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Back Bar Cleaning Checklist


In the United States, bars and restaurants are a big industry.

According to data collected by Statista, sales in bars and taverns have risen steadily. In 2015, $23.15B was spent in bars and taverns, while the National Restaurant Association estimated food and drink sales reached $783B in 2016.

However, as a restaurant or bar owner or manager, you cannot take American consumer habits for granted. For every bar that is packed with eager customers every night, there is a struggling eatery preparing to shutter its doors.

Cleanliness is one of the easiest ways to garner customer loyalty and ensure that business is steady. That’s why we put together a helpful guide with tips on how to clean your back bar. Using a bar cleaning checklist, we will help you develop a cleaning schedule, discuss the best way to implement glass washing systems and ensure that you are adhering to restaurant cleanliness regulations and best practices.

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Cleaning For Throughout The Day

Some tasks are important enough to be done regularly throughout the day. Whether you want to instruct employees to simply do these tasks as a reflex or add them as a shift-based cleaning schedule for your restaurant, they need to be regularly addressed.

Wipe down the bar

Good restaurateurs and bar owners put a lot of work into their bars. Whether aged wood or gleaming granite, a bar’s surface is an important statement about the establishment.

Constant attention needs to be paid to the condition of the bar surface--wiping it down whenever needed. Make sure that you have a clean wash rag with sanitizer available at all times behind the bar.

Take the trash out regularly

The pace of bartending can change unexpectedly: what started as a slow day can shift when the bar is suddenly slammed.

Taking out the trash regularly rather than letting it pile up is a good way to handle an unexpected crowd change. While a partially full trash can may not seem like an immediate concern, you don’t want to get caught in the middle of a rush with an overflowing wastebasket.

Similarly, make sure you are breaking down boxes and other large items whenever you have a free moment. Again, you don’t want to wait until it needs doing because that need might occur the moment you get an impatient customer.

Clean glass washing systems

To keep up with the pace of drink service, bartenders have long relied on washing systems. A high-temperature glass washer, like our award-winning solution, is an essential tool specifically designed to ensure that barware is clean and spotless every time you serve a drink.

In addition, many bars have individual glasswashers installed just behind the bar so bartenders can make sure every glass gets a thorough cleaning.
Because such equipment is essential for serving the perfect drink, you need to make sure it gets the attention it deserves throughout your service and daily cleaning routine.
Many of these systems include water tanks to make hot water readily available. Make sure that water is changed regularly. Any sanitizing water you keep behind the bar needs to be changed regularly as well.

End-of-Day Bar Cleaning Tasks

End-of-day tasks need to be completed every night as part of your closing routine.

Sweep behind the bar

Spot cleanings need to happen throughout the day, but a thorough sweep should happen every night at close.

Empty and sanitize ice bins

The ice bin or ice well is a crucial part of any bar setup. They allow you to quickly serve iced drinks and sodas without having to walk away from the bar. High quality commercial ice chests—like the ones Perlick makes,are designed to be both efficient and low maintenance.

While you should have food safety protocols in place to limit ice well contamination, their constant use in bar service means you also need to work hard to address any potential contamination daily.

Empty your ice wells every night and make sure the inside of the well receives the same sanitizer treatment as the rest of the bar equipment.

Place floor mats in the dish washer

Floor mats are designed to withstand high power, high temperature dishwashers. Run a wash cycle on floor mats at the end of the shift after the dishes finish washing.

Do this after the mats have been swept. Cleaning them daily deters unwanted pests from coming inside.

Wipe down bottles in the speed wells

Top-shelf liquor is usually displayed on a shelf behind the bar, while well liquors are generally kept in a speed well for quick additions to commonly served cocktails. Because this serving space is designed for speed, many bartenders are less careful with these bottles. Small spills and drips that might be seen as costly when coming out of a topshelf bottle are often ignored when serving well drinks.

To avoid this, wipe down well bottles at the end of every night. Sugary liqueurs are especially prone to sticky residue. Because customers expect their drinks will be served in a clean environment, pay close attention to the optics of serving every drink out of a clean bottle.

