5 Features to Look for When Buying a Commercial Dishwasher

5 Features to Look for When Buying a Commercial Dishwasher

Commercial dishwashers are a must-have for any establishment with a kitchen. They ensure that your restaurant will be able to use dishware and glassware when it needs them, not to mention that they help you comply with the sanitation codes in your area. Choosing the best commercial dishwasher for a kitchen in the office is different from choosing one for your house. Your equipment must have the correct type for your wares, the right temperature, and the right size for the demand and kitchen space. They should also fit within your budget in terms of upfront costs and ongoing costs. Here are 5 considerations you need to think about when buying a commercial dishwasher.

1. Type of Commercial Dishwasher

There's no one-size-fits-all dishwasher. Glassware, for example, should go in a glasswasher, which is specifically designed for washing glasses of all shapes and sizes without breaking them.

There are also what we call utility washers. These have heavy-duty wash pumps to be able to clean heavily soiled pans and pots. They have large clearances, so deep pots can fit in.

This type is more useful to caterers and food manufacturers, which don't use much cutlery but have a mountain of utensils to wash.

For dishes, you have the traditional dishwasher machine for a restaurant. These are bigger and can handle heavy-duty loads to get more dishes done in less time.

2. Temperature

You have 2 sanitizing options for a commercial dish machine: high temperature and low temperature. Both types use the usual detergent and rinsing chemicals for cleaning; the only difference would be how they sanitize your dishes.

A high temp machine sanitizes the dishes with heat. It washes the dishware at 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, while the rinsing cycle goes up to 180 degrees.

This type of machine uses a condensate hood because of the intense heat.

A low temp machine sanitizes the dishes with chemical sanitizing agents instead. Both wash and rinse cycles only go between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Which one should you choose?

Each type has its own pros and cons. In high temp machines, for instance, the condensate hood will add to the cost, and it may be hard to place in a cramped kitchen.

On the other hand, sanitizing agents in a low temp machine might tarnish or harm your dishware. You'll have to purchase these chemicals continuously, which will add to the cost. However, you won't have to worry about where to place a hood.

3. Size and Capacity

The size of your machine depends on the size of your business.

If there's not much cleaning demand, an under counter dishwasher may be enough. It's a small commercial dishwasher that's most similar to residential units; it has a door at the front and you can fit it under your counter, as the name suggests.

It should be able to wash up to 35 racks per hour. This may be enough for small cafes, small nursing homes, daycare centers, and such, but in a large commercial kitchen, you'll need more than an under counter dishwasher.

Pass-through dishwashers are capable of washing around 1,000 dishes per hour. They're bigger than the previous one. You'll need to ensure that your kitchen has the space for it, a stacking area, a cooling and drying area, and a pre-rinse sink with a jet tap.

If you need an even bigger one, conveyor dishwashers are the biggest systems available. It uses a conveyor belt to transport the racks of dishware to the washer. They can wash between 350 to 1,000 racks per day, which is perfect for cafeterias and restaurants.

One thing to note about choosing the size and capacity is that you'll also have to plan for the future of your business. At the least, you should be able to use the dishwasher for 5 years. If you're planning on expanding your operations within that time, you may need a bigger machine to accommodate a higher cleaning demand.

4. Cost

You'll also have to determine the upfront and ongoing costs of the machines. Both upfront and ongoing costs increase as you increase in size and capacity. What's good about pass-through and conveyor dishwashers, however, is that they can save you and your crew time.

High-temperature machines also have a higher upfront cost and ongoing cost due to the amount of energy it needs. The dishes dry faster, though.

In low-temperature machines, you'll have to buy chemicals regularly, and you'll have to replace the damaged dishes more frequently.

It's important that you don't skimp on cost. Although an undercounter dishwasher is less expensive, it might turn into a disaster if the demand is higher than its capacity. This could lose you customers, which might turn out to be more expensive than the upfront costs of a bigger machine.

You'll also have to purchase the right types of commercial dishwashers. Don't purchase one machine for all your wares. Putting glassware in a traditional dish machine will break them, costing you an additional expense.

5. Energy Efficiency

All machines use 2 resources: energy and water. Of course, high-volume and high-capacity dishwashers will use more, but you don't have to accept that as is.

There are models that have energy efficiency in mind. There's nothing wrong with trying to save while still ensuring that the machine keeps up with the cleaning demands.

These models usually have low-energy settings that you can use whenever appropriate. They also use less energy when idling. Some models also have low-water usage, but rest assured that they still get the job done.

When looking at models, look for the Energy Star certification. It's a government-run agency that rates commercial dishwashers. A certification from them indicates that the machine uses 40% less water and is 40% more energy efficient.

Find More Tips

Choosing a commercial dishwasher isn't easy, but making the right choice can save you time, money, and stress. We hope that the tips above lead you to the right decision.


  1. comment authorCaden Dahl Jan 9, 2019

    Having the right sized dishwasher is important. As you said, there is quite a difference between the smaller one you mentioned as opposed to the larger one. I would probably go with the smaller one as I don't think I'd need to wash 1,000 racks of dishes in a day, as that would be pretty neat to have though!

  2. comment authorDaphne Gilpin Aug 7, 2019

    Thanks for explaining that high temperature and low temperature machines use the same detergent for rinsing and cleaning, but are different when it comes to sanitizing. My husband and I want to start a restaurant soon, so I've been doing some research on what commercial cleaning chemicals we'll need to buy. I'm glad I read your article and learned more about the different cleaning chemicals that commercial dishwashers require.

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