How to Clean a Commercial Dishwasher

If you have any commercial appliances on your work premises, then keeping them clean is essential. Dishwasher care in particular is crucial if you serve any food, as no matter how appetising your menu, if your meals are presented on dull or dirty crockery then your reputation could suffer.

Even in the most humble of office kitchens, commercial dishwashers can harbour all kinds of germs and bugs if they’re not cleaned properly. Build up of food residue can clog up jets and filters, and after a while the appliance will not be effective in the job it’s made for. After all, you wouldn’t bathe in a dirty bath, so why put dishes in a dirty dishwasher?

Whatever kind of business you run, if you have employees or customers that are consuming food which has been made or served from your kitchen, you have a duty of care to ensure that all equipment is fit for purpose and safe to use.

So, we’ve established that cleaning a commercial dishwasher is important to ensure that it functions properly and maintains a high level of hygiene. But would you know how to clean a commercial dishwasher? Here are the general steps:

  • Turn off and unplug the dishwasher – This is important to ensure your safety while cleaning the dishwasher.
  • Remove debris – Remove any large pieces of debris such as food particles, plates, or utensils from the dishwasher. Use a brush or scraper to remove any stubborn food particles (these accumulate particularly around the filter.
  • Clean the spray arms – Remove the spray arms and soak them in warm soapy water for 10-15 minutes. Then use a brush to remove any dirt or debris that has accumulated inside.
  • Clean the interior – Use a soft cloth and a cleaning solution to clean the interior of the dishwasher. Pay attention to the corners and edges where dirt and debris could accumulate.
  • Clean the filters – Remove the filters and soak them in warm soapy water. Scrub them gently with a soft brush to remove any build up that has accumulated.
  • Rinse and sanitise – Rinse all parts of the dishwasher thoroughly with clean water. Then sanitise the dishwasher by using a sanitising solution (following manufacturer’s instructions).
  • Reassemble and test – After all parts have been cleaned and sanitised, reassemble the dishwasher and test it to ensure that it is working properly.

Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your specific commercial dishwasher, as the process may vary slightly depending on the model.

How often should you clean a commercial dishwasher?

The frequency with which a commercial dishwasher should be cleaned depends on a variety of factors. This includes how frequently it is used, the type of dishwasher, and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Generally, it is recommended that a commercial dishwasher is cleaned at least once a day, or after every use if it is constantly used. This involves removing any food debris from the machine, rinsing the filters, and sanitising the interior.

In addition to daily cleaning, it is also important to perform periodic deep cleaning of the dishwasher, especially in hard water areas.

How do you clean limescale on a commercial dishwasher?

Much like general cleaning of your appliance, there are steps you can follow to clean limescale from a commercial dishwasher:

  • Turn off the power to the dishwasher and unplug it from the wall to ensure your safety.
  • Empty the dishwasher of any dishes and remove any loose debris or food particles from the dishwasher.
  • Mix a solution of half white vinegar and half water in a bucket or container. You can also add a tablespoon of baking soda to help loosen the limescale.
  • Use a soft brush or sponge to apply the solution to the interior of the dishwasher, paying special attention to areas with heavy limescale build-up. You may find it easier to apply this solution from a trigger spray bottle.
  • Let the solution work for 10-15 minutes to allow it to dissolve the limescale.
  • After the solution has worked for enough time, use a scrubbing brush or sponge to scrub the areas where the limescale has accumulated.
  • Rinse the interior of the dishwasher thoroughly with water to remove any remaining vinegar and baking soda residue.
  • Check to see if any limescale remains. If there is still some build-up, repeat the process until it is removed completely.
  • Once the limescale is removed, dry the interior of the dishwasher with a clean cloth.
  • Finally, plug the dishwasher back in and turn it on to make sure it is working properly.

Can you use bleach in a commercial dishwasher?

Unless it’s in a heavily diluted form and only for cleaning purposes where it will be rinsed off quickly, then the answer is no. It is not recommended to use bleach in a commercial dishwasher as it can damage or corrode the stainless steel parts, as well as harm any rubber or plastic components.

Bleach is not an effective cleaner for removing food residues and stains from dishes, and it can create a hazardous environment for those who come into contact with it. When bleach is mixed with hot water, toxic chlorine fumes can be produced – not a good combination for an appliance that uses hot water.

Commercial dishwashers are typically designed to use specialised detergents and sanitisers that are specifically formulated for use in high-temperature appliances.

Check your manufacturer’s instructions for recommended cleaning products for your commercial dishwasher to ensure that it operates safely and effectively.

Do commercial dishwashers sterilise?

Commercial dishwashers are designed to thoroughly clean and sanitise dishes, but this does not necessarily sterilise them.

Sterilisation is a process that kills all forms of microbial life, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores. Commercial dishwashers typically use high-temperature water, chemicals, or a combination of both to clean and sanitise its load, but they may not achieve the level of sterilisation required for certain industries such as healthcare.

In the food service and hospitality industry, commercial dishwashers are designed to meet health standards and regulations for cleaning dishes to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. These machines use hot water and chemical detergents, to sanitise dishes and utensils. The temperature of the water and the concentration of the chemicals used will vary depending on the dishwasher model and the specific requirements of the local health authority.

If you need to sterilise dishes for medical or health and safety reasons, you will need to use a different method, such as autoclaving or chemical sterilisation. These processes are specialised due to the use of pressure, steam and high temperatures, and/or chemicals, so are not suitable for untrained people.


Once you have established a good cleaning routine, your dishwasher should run optimally, resulting in a longer life for your appliance. Scraping plates thoroughly before dishwashing will ensure that the filters stay cleaner for longer, and regularly descaling will help protect the heating element inside the machine.

Whether you are in need of a professional industrial, commercial, office, surgery or even a sports centre clean, our teams are here to help. Providing reliable cleaning services to all types of businesses; small, medium or large, we are your experts.