Dishwasher Job Description - Duties, Tasks, Skills and Requirements
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Dishwasher Job Description
A dishwasher is a person responsible for washing plates, glasses, cutlery and pots and pans in a restaurant or other food service or dining establishment. Dishwashers wash, rinse and dry the utensils and other cookware used to prepare food, as well as the tableware the food is served on.
Fast, efficient dishwashing personnel are a key element in any professional kitchen team. Without them, dirty pots, pans and plates would soon pile up, hampering normal food preparation activities and rapidly rendering a kitchen inoperable. In order to be able to offer customers a fast, quality service, food service businesses of all kinds - including restaurants, fast food outlets, snack bars and cafés, school and company cafeterias and canteens, as well as catering companies - thus need to employ dishwashing staff.
Let’s take a detailed look at what the job of a dishwasher specifically involves.
Dishwashers collect up the dirty pots, pans and utensils used by the kitchen staff to prepare food. Dishes, glasses and cutlery used in the dining room, on the other hand, are brought to dishwashing personnel by the waiting staff as they clear tables.
Dishwashers are responsible for loading and running the dishwasher, emptying it when the cleaning cycle is finished and for returning clean items to the appropriate location. Delicate items, kitchenware that cannot go in the dishwasher (e.g. wooden chopping boards, crystalware, chinaware, silverware, large pots and pans) and kitchen equipment and appliances (such as meat slicers, fryers, stoves and coffee machines) are all washed or cleaned by hand.
Organization is a key aspect of the job. In addition to ensuring that dishwashing machines are only run when they are full, dishwashers are also required to organize their work efficiently so as to maintain a constant supply of clean plates and other cookware and tableware. They are also responsible for ensuring that all kitchen equipment is working properly and for reporting any malfunctions to the kitchen manager.
Other tasks of a dishwasher include washing the floors, surfaces and worktops in the kitchen, pantry and cold storage room, as well as in any other areas that need cleaning.
Another key duty is monitoring stocks of cleaning products and materials (e.g. cleaning liquids and detergents, sponges, mops, dishcloths, rubber gloves etc) and reporting any shortages to the person responsible for ordering supplies. Dishwashers are also usually responsible for dealing with kitchen waste, i.e. taking bags of rubbish out to the designated waste collection point and cleaning and sanitizing bins. In some cases, they may also be required to perform simple food preparation tasks (such as washing and chopping vegetables), to unload ingredients delivered by suppliers and transfer them to the pantry or cold storage rooms and to retrieve items from storage. In this respect, the job bears some similarity to the role of a kitchen porter.
Dishwashers work on their feet for long periods at a time, are exposed to high heat sources, such as hot - sometimes boiling - water and steam, and are required to move and lift large quantities of plates, cutlery, pots and pans. The job thus calls for a certain level of physical strength and stamina. Dishwashers need to be able to perform their tasks quickly and accurately and also need to be aware of the potential safety hazards present in a kitchen environment - e.g. the danger of receiving cuts and/or other injuries from kitchen equipment.
The working hours of a dishwasher are often organized in shifts and may vary according to business requirements. Dishwashers may be required to work daytime or evening/night shifts as well as at weekends and on public holidays. Some job advertisements may offer seasonal work for just a few months of the year, e.g. for the summer or winter season. This is especially the case with hotels and restaurants situated in tourist locations. Work offers may be full or part time.
Dishwasher Responsibilities and Tasks
The main daily tasks of a dishwasher include:
- Washing chinaware, glassware, flatware, cookware and kitchen utensils by hand or using a dishwasher
- Drying plates, pots and pans etc.
- Cleaning meat slicers, ovens, fridges, cooker hoods and other kitchen equipment
- Washing and disinfecting kitchen floors and surfaces
- Removing kitchen waste
- Providing assistance to cooks/chefs and other kitchen personnel, where necessary
- Keeping kitchen clean and tidy
How to Become a Dishwasher - Education and Training
There are no specific requirements for becoming a dishwasher, although candidates need to be able to use a dishwasher and any other equipment used to keep a kitchen clean and tidy. The ability to prepare simple food items and previous kitchen work experience are also a definite advantage. Often, bigger restaurant kitchens with a large staff complement will have a procedure in place designed to maintain a constant supply of clean dishes and other cookware and tableware items.
Newly-recruited dishwashers typically learn these procedures as part of their on the job training.
Dishwasher Skills and Qualifications
Dishwashers require the following skills and qualities:
- Manual dexterity to wash and dry kitchenware and tableware
- Ability to keep kitchen clean and tidy
- Reliability, professionalism and keen sense of cleanliness
- Organizational skills
- Flexibility and willingness to work shifts
- Physical strength and stamina
- Ability to work as part of a team
The position of dishwasher is potentially the first step in a career working in restaurant kitchens that could see a skilled, motivated worker rise up to very top of the kitchen ranks to become a head chef or executive chef.
A job as a dishwasher can thus be considered an opportunity to learn how a professional kitchen works, how to prioritize workloads efficiently and how to keep a kitchen clean and tidy and meet the required food safety and hygiene standards.
With experience, a dishwasher may eventually move on to food preparation tasks - for example, as a kitchen assistant. And there is no reason why their progress should stop there. In fact, many cooks and chefs begin their careers as dishwashers, carrying out cleaning and kitchen assistance tasks.
Top Reasons to Work as a Dishwasher
The position of dishwasher is ideal for anybody looking for a job that has no specific entry requirements. Dishwashing jobs are suited to well-organized, motivated people with a passion for cooking and are an easy way of breaking into the restaurant trade for those who are interested in a longer-term career in the business.
Dishwashing is a role that also offers a high level degree of flexibility (e.g. part-time dishwasher positions). This aspect of the job is especially interesting for those looking for work for just a few hours or days a week.