Buyers Guide to Commercial Dishwashers

With an array of options available, choosing the right warewash equipment can be a daunting task. Understanding the basics of warewashing can be integral in making the best decision for your commercial kitchen. This article will guide you through the five main types of warewash equipment.

Commercial dishwasher with cleaned dishes
Commercial Dishwasher with cleaned dishes

What is warewash equipment?

Warewash equipment, otherwise known as Commercial Dishwashers, refers to the machines and devices used in commercial settings for cleaning and sanitizing dishes, utensils, and other food service items. These include dishwashers of various sizes and functionalities, glass washers, pot washers, cutlery polishers, etc. The primary goal of warewash equipment is to ensure that the utensils used in food preparation and service are clean, hygienic, and safe for repeated use.

Five main types of commercial dishwashers

Glass Washers

Designed explicitly for bar operations, glass washers are specialized in making even the most delicate glassware sparkling clean and spotless. These machines provide high turnarounds, making them perfect for establishments that serve drinks regularly.

There are primarily two types: rotary and pass-through glass washers. Rotary types have a fixed, rotating brush, while pass-through types are more akin to small dishwashers that allow for a larger washing capacity. When choosing a glass washer, consider your establishment’s footprint and glassware load to make the optimal choice.

Undercounter Dishwashers

Undercounter dishwashers, aptly named for their placement under counters, are compact, convenient, and perfect for small to medium-sized establishments. They are essentially mini dishwashers that can quickly clean dishes, cutlery, and small kitchenware items.

While these models are smaller than most machines, they can still handle a substantial workload. However, for extremely volume-heavy environments, a more substantial type of warewasher might be more suitable.

Pass-through Dishwashers

Pass-through dishwashers, also known as hood type dishwashers, feature a design that’s operationally effective. They are larger than undercounter dishwashers and can handle a higher volume of dirty dishes.

The main advantage of this design is the ease of operation. Dishes are loaded in a rack and pushed into the washer, and once the cleansing cycle is complete, they are removed from the other side, hence the term ‘pass-through’. It’s an ergonomically friendly design that reduces bending and lifting.

Pot Washers

Designed to work with larger kitchenware items like pots, pans, and baking sheets, pot washers are industrial-grade machines that can handle heavy-duty cleaning. These are ideal for large restaurants or catering companies where large utensils need frequent cleaning.

Pot washers provide heavy water pressure to effectively remove stubborn grime and oil. Despite their robust washing capabilities, they are typically easy to operate.

Rack Tunnel Dishwasher

Rack tunnel dishwashers, also known as conveyor dishwashers, are designed to handle incredibly high-volume demand. These machines are the titans of the warewash industry, suitable for large establishments like hospitals, schools, or large restaurants.

This type of dishwasher uses a conveyor system to move racks of dishes through different wash zones, increasing efficiency and capacity. Thanks to their automated operation and large capacities, these dishwashers can dramatically reduce labour costs.

Key considerations before purchasing warewash equipment

Purchasing warewash equipment is a significant investment and determining the right machine for your business requires careful consideration. Here are a few key factors to take into account:

1. Size & Space

Consider the amount of space available in your kitchen. Warewash equipment comes in various sizes, from compact undercounter dishwashers for small kitchens to large conveyor dishwashers for industrial use. Measuring your available space accurately will help you choose a model that fits perfectly.

2. Volume & Demand

The quantity of dishes, glasses, and utensils your establishment uses on an average day will significantly influence which warewasher you should choose. Large institutions such as hotels might require a high-volume conveyor dishwasher, while a smaller cafe might be best served by an undercounter model.

3. Type of Dishes & Utensils

Different types of warewashers are designed to handle specific types of dishes and utensils. For example, a glass washer is designed for delicate glassware, while a pot washer can handle the toughest grime on pots and pans. Ensure your chosen machine matches the types of items it will be cleaning.

4. Efficiency & Operating Cost

An efficient warewasher can save a considerable amount of water, energy, and detergent, which translates into savings on operating costs. Check the energy and water ratings of the models you’re considering.

Also, faster cycle times mean you can clean more dishes with less effort. However, ensure that the speed does not compromise the quality of cleaning.

5. Maintenance & Service

Consider how easy it is to clean and maintain the commercial dishwasher. A machine that’s difficult to maintain can result in more downtime and higher servicing costs. Also, check if the dealer or manufacturer offers good customer service and can provide prompt assistance if there are issues with the machine.

6. Budget

Finally, the cost of the warewasher should be within your budget. While the initial cost may seem high, consider the productivity and efficiency it offers, which can ultimately result in cost savings. However, be cautious of models that seem too inexpensive, as they might compromise on quality and durability.

A well-chosen commercial dishwasher can streamline your washing process, improve efficiency, and uphold high hygiene standards in your establishment.

Tips on warewash equipment maintenance

Proper maintenance of warewash systems ensures their longevity, optimal performance, and hygiene. Here are some essential tips for effective warewash system maintenance:

1. Regular Cleaning

Following the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines, do a thorough cleaning of the warewasher daily. This includes wiping down interior and exterior surfaces, as well as cleaning the wash and rinse arms, strainers, and filters.

2. Inspect and Clean Spray Arms

Spray arms can become clogged due to food debris or mineral deposits. Routinely inspect the spray arms for blockages, removing any debris, and soaking them in a descaling solution if necessary. Make sure to reassemble the spray arms correctly after cleaning.

3. Check Water Temperature

Ensure that the water temperature meets the manufacturer’s recommendations since this can impact cleaning performance, energy efficiency, and water consumption. For most dishwashers, the wash temperature should be around 65-70°C while the rinse temperature should be 82°C.

4. Maintain Detergent and Rinse Aid Levels

Regularly check and refill the detergent and rinse aid dispensers according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Ensure that you use the recommended type of detergent and rinse aid to avoid damage to the machine and poor cleaning results.

5. Inspect and Clean Filters

Regularly check and clean strainers and filters, as a build-up of debris can decrease the efficacy of the washing system and increase the risk of mechanical failure. Not only will clean filters prolong the life of your machine, but they’ll also maintain its performance.

6. Monitor Door Gaskets

Inspect door gaskets for wear or damage. If they’re not sealing correctly or are damaged, water can leak, and heat escapes. Replace the gaskets as needed.

7. Schedule Preventative Maintenance

Work with a professional service technician to schedule preventative maintenance for your warewash system. This may include checking motors and pumps, verifying electrical components, and calibrating sensors. Ensuring that your equipment is maintained regularly can help extend its lifespan and prevent costly breakdowns.

8. Train Staff

Educate your staff on the proper operation and basic maintenance of the warewash system. This includes scraping and pre-rinsing dishes before loading, loading dishes in the correct manner, and reporting any machine issues promptly.

By following these maintenance tips, your warewash equipment should provide years of reliable and efficient service, keeping your dishes, glassware, and utensils impeccably clean and hygienic.

Elevating cleanliness standards with the right equipment

Selecting the right dishwashing equipment and taking good care of it is vital for a smooth-running food service business. When you choose wisely and look after your equipment, it stays in top shape for a long time. Quality dishwashing gear not only keeps things clean but also plays a big part in your success by ensuring cleanliness, efficiency, and great service.