Compartment sinks—sometimes referred to as “pot and dish sinks” or “sanitizing sinks”—are used to manually clean and sanitize heavy-duty pots, pans, and utensils. These commercial sinks are available in different styles from one compartment to four compartments. Keep reading to learn about all the variables involved in finding the perfect compartment sink for your kitchen. 

How will you use your compartment sink?

The more compartments in a sink, the larger its footprint. But with more compartments comes more versatility, so consider your plans for this fixture before making a choice.

one compartment sink

One compartment sinks are the most compact type of compartment sink. Typically used for washing fresh produce, this style has one faucet and is ideal for small kitchens with limited space.


two compartment sink

Two compartment sinks are also fairly compact and can be used for thawing and prepping food, washing and rinsing dishes, or any other two-step process. One faucet serves both compartments. 

three compartment sink

Three compartment sinks are perhaps the most popular type of commercial compartment sinks. While they take up more space than one and two compartment sinks, this style is a safe choice to ensure compliance with food safety regulations because they can be used to establish an orderly routine of rinsing, washing, and sanitizing commercial cookware. This size unit uses two faucets to serve its three compartments.

four compartment sink

Four compartment sinks have two faucets and require the most space in your kitchen. The fourth compartment gives the operator additional space to scrape residue prior to rinsing, washing, and sanitizing. The fourth compartment can also be used independently of the other three, making this style the most versatile of all.

Compartment Sink Construction

Commercial compartment sinks are made of stainless steel, which comes in varying grades. Before making a purchase, it’s important to understand the differences between types of stainless steel.

300 series stainless steel, which includes 304 stainless steel, is the most commonly used type of stainless steel. Its resistance to corrosion, scratches, and cracks makes it a popular choice for heavy use environments. An alloy containing both chromium and nickel, 300 series stainless steel is not magnetic and will not rust—even in humid environments.

400 series stainless steel, including 430 stainless steel, contains chromium but not nickel. 400 series stainless steel is typically less expensive than 300 series, and for good reason. 400 series stainless steel is less resistant to corrosion and cracks, is not magnetic, and is often preferred for finishing surfaces but will rust eventually.

Stainless Steel Gauge

In addition to understanding the differences between stainless steel grades, you’ll also need to consider the gauge of stainless steel prior to purchase. Gauge refers to the thickness of stainless steel. The lower the gauge, the thicker—and therefore more durable—the stainless steel construction will be.

Pro Tip:

To ensure the longevity of your compartment sink, opt for 304 series stainless steel with 14-gauge construction. This combo provides the highest level of durability on the market.

Commonly used gauges of stainless steel:

  • 18-gauge stainless steel: thin material; good for use in soft water areas
  • 16-gauge stainless steel: medium-grade material; offers stronger legs and support
  • 14-gauge stainless steel: thick material; significantly more durable—even withstands hard water

Determining Sink Bowl Size

Common bowl sizes are 14”x16”, 18”x18”, or 24”x24”. Bowl depths—or the maximum water level the compartment can hold—range from 11” to 14”.

In order to decide which size bowl will be sufficient for your kitchen, consider the largest object you will be washing and measure to find whether you will be able to submerge the object at least halfway on both sides.

compartment sink dimensions


Found on either the left side, right side, or both sides, drainboards provide space for dishes and produce to rest before and/or after washing. A drainboard not only makes room for another step in the assembly-line process of cleaning and sanitizing but can perform double-duty as an extra prep surface in especially tight quarters. In order to prevent water pooling on your work surfaces, most drainboards slant slightly toward the nearest sink bowl to direct excess water down the drain.

The most common drainboards will add 18” or 24” to the total sink width, and since they’re attached to the compartment sink itself, cannot be added or modified after installation.

compartment sink with drainboard

Cleaning & Sanitizing in a Three Compartment Sink

Step 1: Start by rinsing, scraping, or soaking all items prior to washing. A pre-rinse sprayer is very effective at removing food particles and is a great way to reduce water usage and save money. Sprayers can be added to your sink or upgraded on an existing unit.

Read also: It IS easy being green! Sustainable restaurant practices made simple.

Step 2: 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.

Step 3: Use the second compartment 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.

Step 4: 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’re using and use a chemical test kit to monitor the concentration.

Step 5: Once your items have been effectively sanitized, place them upside down to air dry. According to the FDA’s guidelines, dishes should never be dried with towels. Drainboards are handy for this step, but if your unit doesn’t include drainboards, a worktable or drying rack makes a fine alternative.

Upkeep & General Maintenance

Stainless steel itself doesn’t rust, but iron particles—which do rust—can slowly contaminate the sink surface over time. Depending on the type of stainless steel construction (see above), your sink may be more prone to corrosion. Regular and proper cleaning is necessary in order to maintain the appearance of your unit and to protect your stainless steel sink against unsightly deterioration.

Soft cloths, sponges, and scratchless pads work great on stainless steel surfaces. Avoid highly abrasive or metal scouring pads, which could scuff the surface, allowing contaminates to collect and cause damage. When wiping or scrubbing, be 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 products containing chloride as this can increase the risk of surface erosion.


Make your cleaning process efficient and effective with our selection of sink accessories. Some of the most popular accessories include:


Faucets, Pre-Rinse Sprayers & Kits quickly remove excess food particles prior to washing, enhancing effectiveness while significantly reducing both effort and water consumption.


Dishtables can link up to your compartment sink, adding space to organize clean dishes before putting them away or to collect dirty ones to wash. Choose from straight style, L-shaped, or U-shaped.

Sanitizing Accessories like tablets, solutions, and chemical test strips help ensure your cookware receives the highest quality clean and keeps your operation up to par with food safety regulations.

For product advice and more detailed information, contact one of our experts at (800)215-9293.

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