8 Crucial Factors to Consider When Choosing a Restaurant Dishwasher


No matter if you are the owner, manager or a worker in a restaurant, you know what a busy night looks like. The rotating doors keep on spinning, the customers coming in, ordering appetizers, meals, rounds of drinks, desserts, the dishes keep coming and going and coming – fast.

A commercial dishwasher is an essential appliance in a restaurant kitchen (and all commercial kitchens for that matter) for two main reasons:

  1. Cleanliness is imperative in the hospitality industry.
  2. The dishwasher reduces the workload of the kitchen staff.


Namely, spotless glassware and dishware is what the customers always expect from the place they dine in and not having a machine you can rely on to deliver perfection can cost you your reputation.

Also, although a lipstick stain on a glass or dry food residue on a fork can cost you your customers, not sanitizing the dishes properly can get you shut down by the government. You’ll need a dishwasher that will properly wash, but more importantly, sanitize your warewash according to all local and government health requirements.

Besides, imagine your staff washing all the dishes by hand and cleaning up the mess over and over again on a busy night. The purpose of a commercial dishwasher is to drastically reduce the level of manual warewashing  that is necessary to clean large amounts of dishes to acceptable standards.

All professional kitchens need a quality dishwasher that will guarantee gleaming, hygienic finishes, smooth operation and good time management. However, no matter if you are opening a new restaurant or looking to replace your equipment, you’ll need to do some research before making an investment. With so much new technology and brands on the market, choosing the right dish machine can seem like a daunting task.

To stop you from wandering and wasting precious time, Chem Mark, Inc. prepared this article to help you choose the right dishwasher machine for your restaurant by presenting different types of dishwashers, their capacities and other important features.

Before we dive in, here are a few important questions that we want you to think about:

  • Is your restaurant considered casual or fine-dining?
  • What are the types or washware used in your restaurant?
  • How busy is your restaurant?
  • What is the volume that you’ll need to clean on daily basis?
  • What are your kitchen’s space limitations?
  • Do you have plumbing or electrical needs?
  • How important is energy efficiency to your business?
  • How much money are you planning to invest?
  • Are you planning to buy, lease or rent?


Now that we got you thinking, go through these important factors that will help you make the right decision when choosing your restaurant dishwasher machine.

1. The Right Dishwasher Based on Its Size & Capacity

This is probably a good place to start: determining the size (i.e. type) of a commercial dishwasher that your restaurant needs. The equipment you are looking for needs to be in direct proportion with the size of your business.

Namely, in case you are ultra-busy, but the dishwasher is slow, it won’t be able to keep up. On the other side, if the business is slow, your dishwasher is just going to sit there. To avoid losing money, you’ll need to think about the following:

  • Expected daily number of meals served at the restaurant
  • Overall variety of dishes used per restaurant guest and in the kitchen
  • Average amount of tables turned (including busiest restaurant times)
  • The size of the restaurant kitchen and the dishwasher position

These factors are important for narrowing down the choices, as by determining them you’ll find a dishwasher type that is suitable the most.

There are four main commercial dishwasher types: glasswashers, undercounter, door-type and conveyor-type dishwashers. Their most basic characteristics and capacities are stated below.

Useful Hint: Depending on the restaurant type, for every 100 meals you serve, you will generate about 35 racks of dishes. Fine dining-restaurants might have less table turns, but more dishes per guest, while quick-serve restaurants might have more table turns, but less dishes per guest.

#1 Glasswashers

These commercial dishwashers are specialized in glassware. They come as benchtop or undercounter models and have a relatively small footprint (avg. 72″x22″x38″). Suitable for establishments that need to wash 1000-2000 glasses per hour.

They come in different sizes, types (also as undercounter models) and as both low- and high-temp models. They are not designed to handle a lot of “scrap” during the washing process.


#2 Undercounter Dishwashers

These are commercial dishwashers of smallest capacity and smallest footprint (avg. 38″x24″x25″). They resemble residential dishwashers in appearance, as they fit under a standard-height counter, which provides an additional working space above them. They come as both low- and high-temp varieties.

Undercounter dish machines have upper and lower rotating arms that spin during the washing program, spraying water and detergents through nozzles. They can wash a single rack per cycle and are suitable for establishments serving less than 100 meals per hour.

The undercounter dishwashers must be plumbed into the main water supply and require access to waste drain. They are generally supplied with a standard 3-pin plug attachment.


#3 Door Type/Hood-Type/Rack Dishwashers

These are commercial dishwashers of medium capacity and medium footprint (avg. 25″x25″x90″). Suitable for establishments serving 100-500 meals per hour.

They come as single-rack or double-rack and both low- and high-temp models. They have a pass-through functionality, either straight or in a corner configuration. The doors are opening simultaneously as the dirty dishes go in on the one side and the clean dishes come out on the other side.

The door-type dishwashers are usually positioned centrally of an inlet and outlet table to enable speed and efficiency. You’ll just need to pay attention to the machine’s height, as it must allow proper clearance for your largest pots and pans.

