How To Clean A Commercial Dishwasher

How To Clean & Descale a Commercial Dishwasher - The Professional Way

March 12, 2023

When serving the food on your menu, you need to ensure that your dishware is as clean as possible. Neglecting dishwasher care sees that you cannot easily achieve clean dishes and also the heating elements of your dishwasher would not be able to reach optimal heating temperatures.

If you do not clean and descale your commercial dishwasher, ensuring the safety of your customers would be quite difficult and you could incur easily avoidable embarrassment. We will be looking at how you can clean and take care of your commercial dishwasher daily.

Why Do You Need To Clean Your Commercial Dishwasher Regularly?

Yes, a commercial dishwasher is used to keep your glassware and dishes clean but it doesn't mean they can automatically clean themselves. Over time, mineral deposits, food debris, limescale buildup, and other impurities can get trapped in the dishwasher and it could end up affecting the wash cycle.

If you want to keep your commercial dishwasher running optimally, then you need to ensure that you clean it and perform regular maintenance on it.

How Do You Know If Your Dishwasher Needs Cleaning?

These are some of the signs that signify you need to clean your dishwashing machine;

  • If there is a build-up of food debris in your machine's filter

  • An unpleasant smell

  • If your dishes get covered with an unpleasant white film

  • If the inside of the machine starts accumulating rust

  • You might need to use more detergent to achieve clean crockery.

  • If the machine gets clogged.

What Chemicals Do You Need For A Commercial Dishwasher?

These are some of the essential chemicals you should get for your commercial dishwashing machine.

  • Detergents: This is a chemical substance that helps to remove oils, grease, mineral deposits, and other tough stains from your dishware.

  • Rinse Aid: The rinse aid is a surfactant that helps to reduce the surface tension of the fresh water. It ensures the water does not form into droplets but rather encourages it to drain from the surface.

  • Descaler: This is a chemical that eliminates limescale from metal surfaces that have touched hot water. It can be easily added to the wash tank to be efficient.

  • Sanitizer: This chemical helps to eliminate microorganisms like bacteria that cause some diseases. This is a great way to prevent bacteria buildup and bacteria growth.

How To Clean A Commercial Dishwasher - Step-By-Step?

The cleaning process of your commercial dishwasher begins with preventing the build-up of any particles. So with that in mind, these are the steps needed to clean your commercial dishwasher;

  • Remove food residue: Before you place your dirty dishes into the dishwasher, you need to ensure that you scrape out as much waste as possible.

  • Use the correct detergent: Fill the detergent into the dishwasher with the appropriate one as recommended in the manufacturer's instructions.

  • Wash the Inside: Clean out the interior of your dishwashing machine. You can do this by utilizing the spray nozzle to rinse with warm water or by using detergent and a cleaning cloth.

  • Take out the removable parts: Remove the racks, filters, and spray nozzles as you would clean them separately.

  • Drain the dishwasher: When you are done cleaning the inside, you should then allow the dishwasher to drain to ensure that the tank gets emptied. Then allow it to cool down for about ten to fifteen minutes.

  • Clean Spray Nozzles: When cleaning the spray nozzles, you should use white vinegar as the cleaning agent. This would prevent hard water from building up.

  • Clean the Filters: Use your hand to remove any debris in the filter and then use a brush and detergent to scrub until it is clean.

  • Wash Rinse Arms And Jets: Keep the rinse jets clean by washing them with warm water. Ensure that you prevent the buildup of food particles as blocked water jets are not very effective during a washing cycle.

  • Run a cleaning cycle: With a mixture of vinegar and water or a commercial dishwasher cleaner, run a normal cycle to wash the machine.

  • Let the machine air dry: The final step would be to keep the dishwasher open to enable air circulation and avoid the build-up of bacteria.

Extra Tips On Cleaning А Commercial Dishwasher

In addition to the steps mentioned previously, these are some additional tips to keep your dishwasher as clean as possible and have a sanitary commercial kitchen environment.

  • Always clean the dishwashing machine after every shift.

  • Make use of a water softener or a liquid descaler to eliminate water hardness.

  • Manually drain the dishwasher each night to prevent food particle build-up that can clog pipes.

  • Inspect the water temperature and vital levels on a daily basis.

  • Maintain a schedule for routine cleaning and inspections.

How Long Does It Take To Clean A Dishwasher?

Cleaning your dishwasher interior will take up around the same time as a standard wash cycle. Then a further 30 minutes would be needed to wipe the exterior and scrub the filter. And that's all the time needed to clean your machine.

