Home Tools Cleaning

Home Bar Cleaning Gear

A photo of a man mopping the floor, showing the importance of cleanliness in the home bar. (© lightfieldstudios/123RF photo)

Slip on headphones and slide into an audiobook while cleaning!

It’s not the most fun, but its gotta be done. No one wants their home to smell like yesterday’s party. You’ll get the inside scoop on all the different bar mops, towels, bottle brushes and mats, plus handy tips for cleaning them all, including the carpet. There’s also a little secret for getting rid of lingering odors.

Bar Mops

The bar mop is a terry towel that looks like a 12 inch square wash cloth. They are always white cotton, because you will need to bleach them to get stains out. They are used for wiping the bar, wiping bottle exteriors and cleaning up spills. Many bartenders also place a bar mop under the mixing glass to protect the bar surface, prevent slippage and catch spills.

Bar Towels

The bar towel looks like a large 16×20 inch (40×50 cm) bar mop. They can be fuzzy like a terry towel or smooth like a tea towel, but they are always white cotton so they can be bleached.

Towels are primarily used for wiping hands in-between cocktails and for drying hands after washing. They can also be used for cleaning up major spills, like a knocked over cocktail, which happens at least once per party.

If you get a spill on carpet, use a couple of bar towels to blot out the liquid, applying good pressure to the towel, so it absorbs the liquid. Follow up by treating the stain with soda water and blot it up. Always blot, never wipe the stain, or it could smear and become permanent.

Bottle Brushes

Bottle brushes come in a variety of lengths, diameters and stiffness. Keep a few of them handy in the utensil drawer, so when the need arises, you have a proper tool for the cleaning job.

A short stiff brush is essential for removing citrus pulp from glassware before you wash it, otherwise it will dry on and be impossible to remove. A long handle brush is needed to reach the bottom of standard size bottles, which are often used for storing juices. If you have things like metal straws, syringes, or test tube shooters, you’ll need a long flexible handles with tiny brushes.

Most brushes can be found at specialty cook shops and at online retailers. You can also find a great assortment of brushes at most department stores in the baby isle right next to the formula bottles.

Bar Mats

The bar matt protects your counter, bar top, or pouring surface from spills and glass breakage due to tipping. Most professional bars – being production environments – use something similar.

Bar matts come in a variety of colors and sizes. The most popular ones are black 18 x 12 inch (45×30 cm) work surfaces and 28 x 3 (70×8 cm) strips designed to fit inside the pouring trough, which is a recessed gutter on the bartender’s side of the bar.

The cheap synthetic rubber and PVC mats often emit odors. So if you choose to get cheap ones, air them outside for a day or two, then soak them in a 4 to 1 water to vinegar bath for a day. Then rinse with cold water, to help get rid of the smell.

The better mats are made from real rubber or silicone, but can be hard to find marketed as bar mats. To find them, search for silicone food mats and baking mats instead.


Many bartenders wear aprons to protect their clothing, just like the cooks do. They can be thick cotton, whimsical colors or thin leather. You could even wear a bow tie and arm garters if you like.

Cooks use white aprons because they need to be washed and bleached after each shift. Bartenders don’t tend to get as messy, so black and brown aprons are common. Just be sure they are machine washable.

Bucket and Mop

After vacuuming a hard surface floor, grab a bucket and mop. Use a mild bleach solution to wipe down the entire floor and let it air dry. Just a couple ounces of bleach per gallon (60 ml per 4 liter) of hot water should be enough. This will get rid of any sticky messes on the floor, kill bacteria and make it smell fresh.

Lingering Odors

It you notice any lingering odors, don’t try to get rid of them using chemical cleaners, because many of them give off toxic fumes. Get an inexpensive portable butane stove, put a pot on it and slow boil white vinegar. It will get rid of most smells in an average sized home rec room, after slow boiling for 20 minutes. This boiling vinegar trick also works in cars and delivery vehicles, to get rid of even strong odors like raw seafood, but may need to be repeated a couple of times.


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