5 Brilliant Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Floor Sparkling, According to Professional Chefs

published Mar 4, 2022
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After a brief stint as a line cook, and another as a baker at a café, I realized that the professional kitchen spaces I worked in were much tidier and neater than my own home base. In particular? The floors. Between veggie prep and a super-busy dinner service, restaurant kitchen floors take a beating. But by night’s end, they’re always sparklingly clean. What gives? 

I consulted a few chefs I know. They all have different cooking styles, but every chef runs a tight ship: No messy or dirty floors. Of course, the stakes are a little higher for restaurants. A messy workspace is a health code violation. For us, it just means crumbs stuck to our socks. Still, I wanted to learn a few things about kitchen floor maintenance. Here are five great tips worth knowing.

1. Use a squeegee.

A squeegee might not be the go-to tool for home cooks, but restaurant workers know how useful it is. “Not only does it remove sediment and stains, but it also dries your floors at the same time as it washes them,” says Ron Hsu, the chef and co-founder at Atlanta’s Lazy Betty. And there’s a bonus, too: “It’s safer — and takes less time than air-drying.” In fact, almost every chef I spoke to uses a squeegee when cleaning up. If you have tiled floors, this is definitely worth considering!

2. Break out the hard stuff.

Einat Admony, chef and owner of New York City-based Balaboosta and Taïm, likes a long-handled squeegee, too. But it’s not always enough. When serious messes happen (or potential contaminants hit the floor), she doesn’t hold back. “Don’t hesitate to use harsh chemicals,” she says.

Credit: Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

3. Clean as you cook.

“In my kitchen, working neat is paramount,” says Christoper Scott, chef and co-founder at Butterfunk Biscuit Co., and Top Chef alum. “We constantly sweep and mop; not just at closing time. This way, food debris isn’t tracked all over the kitchen.” But keeping crumbs off the floor is only half the battle. Like Hsu and Admony, Scott loves a squeegee — and an all-natural cleaning solution: “Hot water and soap, and plenty of elbow grease.”

Credit: Sarah Crowley

4. Stock up on a big jug of cleaner.

There are a zillion cleaning products on the market. To determine which one is the best, I’m happy to take advice from the pros: “My dad owned and operated a restaurant for most of my life, and he swears by LA’s Totally Awesome all-purpose cleaner, says Crystal Ung, co-founder of up-and-coming BowlCut. The versatile cleaner is now all she uses — on her counters, stove, bathroom, and the floors. “Because it comes in a big jug, it lasts forever, and I put the liquid in my reusable spray bottles — so I’m able to cut down on plastic use.”

5. Design floors with a slope and a drain.

If you have the opportunity to design your own kitchen, file away this ultra-smart tip for true restaurant-level cleanliness. “Ask your contractor to put a gentle slope in the floor, and add a drain,” says Lazy Betty’s Hsu. “This helps the daily mopping of it tremendously, as dirty water will always slope to the drain installed into your kitchen floor.” This idea was echoed by most of my chef friends, and it makes perfect sense. So smart. So clean!

How do you clean your kitchen floors? Tell us in the comments below.