel the resistance when trying to pull the paper out with the doors closed. Do this check in several areas around the door.
Inspect the cooling fans
All commercial ovens are equipped with cooling fans that help keep the temperature controller and other electronics cool. Cooling fan can be either underneath the lower panel, or in the back of the side control box. Shut the power off and take your side panel, or bottom panel off, then clean the fan with a brush.
While self-maintenance on a daily and weekly basis is sufficient, having a professional check on your appliances and test for issues at least quarterly saves your kitchen from future disasters or equipment malfunctioning.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. If you have issues with your kitchen equipment performance or questions about maintenance, we strongly recommend contacting a local authorized service agent who can help with your specific unit and all your commercial kitchen equipment questions.