If you are using replaceable drink nozzles or bottle toppers, remove them and run them through the dishwasher.

Clean speed rails

While the well bottles are out, take time to clean the well or speed rails

Clean soda guns

It’s important to regularly clean and check soda guns. Because soda guns dispense sugary drinks, they can get dirty pretty quickly.
Furthermore, a poorly cleaned soda gun nozzle can negatively influence the flavor of the drinks you are serving.

It’s also important to clean the nozzle holder. Because soda guns tend to drip a little when they’re in the holder, sugary residue can build up and get sticky, especially if left overnight. It’s a simple and quick job, but one that can have a big impact.

Clean and empty the garnish tray

A good garnish tray is essential for drink service. For high-end cocktails, presentation is crucial. Furthermore, if you are a bar that specializes in mixology, customers are likely eager to watch as bartenders prepare their drinks.

At the end of the night, make sure to either store or throw away any unused garnishes. Next, run the garnish tray through the dishwasher and replace it so it is ready for service the next day.

Clean any back bar food service solutions

Not every back bar includes food service solutions. However, in some places, deep fryers and steam tables are part of the presentation.

If you have a deep fryer, you need to check the oil nightly, either replacing it or filtering. You also need to wash the baskets and wipe down and clean the area around the fryer. This is crucial, as oil build up becomes exponentially harder to clean if it is left overnight.

If you have steam tables, you also need to make sure they are drained and cleaned. Make sure to use a sanitizing solution and then replace the water so you are prepared for next-day service.

Refill non-perishable disposables

Many bars have napkins, stirrers, straws, and toothpicks available for those sitting at the bar. You want to make sure that these service trays are clean and refilled.

Weekly Tasks

Some deep-cleaning tasks that don’t need to be done daily, but should be regularly scheduled. Many restaurants and bars opt to add these items to their Sunday closing check-lists.

Empty and clean reach-in coolers

Reach-in coolers store items that are often served but are perishable. Emptying and cleaning your cooler serves two important purposes.

First, it lets you inspect all of the items stored there. If any item is past its “freshest by” date, remove it.

This also gives you a chance to wipe and sanitize the cooler’s interior. Similar to speed rails, small spills will build up over time. Getting inside the cooler and giving it a good clean is essential, or bigger problems could arise.

Perlick stainless steel coolers are designed to be easy to access and, therefore, easy to clean.

Clean behind movable equipment

Depending on how your service and storage equipment is installed, it may move to allow cleaning behind it. This is a great way to address any hidden issues that may attract bugs and/or pests or may otherwise hurt the cleanliness of your bar. Furthermore, grease buildup, if the equipment is near the deep fryer, can become a fire hazard if left untouched for an extended period.

Remove glassware and display bottles and clean shelves

If you have a well tended bar, you won’t need to remove and replace the bottles and glassware on display behind the bar every day. However, it should be done weekly or bi-weekly. You don’t want to pull out a specialty glass for a high end drink only to find the rim is dusty or sticky.

Clean keg lines

Different bars have different methods for making sure beer lines connecting kegs to taps are clean. However, regardless of how you do it, it needs to be done regularly and sufficiently.

Because beers--especially more experimental craft beers--have a lot of yeast, the residue left in keg lines can quickly become a breeding ground for other microbes that will influence the quality of your beer.

While some beer specialty bars are sure to clear their lines with a solution followed by warm water every time they change a keg, you need to clean and flush your keg lines at least every week.

Count on Perlick for Your Beer Bar Refrigeration and Dispensing Solutions

Perlick offers a wide range of beer service solutions, catering to bars of every size. While there are common keg line cleaning techniques for every solutions, there are also specifics that you need to pay attention to. Make sure to follow manufacturer cleaning recommendations, regardless of the solution you install.

Regardless of whether you are operating 100 tap system or a corner tavern known only to locals, having a back bar cleaning checklist is a crucial best practice for keeping customers happy and loyal. Cleaning only gets easier with the right bar service solutions.

Contact Perlick to learn more about our best-in-bar service solutions


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