Commercial Dishwasher Racks - What You Need to Know

Save time and money using the right dishwashing racks

Choosing the right commercial dishwasher rack (also known as warewashing racks) for your establishment may seem simple but it’s a major decision that can affect the efficiency of clean up and the quality of clean.

“I love washing dishes!” Have you ever heard anyone say that?  Especially in food service? Likely not, but when you choose the right tools, cleaning up after service can be less daunting and more efficient.  Saving your business time and money. 

Learn about the types, sizes and best uses for a variety of dishwashing racks and rack accessories. Our guide will help improve your kitchen clean up. 

What is a Dishwashing Rack?

A commercial dishwashing rack is designed to hold dishware, glassware and flatware while it’s being cleaned. They’re sized specifically for commercial dishwashers. Dishwashing racks prevent chips, breakage and spaces dishes, glasses and mugs to ensure proper washing. There are distinctive styles that are used to wash and store a variety of dishware, so it’s important to buy the right dishwashing rack for the tableware your business uses regularly.

Commercial warewashing racks are a great versatile investment because they are 3-in-1 products. If you run a hotel, catering business or any food service that requires a high volume of tableware, then a dishwashing rack can be the ideal investment. When paired with the right accessories, they can be used as a washing and drying rack or as a storage box to transport dishware between venues.  

Commercial kitchen with many dishwashing racks in use

Warewashing Rack Sizes
Half-Size versus Full-Size

Dishwashing racks come in two standard sizes: half-size and full-size. The full-size rack has a standard 20” x 20” dimension. Half-size measurements are exactly like the name suggests- it's half the size of a full-size rack, 20” x 10”.  

Full size racks take up the full amount of space in a standard commercial dishwasher. Half size takes up only half. When you choose a half-size rack, you can use two different types of racks to wash a variety of dishware all in one cycle. 

The size you prefer can depend on kitchen size (storage space), the available amount of dishware for a service period and the number of dishes you may need to transport to venues. Again, choosing the right size for you is all based on personal needs and preferences. 

Full size vs half size dishwasher racks

Height Extenders 

Got a tall pot but short dishwasher rack? No problem! Height extenders are perfect when you have dishes you need to store, but the standard size is too short. Each extender adds approximately 1 5/8” of height to your existing dishwasher rack, allowing you to store taller glasses, dishes and flatware.  

There are two sizes of dishrack extenders: full-size and half-size. These are compatible with the same-sized dishwashing rack. 

Extenders are available for each type of warewashing rack. 

Commercial dishwasher rack height extenders

Types of Commercial Dishwashing Racks

Open vs Closed Racks

Open versus closed refers to the sides of the racks. Meaning an open structure or a closed structure. The open design allows the rack to clean more effectively and dry quicker. While this may seem like a benefit (which it is), open side racks are also more susceptible to dirt and contaminants while transporting and storing. Dust covers are a necessity with this rack as they help keep dirt out, so your tableware stays clean. 

Closed racks have solid sides to protect your dishware from bacteria, dust and contaminants. Unlike the open-end racks, the water only drains through the bottom of the dishwasher rack. This hinders the drying process and increases the chances that there will be spots on the dishware for a less productive clean. However, closed-end racks are more favourable for storing when paired with a tight-fitting lid (as it doesn’t let in contaminants or dirt). 

Your choice depends on your priorities. If you prioritize more efficient cleaning, then the open rack design is perfect for you. Although, if storage is more of a necessity, then a closed end rack may be the ideal choice. Using dust covers gives you the best of both worlds. 

Open and closed dishwasher racks

Base Racks

Open racks are standard, flat based racks that are ideal for laying pots, pans and irregularly shaped items for washing. You name it, the rack can hold it.  

Cutlery and cooking utensils can also be washed in a base rack, however, there are specific types of base racks that have a tighter pattern on the bottom. Still allowing movement of water during washing but minimizing the chance of smaller utensils and smallwares from falling out. This specific type of base rack can be called a combination rack or a flatware rack. 

