Commercial Dishwashers & Glasswashers: Key Factors to Consider When Buying

Posted by Sara Malcom on

Commercial warewashers are not all equal

Finding a foodservice establishment that’s managing without a commercial dishwasher or glasswasher these days would be like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. However, there are still a few diehard operators around who manage without, but there are many more who rely on old, inefficient machines that are, frankly, no longer fit for purpose.

Your commercial dishwasher or glasswasher should be bringing a number of very real benefits to your operation and you should be able to rely on it completely to produce all the perfectly clean dishes, glasses and pots you need to enable your kitchen and bar staff to carry out their work. It can be a confusing process so here, we’ve outlined some of the points you should consider when looking to upgrade or augment.

Hygiene & sanitising

For obvious reasons, we’re focusing initially on hygiene and sanitisation. A well specified commercial dishwasher used with the recommended chemicals will clean and sanitize your crockery, pots and pans and glassware quickly and efficiently meaning that not only does it look great, it’s completely safe to use.

All good commercial dishwasher suppliers should have conducted testing of their machines’ effectiveness against Covid 19 by now which is, of course, a critical consideration these days. We commissioned our own Covid testing at the very beginning of the pandemic and have supported all our customers in ensuring their machines have always been operating safely and effectively throughout.


Selecting the right commercial warewashers for your business is dependent on the likely usage. Therefore, factors such as size and capacity are important but other key factors, sometimes overlooked, are ease of use and speed.

Commercial warewashers fall into three main categories:

Commercial Glasswashers

Glasswashers are carefully calibrated to produce sparkling clean glassware without the risk of damage to the most delicate load. So, although they usually have a similar power output to a commercial dishwasher, there are differences, the main one being that the water flow is gentle but targeted to achieve maximum cleanliness within a ‘glass-safe’ environment . Our Advantage glasswashers have a ‘soft start’ option that gradually builds to give maximum protection to delicate items while achieving superb results Most glasswashers are designed for undercounter siting as they will usually be positioned behind a bar. However, establishments that process a large number of glasses, say perhaps a hotel with a banqueting facility, usually benefit from opting for larger, passthrough models with ample space nearby for storing both soiled and gleaned glasses.

Undercounter Dishwashers

When volume is not unduly high, an undercounter commercial dishwasher will almost certainly be the right choice. There are many models available within this category and a small café will undoubtedly need a different specification than a busy restaurant. Although these machines offer limited rack space, the targeted programmes and sheer efficiency of modern undercounter dishwashers means there’s a model for everyone.

Passthrough Dishwashers

Establishments with a high turnover of guests, serving a large number of meals, will need a pass-through dishwasher. These can process a high number of dishes very quickly and, for even more efficient results, they can be used within a bespoke dishwashing system to streamline throughput and avoid congestion with the addition of storage, tabling, racking, shelving, waste disposal and pre wash rinsing. Because these items are usually custom made, every centimetre of available space is maximised and the resultant order prevents the accumulation of dirty pots and plates as well as providing ample storage for clean ones.

Size & capacity

Judging the size and capacity of a new machine – and also deciding where it should ideally be sited – can be confusing.

Firstly, calculate how many dishes/pots/glasses you get through on your busiest service as these are the figures you should be using. Then check that there is sufficient storage space to place racks coming out of the machine. Also, consider that once it’s installed, there’ll be a lot of extra traffic as a consequence. Because making the wrong decision would be an expensive mistake, we strongly advise every single potential customers to seek the opinions of a few suppliers, including us, and compare them.

Ease & speed of use

Modern commercial dishwashers and glasswashers usually offer multiple programmes meaning that there will be one available for every eventuality – heavily soiled items, rapid wash items, delicate items and so on. Also, they are often loaded with intuitive controls that maximise water and energy efficiency and self-diagnostic features that enable an operator to resolve a minor problem long before it becomes an issue.

Wash cycles are usually between 1 and 3 minutes so, in a busy environment, the need for dedicated storage for soiled and cleaned items is crucial to take full advantage of the machine’s capabilities.


Do consider noise levels. Of course, any machine is going to be audible but some are far quieter in operation than others. If you’re siting a glasswasher at front of house, for instance, you don’t want your customers to hear your machine going through its paces over and above your carefully chosen playlist or their conversation! Even back of house machines need some consideration because, although you may have chosen a quiet machine, there’s still the clatter of plates and pans to consider.

A separate dishwash station with a low decibel output machine is the ideal. Definitely do check decibel levels of any machine you consider buying and research what that equates to. For instance, our Advantage machines have a decibel rating of 58 which equates to gentle rainfall.


Compromising on the quality of your commercial dishwasher or glasswasher can be a costly mistake. Buying on price alone can result in an inferior machine producing cloudy and smeary glasses or dull crockery. Worst of all, it can mean frequent breakdowns and long waits for expensive repairs!

Good suppliers understand you may not want to outlay a large amount of money up front so offer genuinely affordable solutions to finance your purchase. It’s worth investing in the best with the confidence that your new machine will deliver the reliability and results you demand for the longest period of time.

Energy, electrical & water saving

An obvious reason to invest in energy-saving equipment is to save money as using less energy will, of course, cost less to run. As well as this, there’s an increased awareness of the harm that energy guzzling equipment is doing to our planet and more and more people are now actively taking some responsibility.

Energy saving equipment has other advantages too. One significant benefit is that it tends to create a much cooler working environment. The levels of insulation found on well specified commercial dishwashers are designed to keep heat inside the machine rather than allowing it to escape. Some machines even harness and utilise the heat from the steam generated during a wash cycle. Clever designs like shallow wash tanks and the re-use of rinse water can make dramatic savings on water consumption.

Warranties and aftercare

Do check out the guarantee that accompanies your purchase and the level of aftercare that will be available to you. Also, how long you’ll have to wait in the event that you need an engineer. This really is important as, should your machine malfunction at any time, you need to be sure that the problem will be fixed efficiently and quickly. It’s worth asking your supplier for some recommendations too so you can check how efficient they are. Nelson places great importance on service support and we can claim that virtually all service calls are successfully completed by Nelson’s in-house engineers on the day they are logged.

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