Washing dishes seems like a no-brainer. You do it all the time at home — rinse the dishes, wash the dishes, dry the dishes, put the dishes away. However, like anything else in a commercial food environment, the stakes are so much higher if you do things wrong. You have probably seen this scenario before: You’re sitting in a nice restaurant, and you pick up your glass of water, only to find lipstick rings all around the rim. It may make you cringe to think about who else may have sipped out of your cup, but the more frightening reality is that for every lipstick you do see, there may be millions of germs you don’t see.
Our facility is equipped with industrial dishwashing machine and a large kitchen layout designed to ensure that the dirty dishes are never near the clean dishes and we always use a three sink system, but in some smaller establishments and home-based rental companies, the dishes must be washed by hand and often in nothing more than a two sink kitchen or by a homebased dishwasher.
We take sanitation and cleanliness seriously and have created a very thorough dish washing procedure as part of our overall COR Safety Program and thought you might be interested in knowing what makes renting from Handy Special Events different than some other rental companies.
There are three parts to hand-washing dishes: wash, rinse, and sanitize. In order to accomplish all three, your facility must have a three-compartment dishwashing sink. Dishwashing sinks are separate from handwashing sinks, and neither one should be used for anything other than their intended purpose. In other words, don’t leave a frozen chicken out to thaw inside your handwashing or dishwashing sink. Of course, no one who has completed this training would ever think of committing such an atrocity, because they would know that allowing a chicken to defrost at room temperature is a health hazard.
The sink must be clean and sanitized before beginning the washing process. The drains must be in good working order and the water must be heated to at least 43.3 degrees Celsius (110°F). Also, no one may wash their hands in a sink that is being used for dishwashing.
Wash- In the first compartment, combine hot water and dish detergent. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions and use the appropriate amount of soap. The wash water must be at least 43.3 degrees Celsius (110°F). Use a thermometer to be sure the wash water maintains a safe temperature. Before putting dishes in the wash water, make sure you scrape off all excess bits of food and then rinse the dishes to remove visible food particles. Make sure to replace dirty water with fresh water as needed.
Rinse- Rinse water should also be clean and kept hot. Be sure to change the rinse water frequently.
Sanitize- We always sanitize our dishes with very hot water and an added sanitizer to water in the third washing sink. Chemical sanitizers have required concentrations to make sure the solution is strong enough to kill germs. Also, anything you wash must go through the sanitizing step, which means it must be able to be completely submerged in the sanitizing solution. If you have any utensils or dishes that are too big for your sink, they must be run through a large dishwashing machine.
Machine Washing- Our commercial dishwasher has a big advantage over the dishwashers you might use at home as it is amazingly fast and efficient. Allowing us to get through the high volumes of dishes very quickly ensuing that our turnover times from dirty to clean are quick and not resulting in days of washing and possible mold and bacteria growth. Our commercial dishwasher combines the three stages described in the handwashing section above; it just does it all faster. Our machine features a hood that you pull down over a rack of dishes to clean them. The system automatically washes, rinses and sanitizes the dishes at extremely high temperatures. Our machines finish cycles in less than two minutes, saving vast amounts of time in a high-volume environment.
No matter how efficient the machine is, the operator still has to follow some our procedures to ensure the highest level of cleanness and sanitation.
Scraping- No dishwashing machine is going to remove crusted-on bits of egg or pizza cheese. The person running the washer must scrape out all the excess food from platters, plates and dishes. Usually, they scrape the big parts into the trash, and then use our high pressure wand (that is part of our kitchen design and separate from of our hand washing sinks) to rinse off smaller food particles and sauces.
Because of the way dishwashers work, it is critical to make sure water can flow freely to every dish in the rack. Don’t put bowls on top of bowls, or otherwise clutter the rack so they can’t get clean. We have invested in a variety of dish-washing/storage racks to ensure that all our dishes are being properly cleaned and stacked.
Separate- There should be two designated areas around the dishwashing area: a place for dirty dishes and a large area for clean dishes to be stored. Never put dirty dishes in the clean dish area. This invites cross-contamination and is an excellent opportunity to mistake a dirty dish for a clean one. This can be very challenging for home based business as many kitchens do not allow for adequate storage of dirty and clean.
Clean and Maintain- We have our machines professionally serviced and maintained on a regular schedule to ensure that nothing is malfunctioning and putting you and your guests at risk.
Drying- As long as there have been dishes, married couples have probably argued about whether it is better to allow dishes to air-dry or to wipe them dry with a towel so that they may be immediately put away. In our facility, dishes simply have to air-dry, and that’s a good thing. Wiping down dishes with a towel actually invites cross-contamination. A towel can be contaminated with food particles or other items when you pick it up, or it can pick up germs from one of the dishes. If you use it to wipe down clean dishes, you are basically spreading that contamination across every dish it touches. Also, as the cloth becomes wet, it begins to provide an ample source of water for breeding germs.
Storage- We mentioned before that we have invested in a variety of storage racks for our products. We always immediately seal our dishes, glassware, and flatware upon being cleaned to ensure that no contaminates will come into contact after the we have carefully washed and cleaned our products. All of our racks that are used for storage are cleaned every time they are used and we will never put clean glasses and dishwares in a cardboard box that has been used before and certainly not one that the dirty items were just returned in.
At Handy Special Events, we take the cleanliness and sanitization of our dishes/glassware/flatware seriously. Renting these items if they have not been properly cleaned can have very serious consequences to your health. We have top of the line equipment in our warehouse to clean your rental items, and educate our staff on the importance of sanitization practices. Don’t take a chance on your health! Rent from the experts.