Guide to Dishwashers

Restaurant Equipment Guide to Restaurant Dishwashers

On busy nights, dishes, utensils, glasses, pots, pans, and the like all pile up. Customers file in, ordering drinks, appetizers, meals, desserts, and the dishes keep coming and coming. On nights like these, and on all other nights as well, you want to be sure your kitchen runs as smoothly as possible. You don’t have time to wash dishes by hand or continuously clean up a mess — which is why every restaurant and bar invents in a dishwasher. Whether you’re outfitting a new restaurant or replacing equipment in an established business, picking out the right dishwashing machine can be a daunting task. Nowadays with so much new technology, it seems as though new styles and types are constantly coming out. With Gator Chef’s guide to dishwashers, we take you through this process. By closely examining the different types of dishwashers available on the market as well as their capacities and other features — we at Gator Chef aim to help you choose the right dishwasher for your restaurant or bar’s needs.


Types: Dishwasher models include undercounter, door type, flight type or rackless conveyor, rack conveyor type dishmachines, upright conveyors and circular conveyor type units. Some dishwashers are designed to clean specific types of wares, such as glasses, pots and pans, trays and utensils. Foodservice operators can also choose from several niche dishwashers. Some manufacturers offer countertop dishwashers that clean just a few glasses or plates at a time. Their capacities make them ideal for bars, mobile carts and ice cream or limited beverage service operations. Specialty dishwashers for glasses consist of a set of spinning brushes installed in a small dish sink. When looking to wash and sterilize dishes, operators can choose from low-temp, also called chemical sanitizing, and high-temp units. While low temp dishwashers use 140°F hot water supplied by the kitchen's existing water heater along with a chemical sanitizing agent in the final rinse cycle, high-temp units use a booster heater to raise water temperatures to 180°F.

Capacities / Footprints: The number of racks a unit can wash per hour determines its capacity. Undercounter and door type dishwashers are best for smaller operations, as they handle between 21 and 55 racks per hour, while hood or door type machines are best suited for small to medium sized operations - they average 60 racks an hour. Consisting of a prewash and wash tank, conveyor machines clean between 200 and 250 racks an hour in medium and high volume kitchens. Flight-type or rackless conveyor units, geared for high volume applications, can wash more than 21,000 dishes per hour at an NSF rated belt speed of 13.6'/minute. Foodservice operators can adjust single tank and multiple tank rack conveyors to wash up to 288 racks or 28,000 dishes per hour at a maximum conveyor speed of 10.9'/ minute. Pot, pan and utensil washing machines can have a 6 to 60 pan capacity. Circular conveyors wash a maximum of 122 to 320 racks per hour at a conveyor speed of 3.4' to 9.0'/minute. Glasswashers wash 1,000 to 2,000 glasses per hour. Undercounter dishwashers and door type machines are the most compact and best suited for use in smaller kitchens. Undercounter dishwashers usually do not exceed 23"w × 25"d × 53"h in overall dimensions. Door type machines are typically around 26"w × 25"d × 92"h. Glasswashers can be as large as 72"w × 22"d × 38"h. Upright conveyor systems offer high volume operators continuous dish rack or direct drive loading. Conveyor systems' largest section can be 4'w × 7' to 10' high.

Energy Source(s): Dishwashers are one of the biggest energy users in the kitchen. The majority of dishwashing machines operate on electric power levels ranging from 115V for smaller machines to 460V for larger units. Some dishwashers offer the option of either electric, steam or gas water heating systems, while others are available only with single source gas heating systems. One model features a timer that automatically shuts off the pumps and conveyor after a preset time of inactivity.


Standard Features: Most dishwashing machines feature stainless steel construction and almost all have common utility connections, door safety switches, idle pump shutoffs, tank heaters and low water tank heat protection. Other features vary greatly. Newly developed spray nozzles in conveyor type dishwashers can cut the amount of water required by 50 percent, thereby providing savings by reducing water usage, the amount of energy required to heat water, and the amount of rinse agents / chemicals used.

New Features / Technology / Options: A growing number of manufacturers continue to build high tech features into dishwashers. For example, handheld computer interfaces can communicate with and control single or multiple dishwashers. These interfaces perform functions such as start up, timed cycle selection and machine shut down. They also allow for control of the internal booster heater and for service diagnostics, machine programming or to check individual operating components. Digital displays can be programmed to notify users about low temperatures, dirty water and excessive lime buildup.

Purchasing Guidelines: Because different wares have different washing requirements, operators must determine what they intend to wash in order to specify the correct unit. They also should take into account the dishwasher's design and the quantity of items that need cleaning.

Maintenance Requirements: To maintain the performance of a dishwashing machine, most manufacturers suggest using commercial grade detergents, water temperatures and pressures that do not exceed specifications.

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