Guide to Commercial Kitchen Cleaning Chemicals

Reviewed by: Tom Walkerden

Why is Cleaning your Commercial Kitchen Necessary? 

Approximately 4.7 million foodborne illnesses are reported each year in Australia. While many of these cases may occur in the home, ensuring your commercial kitchen is clean and sanitary ensures food safety and reduces the amount of people becoming sick as a result of food. Having a clean kitchen prevents cross-contamination of allergens and raw meats that can result in reactions or illness for your customers and staff. 

Commercial kitchen cleaning is also important in maintaining fire safety with 61% of all kitchen fires a result of cooking equipment that isn’t cleaned properly. If kitchen equipment and utensils are not cleaned correctly, the build-up of grease and grime in range hoods, deep fryers, stove tops and grills become a hazard which can lead to kitchen fires. 

Daily cleaning of your kitchen equipment and utensils can also prolong the lifespan of these appliances. Regularly cleaning your kitchen appliances like your commercial oven and dishwasher also helps the appliance to work in the best way possible. For example, a dirty oven can alter the taste and smell of the food cooked in it. This can be a result of food debris and grease from inside of the oven that hasn’t been cleaned during regular cleaning. Similarly, when looking at dishwashers, the cleaning performance can be limited when a dishwasher is not cleaned properly resulting in dirty dishes and using more power than necessary. 

Breaking Down Kitchen Cleaning Chemicals

Cleaning chemicals can be sorted into four main types of cleaning agents that are commonly used in kitchens: detergents, degreasers, abrasives and acids. Each chemical agent serves a different purpose and is either considered an alkaline chemical or an acidic chemical.


Acidic vs. Alkaline 

Acidic chemicals have a pH level of zero to seven and remove hard water build-up and minerals. Alkaline chemicals have a pH level ranging from 7 to 14 and are more effective as a corrosive which is best used in cleaning organic stains like greases, wax, oil build-up and dirt. 


Most cleaning chemicals have high alkalinity as it’s more effective for corrosion and breaking up grime (think bleach, baking soda and ammonia) or have a base that reacts with acids to make substances dissolvable in water. If a stain or other soil build-up has an acidic quality or is organic in nature like fats, grease and oil, a cleaning chemical with alkalinity will break it down and convert it into an easily washable solution.


Detergents are the most commonly used cleaning supply used in restaurant kitchens. Their main purpose is to break up dirt and grime so that it can be easily washed away. Detergents have a pH level of around 6-7 and are considered acidic. 


Degreasers are best used to break down grease from surfaces like stove tops, grills and backsplashes. They have a pH from around 8-14 making them an alkaline chemical. This chemical agent is also best used for oven cleaning as a way of deep cleaning your ovens as they act as a corrosive chemical when breaking down grease from the oven. 


Abrasive chemicals are only used when scrubbing grime and dirt and many will often contain bleach and other antimicrobials that kill germs while cleaning. Within commercial kitchens. Abrasives are mostly used on pots, pans and utensils. 


Acids are considered the most powerful cleaning agent as they can be the most dangerous if not diluted correctly. Acid chemicals generally have a pH from 0-7 and are often used to descale dishwashers and remove mineral deposits. 


Chemical Compositions of Cleaning Products

Cleaning chemicals are made up of different things based on their uses so it may be easier to explore this further by examining what each cleaning chemical is made up of and how these chemicals work to break down grease, grime and dirt. Most chemicals used in cleaning a commercial kitchen are alkaline as they are corrosive and will remove dirt, grime and bacteria with ease. 


Floor Cleaners 

Kwikmaster Professional’s Chlorinated Heavy Duty Cleaner is made up of 3 key chemicals and is a foaming cleaner that can be used for kitchen, food processing areas and amenities as a multi-purpose cleaner or for floors. Sodium hypochlorite at 10% is an industrial strength bleach and disinfectant. The next ingredient that appears in this cleaner is sodium hydroxide which is a corrosive agent that is used to remove the build-up of grease and as a drain pipe cleaner. This chemical is also used to make soap and detergents. The final ingredient is dodecyldimethylamine oxide which is used in washing & cleaning products as well as cosmetics and personal care products. 