The door-type dishwashers must be positioned to have access to main water supply and a sustainable waster drain, and they generally require hardwiring by a qualified electrician.

#4 Conveyor Dishwashers

These are commercial dishwashers of largest capacity and largest footprint (44″ /66″x10′). They use a conveyor belt (this the name) to transport racks of dishware through the dishwasher. They are extremely powerful and efficient, and suitable for establishments serving 500-2000 meals per hour.

They come as single-tank and multi-tank models to reflect the different stages of cleaning. The models with one tank will perform all three wash cycles in one tank, while models with three tanks or compartments will have separate tanks for washing, rinsing and sanitizing.

Conveyors also come as both low-temp and high-temp varieties. They have built-in heaters to keep the water hot, but they’ll also need a booster heater to achieve temperature required for sanitizing the dishes.

There are also flight type dishwashers which are just huge, customized rackless conveyors that are suitable for establishments serving more than 2000 meals per hour.

The units require a suitable plumbing connection to the main water supply and must be placed near a waste drain. Also, conveyors require 3-phase electrical connection and hardwiring by a qualified electrician.


Mentioning the number of meals served per hour can probably help you decide faster if you’ve thought about the important points stated at the beginning. We can conclude that glasswashers are excellent appliances for bars, pubs or all other establishments that deal with heavy washing load of glassware.

The undercounter dishwashers are excellent for smaller restaurants and dinners, bars and cafes that don’t see a lot of traffic and have limited kitchen space, while conveyors might be too much for most restaurants.

The type preferred by most restaurants is the door-type. Thanks to their capacity, footprint, the fact that they are easy to use and able to wash pots, pans and dishware at the same time, door-type dishwashers are a perfect fit for small to mid-sized restaurants with insufficient space or possibilities to install specialty warewashers.

  2. The Need for Speed

Restaurant kitchens can move really fast and your commercial dishwasher needs to keep up the pace. This is closely related to the dishwasher capacity, as you’ll lower the need for more cycles by increasing the number of dishes that you can fit into one load.

However, fitting all your dishes into one load isn’t the smart solution here. Rather, consider the cycle speed as well, as it is important for securing a steady flow of clean dishes.

It might seem that a difference of a minute or two between different models doesn’t matter, and for most kitchens it doesn’t. However, it can cause delays it you make a mistake, so be aware of the wash-cycle durations of each model you are considering.

  3. The Right Temperature Choice

Another big decision that you are going to have to make is whether you’re going to get a high-temperature or low-temperature dishwasher for your restaurant. Choosing one or the other will mainly depend on the size or your establishment, current budget, short and long-term plans and financing options.

Commercial dishwashers are made either as low-temp or high-temp options. The difference lies in the way the machines sanitize the dishes. Namely, the high-temp dishwashers use hot water of at least 180°F during the final rinse, while low-temps use commercial dishwasher chemicals for sanitization.

Although the dilemma which one is better is still unsolved, there are a few well determined facts that brought us to the following conclusions:

  • High-temp dishwasher is a better long-term option for your restaurant.
  • Low-temp dishwasher is a better option to start with in case of limited budget.

Namely, since high-temp dish machines require more energy to heat the water to sanitizing temperatures, higher bills might seem discouraging. Also, since the prices are higher than of the low-temp models, and they often need a booster heater and some sort of vent-system due to the steam, high-temps represent a major initial investment. The investment might seem like more than your restaurant can afford, especially if you are just starting out or running a small restaurant.

However, although low-temp dish machines are cheaper and don’t require booster heaters and a vent-system (less money and less space required), they do require chemicals, that proved to be a more expensive long-term solution even considering the higher electric bills in case of high-temps. Plus, chemical sanitizers can damage certain dishes in the long run, which is not something that high-temperature water will do.

And of course, we can’t turn a blind eye to the fact that high-temps are simply more efficient at cleaning and sanitization when it comes to washing stained and greasy items, and the fact that they instantly dry dishes. This means that you’ll need more chemicals (rinse aids) to provide a better wash and your dishes will need a bit more time to dry out in case you go for the low-temp model.


Bottom line is, if your restaurant is not so busy that you can’t afford to wait for the dishes to dry out, and in case the initial investment capabilities are limited, then low-temp dishwasher can be your choice. Also, if you decide to rent or lease, then you can start with the low-temp option and then move on to the high-temp when suitable.

Of course, in case you have the money and are prepared to invest, go with the high-temp model.

Follow this link in case you want to learn more about low-temp and high-temp dishwashers.


  4. The Importance of Energy & Water Efficiency

Energy efficiency is an important feature to consider when choosing a dishwashing machine for restaurant, as dishwashers are one of the biggest energy users in commercial kitchens. Most dish machines operate on electric power levels from 115V (smaller dishwashers) to 460V (large dishwashers). Some have electric, steam or gas water heating systems, others are available with single-source gas heating system.

When it comes to energy you should always think long-term. Bringing energy consumption and your bills as low as possible is something that will help you save and invest money in more important aspects of your business in the future. Plus, it shows you’re environmentally-friendly.

