Sparkle and Shine

Comment, Hospitality Trends

Automatic dishwashers can make your work much easier but you need a bit of insider knowledge up your sleeve to make the dishes look sparkling, says Abhay Desai.

Automatic dishwashers represent a tremendous saving in time and effort; they minimise breakage through reduced handling of dishes, they help keep the kitchen neater and more clutter-free, and cleanup after entertaining guests is simplified.

However, the most important is the manner in which they sanitise dishes. In order to ensure that public health standards are maintained, in many countries, hospitals and food service institutions are required by law to clean dishes by automatic dishwashing methods.

In India though, the usage of dishwashers is not very high, as almost all restaurants resort to manual washing rather than the automatic system.

The main reasons behind low penetration of dishwashers are the initial investment needed for this, and lack of knowledge about their proper usage. Things are now changing, as the cost of automatic dishwashers have come down from what it used to be five years ago.

Further, in most cases, you hear that 80% of the times the dishwasher does not give the desired results. However, a dishwasher not working to its optimum is primarily because it is not being maintained the way it should be.

The benefits of an automatic dishwasher and the specially formulated detergents can only be realised if they are used correctly. It is, therefore, important for the user to understand how a dishwasher works, the purpose of its features, and how to load and operate it properly. For instance:

1. The role of water is to dissolve and carry detergent, wet and loosen soil, and effectively rinse the soil away. The velocity with which water is distributed in the dishwasher provides the scrubbing action to loosen and remove soil. The temperature of the water is an important factor too.

As the temperature is reduced, the removal of greasy and oily soils becomes more difficult; spotting and filming on dishes may also occur as well as improper drying.

The amount of hard minerals and other dissolved solids in water present obstacles in getting good results from automatic dishwashing. Therefore, it is important to determine the hardness of raw water before starting the operation.

2. Automatic dishwashers require detergents with very special characteristics, one of which is that it must produce little or no suds or foam because too much foam can inhibit the washing action.

Other important functions are to make water wetter to penetrate and loosen soil; tie up water hardness minerals; emulsify greasy or oily soil; suppress foam caused by protein soils such as egg and milk; help water to sheet off surfaces of dishes, thus minimising water spots; and protect china patterns and metals from the corrosive effects of heat and water.

Therefore, one should use specially formulated detergents which have the following ingredients in it: surfactant (nonionic), builder (complex phosphates), corrosion inhibitor (sodium silicate), chlorine compound, special additives (sodium aluminate, boric oxide and aluminum phosphate), and additional alkalis (sodium carbonate, trisodium phosphate).

There are no substitutes to an automatic dishwasher detergent. It is vital that the detergent is dosed safely, and in the right proportion. Under-use will result in poor cleaning, redeposition of soil, spotting, filming and possibly damage to some items being washed.

Over dosing will not only add up to the costs but also leave excess detergent on the plates. It is for this reason that electronic dosing pumps are employed with each automatic dishwasher.

3. The rinse agent allows the water to sheet off dishes rather than dry in droplets, thus helping to eliminate spotting. It is particularly helpful in hard water areas, and when heat is eliminated in the dry cycle to conserve energy.

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