How Restaurants Wash Dishes

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How Restaurants Wash Their Dishes Fast And Effectively.

When restaurants wash their dishes, it is a lot different than what many do at home. They have to wash a plethora of dishes, which is usually done all at once, two times a day. Some food establishments get so much business that they will have a person washing dishes all day and someone washing all night.

With this said, the method at which they wash their dishes is designed to get it done as quickly as possible, so those same dishes can be used tomorrow (and sometimes the same day). They have to be washed completely and cleaned up to the customers standards (for food safety reasons too).

One of the most dissatisfying things to guests is to receive clean food on a dirty or half washed dish. The way restaurants wash their dishes says a lot of unspoken words to the guests. They do not want to eat off of someone else’s dirty plate, or drink out of a stained glass.

So how do restaurants clean all of those dishes so fast and manage to get them spotless and ready for use? We will go over this and many other things in this article.

What Do Restaurants Use To Wash Dishes?

Restaurants use a three compartment stainless steel sink to wash their dishes. The three sections of the sink are used separately for washing the dishes, rinsing the dishes, and sanitizing the dishes if they aren’t using a dishwasher. The middle section is used to rinse the dishes, where the commercial sink faucet is used to spray off the dishes with high pressured water.

The order in which the dishes are washed at a restaurant is with this method:


Dishes are washed in the first compartment.


Washed dishes are moved to the second compartment and rinsed.


Dishes are placed the third compartment to sanitize.

When restaurants hand wash dishes, they use small cloth towels, green scub pads, (white scrub pads for glass), steel wool scrubbies, and brushes to get the job done.

Each sink compartment is of equal size, which is usually enough to handle dishes of just about any size.

Dishwashers are sometimes used in combination with the three sink compartments to assist with washing the dishes. The dishwasher usually sits on the counter space level with the sink. Dishes are rinsed first from all food and debris, then placed in the commercial dish racks, and slid straight into the dishwasher. Many of the commercial dishwashers restaurants use will have a lever to pull down the side doors on the dishwasher, which activates the washing cycle. Dishwashers are better suited for restaurants that have heaps of dishes to wash for the day. They can make sure that the clean dishes are keeping up with the demands and standards of a high quality restaurant.

How Restaurants Wash Glass Dishes

When a dine-in restaurant has drinking glasses that they have to wash, they are handled in a different way. Usually restaurants will spray them off in the second compartment, and use a dishwasher specifically made for washing glasses.

Washing glasses in the three sink compartments using the wash, rinse, sanitize method, puts them at high risk of cracking and shattering in the water. It is best to use a dishwasher and let it do the job instead.

How To Wash Dishes Fast In A Restaurant

These are the steps for washing many dishes fast in a restaurant when hand washing in a three compartment commercial sink.

  1. Dump any remaining food, crumbs, napkins, or other debris out of all the dishes before they are placed in the sink to wash.
    • Doing this will make the dishes easier to wash, and will keep the sink the dishes are washed in cleaner for longer. Dishes cannot be effectively washed in a dish sink with dirty water. They will take longer to wash, and waste time refilling the sink because dishes with food are constantly being placed in the clean water.
  2. Rinse the dishes off first.
    • Rinsing the dishes off first will save time when it is time to handwash them. This will also help to keep the water the dishes are being washed in clean.
    • The faucet sprayers high pressured water will save labor and time if the dishes are sprayed first before they are handwashed. Stack the dishes in an orderly fashion as each are rinsed.
  3. Wash the sprayed off dishes.
    • Wash the dishes that are sprayed off. If everything is done correctly, each dish can be washed in around 5 seconds, as all the main filth on them has been disposed of in the trash and already sprayed off.
    • Wash both the inside and the outside of each dish swiftly but thoroughly, eye balling each one after it has been washed and moved to the second compartment to be rinsed.

Washing the dishes this way will reduce the chance that dishes will have to be rewashed because of missed spots; saving time and getting them done faster altogether.

If the dishes can’t be washed at the current time that they are placed in the dish washing area, then all food and debris should be immediately dumped in the trash and the dishes placed in the sink to soak. Later on when they can be washed, the dish water might have to be refilled with clean water, but none of the filth on the dishes will harden. That way they won’t become difficult to wash later and take up valuable time. Dishes should never be set in the dish area with food still on them.

How Do You Properly Wash Dishes In A Restaurant?

To properly was dishes in a restaurant, a three compartment sink is needed. When, standing in front of the sink, the furthest compartment to the right is for hand washing. This compartment has to be filled with hot water with temperatures above 110 degrees Fahrenheit and dish detergent. Many restaurants use Dawn professional dish detergent. Hot water is necessary in a restaurant for sanitation purposes. Restaurants can get shutdown by the health inspectors if they do not have hot water.

After the first compartment is filled with hot water and dish detergent, the second compartment (middle sink) is left empty for rinsing, and the third compartment (to the left) is filled with cold water mixed with sanitizer. Clean Quick broad range sanitizer is one of the sanitizer solutions that restaurants commonly use. water has to be cold in order for the sanitizer to properly mix with the water to properly make the solution. Health inspectors also check this too.

A dish detergent and liquid sanitizer dispenser connected to the sink is what restaurants use to make this easier when washing dishes. They hook this up to a bottle of sanitizer and a bottle of dish detergent and let them fill each corresponding sink compartment.

Once both of the sinks are ready, then the dishes can be washed. The dishes must be washed in 110°F hot water first, then sprayed off (rinsed), and finally placed in the sanitizer water for 30 seconds before air drying on a rack. This is the proper procedure for washing dishes in a restaurant. Do not dry the dishes with a towel after they have been sanitized. They must be air dried.

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