Spring is finally here! If you live in the northern United States or anywhere in Canada, May is the month you can be certain no more white stuff will hit the ground until fall. In addition to warmer weather, it’s the beginning of the busy season for food truck vendors.
The spring and summer after all is when the annual outdoor events happen: outdoor concerts, food truck rallies, weddings, baseball games, farmer’s markets. If your food truck has been locked in storage all winter, it’s time to get the unit deep cleaned for service in advance of your first event.
How Often Should You Deep Clean a Food Truck?
Food truck kitchens don’t stay clean without on-going effort. On a busy food truck grease will inevitably get on walls and food will hit the floor no matter how careful you are. While you should utilize a daily cleaning checklist, it’s important to conduct a deep clean at least once per week and in advance of your season opener.
Most of the cleaning will be conduced inside of the mobile kitchen where food is prepared and served, but don’t forget about the exterior of the food truck and cab too. Customers will judge the cleanliness of your operation based on how your truck looks on the outside. If the wrap has been cleaned, waxed, and reflects in the sunshine, customers will assume the interior of the vehicle is treated with the same level of care.
One simple way to clean the exterior is to power wash the vehicle at a local car wash. Of course, you’ll need to find a location where there’s enough space to park the truck. Some car wash locations aren’t big enough to handle anything larger than an SUV. This is the most affordable and readily available option for cleaning the exterior of the truck.
Another option that requires no elbow grease from you is to drive the unit to a truck wash. Almost any mid-sized city will have a few truck wash locations where big rigs and RVs go to keep clean. These facilities will have the space to handle sized food truck or concession trailer you bring for cleaning.
Most truck washes offer trailer washouts where they pressure wash the interior of a unit. This service will not apply to your situation since because of the expensive kitchen equipment onboard to maintain. These services can be completed between $45 – $100 depending on the package selected. As a food truck vendor, it’s nice to be able to take a breather and let someone else professionally clean the exterior of the unit.
Food Truck Spring Cleaning Checklist – Interior
This checklist ensures you won’t miss a spot on the food truck. While this post is a spring cleaning edition, you should have a daily, weekly, and monthly set of checklists to ensure all cooking equipment is cared for. This will ensure safer food, a more appealing eatery for guests, and better working environment for employees.
Exhaust Hoods and Vents – Grease can quickly build up in these units over time. This build up will restrict airflow in kitchens and become a fire hazard. If you have a deep fryer in the kitchen you’ll need to be particularly steadfast about cleaning the exhaust hood.
3-Compartment Sinks – No matter where you vend in the United States, a 3-compartment sink and separate hand-washing sink is almost always required by the local health department in a mobile kitchen. You will be washing dishes and hands in these sinks so the cleanliness of this area is critical. Use a commercial grade disinfectant to clean the sink, backsplash, and facets of each sink every day.
Floors, Walls and Ceilings – It can be easy to overlook scrubbing the walls and ceiling, but it’s an important measure to take before rolling out the unit this spring. You should clean the walls and ceiling with a wash cloth as part of a weekly routine. If you leave a grease splatter on a wall too long it can leave a permanent blemish or lead to foul odors. Neither are desirable in a kitchen!
Floors will inevitably be one of the toughest areas to keep spotless. You walk on the floor, pans will hit the ground, and food will drop. Floors should be cleaned every day and swept during slow time periods. If you’ve got time to lean you’ve got time to clean!
Countertops / Prep Areas – Prep areas and counter tops are used regularly for food preparation. These should be cleaned each day before service to prevent bacteria. Give these areas a deep rinse after cleaning with a disinfectant spray.
Cooking Equipment – You should always follow the cleaning instructions provided in your buyers manual for each piece of cooking equipment. Make sure to train any employees on the best way to clean cooking equipment as well to ensure consistency. This will not only ensure the equipment is clean, but could in many cases extend the useful life these pieces.
If you use deep fryers, make sure to boil them out before the first service of the season. For refrigerators, make sure to clean the condenser coils with a bristle and vacuum. Flat tops should be washed down with warm soapy water.
We hope this check list provides you with practical tips for cleaning your food truck this year. One smart way to ensure the cleanliness of your unit is to create custom check list that inventories each area and piece of equipment in your mobile kitchen. Then you can build a plan for ensuring its cleanliness. If you don’t have a documented plan for cleaning, it’s likely key areas will be overlooked.