Preventing Restaurant Pests

February 27, 2023

Due to the nature of the food service industry, pests pose a significant hazard to restaurant owners. When pests invade an establishment, they endanger employees and patrons, destroy food stores, and ruin hard-earned reputations. Keep your establishment completely pest-free with the following guide to restaurant pest prevention.

What Are The Most Common Restaurant Pests?

The most common pests in restaurant settings are rodents, ants, cockroaches, pantry pests, flies, birds, and stinging insects like mosquitoes and wasps. Here’s how to keep these pests off of your property:

Block All Entry Points

Keeping pests out of your restaurant starts with blocking all of their entry points. Carefully inspect the outside of the building for any small openings and repair them. Use a silicone-based caulk to seal cracks in the foundation or walls as well as gaps around vents, utility wire entrances, windows, and doors. Remember to check around all doors, including garage and delivery bay entrances. Use steel wool to stuff larger openings. Next, replace broken siding, missing shingles, torn window screens, and torn weather stripping. Finally, make sure all vents and chimneys have tight-fitting screens or covers.

Clean All Areas Thoroughly

Pests are attracted to both clutter and crumbs, so cleanliness is vital in preventing infestations. Clutter provides shelter and safe passageways for pests, so try to keep storage spaces and offices as neat as possible. More importantly though, messy restaurants provide pests with countless food and water sources. To avoid attracting hungry pests, restaurants should be thoroughly cleaned every day with special care given to dining rooms, kitchens, bar areas, and food storage areas like pantries and walk-in coolers. Any spills or crumbs should be cleaned up as quickly as possible, dishes should not be left overnight, condiment bottles should be wiped down daily, and grease traps should be emptied and cleaned regularly. Soda fountain nozzles and beer taps need to be cleaned each night. Once or twice a week, sort through all ingredients and leftovers and properly dispose of any outdated items.

Clean Appliances

Appliances are quite attractive to pests as they provide substantial warmth, not to mention they are always a short distance from food. In addition, appliances like refrigerators have trays that catch water from condensation. Pests like to build nests in or near appliances, so it is important to regularly and thoroughly clean refrigerators, ovens, stovetops or griddles, grills, microwaves, toasters, grease traps, fume hoods, soda fountains, ice machines, dishwashers, and any other appliances in your establishment. Be sure to clean behind and underneath appliances as well.

Fix Leaks and Clogs

All pests need a water source, and some species love to spend their time in the muck of a clogged drain. As such, all leaks and clogs, both indoors and out, need to be fixed as promptly as possible.

Properly Store Food and Ingredients

Most pests can easily chew through the cardboard or paper packaging in which many foods are sold. To keep pests from snacking on your ingredients, keep them in tightly-sealed containers that are made of a hard material like metal or hard plastic. In pantries and walk-ins, food should be stored on shelves that are at least 6 inches off of the floor and away from the walls. Garnishes and condiment bottles should be put away each night.

Seal Alcohol Bottles

Alcohol is a major attractant for pests like flies. To prevent fly-infested liquor, seal all bottles when they are not in use.

Properly Dispose of Garbage

Pests are not picky about where their food comes from. In fact, most pests are happy to find their meals in a garbage can, so of course, proper garbage disposal is crucial. All indoor receptacles should be emptied daily. Outdoor receptacles should have tight-fitting lids and drainage holes so they do not accumulate moisture. If possible, outdoor receptacles should be kept a good distance away from the outside of the building. All receptacles, both indoor and outdoor, should be washed on a regular basis.

Check Deliveries

Many pests enter businesses by way of package deliveries. Pests like cockroaches are fond of cardboard and other packaging materials, and they will move into any packages they find. These pests will then be delivered to your restaurant along with the items you ordered. Before bringing deliveries into your establishment, check all boxes and their contents for any pest activity. If you find damaged ingredients or packaging, or any other indications of pests, do not bring the package inside.

Landscape Against Pests

When it comes to restaurant pest prevention, outdoor maintenance is nearly as important as indoor maintenance. Keep trees and shrubs trimmed away from outer walls and mow grass regularly. Keep all firewood and debris piles at least 10 feet from the outside of your establishment, make sure gardens are weed- and debris-free, and limit the amount of flowering plants on your property. If your restaurant has an outdoor dining area, consider landscaping with some flowers and plants that repel stinging insects such as lavender, mint, basil, and marigold. If possible, create a 2 foot-wide perimeter around the building using gravel or concrete.

Train Employees In Pest Prevention

Your employees are likely to be the first people to observe signs of pest activity. Train them to know exactly what to look for, and ask them to immediately report anything they find.

Establish A Recurring Pest Control Plan

The best way to prevent pest infestations in your restaurant is to have a recurring pest control plan in place. Oftentimes, pest infestations return eventually even if prevention methods are being practiced. The only surefire way to avoid this is by receiving regular pest control treatments that are tailored to your problem pests.

If your restaurant is experiencing an infestation, give Excel Pest Services a call. We use Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, which is an extremely effective and minimally invasive method of keeping pests out. IPM uses the most up-to-date scientific knowledge of each individual pest in order to keep them away without disrupting your daily business. Our Food Service and Restaurant Pest Control Plans offer year-round protection, and they are 100% guaranteed. You have a restaurant to run- leave the pests to Excel.