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A reliable, working commercial dishwasher is vital to the success and smooth operation of any bustling food service business. 

And yet, kitchen staff across the food service industry often neglect to keep their dishwasher properly maintained. How often do you think a dish machine should be cleaned? 

Some people would say once a day is sufficient, but the efficiency of your commercial dishwasher is affected by each and every cycle. 

At some facilities, that may mean the staff doesn’t properly follow the recommended daily and routine cleaning procedures. More often than not, though, it’s simply a matter of kitchen staff not knowing what procedures to do or how often they need to be done.

In this article, we’ll cover several daily cleaning procedures that can often be overlooked. 

PRO TIP: Check out our article on the #1 reason your dishwasher isn’t working, where we go over the best way to prevent problems with your dishwasher!

Daily Procedures for Commercial Dishwasher Cleaning 

There’s no way around it, daily cleanings are required to keep a properly functioning and clean commercial dishwasher

When daily cleaning procedures are ignored, there can be severe consequences, such as foul odors, bacterial growth, limescale buildup, clogged drains, and blocked lines, all of which prevent the dishwasher from cleaning. 

With that in mind, let’s look at these three key daily cleaning procedures:

  1. Drain and Clean the Water Tank After Each Shift
  2. Clean the Wash Arms, Rinse Arms, and Pump Screen
  3. Dry Out the Commercial Dishwasher at the End of the Day

Drain and Clean the Wash Tank After Each Shift 

At least three times a day, ideally after each meal shift, the wash tank needs to be drained and cleaned. 

As the dishwasher is used, it can fill up with food debris especially if the proper scrape and pre-rinse is not performed. If the water goes unchanged for a while, the food debris will begin decaying and clogging the internal components. When this happens, it can lead to some nasty issues. 

The first issue you’ll notice is a foul smell. A bad odor is the telltale sign of food decay, and it means your wash tank is contaminated with dirty water. 

When dirty water builds up in the wash tank it promotes the growth of harmful bacteria. 

You may think that the dish machine would recognize it is dirty and introduce clean water into the system. However, the dirtier the water gets, the more chemicals the machine will inject. Food debris then gets pumped through the machine, repositioning onto your dishes and clogging the dishwasher’s internal components.

Now your commercial dishwasher is using dirty water, contaminated with bacteria and fill with decayed food debris, to clean dishes.

You may not become aware of the issue until dishes come out covered in food debris or with a foul stench. At that point, the dirty water has likely already been used for several cycles. 

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. After each meal shift, drain and clean the wash tank. 

By doing so, you can prevent food debris from building up, effectively cutting down on bacterial growth and rewash.

Clean the Wash Arms, Rinse Arms, and Pump Screen After Each Shift

Internal components, like the wash arms, rinse arms, and pump screen, will naturally become clogged over time.

The problem is that if you don’t catch on to when this happens, and promptly unclog the components, it ends up having severe consequences. 

If the pump screen is clogged then water cannot flow through the pump. When this happens, water pressure across the entire machine is decreased. As a result, the dishwasher will work twice as hard to achieve the appropriate water pressure, wasting energy and causing unnecessary stress on the motor. 

When the spray jets are clogged on the rinse and wash warms, it becomes incredibly difficult, even impossible, for dishes to get rinsed and washed. This problem can be made worse if the water pressure is decreased from a clogged pump screen because the spray jets that aren’t clogged won’t be able to adequately spray either. The result is that nothing is cleaned.

To prevent blockages from forming over time, have the pump screen, rinse arms, and wash arms thoroughly cleaned after each meal shift. By cleaning these components multiple times a day, neither food debris nor mineral scale will have the time to form a blockage.

Dry Out the Commercial Dishwasher at the End of the Day

Most people will remember to clean the dishwasher at the end of the day, but then they forget to dry it. 

Forgetting to let the dishwasher dry is an easily avoidable mistake that, like the other mistakes on this list, can have severe consequences. If the inside of the dishwasher remains wet overnight, the moist atmosphere is likely to promote bacterial growth. 

The presence of bacteria leads to cross-contaminated water and a foul odor. Both of these elements will prevent any dishes from being cleaned or sanitized when run through the dishwasher. 

Fortunately, the solution is incredibly simple. All you need to do is leave the dishwasher door propped open, and the inside will air dry overnight. 

Final Thoughts

A dishwasher plays one of the most important roles in any commercial kitchen by cleaning and sanitizing dishes. When you neglect to keep the dishwasher clean, you’re essentially neglecting the health and safety of your customers. 

By following the three commercial dishwasher cleaning procedures we went over in this article, you can effectively “protect” your dishwasher, and therefore your customers, from bacterial growth, cross-contamination, and decayed food debris.

Consider reaching out to an Imperial Dade location near you if you’re looking to enhance your warewash program. One of our warewash specialists will perform a free onsite consultation of your program and help you to identify inefficiencies and develop a plan to optimize your operation.  

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