Pest-Proofing Tips for Better Inspection Scores

By Jennifer Brumfield, Training and Technical Specialist, Western Pest Services

If you knew your health inspector would be at your doorstep first thing tomorrow morning, would you be ready?

Let’s face it, maintaining A-grade performance at all times is a constant challenge for restaurants. You have a busy kitchen to manage, a rotating staff to train and re-train, and diners to satisfy. Pests only make it worse, because like your inspector, they can show up anytime and without warning.

By following a few simple steps in five key areas of your establishment, you can help keep pests out and be ready to post a higher score, no matter when the inspector arrives.


  • Pests can enter through remarkably tiny cracks and crevices, so inspect the exterior of your building at least quarterly. If you can stick a pencil in a hole or crack, it’s big enough for pests to enter. Fill it in with weather-resistant sealant.
  • By the same token, if you can see light under exterior doors, cockroaches and other crawling pests can get in. Install door sweeps to close any gaps or cracks under exterior doors. It only takes one missing door sweep to open the door to an infestation.
  • Odors draw pests more than almost anything else, so cover outdoor trash cans with tightly sealed lids and empty them several times a day. For the same reason, position dumpsters at least 15-20 feet away from your building.

In the Kitchen

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  • If you focus on nothing else in the kitchen, focus on the floor and drains. Clean regularly underneath cabinets, food storage containers and other hard-to-reach places to eliminate food debris that can attract infestations. Drains are ideal breeding spots for drain flies, fruit flies and a variety of other pests, so clean and disinfect them regularly.
  • Don’t store food near the building exterior. Rather, store it as far into the building’s interior as possible. There it’s less likely to attract outside pests by smell, and pests that do get in have further to go before they hit the jackpot.

Dining Areas

  • Methodically mop, sweep or vacuum the dining room floor at the end of the night. This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how often it’s not done thoroughly. Sometimes it’s not done at all. This one procedure can make a huge difference in keeping pests at bay.
  • Eliminate pest-friendly food and water sources during operating hours by cleaning up spills immediately and promptly busing all tables.

Behind the Bar

  • Clean and disinfect bar wells every day to prevent fruit flies, which are among the most common pests to encounter in this area of your business.
  • Pests love the residual sugar left behind in dirty glasses, so always rinse glasses immediately after use, even if they’re going to be washed more thoroughly later.

Patio/Outdoor Seating

  • Outdoor areas offer pests unfettered access compared to the other four areas mentioned above. So it’s even more important to clear tables quickly and wipe up crumbs and spills immediately. Leftovers are an easy target for hungry or thirsty insects, rodents or even pest birds.
  • Hose down the patio every night and pressure wash regularly to remove crumbs and debris.
  • Stinging pests are drawn to bright colors, so choose umbrellas, awnings or outdoor décor with dark or neutral colors, and avoid planting brightly colored or fragrant flowers and trees near the patio.
  • Flies and other flying insects can hardly resist bright, fluorescent lights, so use the yellow, sodium-vapor bulbs in your patio lights, which are much less attractive to these insects.

Don’t put yourself in the position of battling pests every day to keep them out. There are so many ways to pest-proof your establishment, but just the few changes outlined above will make your restaurant much less attractive to pests and your pest control job will get a whole lot easier.

Jennifer Brumfield is a Training and Technical Specialist and Board-Certified Entomologist for Western Pest Services, a New Jersey-based pest management company serving businesses and homeowners in major Northeastern markets. Learn more about Western by visiting