How to Clean and Sanitize in a Three Compartment Sink

So, you need to clean and sanitize dishes in a three compartment sink. A three-compartment sink is designed to have 3 basins, each designated with a distinct role i.e. cleaning, rinsing, and sanitizing the dishes. It is a piece of dependable and effective dishwashing equipment, mostly used in busy kitchens like restaurants or even at home.

Rather than creating more space in your kitchen for the same function, installing a 3 compartment sink is much convenient and efficient. The three compartments allow you to easily wash, rinse, and sanitize dishes.

An accurate sequence and process should be followed for proper cleaning and sanitizing. Everything will be in vain if you don’t know how to use the sink.

How to Clean and Sanitize in a Three Compartment Sink

How to Clean and Sanitize in a Three Compartment Sink

Three compartments sinks have a multi-functional nature and can be ideal for a busy kitchen. While having only three sinks there are five crucial steps you must follow using a three-compartment sink.

Step 1: Preparation

Regardless of which purpose you are using the 3 compartment sink, it is important to empty, wash and sanitize each basin before and after each use.

The dishes should also be prepped before wash. Remove residues and leftovers from the dishes.

Scrape off the excess food that is stuck to the dishes as much as possible. Transfer it to the food disposal system or a scrape and water container. This way, the dishwater will be cleaner, and it will also help you save on detergents.

It will also allow the detergent to work more effectively in the next step.

Some three-compartment sinks have special features, like pre-rinse; this can quickly rinse and clean the dishes.

Step 2: Washing in the Sink

This step uses a detergent solution to remove dirt, microbes, and allergens from the surfaces.

But before washing, ensure that each sink basin is properly clean. When dealing with the three-sink method, after you prep the dishes, it is important to wash and clean the sink once again.

Fill the 1st sink compartment with warm water at least 110° F (43°C) temperature. Ensure to maintain the water temperature for better washing.

Add detergent, soap, an alkaline or acid solution to the warm water.

Soak the dishes in this detergent solution for some time.

Clean the dishes using non-abrasive brushes. You can use sponges, glass brushes, scrub brushes, and dishcloths.

Keep replacing the water, when the suds or the water itself is dirty.

Step 3: Rinsing

The second compartment of a three-compartment sink is meant for rinsing the soapy dishes. In this basin, you use warm water to remove all the soap and detergent from the clean dishes.

Fill the basin with warm water. The rinse water temperature required in this basin mainly depends upon the local health code. However, temperature ranging from 100⁰ F to 120⁰ F is mostly preferred.

You can eliminate the residues of your cleaning agent by spraying water on the dishes. Soaking the dishes in warm water can also be quite effective. Spray the dishes with clean water or soak for some time beforehand.

If it becomes difficult to remove the detergent, try replacing the water in the basin.

When the water is dirty and full of suds, refill the basin with more warm rinsing water.

Step 4: Sanitizing

Sanitization is the most essential stage, in a three-compartment sink. It involves eliminating dangerous bacteria or other microorganisms from all surfaces. A sanitizing basin requires special attention, for effective functioning. Just adding sanitizer in water won’t be enough.

Sanitizing process in the third basin of the sink can be done in two distinctive ways:

Chemical Sanitization

As the name suggests, you can use chemical solutions to eradicate chemical stains from the stainless steel basin. Water sanitizers including chlorine solution or tablets are mostly preferred for efficient results.

Whichever chemical solution you use should be approved for food use. It is better to ensure that the food will be safe for human consumption.

Refer to the instructions provided by your selected sanitizer, to learn how long your dishes have to sit in the sanitizer. Usually, the standard time for the dishes is at least thirty seconds to one minute.

You can use pH kits to make sure the sanitizer mixture is equivalent to the manufacturer’s standards.

Hot Water Sanitization

Instead of using a chemical solution, you can use boiling water to eliminate all the microorganisms on the dishes.

Leave the dishes in the scalding water, for a minimum of 30 seconds for effective sanitization.

For convenient washing, you can also install a sanitizing sink heater on your three-compartment sink.

These heaters are mounted underneath the sink. It moves the water around to sustain at least 171 Fahrenheit temperature. This is the standard temperature for sanitizing.

Step 5: Drying

  • The final phase in a three-compartment sink is drying the dishes.
  • The only proper way to dry the dishes is by air drying.
  • To get it done accurately, place the dishes on a drainboard or a self-draining rack.
  • Please don’t use any cloth or towel to dry your dishes, because they may have contaminants.

Dishwashing Sequence in a Three Compartment Sink

Washing in a three-compartment sink is easy. Especially, if you know the proper method and comprehend the correct sequence it becomes much easier.

Here is the correct dishwashing sequence, to get your dishes clean and free from contaminants while using a three-compartment sink:

First Compartment: Washing

  • After scraping and disposing of all the food residue, you have to use the 1st compartment of the sink.
  • Clean and sanitize the basin and fill it in with a mixture of warm water and soap.
  • Maintain an optimum temperature of the water and soak the dishes for proper cleaning.

Second Compartment: Rinsing

  • The second section of a three-compartment sink is used for rinsing soapy dishes.
  • Soap can inhibit the sanitizing process, so it is better to rinse the soap off the dishes properly.
  • Fill the basin with clean warm water.
  • Rinse and wash the dishes to remove food residues and soap.
  • Change the water if it gets dirty.

Third Compartment: Sanitizing

  • The final section of a three-compartment sink is used to sanitize washed dishes.
  • Soak the dishes in hot water or chemical solutions to remove any possible microorganisms.
  • Check the temperature and use time requirements of the solution before using it.
  • Air dry your dishes, let them sit on a rack for drying.
  • Avoid using cloth or rag to dry.


The three-compartment sinks are well-known for convenient and effective washing, especially when done correctly. They allow washing, rinsing, and sanitizing at the same time saving your precious time.

This comprehensive guide will help you understand the proper cleaning process in a three-compartment sink. Make sure to follow the rules as described, because without proper chemical dilution and temperature settings it won’t entirely kill the germs.

We have discussed everything in this guide to clean and sanitize in a three-compartment sink. The dishwashing sequence is also important to complete properly.

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