Cleaning a Walk-in Cooler

by Lawton Brothers | Aug 09, 2023


Whether you run a restaurant, supermarket, or bakery, your walk-in is an important investment. A walk-in cooler can often be overlooked in the regular cleaning and maintenance – once the door is shut, it becomes “out of sight, out of mind.” And due to the cold environment, many will think that microbes aren’t really a problem. However, dust and grime can accumulate rather quickly without regular maintenance.

General Everyday Maintenance

Of course, rule number one for maintaining your walk-in is to keep the door closed. This naturally helps maintain temperature (which is essential for food safety and vital for your energy costs), but will also help regulate the humidity in the cooler – which inhibits mold growth. 

Remove old and spoiled foods – preferably before they spoil. Moldy food releases spores, which travel through the air and infect other foods as well as attract pests. Keep food covered to protect it from spores and leave space around each container for proper airflow to reduce condensation. 

Clean spills quickly. The moisture from spills will increase the humidity in your cooler, leading to mold growth. Additionally, as the liquid cools and evaporates, it will be increasingly difficult to clean. If left too long, the spill can become slick as ice, creating a safety hazard. Check daily for leaks and spills, especially under and behind shelving.

On a weekly basis, spot-clean the shelves and walls with soap and water. In a food service environment, the floor should be swept and mopped daily. Again, soap and water is the best choice, as chemicals can be harmful to the metal in your cooler. If you’re having difficulty with the water freezing before you can mop it, add 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol to 1 gallon of hot, soapy water. This will lower the freezing point and give you more time. 

Monthly Maintenance

Clean the interior walls and inspect for any stains, mold, pests, or damage. Hard water stains can be cleaned with white vinegar and water; mold and mildew can be taken care of with bleach and water. If any caulk seals are coming loose, pull them free. You can pick up a small tube of silicone at a local hardware store to reseal it.

Clean the condenser coil of your condensing unit, as this will help regulate airflow and humidity. Be sure to shut off the circuit breaker before attempting to clean your condenser. You can use a shop vac to suck up loose debris as well as reverse the airflow to blow out deeply embedded dust from the center of the coil. Wipe off the housing and condenser with a damp rag and ensure that the immediate area surrounding the evaporator and coils are clear to prevent airflow obstruction.

Check that the doors are fully sealed upon closure. Typically, a visual inspection is all that is required. You should be able to close the door on a dollar bill, with resistance when you attempt to pull it out. Additionally, clean in the gasket of the door (the rubber seal) as this can accumulate grime over time.

Annual Maintenance

Cleaning your evaporator coil is a lengthy process but is extremely important, as they can collect sediment over time. Evaporator cleaning solutions can be purchased by the bottle and are specially formulated to clean the type of sediment that collects in evaporators. The product will give detailed instructions on how to apply and use it. Once again, be sure to turn off the power at the circuit before attempting to clean the interior parts. Once the power is off, remove the bottom pan of your evaporator coil and clean this, as well as the tubing and coils themselves.

It is also necessary to clean out drain lines at least once a year. Drain lines can become clogged over time as both debris and mold can build up. These can be difficult to clean, so it is best to work with a technician to ensure the lines are free and clear of buildup. 

Exhausted with Cleaning?

Let Lawton Brothers help make your cleaning routine a breeze. We offer green cleaning supplies, training seminars, and even equipment rentals. Give us a call today and ask about a free cleaning audit, where we work with you to improve your current program: 800.432.0813

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