How to Choose the Right Commercial Dish Machine for Your Business

Commercial dish machines are a great alternative to manually washing and sanitizing the wares your facility uses. Read this article to learn about the different types of commercial dish machines and how to choose the best one for your facility.

If one thing is guaranteed to make customers unhappy, it is being given dirty wares like spotty glasses, smudged silverware, and unclean plates during their dining experience. 

Whether you own a small business, run a restaurant, manage a cafeteria, or any other foodservice establishment, providing your customers with spotless wares is key to keeping guests satisfied. 

Unfortunately, this can be challenging especially if your facility still manually cleans wares after use or doesn’t have the best commercial dishwasher for your needs. 

Without the right commercial dish machine, you run the risk of having to deal with customer complaints and more time-consuming cleaning processes.

Commercial kitchens are busy with staff constantly moving around to prepare and serve food that is satisfactory to your customers. 

Adding the right commercial dish machine to your kitchen can help boost your staff productivity without sacrificing cleanliness. 

A commercial dish machine replaces manual dishwashing and sanitizing dirty dishes, pots, pans, and glassware in your facility.

There are many different types of commercial dish machines, which can make it difficult to find the right one for your business. The best dish machine for your facility will depend on the specific needs of your establishment. The goal is to find the best machine and ensure you’re getting spotless wares in one wash cycle.

You’ll also want to be sure that you choose a dish machine that can handle the volume of dishes produced by your commercial kitchen and that the dishwasher is capable of cleaning the various types of wares your patrons use in your facility.

In this article, we will review the different types of commercial dish machines and the available features to help you choose the best option for your facility.

How Does A Dish Machine Work?

You may think this is a silly question and that all dish machines work the same. In short, all dish machines use dish detergent to wash, sanitize, and dry the dishes used in your commercial kitchen.

However, there are two major types of commercial dish machines:

  • High Temp Dish Machines
  • Low Temp Dish Machines

Low and high temp dish machines perform differently. The temperature of the machine determines how much dish detergent is needed and affects how your wares are sanitized. Some commercial dish machines will also require external equipment to maintain the temperatures needed to complete the wash cycles.

High Temp Dish Machines Vs Low Temp Dish Machines 

High Temp Dish Machines

A high temp commercial dish machine washes dishes at 140-160+ °F and rinses them at 180-195 °F. 

The temperature of the superheated water allows for the dish cycle to sanitize the wares without using a chemical dish sanitizer and achieve faster drying times.

High temp dish machines can also clean visibly soiled dishes that are coated in fat, grease, and tough soils. This means that though your dishes should always be rinsed before being loaded into the dish machine, the high heat can tackle any leftover soils on your wares.

One thing to note about high temp dish machines is that most of them require both an external booster heater to maintain the heated water temperatures and a condensate hood.

The booster heater helps ensure the machine maintains its high temperatures. 

A condensate hood is used to capture heat or condensate from non-grease producing appliances, like a dish machine.

Some dish machines can be ventless, which uses an internal vent system to eliminate the need for a condensate hood. These ventless machines can also reduce the amount your business spends on energy expenses.

Ventless Dish Machine

Low Temp Dish Machines

A low-temp dish machine washes and sanitizes dishes at a temperature of 120-140 °F degrees. 

Since these machines don’t use high temperatures, a chemical sanitizer is needed to sanitize and kill germs on the dishes.

Before dishes are loaded into the dish machine, they should be thoroughly scrubbed and pre-rinsed. A low temp dish machine isn’t able to handle grease on dishes, so your staff should be extra careful to remove any and all visible soil. 

It’s also important to note that low-temp machines generally take longer to clean dishes. 

The lower temperature machines don’t require a booster heater or a condensate hood.

What to Consider When Choosing a Dish Machine

There are three main features you should consider when determining whether a dish machine will be right for your kitchen:

  • High Temp Vs Low Temp Dish Machine 
  • Dishwasher Footprint
  • Cleaning Capacity

High Temp Vs Low Temp Dish Machine

How to Choose Between a High Temp and Low Temp Dish Machine

When deciding between a high temp and a low temp commercial dish machine, you will need to consider what kind of food your facility serves. 

High temp machines are better for establishments that have greasier foods, like barbeque, while low temp machines can clean non-greasy soils like salads or pasta.

You will also need to consider the electrical capabilities of your building. High temp dish machines require higher voltage outlets, so if you have concerns about your facility’s energy usage a low temp machine will probably be best.

Dishwasher Footprint

The footprint of your dishwashing machine is simply the amount of space that the equipment takes up in your facility. 

If you have a commercial dish machine that is both vertically and horizontally large, it will require a lot of space and affect the way your staff moves in your kitchen.