 If you want to “build” your own dishwasher racks to fit your tableware, all racks will start with one of these base racks.  

Commercial base dishwasher racks

Glass Racks  

Designed to wash, transport and store glasses, cups, stemware, pitchers or decanters. Glass racks include compartments for added stability. Compartments should be the correct height and diameter for your pieces as these compartments keep items from shifting and breaking during cleaning cycles and during transport. Extenders can be added for extra height for taller glasses. 

Look for the number of compartments, what type of glass/cup the rack is designed for, if it includes extenders, how many compartments there are, if it’s stackable and if it is an open or closed rack. 

Commercial glass racks for dishwashing

Cup Racks  

Cup racks are a specific type of glass rack that contains an elevated lip on the base in each compartment. This tilts the cup/glass allowing water to drain from the base of the cup instead of sitting and pooling. Important for fully drying cups and to reduce mess and added water spots when the racks are moved. 

Commercial cup racks for dishwashing

Peg Racks  

Peg racks are designed for washing plates, bowls and trays and many other smallwares. They have small, straight legs (or pegs) sticking up throughout the base to provide extra security to your dishware. The pegs reduce the wear and tear on your dishware by reducing the amount of movement during the cleaning cycle. These racks are perfect for plates, bowls, trays and platters but also good for most kitchen smallwares. 

Open ended peg racks are another option for irregularly sized items. However, be cautious of whether these racks will still fit into your dishwasher if large trays extend beyond the regular 20” x 20” measurement of the rack. 

Commercial peg racks for dishwashing

Compartment Flatware Racks  

Used to hold flatware such as forks, knives and spoons. Compartments keep your utensils standing upright the open structure on all sides of the rack ensure maximum water movement for efficient washing and increased air circulation for better drying. The compartment structure, ranging from 3 to 8 compartments, provides space-efficient washing, drying and storing. 

Compartment flatware racks are placed on an open rack (either full size or half size) to be put in the dishwasher.  

Compartment flatware racks are available with or without a handle. If your kitchen soaks flatware before running through the dishwasher, having a handle makes it easy to lift the entire rack out of the soaking water. Handles can then be folded down during the dishwasher cycle. 

Handles, either built-in or extending, make it more efficient to move flatware racks around your operation.  

Flatware compartment style dishwashing racks

Why use dishwashing racks with compartments?

There are two types of racks that have compartments: flatware and glass/cup racks.  

Compartments in glass and cup racks are useful because they protect your dishes from banging into one another during their cycle in the dishwasher. They properly space dishware to prevent chips and breakage, saving you money by reducing costly replacements. 

Using a glass rack that has compartments significantly larger than the glass won’t keep them secure and could still cause breakage. To understand the size of compartments you require, you must know the diameter and height of your glasses. If your glasses or cups have handles, add the measurement of the handle to the diameter. 

Make sure to also think about glass height. Extenders may need to be purchased if you serve with taller glasses. 

For flatware, there are a few factors that can help you decide how many compartments you need. The first being, how do you want to space out your flatware while being washed? Do you want to separate forks, knives, spoons and cooking utensils? Do you have more than one size of fork or spoon and want to keep them separate during washing? If you’re washing larger utensils, how much height do you need? Do you need a handle to carry the rack? These are all questions you should ask yourself before purchasing a rack with compartments.   

How to choose the correct size of glass or cup dishwashing rack

Manufacturers offer a large variety of combinations of compartments and heights in their dishwashing rack products. You are likely to find a good match with existing products.  

For Glasses: Start by measuring the diameter at the widest part of your glass. This will tell you the number of compartments you need in your rack. Next, measure the maximum height of your glass. This will tell you the compartment height you need.  If it is a glass, cup or mug with a handle, include the handle in the diameter and the diameter with the handle in your information. 