How Often Should You Clean A Commercial Dishwasher?

To keep your commercial dishwasher running in top condition, you need to ensure that it is cleaned on a daily basis. This would help prevent limescale building up and also keep your dishwasher in the best sanitary condition.

What Happens If You Don't Clean Your Dishwasher?

Leaving excessive food residue and food particles can have an adverse effect on your dishwasher. These are some of the downsides to not cleaning your dishwasher:

  • There would be a buildup of food debris and particles.

  • It could lead to the buildup of mineral deposits and limescale, which could cause blockages.

  • It promotes the growth of mildew and mold.

  • It can affect the life span of your machine.

How To Clean Limescale On A Commercial Dishwasher?

Hard water is rich in dissolved mineral such as lime, iron, magnesium, and calcium. Limescale is formed when hard water is heavy with the minerals magnesium and calcium. When these minerals accumulate, they could impact the dishwasher's ability to clean dishes effectively.

Before you start the descaling process, ensure that you are wearing proper protective gear because the chemicals in a descaling product can be caustic to the lungs, eyes, and skin. You will need to wear clothing that covers your skin totally in addition to wearing a face mask, safety goggles, and heavy latex gloves.

These are the steps to eliminate lime buildup in your dishwasher and ensure a limescale-free surface;

  • Fill up the dishwasher with water

  • Put in the descaling product according to the instructions in the owner's manual.

  • When the product has sat for an hour, you can then run a full wash cycle.

  • Inspect and see if the dishwasher is properly descaled. You can run another cycle if you are not convinced.

  • When your dishwasher is free of limescale and all the other limescale components, you can then fill up the tank with fresh water and run a rinse cycle.

What Are The Potential Problems Of Not Deliming Your Dishwasher?

You could be faced with the following issues if you do not de-lime your dishwasher:

  • It could cause limescale buildup and stubborn stains

  • It reduces your dishwasher's cleaning ability

  • It can damage the appliance

  • There could be an increase in expenses.

How Often Should You Descale A Dishwasher?

Generally, you should descale your commercial dishwasher once a year. However, if problems arise or you notice limescale buildup, then you should descale more often.

Good practice would be to use a good lime remover. A limescale remover consists of acids and low-foam surfactants. On one side there's the delimer that's an acidic solution, while on the other is the limescale carbonate minerals that are alkaline.

Tips On Cleaning Your Dishwasher To Avoid Limescale

  • Allow the dishwasher to drain every night.

  • After each shift, be sure to clean the scrap basket and filters.

  • Wash the rinse jets and scrub the spray nozzle.

  • If you want to prevent limescale buildup, then you can also consider introducing a water softener system.

Important Things To Keep In Mind

These are some things you should remember to ensure your dishwasher runs optimally;

  • Remove food residue from dishes and use the right detergent to prevent clogs and buildup.

  • Make sure you clean the dishwasher every day.

  • Once you notice limescale buildup, make sure you descale.

  • You can also use special water softener systems to address limescale buildup.

How To Keep A Dishwasher Mold & Bacteria Free?

If you are looking to keep your dishwasher bacteria-free, ensure you use the correct detergent and sanitizer when cleaning your dishwasher. Also, to stop the growth of mold, run a vinegar and hot water cycle.


Many commercial dishwasher owners should be well aware of the fact that keeping the dishwasher clean is as important as serving good food. While you shouldn't have dull or dirty dishes, you should also take part in a cleaning and descaling routine.


1. Do Commercial Dishwashers Need Detergent?

Yes, your commercial dishwasher needs detergent. The machine relies on a particular combination of low-temperature dishwasher detergent, high-temperature dishwasher detergent, and commercial dishwashing powder to be able to clean dishes effectively.

2. What Detergents Should You Avoid In A Commercial Dishwasher?

While there are detergents that are made to specifically combat tough stains during the cleaning cycle of a dishwasher, there is no detergent that would not be compatible with the machine.

3. Can You Use Regular Dishwasher Detergent In A Commercial Dishwasher?

You can use regular dishwasher detergent in your commercial dishwashing machine. What most people don't understand is that commercial dishwashers can use the standard detergent, which would make the dish washing cycles easy and cost-effective.

4. Can You Put Vinegar And Baking Soda In A Commercial Dishwasher At The Same Time?

Baking soda and vinegar are both great solutions for cleaning the interior of a dishwasher, but you should not use them at the same time.