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Apr 19, 2014

Coming Clean About Commercial Dishwashers:

Commercial dishwashers are one of the most important purchases a commercial kitchen has to make.  Ware washing is one of the fundamental priorities of every kitchen, as it is critical to both restaurant turnover and sanitation.  There are many kinds of commercial dishwashers out there, and it can be hard to choose a perfect fit for your operation.  Here are a few pointers that can help you navigate through the shopping process.

What Kind Of Dishwashers Are Available?:  First and foremost, it is important to know the varieties of dishwashers that are on the market.  Here’s a brief summary on each variety, and how they work.

  • Undercounter Dishwashers – Undercounter dishwashers are around the same size as a dishwasher you may find in a person’s household, however, they operate at much higher speeds.  As a household dishwasher may take extended periods to wash one load, a commercial undercounter unit will wash a load in anywhere from 1 ½ to 3 minutes.  They have space for one standard size 19 ¾” dish racks.
  • Vertical Dishwashers – Vertical units are usually situated somewhere on a stainless steel dish table.  There come in two types, one door and pass through units.  One door units are usually placed along a wall so they don’t block any part of the dish table, and pass through, or “door type” dishwashers as they are commonly known, have a single handled dual door.  Door type dish machines can be placed in the middle of a dish table so dish trays can be slid in, and then slid out to dry as the next rack goes in to be washed.  This increases productivity, and allows an assembly line style dish flow.  They wash single racks faster than undercounter units, and some can wash a rack in around a minute.
  • Conveyor Dishwashers – Conveyor dishwashers are similar to vertical dishwashers, however, they are a pass through.  They turn on when a dish rack enters, and push them through with a conveyor system.  They can wash much higher volumes than undercounter or vertical dishwashers, with most able to wash up to 3 or 4 racks simultaneously, and over 200 racks and hour.
  • Glasswashers – Most glasswashers are similar in operation to undercounter dishwashers, however, are meant specifically to rinse crystal clear.  It is important for glassware to be clear and spot-free, and these units are perfect for high volume bars.  There are also in-sink glasswashers that allow glasses to be washed by hand, but at lower volumes than automatic washers.

What Is Going To Be Washed?:  Dishwashers are capable of washing glasses, so it is not always essential to buy a glasswasher when a dishwasher is present.  However, if the water in the machine is dirty from washing large quantities of plates (especially the case during peak hours), glasses may not rinse as cleanly as desired.  For restaurants that have large dishwashing capabilities but have rush sizes to match, a glasswasher may be necessary.  If the dishwasher is available to wash barware during non-peak hours, in-sink glass washers may be considered as an alternative to an undercounter unit.

What Energy Expectations Do You Have?: Dishwashers use large quantities of hot water and electricity while running.  They must constantly have water to sterilize, so every time a cycle runs, the hot water the machine takes in has to be heated again to proper sterilization temperatures.  The machine also has moving parts that consume energy while it is running as well, so each time a cycle runs the machine is utilizing your water heater, using water, and using electricity to further heat water and to wash (and in the case of conveyors, move racks).  It is important to get the proper machine to minimize the amount of wasted water and electricity used to wash a rack.  For example, a conveyor dishwasher would be too much machine for an operation that would only need to wash at most 30 racks and hour.  It is important to gauge how much dish volume the machine will see in peak and non-peak hours to minimize these costs.  There are also many Energy Star Ranked models that can simultaneously help reduce both water use and energy bills without sacrificing quality.

Do I Need A Detergent Dispenser?:  Many commercial dishwashers have built in detergent and rinse aid dispensers that automatically add the solutions at the proper point in the cycle.  However, there are some dishwashers than do not have them, and require detergent and rinse aid to be added manually.  This does not affect sanitation at all, but it can slow down the dish process.  It is one way at keeping costs down, however, and can help conserve space in small dish areas.  Practically all vertical and conveyor dish machines have detergent, rinse aid, and sanitizer pumps, so this is more of an issue for undercounter dishwashers.