You’ll also want to check dishwasher’s water performance (amount of water spent per cycle or rack cleaned), as choosing a machine with lower water usage will certainly contribute to performance increase.

Also, new technologies used for creating spray nozzles in conveyors can cut the required amount of water by 50%. This will impact both the energy required to heat the water and the amount of chemicals/rinse agents used. Other features such as adjustable wash pressure and heat recovery system reuse exhaust air to heat the incoming water, which saves a lot of power.

Most commercial dishwasher manufacturers are aware the issue of energy and water consumption, so most models are offered with Energy Star rating that has a huge impact on the total energy use. Namely, Energy Star certified dishwashers use as much as 40% less energy and water than other standard models, so the percentage is worthy of your attention.

Of course, don’t expect that your dish machine will take care of itself. Regular maintenance of your commercial dishwasher , regular deliming  and daily dishwasher cleaning are crucial to keep your machine in top-notch condition that won’t influence water and energy consumption.

  5. The User-Friendliness Factor

Perhaps this doesn’t seem important to you, as you’re probably thinking: how different dishwasher models can be? Well, believe or not – they can. That’s why it’s important to check reviews and avoid dish machines that the users have labeled as “unfriendly”.

Just imagine: your staff members will load and unload the dishwasher several times each day, so if they have difficulties with figuring out and remembering how the machine works, it will slow down the operation and cause stress buildup.

Also, the ease of loading and unloading the machine are another factor to consider. There are machines that enable faster and easier loading (which your staff will appreciate) and then there are machines that are a bit slower and difficult to load and unload.

A good example for a dishwasher type that is user-friendly is the door-type. The loading takes place at standing height which is practical, as there is no need to bend over or squat to get the dishes in or out. This makes the operation less tiresome for the staff, faster and more efficient.

  6. The Tolerable Noise Levels

Perhaps you know already and perhaps you don’t – commercial dishwashers are loud. The level of noise increases with their power, which is only expected. In case you are running a small restaurant, a dinner or a bar, the undecounter will probably meet your needs, and you’ll probably keep it close to the dining area and the customers. This is perfect, as the undercounters are pretty quiet.

However, if you’ll need to get a higher-power dishwasher and the noise levels can represent an issue, go through specs and check decibel ratings. It will enable you disregard certain models right from the start.

  7. The Importance of New Technologies

In an era when everything is going smart, commercial dishwasher technology is not being left behind. Manufacturers understand the importance of technology in today’s world, so they devote time and resources in bringing commercial dishwashers to the next level.

The main field of interest is introducing handheld computer interfaces that can communicate with and control single or multiple dishwashers. The interfaces can perform functions such as dish machine start and shut down, timed cycle selection, they can enable control over the internal booster heater, perform service diagnostics and machine programming.

The digital displays can be programmed to notify users about excessive lime buildup, low temperatures or dirty water which takes guessing out of the equation and enables timely response and enhances performance.

Even though new technologies are cool and make your job much easier, think about whether they are important enough to invest in. Or, maybe you can continue living without the computer interface, but do you want to?

  8. The Financing Option: Lease, Rent or Buy

After you’ve narrowed down your choices and determined what is it that your business needs, you’ll need choose a commercial dishwasher option that fits your budget. A commercial dishwasher should be an asset to your restaurant operations, not a burden.

Nobody knows better than you how much you are willing or able to spend before you make your move. Perhaps you budget allows a basic dishwasher, so there will be no need for wasting time going through high-end space shuttle models.

You can also find yourself in a situation that your budget doesn’t allow you to purchase, but it does allow you to rent or lease. Leasing a dishwasher for restaurant or getting a dishwasher rental deal might be just what you need for quite a few reasons.

  • No major initial investment (get the dishwasher now, pay on monthly basis).
  • Repeated access to latest technology (change the restaurant dishwashing equipment when you want to try another option).
  • Monthly maintenance included in the lease/rental deal (installation, maintenance, emergency repairs).
  • Chemicals included in the deals (no need to worry about the right chemicals and delivery).
  • Lease-to-own option at the end of the deal (you can keep the equipment, return it or replace it for a new model).

Commercial Dishwasher for Restaurant – Chem Mark, Inc.

As you see, there are a lot of things to consider when choosing a commercial dishwasher for your restaurant. If your choices are clearer now, but you are still not sure regarding the decision, especially if lease or rental deals are more suitable for your business, contact us or give us a call at (714)-784-5522 and have a chat with our Chem Mark, Inc. Expert.

Our warewahing professionals are dedicated to helping you find the ideal appliance addition to your restaurant kitchen. We are certain that we will succeed as we are proud to lease and rent commercial dishwashers by ADS, the oldest and largest manufacturer of dishwashers in the US, and CMA Dishmachines, a company that is focused on high quality service and products.

Chem Mark, Inc. – restaurant dishwasher rental & lease – a total in-house operation in Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego! Providing logistics, maintenance, repairs, chemicals and commercial grade water softeners to help you raise the bar of your service!