Dishwasher Job Description

Dishwashers clean items necessary for food preparation and service. As might be expected, restaurants, bars and other food and beverage establishments are top employers. Dishwashers also find work at places that have cafeterias, such as schools, hospitals, hotels and retirement facilities. Because they are on their feet much of the time, Dishwashers need stamina and a good pair of shoes. It’s also beneficial to possess manual dexterity because so much of the job involves holding and moving items.

Work hours vary by establishment, as many food-related places are open early in the morning, late at night and on weekends. Dishwashers may be employed full-time, part-time or seasonally. Positions as Dishwashers tend to open up frequently because the occupation has a high turnover rate. More than 514,000 people worked as Dishwashers in 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment in the field is expected to grow about 4 percent by 2026.


Dishwasher Duties and Responsibilities

Cleanliness is vital to a restaurant, and Dishwashers play an important part in keeping things sparkling. Customers do not want to eat from dirty plates or use silverware with food remnants. Cooks and other food preparers cannot fulfill orders if they do not have clean pots, pans and utensils at their disposal. From our analysis of job postings, Dishwashers should expect to perform the following cleaning and organizing tasks on a regular basis:

Operate dishwashing machines

Dishwashers scrape large particles away and then load plates, silverware, glasses and the like into a dishwasher. They set the proper time for sanitizing them in accordance with company guidelines. Dishwashers also keep the machine itself running smoothly by checking for clogs and cleaning out excess food scraps.

Unload dishwashing machines

Dishwashers remove clean, dry items from the machine and move them to designated spaces so that cooks and wait staff can conveniently reach for them as needed. Dishwashers also may be responsible for ensuring self-serve stations are sufficiently stocked with plates, silverware, cups and trays for customer use.

Clean items by hand

When items needing cleaning are too large or fragile, Dishwashers may wash them by hand. They also may be given a schedule of when they need to clean ovens, soda dispensers, refrigerators and other appliances.

Monitor equipment and inventory

Dishwashers keep tabs on how machinery is performing and the stock of cleaning supplies. They tell a designated manager when inventory is low or if items coming out of the dishwasher aren’t as clean as they should be.

Odd jobs

Dishwashers may be called upon as needed to wash and empty trash cans, operate the trash compactor, wipe off countertops, sweep the kitchen and perform other tasks related to cleanliness. Some may work directly with food, such as unloading and stocking deliveries, chopping and peeling vegetables or assembling orders.


Dishwasher Skills

Great Dishwashers take pride in their work. They view their efforts as important to the overall objective of providing diners with a quality experience. To that end, they should act professionally by being on time, talking courteously and wearing a uniform or other appropriate clothing. Candidates for dishwashing jobs can further impress employers by highlighting these qualities:

  • Working well with others to gets tasks done
  • Exhibiting a positive attitude to promote a pleasant work environment
  • Following directions to get work done quickly, safely and correctly
  • Caring about safety in order to limit on-the-job injuries, maintain a pest-free environment and serve customers acceptable food


Tools of the trade

If you plan to become a Dishwasher, it helps to be familiar with the following:

  • Industrial dishwasher – A large, strong machine designed to handle heavy dishwashing demands
  • Dishwasher soap – Cleaning solution put into a dispenser inside the dishwasher
  • Liquid soap – Cleaning solution used when hand-washing items
  • Sprayer – Hand-held faucet used to blast food bits off of plates before they are placed in the dishwasher
  • Racks – Trays designed to securely hold dirty objects in need of washing
  • Scrubbers – Sponges, abrasive pads, wire brushes and similar tools used in handwashing or to remove stubborn spots before putting an item in the dishwasher


Dishwasher Education and Training

Becoming a Dishwasher does not involve formal training. Employment in the occupation is fairly evenly split between those who have earned a high school diploma (or equivalent) and those who have not. Dishwashers should be prepared to receive on-the-job training when hired.


Dishwasher Salary

The median hourly wage for Dishwashers is $10.00, according to the BLS. Dishwashers in the 10th percentile earn about $8.30 an hour, and the highest paid make around $12.40 per hour. Dishwashers in the District of Columbia, Nevada/Washington (tie) and Hawaii make the highest median hourly wages in the U.S. – $11.54, $11.36 and $10.99, respectively.


Dishwasher Resources

Want to learn more about becoming a Dishwasher? Check out these two resources:

Dishwasher: One Man’s Quest to Wash Dishes in All Fifty States by Pete Jordan – If you truly want to know about a profession, ask someone who does it for a living. In this personal account, “Dishwasher Pete” takes readers along on the adventure as he washes dishes throughout the United States

National Restaurant Association – This established trade organization is a go-to place for everything restaurant related. Check out its career section (which, incidentally, notes that half of all American adults have worked in the restaurant industry) for the latest on job outlooks, education and professional development.


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