Commercial kitchens with ample space, like a cafeteria, hospital, or other high-volume facilities can use a machine with a large footprint. 

In larger foodservice facilities, you can benefit from a dish machine that is built for efficient ware washing in a busy facility. These machines, called conveyor dish machines, are large but have faster cycle times than smaller commercial dish machines.

If you don’t have a lot of space in your commercial kitchen, you will likely have to settle for a smaller dish machine that’s able to clean and sanitize your dishes quickly. Undercounter dish machines can be tucked away beneath counters to make the most of the space you have available in your kitchen.

Cleaning Capacity

Another feature you should consider when trying to find the right dish machine for your facility is the cleaning capacity.

There are a variety of different sized dish machines that can be used to clean soiled dishes in your kitchen.

Some dish machines are capable of cleaning a high number of dishes throughout the day while others may be smaller and clean fewer dish racks.

In a commercial foodservice facility, you will want a dish machine that makes it easy to quickly turn around dishes and wares for use.

For smaller facilities, like a cafe or a compact commercial kitchen, you’ll likely benefit from a machine that can clean up to 35 racks an hour. Larger commercial kitchens, like cafeterias or banquet halls, will likely need a dish machine that can process more than 150 racks an hour.

Types Of Dish Machines

Dish machines come in various types, sizes, temperatures, and operations for cleaning the dishes in your facility.

Each type of commercial dish machine comes in either high or low temp, depending on the specific make and model of the machine you’re looking at.

Below, we’ll cover the four most popular types of commercial dish machines that you can use in your facility:

  • Under Counter Dish Machine
  • Upright Dish Machine
  • Conveyor Dish Machine
  • Glassware Dish Machine

Under Counter Dish Machine

An under-counter dish machine is the most compact type of dish machine. 

Dishwasher Footprint

Undercounter dish machines are about the same size as a household dishwasher but they have a quicker cleaning cycle.

Undercounter Dish Machine

The small size of the machine allows it to sit either in the Back Of House (BOH) or in the Front Of House (FOH). The compact dishwasher can be tucked under a counter in your facility.

In facilities that don’t have a lot of space, an under-counter dish machine may be the best option.

Cleaning Capacity

An under-counter commercial dishwashing machine can clean about 20-30 racks per hour.

These dish machines are a great choice for small restaurants, hotels, or in foodservice businesses where the commercial kitchen is cleaned as you go. 

Upright Dish Machine

An upright type dish machine is a larger commercial dish machine that can clean a larger number of racks in an hour.

This type of dish machine is perfect for facilities with large dishware. For a restaurant or foodservice business that produces a lot of kitchenware, like pots, pans, and baking ware, you will benefit from having an upright dish machine.

Dishwasher Footprint

An upright dish machine will take up more vertical space than an under-counter dishwasher. 

Upright Dish Machine

This allows your staff to stack pots and pans in the dish machine. 

The vertical footprint also allows the machines to sit out of the way in the back of the house. They are designed to sit out of the way of traffic in your commercial kitchen.

Cleaning Capacity

Upright dish machines can clean between 35 and 60 dish racks each hour.

These machines are perfect for medium-sized food service facilities, like diners.

Conveyor Dish Machine

A conveyor dish machine is the largest type of dish machine and cleans dishes the fastest.

Kitchens that need to turn over a lot of tableware during operating hours and have plenty of space can benefit from using this high-capacity, heavy-duty machine. 

Dishwasher Footprint

Not only are these machines large vertically, but they also require a lot of horizontal space.

Conveyor Dish Machine

A conveyor dish machine has a loading area, where your staff places the dish rack to fill the basket with dirty dishes. Then, the rack is pulled into the wash/rinse tank for the cleaning cycle to begin. Once completed, the dishes are then moved into the unloading area for your staff to remove the clean dishes for use.

A conveyor dish machine is a perfect choice for a commercial kitchen that has a lot of space and requires quick turn around times for dishes. 

Cleaning Capacity

These conveyor dish machines can clean 150-200 dish racks an hour.

Commercial conveyor dish machines are perfect for large, busy facilities, like cafeterias, hospitals, and other high-volume businesses.

Glassware Dish Machine

Businesses, like busy bars or lounges, that use a lot of glasses or particularly fragile types of drinkware will benefit from using a glassware dish machine. 

Unlike the other types of machines, glassware dish machines produce reduced water pressure and power to safely clean your glassware with as little breakage as possible.

In facilities, like bars and restaurants, cleaning glassware quickly and accurately is important to provide your patrons with a steady stream of beverages.

Your staff will have access to clean, spotless glassware for each customer’s beverage needs. 

