Compartment Sinks

Compartment sinks, sometimes referred to as pot and dish sinks or sanitizing sinks, are used to clean and sanitize heavy duty pots, pans and utensils by hand. These commercial sinks are available in one compartment, two compartments, three compartments, or four compartments. The first step is deciding how many compartments you’ll need. This can be decided by planning out the tasks for which it’ll be used the most.

One compartment sinks are compact and typically used for washing fresh vegetables.

Two compartment sinks are also compact and can be used for thawing and prepping food.

Three compartment sinks are perhaps the most common type of commercial compartment sinks. They take up more space than the previous two sinks, but can be used to establish an orderly routine of rinsing, washing, and sanitizing commercial cookware. A three compartment sink is common in foodservice applications for complying with food safety regulations.

Four compartment sinks take up the most space. Many users utilize these sinks in a similar fashion to the three compartment units, using the additional compartment to scrape residue prior to rinsing, washing, and sanitizing.

Compartments Image Features
One Compartment Sinks One Compartment Sinks
  • Compact footprint
  • Utility or veggie wash
Two Compartment Sinks Two Compartment Sinks
  • Compact footprint
  • Food thaw, prep
Three Compartment Sinks Three Compartment Sinks
  • Larger footprint
  • Rinse, wash, sanitize
Four Compartment Sinks Four Compartment Sinks
  • Largest footprint
  • Scrape, rinse, wash, sanitize


Compartment Sink Construction

Commercial compartment sinks are constructed out of stainless steel, but there are two prominent types of stainless steel grades that buyers should be aware of prior to making their final decision.

300 series stainless steel, which includes 304 stainless steel - which you’ll notice advertised on several of our commercial sinks - is the most commonly used type of stainless steel. It is resistant to corrosion, etches and cracks. It is also easy to clean and maintain, and contains both chromium and nickel. 300 series stainless steel is not magnetic and can stand up better in more humid environments.

400 series stainless steel, such as the commonly advertised type 430 stainless steel, is typically less expensive than 300 series, but for good reason. 400 series stainless steel is less resistant to corrosion and cracks. This stainless steel grade contains chromium but not nickel, and is not magnetic, often preferred for finishing surfaces.

Types Quality Features
Type 430 Stainless Steel   
  • Standard material
  • Eventually rusts
Type 304 Stainless Steel    
  • Heavy duty material
  • Resists rust


Stainless Steel Gauge

In addition to understanding the differences between stainless steel grades, you’ll also need to be aware of the stainless steel gauge prior to purchase. Gauge determines the thickness of the stainless steel. The lower the gauge the thicker, and therefore more durable, the stainless steel construction will be. Commonly advertised gauges include:

  • 18-gauge stainless steel, a thinner material, is good for soft water areas.
  • 16-gauge stainless steel is a medium grade material featuring stronger legs and support.
  • 14-gauge stainless steel is a thicker material, offering much better durability. This gauge stands up to hard water and the wear and tear of everyday use.
Gauge Quality Features
18 Gauge Stainless Steel   
  • Thinnest material
  • Good for soft water areas
16 Gauge Stainless Steel    
  • Medium grade material
  • Stronger legs
14 Gauge Stainless Steel    
  • Thickest material
  • Greatest durability
  • Stands up to hard water

If you want to ensure product longevity and get the most out of your commercial compartment sink, it is recommended that you shop for one containing 304 series stainless steel with a 14-gauge construction for the best durability currently on the market.


Bowl Size

Next, you’ll need to decide how large you need your compartment bowls to be. Consider the largest object you will be washing and think about whether you will be able to submerge the object at least halfway on both sides. Common bowl sizes include a width and length of 14”x16”, 18”x18”, or 24”x24”. Common bowl depths – maximum water level – are 11”, 12”, 13” and 14”.

Cleaning and Sanitizing in a Three Compartment Sink

For starters, rinse, scrape or soak all items prior to washing. Some units come with a pre-rinse sprayer, which makes this step much easier. Users can also add sprayers onto existing units.

Use the first compartment to clean your pots, pans, dishes, etc. Wash them in a detergent solution using water set at least at 110°F, making sure to replace water when the suds are gone or it gets too dirty.

Use the second sink to rinse the items. Use your sprayer to remove all traces of food and detergent, or dip if no sprayer is available. If you choose to dip, make sure to replace the water when it gets dirty or too full of suds.

Use the third sink to sanitize in hot water or sanitizer solution. Make sure to verify the time and temperature requirements for the specific sanitizer you are using, as well as a test kit to check concentration.

Place items upside down to let everything air dry. According to the FDA’s guidelines, dishes should never be dried with towels. This is where drainboards come in handy.


Drainboards are the landing area for clean or dirty dishes, and are either on the right, left, or both sides, depending on their intended use. Drainboards provide an extra work or drying space, and with sinks with multiple compartments, can operate in an assembly line manner where dirty dishes compile on the left drainboard, progress through the above cleaning steps and advance to the right drainboard to dry. Drainboards are typically pitched slightly downward towards the compartment so excess water flows right back in, aiding in the drying process and preventing pooling water buildup.

General drainboard sizes are 18” or 24”.

Upkeep and General Maintenance

Stainless steel itself can’t rust, per se, but after time, iron particles can contaminate the surface of your sink. Those particles can rust. Furthermore, depending on the type of stainless steel construction (see above), your sink may be prone to corrosion over time. Regular and proper cleaning is necessary in order to maintain appearance and protect your sink against deterioration. 

Soft cloths, sponges and scratchless pads work great. Avoid rough or metal scratch pads that could scuff the surface and allow room for contaminates to collect and fester.

Make sure to clean with the “grain” of the stainless steel and not against it. There are several types of stainless steel cleaners and wipes available, but it is imperative to avoid detergents containing chloride as this can increase the risk of erosion.



Add ons and additional accessories are available to make sure your cleaning process runs efficiently and effectively. Some common accessories include:

Faucets, Pre-Rinse Sprayers and Kits

Faucets, pre-rinse sprayers and kits. As referenced above, these greatly assist with quickly removing excess food particles prior to washing and sanitizing, thus greatly enhancing the quality of cleanliness as well as the overall lifespan of your commercial sink.


Dishtables provide even more room in which to organize clean dishes prior to putting them away, or to collect dirty dishes in need of washing. Tables are available in a straight style, L-shaped, or U-shaped, and can link up to your compartment sink to better accommodate your daily routine.

Sanitizing Accessories

Sanitizing accessories like tablets, solutions and strips to test the strength of the chemicals help ensure your cookware receives the highest quality clean and keeps your operation up to par with food safety standards and regulations.

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