The Dirty Details

glasswashersGlasswashers make it easier to wash your glassware. With the many different types of machines available, it’s important to choose the right one. Look at your business operation and consider how your glasswasher will fit in.

General Considerations

James A. Brown, Sales Engineer at Perlick Corporation, says, “Make sure [the machine] meets local code. Not all municipalities may allow the use of low-temperature machines.”

Checking your local health code is an important preliminary step, as well.

Brown also says to pay attention to what the model can handle. “Make sure it can easily accommodate your glassware type and size without damage loss,” he says.

The machine should be economical to operate, as well as easy to maintain and service. It’s helpful if the vendor has a trained and established service network.

Finally, when comparing models, look at maximum effectiveness of spray patterns, minimal water and chemical usage, ease of cleaning, ease of servicing, and, if required, whether
it has a drain pump-out option.

Choosing a Model

Some companies, like Perlick, offer a wide variety of washers, such as door style, batch rotary, and carousel. The best option depends on the setup of your particular establishment, the type of glassware, and the number of glasses you need to wash.

According to Brown, “Door style machines tend to have a stronger, more robust spray action to deal with dried-on fruit pulp and lipstick.”

Door style machines can be used for general ware washing, not just glassware. Maintenance can be easier because they have less complicated machinery and fewer moving parts. But if you have minimal aisle space, or little space for employees to pass by the machine, a door style might not work as the open door would block the aisle.

Door style machines usually have the capacity to wash 30 racks per hour (assuming that a new cycle is started immediately after the previous one). The exact number of glasses per rack varies depending on the machine model.

“Rotary and carousel machines can range from 700 to 1000 glasses per hour, based on machine type and speed,” says Brown. “[They] can produce a higher volume of glassware with less handling. [They] tend to be gentler on glassware with less chipping and breakage.”

However, carousel machines require higher water consumption than door style, as well as higher energy use for heating all that water.

It’s also important to think about how your staff will physically load the machine. “The thing about a glasswasher is the loading point,” says Doug Cole, Sales Development Manager at ITW Food Equipment Group. “Because you’re only doing glasses, typically you can get away with an 11- or 12-inch door opening. That means you can raise the loading point up as high as possible so that the bartender doesn’t have to bend over to load it. It’s more user-friendly.”

For certain models of glasswashers, there is a choice between high or low temperature. “Low-temperature machines are generally more cost effective to operate,” Brown says.

Stero Glasswasher SGW
Stero Glasswasher SGW

A low-temperature machine sanitizes glassware using chemicals. This requires storage space for the chemicals. For example, one of ITW Food Equipment Group’s line of Stero glasswashing machines is slightly taller, allowing for chemical storage underneath.

For a low-temperature machine, you’ll need a chemical supplier. Usually bar owners acquire chemicals through a contract with their local chemical dealer. Upon initial set-up of the contract, the dealer will make sure you have any necessary dispensers or other equipment.

In high-temperature models, the water reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, which sanitizes the glasses. This, Brown says, has two advantages: it removes lipstick and dried-on food more effectively than low-temperature machines, and it’s ideal for wine service because the high heat sanitizes for sparkling clean glassware with no chemical flavor or residue.

Many bar, restaurant, and casino owners also look for machines that last. For instance, the Stero warewashing brand has two glasswashers. The SGW is Stero’s older glasswasher model, but it remains popular because of its proven durability. Cole notes that Stero’s newer SG model has several improved features, “It’s Energy Star, it uses less water, and it’s more user friendly.”


Installation requires standard utility hookups: electric, water, and drain.

When looking for a place to install your glasswasher, make sure you have enough room around it, as well. “More space than just the footprint of the machine should be available,” says Brown. “Machines typically need 24 to 25 ½ inches, plus a little extra on each side for pulling the machine out of place for servicing. [Just] as important, space should also be allotted for critical glasswashing support pieces: chemical storage cabinet, nearby landing area for dirty and clean glassware, dump sink with strainer basket, and trash bin.”

Operation and Maintenance

“Most machines are pretty simple to operate and maintain,” says Brown. “Ensuring required training and maintenance is the challenge.

“Most commercial-grade machines complete a cycle in two minutes.”

Most machines can wash plastic, but it’s not recommended due to its light weight.

Both Brown and Cole emphasize that daily cleaning and routine de-liming are necessary for maintaining your glasswasher. A glasswasher should be wiped down daily. The frequency of de-liming depends on your water hardness, whether your water is treated, and how often you use the machine. De-liming may be necessary anywhere from weekly to every few weeks.

Many models of glasswashers have a scrap basket that catches debris and stops it from going into the water. Keeping the scrap basket clean helps it stay effective.

Achieving Maximum Efficiency

Many bar owners opt for glasswashers because they save time, freeing up bartenders and staff to do other tasks.


Naoki Sonoda, President of Omni-Rinse, is an inventor with a background in bartending who saw an opportunity to streamline the cleaning process even further. Sonoda’s machine, the Omni-Rinse, is a hands-free automatic rinser that uses warm water to rinse beverage-making tools: mixing tins, mixing glasses, jiggers, strainers, etc. The bartender simply places the tools on the rinsing platform and pushes a button. The Omni-Rinse rinses them inside and out.

Sonoda emphasizes that the Omni-Rinse does not wash glassesand doesn’t replace a glasswasher. Rather, it complements the glasswasher to improve your operational efficiency. By rinsing your tools separately, the Omni-Rinse standardizes the rinsing process and frees up space in your glasswasher that might have been used for mixing tools. The rinse is faster than a full two-minute glasswashing cycle, making your mixing tools available more quickly. “It’s really an efficiency tool,” Sonoda says. “It saves capacity, and it saves time.”

The Omni-Rinse is approximately 16 inches wide, does not require electricity, and can be mounted on the wall. Sonoda is also working on countertop and freestanding versions.

Return on Investment

If you’re deciding whether to purchase a glasswasher, there are a few things to consider when calculating your return on investment. As Brown says, “This is a subjective number that relies on how the owner calculates the reduced need for staffing compared to the cost of the machine. One factor is the increased efficiency of the bartender. Another mutable
number is the savings on glassware replacement due to etching, chipping, and breakage.”

You should also consider the consistency a glasswasher offers. Rather than having employees run glasses through your three-compartment sink, the glasswasher establishes a single standard process that results in a high level of sanitation. “With any type of a glasswasher, you’re providing a consistent cleaning across the board because a machine does the same cleaning process every time,” says Cole.

By Emily Eckart

Photos (top to bottom):, ITW Food Equipment, Omni-Rinse.