The dishwashers you may find in some homes today do the all-important job of cleaning your plates, cups, cutlery, and silverware, and making sure they are clean and sanitary enough for their next use. Commercial grade dishwashers – the ones you see used in food establishments ranging from cosy family dinners to your favourite café, all the way up to the finest of fine dining restaurants – are also used to do the same job, but they have to be able to do it while under the rigours of the restaurant industry. Commercial grade dishwashers have to be able to adhere to government-mandated sanitary regulations while washing large batches of tableware at a much faster rate; these dishwashers have therefore grown larger and use of more vigorous cleaning processes to achieve this end.
However, just because commercial grade dishwashers are designed to meet such demands and perform well under such conditions doesn’t mean it will be able to do so forever. As with a lot of things in life, there has to be a balance of give and take. If you want to get the most out of your dishwasher, with the goal of using it well beyond its expected life cycle, you as the owner of the food establishment need to put in a little effort and take few measures to make sure your dishwasher does just that. Here are a few things you can do.
Use it right
As the saying goes, “only a bad workman blames his tools.” This saying is usually reserved for professions that make use of handheld tools, but it can be just as appropriately applied elsewhere. Any tool, even the shiniest, fanciest, most expensive varieties that come with all of the bells and whistles, can fail to perform as intended (and in some cases even break down) if they are not used correctly. In the case of your dishwasher, incorrect use will not only fail to clean your dishes, but it may also increase wear and tear on the mechanical components of the dishwasher like the heating element and the spray.
A great place to start is before you even get the dishes into the dishwasher. More specifically, one should choose and use the right racks for particular dishes so they can be properly washed during the cycle. Unlike home grade dishwashers which have specific top and bottom racks for organising your dinnerware, there are a much wider variety of commercial grade dishwashers racks that differ in size and organising cut-outs. Despite this, most commercial grade dishwasher racks still fall into one of two categories – plate racks and cup racks. Plate racks usually have plastic spikes so you can stack plates and trays upright much like a home dishwasher. Cup racks, meanwhile, usually do not have any plastic spikes so cups or bowls can be neatly arranged. One should also be aware of cutlery baskets, a plastic basket made for organising spoons, forks, knives, and the like; these baskets are usually placed in the cup rack.
Simply having the right racks won’t get your dishes perfectly clean – they have to be organised properly as well. Plates should be organised by size in plate racks, making sure that larger plates won’t block saucers or smaller dishes. Cups should be arranged face down in cup racks. Forks, spoons, and knives should be mixed together in cutlery to prevent them from sticking together. In most commercial grade dishwashers, the cup rack should always be above the plate rack. You should also try to look through the manual for your particular dishwasher to find out where the wash jets are and how they spray water onto the dishes, then arrange your dishes strategically around that to get the best possible clean.
Treat it right
A dishwasher is a kitchen appliance that takes dirty dishes and makes it clean. And despite its best efforts to drain away all of the dirt it rinses off of the dishes, there will still be a bit of grime that gets left behind. This might be fine for the first couple of months, but every little bit of grime accumulates over time. And if you don’t do anything, the dishwasher will eventually have trouble cleaning the dishes until at some point the cleaning arm or some other component breaks down outright.
The takeaway here is that, if you want your dishwasher to keep doing its dirty, thankless job for longer, you need to treat it to a bit of TLC every once in a while. Specifically, you would need to have maintenance done on the dishwasher at regular intervals. The dishwasher itself should be cleaned daily, and removable components like the wash/rinse arms should be removed and cleaned separately before reassembling the washer. Filters should be checked and cleaned frequently to maintain optimum water flow in the washer. Ideally one would want to clean the filter after every 20 cycles if there is a noticeable amount of gunk on the filter. The dishwasher’s tank water should also be replaced at the same frequency as with the filters. After cleaning the dishwasher at the end of the day, one should also clean the tank and leave the dishwasher open to help it dry out.
Besides this daily routine, you should also have a more thorough maintenance check done on your dishwasher by a professional repair person. Ideally, they will inspect the wear and tear of the mechanical components of the dishwasher and perform a thorough cleaning of some of the trickier parts like the heating element. This inspection does not need to be as frequent – a yearly inspection would do.
A dishwasher is an appliance that is built to last. But if it is not used and treated in the right way, it will break down a lot sooner than you might expect. With the right care and maintenance, good commercial grade dishwashers will be able to work for well over a decade, serving thousands of customers along the way. And as it turns out, it is not impossible to do the same with your dishwasher. By following these aforementioned tips, you’ll be keeping your dishwasher in great shape and ready to serve for many years to come.