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Commercial Dishwasher Buying Guide

21 Jun 2022, 1:47 PM

Commercial Dishwasher Buying Guide

The dishwasher is one of the most heavily used and important catering appliances found in professional kitchens. The high water temperatures produced by commercial dishwashers ensure dishes are cleaned more thoroughly than by handwashing. Plus, they're significantly more efficient in washing high volumes of crockery and cutlery which is vital for busy kitchens. In this guide we'll outline some key features of commercial dishwashers to help you choose the right model for your commercial setting.

Commercial dishwashers vs. domestic dishwashers

Commercial dishwashers are designed for maximum efficiency and output. Their cleaning cycles are significantly faster than domestic dishwashers, with commercial models taking just two or three minutes to wash and dry dishes compared to 45 to 90 minutes for domestic machines. The capacity of commercial dishwashers is also much higher, as is their overall build quality. Commercial washers are significantly more expensive than domestic varieties but their durable, stainless steel construction allows them to sustain heavy daily use in a commercial kitchen environment.

Types of commercial dishwasher

There are three key types of commercial dishwasher to choose from - undercounter, pass through and conveyor. The type you choose depends on the size of your business and the number of dishes you get through in each service.

Undercounter dishwashers are compact in design which makes them ideal for small kitchens. They're loaded from the front which makes them easy to operate and clean, but users must bend down in order to do so. With an average wash rate of 500 plates per hour, they're suited to small-to-medium size businesses such as village pubs, cafes and small restaurants.

Pass through dishwashers are significantly taller than undercounter dishwashers and their unique shape allows for plates to be pre-rinsed and loaded onto racks during washes. This means that crockery can be processed much faster than in undercounter models. The working height of these dishwashers means that users don't have to bend down to use them which can reduce the risk of back problems. Depending on the size, pass-through machines can clean between 600 and 1200 plates per hour which makes them suitable for medium to large pubs and restaurants with kitchens large enough to accommodate them.

Conveyor dishwashers are huge machines designed for very high volumes of dishes. They contain a large chamber through which crockery is channelled for largely automated washing. Some of them also have drying chambers so that plates are ready to use as soon as they come out of the dishwasher. Conveyor dishwashers take up a lot of space and are best suited to very large kitchens, such as those in large schools or business cafeterias. They can clean up to 2300 plates per hour.

Wash time

Commercial dishwashers complete cleaning cycles in as little as a few minutes, but exact cleaning times vary from model to model. Those that clean faster tend to be more expensive but this investment is worthwhile if you're processing orders quickly and have a large volume of dishes to wash. For small businesses, a longer wash time may be tolerable if budgets are tight.


Each dishwasher contains a rack that can fit a defined number of plates. Check the plate capacity of each model individually. The biggest dishwashers can usually hold up to 18 plates in a single rack. The smallest models tend to take 9 plates. Those with a larger capacity tend to be bigger overall and therefore more expensive.

It might be tempting to opt for a large capacity machine if you run through lots of dishes but consider wash time too. Multiply the plate capacity of the machine by the average number of washes per hour based on the machine's wash time and typical loading and unloading time. In some cases, it might be more efficient to choose a smaller capacity dishwasher with a faster wash time.

When calculating how many dishes you need to wash per hour, consider not only the number of diners but how many dishes they are likely to use in a single sitting. For example, restaurants that regularly serve three-course meals usually require higher capacity dishwashers than cafes that tend to serve single courses.

Gravity drain vs drain pump

When a dishwasher drain outlet is positioned lower than the drain standpipe, a drain pump is required to ensure water is efficiently drained away. If the drain standpipe is lower than the dishwasher's drain outlet, gravity will allow the wastewater to drain correctly. Consider the position of your drain standpipe before buying a dishwasher and choose one with a drain pump if necessary. Alternatively you could raise the dishwasher up on a dishwasher stand to ensure the outlet is higher than the drain standpipe.

glasswashers vs dishwashers

Domestic dishwashers can handle both glasses and crockery but the same can't be said for commercial dishwashers. Glasswashers tend not to get as hot as dishwashers, nor is the washing process as intensive. This is because they're designed to protect more delicate items like cocktail glasses and champagne flutes. You therefore cannot use a glasswasher to adequately clean crockery, nor can you use a dishwasher to clean glassware because the risk of breakages is high. Bistro dishwashers, which are suitable for glass and crockery, are a good option if you really don't have space for a separate glasswasher and dishwasher, but if you're washing in bulk, it is far better to opt for individual machines.

Rinse boost

Some dishwashers have a rinse boost pump which increases water pressure to ensure dishes get a thorough final rinse. In some cases, this is essential if the water pressure is less than 2 bar. In cases where water pressure is adequate already, a rinse boost pump can simply help to achieve a sparkling finish on crockery.

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