Dishwasher Footprint

Glassware dish machines come in either under-counter, upright, or in-sink models.

Glassware Dish Machine

In-sink glassware cleaners use a combination of water and brushes to clean glassware. These machines usually clean one glass at a time, so in facilities that use a larger amount of drinking glasses, you will benefit from either an under-counter or upright dish machine.

Cleaning Capacity

Depending on the size of the specific machine, a glassware dish machine can clean up to 1,000 glasses per hour.


Final Thoughts

Dish machines will help you and your foodservice business increase the productivity of your workers and create a healthier environment. Instead of having to manually clean the dishware in your facility, your staff can run the dishes through a commercial dish machine to achieve clean wares in less time.

There are a lot of choices when it comes to commercial dish machines. Deciding which is the best fit for your facility can be difficult.

If you have a small foodservice business that doesn’t need to clean a lot of dishes throughout the day, an under-counter dish machine will likely be best for your facility.

Larger establishments with greater space will benefit from either an upright or conveyor dish machine, which can clean more dishes per hour.

Imperial Dade can help you select the best commercial dish machines for washing and sanitizing dishes, whether you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean.

Have a question about the best dish machines for your foodservice business? Contact an Imperial Dade Specialist today for more information on choosing the best dish machine to achieve your food service goals.

Check Out These Related Articles:

Warewashing, An Important Part of your Kitchen Sanitation Program

An effective warewashing program can ensure kitchenware cleanliness, enhance guest satisfaction, and save money. For this edition of The Expert Interview,  Laura Craven spoke to Angel Rodriguez. As a Regional Director of Chemical Sales at Imperial Dade, Angel oversees the Environmental Service Program. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Angel has a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

LC: What exactly is warewashing?

AR: Warewashing is the term associated with cleaning and sanitizing any kitchenware used in the preparation, serving, or storing of food. This would include pots and pans, cutlery, glasses, serving pans, and trays. Warewashing can be done by machine or manually. This process is a key factor in ensuring that a commercial kitchen provides a clean and safe dining experience for their customers.

LC: You mentioned cleaning and sanitizing. Can you explain the difference?

AR: Great question! Cleaning removes food and other debris from the surface of an item, such as a plate. Sanitizing is the next step. Sanitizing kills the microorganisms and germs on the cleaned surface, making it safe for food contact.

LC: I think we all have an understanding of manual warewashing. It’s what we do at home, correct?

AR: Yes, but in a commercial environment there are specific steps and regulations. At home you may wash a plate with retail detergent, dry it, and put it away. In a restaurant you must wash the plate with a commercial-grade detergent, rinse, and then sanitize in water that contains 200 parts per million of sanitizer. That last step is the one that causes the most challenges. For example, if the water is too hot, the sanitizer will not be maintained at the appropriate level.

LC: And if that happens, is the sanitizing step compromised?

AR: Yes, and if a health inspector performs a test, it will result in a violation. It is really important to have a proper 3-compartment sink system, use the correct products and follow procedures.

LC: Does using a dish machine make the process easier for the operator?

AR: Commercial dish machines require less labor and, especially in large establishments, are much more efficient than manual washing. But there are still procedures and maintenance that need to be performed.

AR: First, the operator must consider the best type of machine. There are many sizes and configuration ranging from a small under-counter model, which would be appropriate in a bar area or small café, to a large conveyor model used in a hotel. These machines operate at high or low temperatures. Low temperature machines are less expensive and more energy efficient, but require more chemicals. There are trade-offs that need to be analyzed.  Every situation is unique. This is why it is important for operators to work with an experienced supplier, one that will take the time to determine the best system for their needs.

LC: Okay, once the correct equipment is chosen and installed, what are the steps to make sure the program runs smoothly.

AR: Scheduled preventative maintenance is crucial. A technician will change chemical lines, squeeze tubes, and dilution tips to make sure that the proper amount of detergent and chemicals are being used by the machine. These items can wear out, and if neglected can shut down the system. This can cause a major halt to a kitchen while waiting for an emergency service call.

ID_ESP_restaurant

AR: Using the right detergents and chemicals for the machine type is another important factor. The warewashing system components operate together so substituting or leaving out products will cause problems, can result in health code violations, or worse, it can make people sick.

LC: Sounds like there is a lot more to a warewashing program than simply washing dishes.

AR: It is a very important process in a kitchen sanitation program, however when set up and maintained correctly, it will free up kitchen staff and managers to focus on their menu and their guests’ satisfaction.

LC: Thanks, Angel!

Angel Rodriguez, as well as Imperial Dade’s team of Chemical Managers, are available to consult with foodservice operators on warewashing systems. Angel can be reached at arodriguez@imperialdade.com.