Life in the Pit

It stinks.  It’s a mess.  ALL THE TIME.  And it never ends.  Ever.  

Anyone who has ever been stuck in the dish pit during rush hour and for the hours of aftermath knows that washing dishes sucks.  So, doesn’t it make sense to clean them right the first time. 

We will show you that with the right tools and equipment and proper organization you will race through the piles and piles and piles of dirty dishes. 

Stack of dirty dishes


First prep yourself.  Protective aprons  let you really get into the process without getting wet, stained, splashed or otherwise slimed.  Gloves for safety and grip and so you can turn up the heat. Masks because...gross! And don’t forget your feet - anti-fatigue and anti slip mats.

Whether you wash manually or use a warewashing machine, proper prep of the dishes and glasses and flatware and cookware is necessary to get that final sparkle and shine. You wouldn’t start cooking before you get your mise en place get your dirty dishes en place. 

The less crap that goes into your dishwasher or washing sink, the better your results.  And not surprisingly, it’s much easier on your machine – either human or mechanical. 

To prep for dish battle, you need a weapon.  Choose wisely. You may need more than one.

hard scrapers - for those baked on messes only a metal scraper will do
soft scrapers - rubber spatulas are perfect for prepping plates and bowls
dish brushes - to get into the groves and corners and crevices
spray nozzles - harness the power of water
scrub brushes - for the nastiest of messes and getting into tight spaces 
Cleaning dishes with brush and soap and water

Soak, if necessary.  Never mind, soak whenever possible It just makes everything easier Cutlery needs to soak no matter what. No extra sinks?  Use bus bins. Carts, rolling shelves or worktables are simple space additions that can also be used elsewhere.  Word to the washing wise: if you use a pre-soak solution, drain well, the dishwasher doesn’t like it. 

Stack by style, shape and size for more efficient washing.  Like an assembly line, it is always more efficient to do the same task on repeat instead of jumping between different tasks. 


Using a dishwasher? Check the machine before you start. Ensure the parts are clean and in the proper place and that the chemical levels are good. Turn it on and wait until ready or up to temperature. 

Manually washing? Fill your sinks. Hopefully you have three, if not adjust your method accordingly. Wash sink: Water + detergent.  Rinse sink: Water only.  Sanitize sink: Hot Water or Water + Chemical Solution.  Always check with your local health unit for acceptable ppm levels of chemical sanitizer and consult the product labels for proper dilution. 

Manual dishwashing size guide
Manual dishwashing sink configuration guide


Ensure you are using the proper dishwashing racks for your wares.  Plates, glasses and flatware each deserve their own rack to provide the best washing (rinsing and sanitizing), not to mention reducing the chances of breaking or chipping and therefore prolonging the life of your stuff.  Don’t overload your racks!  Let the wash/rinse/sanitizer get in every little nook and cranny. 

Don’t overload your wash sink, either.  Crowding will increase the likelihood of breaks and chips and you might forget what’s in there.  You need to give yourself some room to work in the sink - to grab the next item safely with enough space to properly wash all sides under the water. Use a brush for washing inside glassware, your hands will thank you. 

BTW...washing only works if you have clean water.  Yes, we understand the water will get dirty, you are washing dishes.  But at some point, the water won’t be hot enough or clean enough to be doing the dishes any good. Change your soapy water as needed. Seriously.  Change the water. 


Yes, rinse your dishes. It’s not complicated.  Just do it.  Or let the dishwasher do it.  But keep an eye (or hand) on the temperature. Grab a thermometer.  Same deal as the wash sink...if the water looks dirty, change it. It is science, but not rocket science. 


The only way to sanitize dishes in a commercial kitchen is with either high temperature water or chemical for the required amount of time.  Quick dips won’t do.  Always refer to your local health unit requirements.   You need tools to make sure you hit the minimum temperature needed to effectively sanitize the dishes.  Unless you have superpowers, the only way to know for sure is with a thermometer.   Test strips are the only way to confirm you’ve reached the right solution strength using the chemical sanitization method.  And make sure you are using the right strip for the chemical you use. Even if your dishwasher “looks after all that stuff” you still need to check. 


Never use a towel.  Air drying only.  A benefit to using hot water, it evaporates faster.  Only stack dry dishes. Even if you don’t have dishwashing machine, dishwasher racks might still be a good option – glasses and mugs and bowls can be safely set aside to finish drying and can also be used for storage. 

Clean up! 

Think you are done?  Guess what, now you need to clean up. But we already did, you whine!  Nope.  Clean the entire pit.  Counters, sinks, taps, spouts, rinse hose/sprayer, brushesstrainers, drains and dishwasher (inside and out).  Yup.  All of it.   

Again, like doing dishes, the right tools are key to that final pit stop.  Utility brushes, grout brushes, squeegees and spray nozzles will attack those last bits of stuff and leave a space you can proudly call clean. 

Finally, the finish line.  Sleep well, fellow dish slayers.  It all happens again next shift. 

Stay Clean- The Pit Crew

P.S. If you love your staff, for the love of lemons, give your pit crew music. Music THEY like. Trust us, it makes the dishes sparkle.