Bar cleaning checklist

Updated February 21, 2017

Working in a bar as a cocktail server, bartender or bar back has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include daily cash in hand to pay bills and buy gas. Disadvantages include the late hours and the hefty restocking and cleaning involved in maintaining the bar. While bar cleaning checklists are usually a full page of tasks, there are a few areas around which all the tasks revolve.


Bartenders and bar backs dispose of empty bottles in accordance with local requirements and restock the bar’s wells. Each bottle of liquor must be removed from the well, the well wiped down thoroughly with a sanitised bar rag and the bottle wiped down and replaced. Depending on local sanitation laws, the bottles may need to be covered cling film before leaving for the evening.


The bartender or bar back disposes of broken glassware and restocks the shelves and hangers with the necessary number of glasses. Dirty glassware is washed in accordance with local sanitation laws, which typically involves hot water and a strong cleaner. The bartender or bar back then hangs the glassware in the bar to air-dry and sanitises the wash area.

Mixers and Garnishes

The bartender throws out or stores garnishes in accordance to local sanitation laws and company policy. Premade mixers are wiped down, labelled with a “day dot” to ensure freshness and refrigerated. Fresh mixers are dumped and the containers cleaned. Typically, the bar back pulls fruit for the garnishes and fresh-made mixers to store in the bar’s refrigerator, ready for the next shift.


Large rubber mats line the floor of the bar and become sticky and foul-smelling from spilt beer and cocktails. Each night, the mats are moved outside where they are rinsed thoroughly with a high-pressure hose. The tile floor in the bar is washed, scrubbed and run over with a squeegee-broom to push the dirty water into the drains built into the floor. The mats are air-dried and replaced in the morning before the first shift begins.

Tables and Bar Top

Each table and all of the bar top is cleaned last. All trash is tossed and the surface wiped down with a rag soaked in a cleaning solution according to local regulations to clean and sanitise. Condiments and sugar caddies are also wiped down with the rag soaked in sanitising solution. Wood along the bar is treated with an appropriate wood cleaner while brass, stainless steel and other metals are cleaned with a metal cleaner. Mirrors are wiped down with a paper towel and glass cleaner until they are streak free.

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About the Author

Based in Southern California, Daniel Holzer has been a freelance writer specializing in labor issues, personal finance and green living since 2004. His recent work has appeared online at Green Your Apartment and other websites. Holzer studied English literature at California State University, Fullerton.