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The 4 Types of Commercial Dishwashers

Posted by Rachel Schwartz on 9/17/2020
row of plates coming out of commercial dishwasher with worker in background

Dishwashers are an important appliance in the kitchen and very important to the overall flow of a commercial kitchen. Without a proper dishwasher, kitchens can be at risk of sending out still dirty dishes or falling behind on orders due to a lack of available clean dishes. While washing dishes by hand is an option, it is not a practical solution when operating a busy commercial kitchen and hand-washing cannot reach the hot water temperatures required by the FDA to properly sanitize the dishes. 

Also called a warewasher by some, dishwasher temperatures can range from 120°F to 180°F depending on the model and cleaning cycle selected. While not all dishwashers can reach 180 degrees, the FDA requires surfaces that come into contact with food (ex. dishes, silverware, etc.) to reach a temperature of at least 160°F in order to be considered sanitary. High temp dishwashers have no issue reaching this as they wash at temperatures between 150°F and 160°F and rinse at 180°F, thus not requiring a chemical sanitizer. Low temp dishwashers, on the other hand, wash and rinse at temperatures between 120°F and 140°F and must use a chemical sanitizer to meet FDA standards.

Low temp dishwashers also often need whoever is loading the dishwasher to rinse or pre-wash dishes prior to loading them into the machine while high temp dishwashers require a condensate hood to counteract any steam produced as a result of the extremely hot water used. The type of dishwasher best suited for a commercial kitchen setting depends on the size and set-up of the kitchen as well as the types of dishes most frequently used by the restaurant or bar. 

commercial conveyor dishwasher

Conveyor dishwashers are the largest and most powerful of the commercial dishwashers. Designed for heavy use in hospitals, schools, cafeterias, and other high-traffic areas, these dishwashers can process between 350 and 1000 dish and flatware racks each day. Although some models may be Energy Star certified to help mitigate electricity consumption, most conveyor models require a trained electrician to install them. Despite this, the controls are typically user-friendly. High and low temp models are available. In fact, every type of commercial dishwasher has high and low temp models available. Because they are the largest type of dishwasher with the highest capacity available, conveyor dishwashers are also the most expensive of the commercial dishwashers. 

commercial door type dishwasher

Considered a smaller version of conveyor dishwashers, the door type or rack dishwasher is good for local restaurants or smaller, busy kitchens as it can be placed more out of the way than conveyor dishwashers in the kitchen. This type dishwasher gets its name from the way in which racks are loaded into the machine. After filling up a rack, push the rack into the machine, close the door, run the cycle, and when the cycle has finished, open the door to unload. The most popular type of commercial dishwasher, door type dishwashers can typically process between 30 and 350 racks per day. Although smaller than the conveyor dishwasher, door type dishwashers can still potentially use more electricity than safe for one plug and so should still be installed by a professional.

commercial undercounter dishwasher

Bars, cafes, coffee shops, and other small commercial kitchen operations would probably benefit the most from an undercounter dishwasher. While these units can resemble residential models, they incorporate some controls and displays that allow them to work more efficiently than their residential counterparts. Able to process between 20 and 30 racks per day, these are great clean-as-you-go units but are not as fast as the largest commercial dishwashers. While undercounter dishwashers are great for kitchens low on space, these dishwashers are perhaps most useful when placed at the front of house as they can fit underneath the counter and minimize the time and distance required when fetching clean silverware or dishes for customers. 

commercial glasswasher

The final type of commercial dishwasher are glasswashers, which are designed to primarily clean glasses, although most can also be used to wash dishes if needed. This type of dishwasher is ideal for bars, coffee shops, or other operations where beverages make up the bulk of the menu. Because glasses are easier to break than dishes, a glasswasher is a good way to wash more delicate glasses like martini glasses as the water flow is gentler without losing the power or efficiency of the other commercial dishwashers. 

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