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All About Commercial Dishwashers

All About Commercial Dishwashers

Photo of a conveyer style dishwasher. The text "All About Commercial Dishwashers" and the Big Plate logo are over the photo.

Do you have questions about commercial dishwashers? Proper dishwashing (or warewashing) is a critical element of any successful foodservice operation. A commercial dishwasher is often the best option.

Advantages of Using a Commercial Dishwasher

The right commercial dishwasher can:

  • Put your establishment in compliance with the health code.
  • Keep your customers happy and safe.
  • Help your commercial kitchen run efficiently.
  • Protect your establishment’s reputation.

Disadvantages of Handwashing Dishes

While handwashing dishes in foodservice is allowed, it is often not the best option. Here are several reasons:

  • Often labor costs for handwashing are higher than labor costs with a commercial dishwasher.
  • There is more risk of contamination with hand washing.
  • Certainly hand washing is slower and less efficient than a commercial dishwasher.
  • Hot water sanitizing is not an option when hand washing.

There are a lot of options in commercial dishwashers. You’ll also need to consider several issues particular to your foodservice operation. Therefore let’s take a look at how to decide which kind of commercial dishwasher is right for YOU.

Photo of bowls and a pot in dish racks ready to go in a rack style dishwasher. The text "Types of Commercial Dishwashers" and the Big Plate logo appear over the photo.

Types of Commercial Dishwashers

Photo of a conveyer commercial dishwasher on a black background with the text "Conveyer Dishwashers."

Conveyer Commercial Dishwashers

Conveyer Commercial Dishwashers are necessary for high-volume food service institutions like hospitals, school cafeterias, prisons, etc. They can wash a lot of dishes in a short amount of time. (Over 200 racks an hour, depending on the model.) You first load racks of dirty dishes. Next you push the racks onto the conveyer belt. Finally you allow the machine to convey the dirty racks through the cleaning cycle of the machine. Racks of clean dishes are conveyed out the other side. Racks can be fed through back-to-back, allowing for a higher volume of wares to be cleaned per day. This style of commercial dishwasher requires a lot of space in your kitchen.

Photo of a Door Dishwasher on a black background with the text "Door or Rack Dishwashers."

Door or Rack Commercial Dishwashers

Door or Rack Commercial Dishwashers are smaller than conveyer commercial dishwashers. Therefore, they can wash around 40 racks an hour (depending on the model). This style takes up less space in your kitchen than the conveyer style. The process for this type of dishwasher is to first load a rack with dirty dishes. Next you push the rack inside the dishwasher and close the door. Finally you run the cleaning cycle. When the cycle is complete, you lift the door to a rack of clean dishes. This style dishwasher typically has more vertical space than an undercounter type, allowing you to clean large pots, full pans, long utensils, etc.

Photo of an undercounter commercial dishwasher on a black background with the text "Undercounter dishwashers."

Undercounter Commercial Dishwashers

Undercounter Commercial Dishwashers are the smallest type of commercial dishwasher. They’re a great option for bars and small operations where a lot of space isn’t available and high volume dishwashing isn’t required. They can wash around 20-30 racks an hour (depending on the model). The process for undercounter dishwashers is to first open the front door. Next you insert the rack(s) of dirty dishes and close the door. Finally you run the cleaning cycle. When the cycle is complete, you open the door to a rack of clean dishes.

Photo of a commercial kitchen. The text "High Temp and Low Temp Dish Washers" and the Big Plate logo are over the photo.

Besides choosing between the three types of commercial dishwashers listed above, you’ll need to decide between a high temp or low temp machine. The difference between the two is how they sanitize.

What is a High Temp Commercial Dishwasher?

A high temp commercial dishwasher sanitizes the dishes with water at or above 180 degrees F. This type of dishwasher needs a booster heater. Booster heaters ensure the right volume and temperature of your hot water rinse. Some come with an internal booster heater. Others require you to purchase an external booster heater.

Advantages of a High Temp Dishwasher

Sanitizing with hot water has several advantages:

  • First, hot water tends to remove food, grease, lipstick, and other proteins better than chemicals.
  • Next, a hot water rinse means faster drying times.
  • In addition, hot water typically does less damage and discoloration to your wares as compared with chemical sanitizers.
  • Also, a hot water rinse (as opposed to a chemical rinse) eliminates the possibility of a chemical aftertaste remaining on your dishes or in your glassware.
  • Finally, while they often require a higher initial investment, they can save you money in the long run with decreased chemical costs.

Disadvantages of a High Temp Dishwasher

Disadvantages of a high temp commercial dishwasher include:

  • Initial cost
  • They usually require a 208V power outlet

What is a Low Temp Commercial Dishwasher?

A low temp commercial dishwasher sanitizes the dishes with chemicals instead of hot water. The chemical sanitizer can be ammonia (Quat), chlorine (bleach), or iodine. Note that the FDA has deemed these chemical sanitizers safe for foodservice applications when used properly.

Advantages of a Low Temp Dishwasher

The advantages of low temp commercial dishwashers are:

  • Lower initial cost
  • Can usually be installed on a 120V power outlet

Disadvantages of a Low Temp Dishwasher

Disadvantages of a low temp commercial dishwasher include:

  • Chemical sanitizer residue on dishes and glassware can affect the flavor of delicate drinks and foods.
  • Over time, chemical sanitizers can discolor and corrode dishes, flatware, and glassware.
  • Finally, chemical sanitizers can be less effective on difficult-to-clean foods, lipstick, and grease than hot water.
Photo of a man using a prerinse hose on a rack of dishes. The text "Accessories for dishwashers" and the Big Plate logo are over the photo.

Accessories for Commercial Dishwashers

In addition to purchasing a commercial dishwasher, you’ll need to make sure you have all the necessary accessories. These would include:

Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • What kind of electrical outlet is available?
  • What sort of food do we serve?
  • What volume of dishes do we need washed per day?
  • What sort of dishes do I need to wash?
  • What is my budget?

Taking an honest look at your foodservice establishment’s needs and knowing the options when it comes to commercial dishwashers will help you make the best choice. As always, our friendly and knowledgeable staff are here to answer all of your questions!

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