When these chemicals are mixed, they create a heavy duty foam cleaner that breaks down grease and disinfects, making this perfect for kitchens. 


Kwikmaster Professional’s Heavy Duty Floor Cleaner is a degreaser and floor cleaner that is best used for cleaning hard surfaces like floors, benches and boat decks. The first chemical to appear in the ingredients is sodium silicate which is used to soften hard water to prevent corrosion. Additionally, oxirane methyl- polymer with oxirane mono(2-propylheptyl) ether or alkoxylated fatty alcohols and C10-alcohol, ethoxylated, propoxylated are used in cleaning chemicals to break down oils. The next ingredient in this cleaning chemical is quaternary ammonium compounds are chemicals that kill bacteria, viruses and mold. Finally, lauramine oxide is a surfactant, a chemical compound that traps and removes dirt from the surface. 


These chemicals, when mixed with the corrosive agent sodium hydroxide, create a heavy duty floor cleaner that emulsifies, disinfects and breaks down dirt, bacteria and oils. 


Dish Cleaners

Kwikmaster Professional’s Dishwashing Detergent is made up of chemical surfactants which are used in cleaning products to remove dirt. The two types of surfactants used in liquid detergents are anionic and nonionic. Anionic surfactants are what gives the detergent foaming, degreasing and wetting capabilities. Nonionic surfactants help to amplify these capabilities and act as emulsifiers.  


The main ingredient used in Kwikmaster Professional’s Automatic Dishwasher Machine Liquid is sodium hydroxide which is a corrosive agent used to break down and remove a build up of dirt and grease. This product has a low foaming buffer and is best used in conjunction with an automatic dishwasher rinse aid.  


Another chemical that should be used when dishwashing is Kwikmaster Professional’s Automatic Rinse Additive. This Cleaning product consists of 3 chemicals and should be used with a washing liquid. Using a rinse additive eliminates the need for manual drying, reducing labour costs and preventing the risk of cross-contamination from towels. 

Oxirane methyl- polymer with oxirane mono(2-propylheptyl) ether prevents spotting when used in dishwashing rinse aids. The chemical 2-Bromo-2-nitro-1, 3-propanediol prevents the growth of mold, bacteria and fungi in certain formulations, extending the shelf-life of the product. Similarly, 5-chloro-2-methyl-2H-isothiazol-3-1&2-methyl-2H-isothiazol-3-one(3:1) is also used as a preservative and has antifungal and antibacterial properties. 


Food Surface Sanitiser 

The main ingredient in Kwikmaster Professional’s Food Surface Sanitiser is a quaternary ammonium compound and it’s used to kill bacteria, mold and viruses that may be present as a result of cross-contamination and raw meats. This is formulated to be a no rinse sanitiser but needs to be left to dry before contact with food. Products made using quaternary ammonium compounds are some of the only acids used in cleaning commercial kitchens.


Oven Cleaning Chemicals 

Oven cleaners and degreasers are the most alkaline cleaning chemicals you will find in a commercial kitchen. This is because they need to be able to readily remove grease and fat from ovens, hot plates, grills, deep fryers and range hoods. Kwikmaster Professional’s Heavy Duty Oven and Grill Cleaner is  composed of 4 chemicals. The first and second chemicals to appear in the ingredients list is sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide are both corrosive agents that are great at breaking down grease which can be easily rinsed off. Triethanolamine is added as an emulsifier used to help mix two chemicals together. The final ingredient used in this cleaning chemical is C8/C10 alkyl polyglycoside which increases the formation of foam in the product. 


Understanding what ingredients are used in compounding the cleaning chemicals you use in your kitchen will ensure a better clean. Thomas Walkerden, Account Manager – Facilities Management & Government, Bunzl Australia & New Zealand discusses how the right training and knowledge can keep your restaurant safe, “Some key areas of focus are cleaning before disinfecting and sanitising, designating cleaning cloths to particular areas according to industry standards and implementing industry-specific training or certification.”


Explore the Kwikmaster Professional Cleaning Chemical Range here

 Authored by: Despina Moshopoulos

Cleaning suppliesHospitality