Commercial Dishwashers Buying Guide

Commercial Dishwashers Buying Guide

Can't decide between high and low temperature dishwashers, or wondering if an undercounter dishwasher will work for your needs? Get answers to these questions and more in this buying guide.

We don't need to convince you of the pitfalls in not having a commercial dishwasher for your business. From bottlenecks to burnouts (seriously, don't even try using a residential-grade dishwasher), dishwashers keep the kitchen and dining room humming. If you're looking to add a new dishwasher to your business or upgrade the one you have, check out this buying guide on commercial dishwashers.

The Difference Between High and Low Temperature Dishwashers

Choosing between a high and low temperature dishwasher is really a matter of preference. Both dishwashers work to fully sanitize glassware and dinnerware to meet NSF regulations, but the difference is how they get there.

High temperature dishwashers

High temperature dishwashers

As you can guess, high temperature dishwashers utilize a high heat (about 180° F) for sanitization. For those units that can't quite meet the desired temperature, the purchase of an additional booster heater may be required. These types of dishwashers utilize more energy than their low temperature dishwashers, however some manufacturers practice some more efficient practices like CMA Dishmachines. These dishwashers reserve the rinse water of one cycle to be used for the washing cycle in another. You'll also find that your dishes dry faster with high temperature dishwashers. Finally, keep in mind that your high temperature dishwasher may also require a condensate hood.

Low temperature dishwashers

Low temperature dishwashers are lower in cost than their high temperature counterparts, however they rely upon the addition of dishwashing chemicals to achieve proper sanitation; over time some may argue that the initial cost savings of a low temperature dishwasher becomes nonexistent. With any chemical cleaner you'll need to check and make sure it won't tarnish or damage your chinaware and flatware.

For those with sustainability goals: your energy costs may be slightly less with a low temperature dishwasher, but keep in mind that you're still draining chemicals into the environment. For truly energy-efficient equipment, look for the ENERGYSTAR® certification.

Types of Dishwashers

Both high and low temperature dishwashers come in a variety of types to accommodate your unique needs. Read on to learn more.



Great for bars and smaller kitchens, undercounter dishwashers resemble the same dishwasher you might have at home. These compact dishmachines utilize a single front-facing door and can handle a maximum of about 25 racks per hour. And since these dishwashers are lower to the ground, staff may have back trouble when lifting heavy racks in and out of the unit. Finally, keep in mind that these small dishwashers will not be able to keep up with anything beyond a coffee shop or small restaurant.



For high volume cafeterias, hospitals, schools and other institutions, look to conveyor dishwashers. These commercial dishwashers utilize a mechanical conveyer belt to transport racks to and through the dishwasher. Conveyor dishwashers can wash up to 400 racks of dishes per hour, conveyor dishwashers require the most space to accommodate sinks, waste removal stations, inlet and outlet tables and more.

Door-Type/Rack dishwashers

Door-Type/Rack dishwashers

Door-type (also known as rack) dishwashers are the perfect middle ground between undercounter and conveyor dishwashers. Capable of washing up to 80 racks per hour, these dishwashers may feature a single door or an easy "pass through" system where dirty racks go in one side and, once cleaned, come out the other side. Because these dishwashers are extremely fast and efficient, they're a popular choice in most restaurants today. And since loading takes place at a standing height it'll ease the burden on employees' backs.

Glass washers

Glass washers

For busy bars that need a front-of-house cleaning solution, look to glasswashers. Popular undercounter glass washers are designed to thoroughly wash your most delicate stemware and other drinkware. With a glass washer, you'll free up your bartender to spend more time making drinks instead of cleaning glasses.

Commercial Dishwasher Considerations and Accessories

Once you've thought about what type of commercial dishwasher is right for your business, you may want to consider other factors that could impact your day-to-day activities.

Excess steam

A particular concern to bars and other customer-facing areas, most commercial dishwashers release a large puff of steam when opened after each cycle. Depending on your restaurant, that steam may or may not be something you want your guests to experience.


Dishwashers are loud—and the more heavy duty dishwasher you get, the louder it'll be. While noise may not be an issue in the back of house, it can pose a problem for smaller restaurants or customer-facing bar areas. Be sure to check the decibel ratings on the dishwashing equipment

Water filters

Water filters work by not only removing harmful contaminants from the water, but other minerals and sediment that could build up within the tubing of your equipment. Over time, this buildup could increase your chances of maintenance problems and shorten the lifespan of your equipment. Be sure to regularly change your water filter for optimum performance.

Dish Racks

ou'll want dish racks that work for the type of things you're cleaning. Opt for a dish rack with pegs when washing dishes, trays, etc. when you need secured during cleaning. Flat racks are great for washing pots, pans, bowls and other items that need the space.

How to Size a New Dishwasher

Of course your available physical space will help dictate what type of dishwasher you can accommodate. But when shopping for models also consider how many racks of dishes and glassware you'll need cleaned throughout service (most racks can hold about 18 dishes or 36 glasses). First, calculate the amount of dishes you generate per hour and weigh that against the number of racks the dishwasher can handle.

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