Keep Pests Out of Your Restaurant

EEEEKS! No one wants to admit it, but many restaurant kitchens have a few pests crawling around- even if you’ve never seen them. Ants, cockroaches, maggots, and even mice crawling in the refrigerator, near the ice bin, and in between the stove and cabinets. Once they’ve infiltrated the kitchen, it’s extremely difficult to get rid of them. So follow these steps to keep the crawling critters out of your restaurant.

Use an Air Curtain… This is especially good for keeping out insects. Made to be flush with the ceiling, and available heated or unheated, they can be installed at the front and back entrances of your restaurant, as well as the drive-thru window (if you have one). An added bonus of Heated Air Curtains are they help with your heat and cool temperatures.

Powdered Cinnamon… Looking for an economical and environmentally friendly way to keep ants at bay? Sprinkle powdered cinnamon  around any openings, including doors, windows, and vents, to repel them. While cinnamon is not deadly to them, it is a powerful and natural deterrent.

Check for Openings and Cracks, Then Seal Them… Mice can squeeze through a 1/4″ opening so make sure to fill any foundation cracks, gaps in the walls and holes around utility pipes with steel wool sealed with caulking so the mice can’t chew through it as soon as you see them.

Clean! Clean! Clean!… We cannot stress this enough. A dirty, cluttered restaurant is like an open invitation for bacteria ridden pests and rodents.

  • Place garbage in sealed tightly sealed cans outside. You can even tie down garbage cans with bungee cords for added protection.
  • If there is no clutter, there is no where for mice and insects to hide and so that you can easily inspect for infestation.
  • Clean food and drink spills as soon as the occur.
  • Keep sink drains dry and free of food debris.

Storage Containers… Use tightly-sealed Ingredient Bins to store dry ingredients like rice, sugar, and crackers. Mice can easily chew through cardboard and ants can crawl through the cracks of boxes, but with sealed plastic containers, pests have no way of getting in- just make sure you seal it closed EVERY time you open it.

Screen Windows and Doors…  Commercial kitchens are hot, which means employees are tempted to prop open windows and doors to allow the heat to escape. The only problem, is unscreened openings also become an entrance area for small insects. Use a 16″ mesh screen on all windows and a tight fitting screen door to help keep out even the smallest insects.

Inspect Your Deliveries.. Pests are often brought in by people, including your vendors. Check deliveries before placing items into your dry storage area and reject infested shipments.

Education… Educate everyone of your employees on the dangers and risks of insects and rodents. Have a check list and tips near exterior doors, walk-in coolers, and food storage areas reminding employees what to do to ensure a pest-free kitchen.

The White Box Test… Ok, so let’s say you suspect that you might have a pest problem. What do you do now? The Health Department recommends an interesting, but effective method to determine if there are critters crawling around your kitchen and pantry. Move all dry ingredients to the center of the room. Paint a 12″ thick white box around the ingredients. If you have ants, you will see them crawling around and if you have mice, you will see mice droppings on the white box.

Pest Control Services… Well the pests are there and you need them out now before they further destroy your inventory and appear in a customers dish. Call a licensed and professional pest control service. Do not attempt to deal with the problem on your own, as it will be more effective to hire a company.

  • Applications should be limited to ‘crack & crevice’ or ‘spot’ (2 sq. ft.) treatments.
  • If you use foggers (“bomb”) or wider area sprays, you MUST remove all exposed food items and cover food preparation surfaces and equipment.
  • After treatment, wash down all surfaces.

Rodent Traps… If you do have a rodent problem, you first need to secure your establishment and locate where they are entering the building from. Once you’ve done this, then you can set up traps to catch the rodents living in your restaurant. There are two types of traps you can use:

  • Mechanical traps like live traps or lethal snap traps
  • Sticky traps or glue boards.

Check traps regularly and remove and dispose of captured rodents immediately.

We hope these tips are helpful in keeping your restaurant free and clear of insects and rodents. Share with us how you keep your kitchen pest and rodent free in the comment section below.