The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Commercial Dishwasher

It’s painful to imagine running a kitchen without a commercial dishwasher. Far surpassing domestic models, they are designed to get your dishware sparkly clean at record speeds, saving you precious time and money. 

But which commercial dishwasher is best for your business? 

Use this guide to make the best possible purchase and keep your dishwasher running optimally through quality care. We cover:

  1. Three main types of commercial dishwashers
  2. Other commercial dishwashers 
  3. Four dishwasher features to consider 
  4. Installing your dishwasher 
  5. How to care for your dishwasher 

Keep reading to learn more.

Three main types of commercial dishwashers

1. Undercounter dishwasher 

Undercounter dishwashers are designed to fit (you guessed it) under your counter. This ensures they take up as little space as possible, making them a popular choice for small caterers. 

Much more efficient than domestic dishwashers, they can wash up to 500 plates per hour. Each cycle usually takes around three minutes.

With front-loading capability, they are easy to access which is especially useful for cleaning. 

Suitability: good for small, moderately busy kitchens such as independent restaurants, cafes, bars and take away outlets

Cost: £1000 -£6000

2. Pass-through dishwashers

Pass-through dishwashers are large units that often come with two dish tables: one for dirty dishes and one for clean dishes so you can pre-rinse your plates easily.

They are highly efficient dishwashers, cleaning up to 1200 plates per hour

Quick loading capabilities also make for a super-fast dishwashing process. 

Unlike undercounter dishwashers, pass-throughs require the user to pull down on the hood. This makes them somewhat ergonomic since the user doesn’t need to bend over. 

Suitability: good for high-volume medium-sized kitchens, such as large restaurants, residential home canteens and hotel kitchens 

Cost: £2500 – £13500

3. Rack dishwashers

Rack dishwashers are the Ferraris of commercial dishwashers. Using an automated conveyor system, they can wash between 1700 and 2300 plates per hour. 

Bigger than pass-through and undercounter dishwashers, they require a lot of space with room for two dishwasher tables on either side. 

Some premium rack dishwashers also come with a drying chamber to speed up the cleaning process. 

Suitability: good for large kitchens such as school and hospital canteens 

Cost: £12,000 – £20,000

Other dishwashers

1. Glasswashers

Glasswashers are usually quite small and can fit under a counter. They have been specifically designed to clean glassware quickly without risk of damage. They can cost anywhere from £700 to £5000.

2. Utensil washers

Utensil washers can clean very dirty pans and pots in ways standard commercial dishwashers can’t. This makes them useful for caterers who don’t use much cutlery and rely on larger utensils. They can cost anywhere from £5000 to £30,000.

Four dishwasher features to consider

Now you should have a better idea of the type of dishwasher your kitchen needs. The next step is understanding the different features of commercial dishwashers so you can make a more informed investment. 

1. Size and capacity 

When thinking about the desired size of your commercial dishwasher, consider:

  • The size and height of your kitchen
  • How many dishes you need to clean per load

If you’re looking to buy a pass-through or rack dishwasher, remember that you might also need to buy two dishwasher tables to go on either side, increasing the space you’ll need.

Do you have plans to expand your kitchen in the future? If you want to save money by avoiding getting a replacement (and currently have the space for it), it may be worth purchasing a dishwasher that can handle the extra work. 

2. Temperature

Commercial dishwashers typically operate at high temperatures and low temperatures.  

High temperatures sanitize dishware using heat at around 150 to 160 degrees. While low temperatures use chemical sanitising agents instead. Both methods of cleaning have their pros and cons.

For example, you’ll save energy using a low temp dishwasher but the chemicals used might tarnish your dishware. While a high temp dishwasher uses a lot more energy but is gentle when it comes to cleaning. 

3. Cost

If your dishwasher uses hot water for cleaning, you might be spending more on energy than a low temp dishwasher. Saying that, you’ll have to continuously buy sanitizing chemicals when cleaning your dishes with cool water.  

It’s worth sitting down and calculating these predicted costs when considering different dishwashers. That way you can pick the option that saves you the most money. 

You can also save money by buying a good-quality dishwasher. Go cheap and it’s you’ll likely have to pay more money on part replacements and repairs.

Learn how to care for your catering equipment to reduce maintenance costs. 

4. Energy efficiency

The two main resources used by commercial dishwashers are energy and water.

If you’re looking to make your kitchen more environmentally friendly, consider a model that has optional low energy settings.

A government-run agency called Energy Star rates commercial dishwashers for their energy efficiency. Look out for the official certification – it means that the machine uses 40% less water and is 40% more energy efficient.

Installing your dishwasher 

Before you purchase a dishwasher, carefully assess the space it will use. Consider if it will cause any obstructions. For example, will using the door during loading and unloading block the path for staff?  

Most dishwashers require a direct mains water and power connection as they consume large amounts of water and power.  

For large appliances like dishwashers, it is usually worth investing in professional installation to ensure your appliance is set up safely. Site surveys before installation may be required for pass-through and rack dishwashers that require a lot of space.

How to care for your dishwasher 

The manufacturer’s guidelines will stipulate how to properly care and maintain your dishwasher. 

Following these guidelines will save you time and energy – effective care for your dishwasher will prevent mechanical issues and grime build-up which can become costly problems. It will also drive cleaning efficiency, helping you get the most out of your dishwasher.

Here are some handy cleaning tips to keep your dishwasher in great condition:

  • Remove food residue from dishes before washing
  • Use the recommended detergent
  • Wash the inside of the dishwasher
  • Drain the dishwasher after cleaning
  • Empty the filter to clear it of debris
  • Clean the rinse arms and jets
  • Rinse aid compartments
  • Air out the dishwasher to prevent bacteria buildup

For a complete guide on caring for your catering equipment, read our article.

Is there something else about commercial dishwashers you’d like to know? We’re happy to help. Send your questions to or call us on 0113 833 1234.