The Proper Way to Clean a Steam Table


A steam table is a large buffet-style table used in many restaurants, as well as at banquet events and special occasions. These tables are typically made of stainless steel and contain a line-style section of slots where food pans can be inserted. Beneath these pans, hot water is to be added, which will steam and continue to keep the food heated for an extended period of time. Cleaning these surfaces is fairly easy when using the proper cleaning solutions.


  • A vinegar solution should be used to properly clean, disinfect and deodorize the steam table. In a spray bottle or bucket, mix two cups water to one cup distilled white vinegar (available at any grocery store). Use a sponge or cloth to clean over the steam table, focusing especially on areas that come into contact with food dropping, to disinfect any bacteria that could potentially grow. Repeat as necessary to keep the steam table clean, polished and bacteria-free.

Olive Oil

  • Olive oil can be used to remove streaks and restore shine on steam tables. Simply dab a few drops of olive oil onto a cloth or sponge, and work into the stainless steel surface. This is helpful to create a clean, polished look before dinner service. Alternately, store a cup of olive oil in a spray bottle, and spray over the entire surface of the steam table, them rub in with a cloth or sponge. Clean the area until no oil residue is left behind.

Club Soda

  • Club soda works well to remove both streaks and heat stains that can sometimes develop on the stainless steel surface from the high heat temperatures within the table. When these problems occur, simply soak the edge of a cloth or sponge in club soda, and rub over the stains until they have diminished. Keep a spray bottle on hand filled with two cups of club soda for an unscented cleaning agent that can be used throughout dinner service to clean spills, remove streaks and keep up with the polished shine.

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