Whether you run a restaurant, bakery, or hotel, a walk-in fridge is one of the most important investments you can make.
All foodservice establishments depend on temperature-controlled refrigeration. But a cluttered, disorganised, and dirty cold storage room can cause excessive energy consumption, food wastage, and a shortened operational lifespan.
To help ensure your walk-in fridge remains in good condition and continues to work efficiently for many years, we’ve assembled guidelines on how to properly and professionally clean and maintain the integrity of your unit and the products stored inside.
Scheduled Monthly Cleaning
Thoroughly clean the inside of your walk-in fridge once a month during scheduled stock-take:
- Disconnect power to your unit to avoid injuries.
- Empty each shelf of all items and containers.
- Discard all expired and mouldy food.
- Start at the ceiling, and work your way down the interior walls and shelves to the floor, using a bucket with warm, soapy water, a bristle brush, and microfibre cloth.
- After thorough scrubbing, rinse with clean water. Stubborn stains can be removed with a simple vinegar and water mixture, while any mould or mildew will abate with bleach and water.
- Thoroughly sweep and mop the floor under and around the walk-in fridge. If your units have casters, be sure to pull them away from the wall to reach the walls and floor behind and beneath the unit.
- Disinfect surfaces and containers with a food-safe sanitiser.
- Reconnect your unit to the power, and restock the shelves by following proper food placement procedures to prevent any juices or bacteria from dripping down and contaminating the food below it.
- Add labels to any opened products to track the freshness of your food, so you can dispose of it when it expires.
- Use colour-coded bins for different products to make it easy to differentiate, and help your staff find what they are looking for quicker.
- Implement the “First in, First Out” inventory management method to ensure that you use the freshest food first, and avoid food from remaining in your walk-in fridge for too long.
Annual Deep Cleaning
Follow the checks below to thoroughly inspect and clean your fridge at least once a year.
Evaporator and Condensing Coils
By maintaining the evaporator and condensing coils regularly, the transfer of warm air into the walk-in fridge will be kept to a minimum, and an optimal temperature will be maintained.
Over time, dust and debris can collect on your refrigerator, which can end up clogging the air intake. As a result, your condenser and refrigerator coils will use more energy to take in air and keep your refrigerator cool, resulting in a less-efficient fridge and higher electricity consumption.
Prevent Dust and Debris
You can solve this problem by regularly cleaning away the dust on your refrigerator coils.
Brush the coils and the fan unit with a stiff bristle brush, and wipe down with a self-rinsing cleaner.
The periodic inspection of drain lines is vital to ensure your walk-in fridge operates successfully. Drain lines can become clogged over time due to the build-up of harmful debris and mould.
These are difficult to clean, so it is recommended that you use a qualified service technician twice a year to professionally clear debris and runoff- buildup to make sure your walk-in fridge operates optimally.
At Caterware Connection, we offer both quarterly and annual service contracts to help take care of your refrigeration equipment to ensure it lasts and is working 100%.
A door that doesn’t seal properly will allow warm air to enter, causing a build-up of condensation which will hamper the cooling process.
Remove any build-up from your walk-in refrigerator door gaskets by using a soft cloth with soap and water.
If door gaskets are damaged, cracked or stiff, the magnet will not seal, and will need to be replaced. If you notice any tears, make sure to replace the gaskets as soon as possible to prevent possible damage to the compressor.
Another option is to get in touch with our technicians to help you solve the issue.
Door Frames and Hinges
Inspect and clean the door frames and hinges to prevent the accumulation of grime or mould growth, as these areas contain tight, hard-to-reach places where mould can thrive if left unchecked.
How to Maintain your Walk-in Fridge
- Check the door sweep for tears and make sure it is sealing properly against the threshold.
- Periodically, check gaskets between panels to make sure they are not cracked or weathered. Replacement of damaged gaskets will ensure your walk-in is efficient and complies with national health norms and standards.
- Hinges should be lubricated once a year to ensure they close properly.
- Occasionally have a service technician check all electrical connections to make sure they are good and tight. Loose wires could cause high amperage, which will cause your unit to use more energy.
- Check for damage or decay in the insulation on suction lines between the condensing unit and evaporator coil. Replace as needed.
- Make sure fan motors are running at optimum speed.
How to Ensure Optimal Daily Performance
It’s not only essential to keep your walk-in fridge clean to preserve food at safe temperatures, but crucial to the overall performance of the equipment.
Follow these tips to ensure optimal daily performance:
The most efficient way to keep your walk-in fridge clean is to make it part of your kitchen staff’s daily regime.
Check the fridge for spills, spoilage, and mould daily, and address these immediately. Sweep and mop floors after service to make sure they are kept clean from food debris that could mould or attract pests.
Keep aisles clear, and don’t overload your walk-in fridge. Stack products neatly to ensure proper inventory of your stock is maintained and make sure there is nothing stacked around the coil. Refraining from stacking items around the coil will help prevent restricted airflow.
This might seem obvious, but it is important to monitor the temperature of your commercial walk-in fridge to maintain optimal temperatures required for the products being stored. In so doing, you will ensure that food is kept safe for consumption and spoilage is avoided.
Keep Door Closed
Make sure the door is always kept closed when not in use. Do not block or prop the door open for extended periods of time as this will cause temperatures to fluctuate.
Make sure the lights are off when exiting the walk-in fridge. Lights produce heat, which will cause your unit to consume more energy to maintain its optimal temperature.
- Soap and warm water is the best cleaning method for your fridge.
- Avoid using harsh or corrosive cleaning agents as these can damage the metal interior, leading to extensive and costly repairs.
- Always clean from the top down. You will inevitably upset dirt and dust which can finally be gathered by the vacuum cleaner or mop.
- Always disconnect power to your fridge prior to cleaning the evaporator and condensing coils and drain lines.
Following these guidelines for cleaning and maintaining your walk-in refrigerator will not only have a positive effect on the overall hygiene and cleanliness of your commercial kitchen, but will help prevent unexpected breakdowns and contamination, reduce electricity consumption, and extend the lifespan of your investment.
Caterware Connection offers a variety of high-quality walk-in refrigeration options and has the needed experience to deliver, install, and repair the walk-in freezer in your kitchen. We provide industrial fridges from international brands including Foster Refrigeration to kitchens in South Africa, and other Sub-Saharan African countries.
Our technicians provide both annual and quarterly maintenance services for all our industrial kitchen equipment.
We supply and install catering equipment for restaurants, retirement homes, bakeries, other remote sites, and more. If you want to talk to us about installing a walk-in freezer in your kitchen, get in touch.