For Mugs, Cups and Glasses with Handles: Start by measuring the diameter including the handle. This will tell you the number of compartments you need in your rack. Determine if your mug, cup or glass would benefit from being tilted – meaning water will collect on the base if washed flat – if so, you may want a cup rack instead of a glass rack. Next measure the maximum height of the mug, cup or glass. This will tell you the compartment height you need. 

The diameter (or diameter + handle) will determine the number of compartments that will work best. Check manufacturer details for compartment measurements.  The height will be met by adding the height of the base rack + full drop compartment extender and adding enough half drop compartment extenders to reach the height of your glass. 

Below, please find a chart showing the approximate compartment measurements of various dishwashing racks. Always check manufacturer details for exact measurements. 

# of Compartments  Rack Size  Rack Type  Compartment Measurement 
9  Full  Glass  5 7/8” 
16  Full  Glass  4 3/8” 
20  Full  Glass  3 7/8” 
25  Full  Glass  3 7/16” 
30  Full  Glass  3 1/8” 
36  Full  Glass  2 7/8” 
49  Full  Glass  2 7/16” 
8  Half  Glass  4 1/16” 
10  Half  Glass  3 7/16” 
17  Half  Glass  2 7/8” 
16  Full  Cup  4 3/8” x 4 5/16” 
20  Full  Cup  4 3/8” x 3 7/16” 
8  Half  Cup  4 1/8” x 4 3/8” 
10  Half  Cup  4 1/8” x 3 7/16” 

 

Dishwasher Rack Accessories

Dollies

A dolly provides simple transportation of multiple dishwashing racks stacked together. It comes with four swivel casters to maneuver and glide the warewashing racks to its designated storage spot once they have been washed. There are two types of dollies you can purchase: with handles or without handles.  

Dollies that come with handles allow you to maneuver your trolley more easily and can help move those heavier loads.  

Dollies without handles are just the base and four swivel casters. This means that to move the dishwashing racks, you must push on the stored warewashing racks. A big benefit with no handles is that storing the dolly is easy and doesn’t take up a lot of space in your closet or cupboard.  

Dishwashing rack dollies

Covers  

Provides added protection during storage and transportation. Dishwashing rack covers come in two types: dust cover and hard cover 

Hard covers offer a tight-fit seal on the top that will protect your dishware and flatware from dirt, bacteria and contaminants- keeping the dishes cleaner for longer. Dust covers wrap around the whole dishwashing rack/stack of racks, creating an all-over protection from dust, contaminants and debris. 

Hard covers are best for closed ended warewasher racks since they only cover the top, while the dust covers are best suited for open end dishwashing racks as they cover the whole structure. 

Dishwasher rack covers

Ice Fillers  

Designed to be placed on top of glass dishwasher racks to fill multiple cups with ice simultaneously.  

Ice filler adapter for dishwashing glass racks

Hold Down Grids  

Placed on top of dishwashing rack to hold down small items and ensure they don’t fall out. Hold down grids are perfect for base racks that don’t have compartments, for light items or if you’re hesitant about dishware falling out of the rack during washing. 

Hold down grids for commercial dishwasher racks

Dividers  

If you have a base rack that does not have any compartments, you can purchase add on dividers to place in your rack whenever you need to separate glasses, mugs and containers. This is beneficial if you don’t want to purchase additional racks.  

Compartment dividers for commercial dishwasher racks

Extender ID Clips  

Helps manage inventory by attaching to your dishwashing rack and label its contents (I.e., wine glasses, coffee mugs, small plates, large plates, etc.).  

Colour  

Most vendors sell warewashing racks in multiple colours to give the ability to colour code your dishware storage. You can organize where dishes go with a coordinating colour for quick identification (Ex., glasses with blue racks, bowls with red racks, etc.). 

Dishwashing racks are a crucial investment to help improve your kitchen cleaning and sanitation. Purchasing the right amount, type and accessories will do your business wonders. A warewashing rack will help protect your dishes from chips, breakage and improves organization. 

Written by Jennifer Tumilty

Check out our entire collection of warewashing racks and accessories. 

Stacked dishwasher racks with identification tag