What is the 3 Sink System and How Does it Work?

It is essential for most types of restaurants to have a three compartment sink (depending on your country, state and health regulations). They are beneficial in the kitchen since they provide a good alternative to conventional ware washing equipment. A 3 compartment sink also allows you to perform the 3 sink system of cleaning which comprises washing, sanitizing, and drying.

This 3 sink system is essential when cleaning multiple dishes as it helps you to do it more quickly and efficiently. Let’s take a closer look at this system and what exactly it entails. Here’s a short video. You can find more details below.

Step #1: Washing

a picture of the 3 sink system first bowlWashing is the first stage of the three sink system. It mostly involves making the dishes and utensils look clean visibly.

It usually takes place in the first compartment of a 3 compartment sink which should be filled with a mixture of water and either detergent, soap, degreaser, abrasive cleaner, alkaline cleaner, or acid cleaner.

The minimum temperature of the water should be between 95 -120 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on your local health code requirements). Therefore, it is essential to monitor the temperature carefully with a thermometer or appropriate measuring device.

Depending on what your restaurant may require, some scrub brushes, dishcloths, or glass brushes may be helpful at this stage.

Step #2: Rinsing

The second step in the 3 sink system is rinsing. It is typically done in the second compartment of a three compartment sink (see examples here). It involves the use of clean water to remove any cleaning agents on dishes left over from the first stage.

If the water inside this compartment becomes too soapy, it should be drained and replaced with fresh water. The required water temperature in this stage may vary depending on health codes but is set at a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step #3: Sanitizing

Sanitizing is the third and final step of the 3 sink method. It is done in the last compartment of a 3 compartment basin. This stage is probably the most important one as it ensures that all the harmful microorganisms such as bacteria are eliminated. It can be done in two of the following ways:

Chemical Sanitization

Here, a chemical solution is used at this stage to kill the harmful bacteria. EPA approved sanitizers can be used at here which usually comes in a chlorine solution or dissolvable tablets. If you choose to use a water sanitizer, just follow the directions of the manufacturer.

If you decide to use a chlorine solution instead, make sure that you look at your country’s health codes. This will help determine the appropriate resolution and temperature you will need and describe how long the dishes/utensils should be soaked.

You can also use chlorine strips to help you confirm whether you have achieved the correct amount of chlorine concentration. Most of the time, dishes need to be soaked 7 – 30 seconds to ensure that they are entirely sanitized.

Hot Water Sanitization

Just as the name suggests, this sanitization process uses boiling water to kill all bacteria on dishes and utensils. If you decide to go with this method, you will need to install a sanitizing basin heater in the last compartment of your the sink.

These heaters are constructed to fit well underneath the sink, and they continuously circulate the water to ensure that it remains at the proper temperature, which is usually at or above 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

When getting a sanitizing heater for this method, it is essential to take note of the exact size of your washbasin compartment in square inches.