Cleaning a Commercial Deep Fat Fryer

Cleaning a deep fat fryer is essential to maintain its performance, prevent the buildup of harmful residues, and ensure the safety of your cooking equipment. All food service operations and commercial manufacturers of fried foods need to fully understand how to properly clean and sanitise their equipment. If they are not properly cleaned and maintained then those fine fried food flavours suddenly lose their sensory quality. Not only does regular cleaning and maintenance help extend the equipment’s lifetime it also improves energy use and efficiency.

One of the main issues with frying is the formation of charred and carbonised deposits especially in deep-fat fryers (and ovens). It means fryers take longer to warm up and they must work much harder for the same degree of performance.

This is our step-by-step guide on how to clean a deep fat fryer:

Before you begin:

  1. Safety first: Always unplug and allow the fryer to cool down completely before cleaning. Hot oil can cause serious burns.
  2. Gather your supplies: You’ll need the following items:
    • Personal protective equipment (PPE) – eye glasses, heat-proof gloves, a protective apron, plastic Wellington boots.
    • Dishwashing liquid or a specialized fryer cleaner.
    • A soft sponge or cloth.
    • A long-handled brush or scrubber (scrub-pad) which is suitable for high temperatures.
    • A bucket of fresh water or a water hose for cleaning and rinsing
    • A bucket or container for collecting used oil.
    • Paper towels, cloths or disposable towels.
    • A strainer or mesh scoop for removing food debris from the oil.
    • A fryer cleaning-out rod.
    • Oil pan drum

Deep-fat fryers need a regular ‘boil-out’ which is a type of clean for best performance. This is the removal of old oil, the use of fresh water with a commercial deep fryer cleaning solution usually of an alkaline or neutral salt solution. It is recommended that a deep fryer boil-out be conducted monthly. If the fryer is used virtually continuously then a boil-ou once a week is needed.

The first action is to switch off any energy such as gas and electricity to the unit to prevent inadvertent burning and electrocution.

Cleaning the fryer:

  1. Cool the fryer: If the fryer has been used, let the oil cool down completely.
  2. Empty the oil: Carefully pour the used oil into a container for disposal or storage if you plan to reuse it. In some cases an oil pan drum under the drain pipe will be used to collect the used oil.  If you’re disposing of the oil, make sure to follow your local waste disposal regulations.
  3. Remove the basket and heating element (if applicable): Most deep fryers have removable baskets and heating elements. Take them out to make it easier to access the interior of the fryer.
  4. Wipe away loose debris: Use paper towels or disposable towels to wipe away any loose food particles or debris from the inside of the fryer. Check the drain valve for any blockages.
  5. Fill with warm, soapy water: Fill the fryer with warm water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid or a specialized fryer cleaner if available. Let it soak for about 15-30 minutes to loosen any stuck-on residue.
  6. Boil-Wash (Optional): If you are doing a boil wash, then turn on the heater and boil water with a cleaning solution for up to 30 minutes. This step is designed to remove difficult to remove carbon deposits. The cleaning agent used must be designed purely for this purpose. It is optional. If it is used, the heater is switched off and the water allowed to cool to a point where it can be safely removed.
  7. Scrub the interior: Use a soft sponge, cloth, or a long-handled brush to scrub the interior of the fryer. Pay special attention to areas with stubborn grease or residue. If you have a stainless steel fryer, make sure to scrub with the grain to avoid scratching the surface.
  8. Rinse thoroughly: Empty the soapy water and rinse the fryer thoroughly with clean, warm water. You may need to rinse several times to ensure all soap residue is removed.
  9. Dry the fryer: Use paper towels or a clean cloth to dry the interior of the fryer completely.
  10. Clean the basket and heating element: Wash the fryer basket and heating element (if removable) separately in warm, soapy water. Rinse and dry them thoroughly before reassembling.

Reassembling and maintenance:

  1. Place the cleaned basket and heating element (if applicable) back into the fryer.
  2. Fill the fryer with fresh, clean oil to the recommended level.
  3. Plug in the fryer and set it to the desired temperature to ensure it’s working correctly.

Regular Maintenance:

To keep your deep fryer clean and in good working condition, it’s essential to perform regular maintenance:

  • Change the oil regularly, depending on usage, to prevent it from becoming too dirty or degraded.
  • Filter the oil through a fine mesh strainer or filter paper to remove food particles after each use.
  • Clean the exterior of the fryer as needed with a damp cloth or sponge to remove any spills or splatters.

By following these steps and practicing regular maintenance, you can keep your deep fat fryer clean and ensure it operates efficiently and safely.

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