There are so many options for dishwashers on the market that it can be hard to choose the right one that’s right for you.
When talking about dishwashers, it’s important to not only take a look at the types available, but also at other details such as capacity, programs, and noise level. If you’re a bit lost and need some help, keep reading for a handy guide.
Sizes and Types
Here’s a list of common sizes (which may vary depending on the model).
- Full-sized (H34.5″ X W24″ X D24″): This is also known as the standard built-in. It fits under most counter spaces. You can place around 120 to 150 items of cutlery, crockery, pans and pots, or 12-place settings. Of course, larger items will occupy more space.
- Slimline (H34.5″ X W18″ X D24″): Slightly slimmer than the standard sized dishwasher, the slimline is generally made for apartments or smaller kitchens. It still holds a lot of items, around 90 to 100 per cycle. It’s ideal for a couple or small family.
- Compact (H21.65″ X W21.65″ X D19.69″): This little countertop dishwasher is ideal for a couple or a single-person household. It holds up to 60 items. Even though it’s just a bit larger than many microwaves, the price does not always correspond to the smaller size.
- Portable, In-Sink and Countertop (H37″ X W24.5″ X D26″): If you don’t have an opening in your cabinetry, these models can be very handy.
Tips on Measuring
With a measuring tape, check the cabinet height, width and depth.
- Width: When it comes to width, it’s always better to have some breathing room on the sides. Make sure to read the installation instructions for the utility placement, as it might change depending on the model.
- Height: When you measure the height, make sure you’re taking the measurement from the floor where the opening of the dishwasher will be. There might be different layers of flooring in the kitchen.
- Depth: The pro tip for checking the necessary depth for your dishwasher is always to have at least 27 inches of space in front of where the appliance will be installed to allow the door to fully open.
Control Panel Location
The style of a dishwasher is often categorized by the control panel location. There are three main types: Full Console, Integrated (also known as Top Control), and Semi-Integrated dishwasher.
- Full Console: It means that all the controls are visible right at the front of the appliance.
- Integrated: An integrated dishwasher is designed to blend into the cabinetry. They often have a fitted custom cupboard door that conceals the dishwasher when closed. The controls are most often located at the top of the door and they are not visible.
- Semi-Integrated: A semi-integrated dishwasher is also designed to be installed to blend with the cabinetry but this with discrete but visible controls.
Speed and Cycles
So many buttons! The best way to get the greatest advantage of any dishwasher you buy is to understand the cycles and each cycle’s use. Here are some common settings you may find:
- Normal: This is the default cycle. It’s ideal for full loads with a moderate amount of food residue. The energy use and the sound level on this cycle usually determines the machine’s rating.
- Auto: The dishwasher will use all of its sensors. It will adapt the cycle according to the number of dishes and the dirt on them.
- Quick Wash: This cycle is for lightly soiled dishes. It is a faster cycle but isn’t necessarily an energy-saver. Some models use either extra water or extra heat to clean the dishes in less time.
There are other cycles that dishwashers might have:
- Heavy: This cycle is meant for larger items, such as pots and pans, or for very dirt items that have food stuck on them.
- China: This cycle is quite interesting. It controls the overall water pressure to minimize the risk of damage to more fragile items like delicate porcelain and wine glasses.
- Efficient: One way to save some money is to use run the dishwasher using this cycle. It will use less water and less energy. Some dishwashers will take a little longer to finish cleaning the items. Others use the label “efficient” to wash light dirt on the dishes.
- Sanitation: Those models are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation. In this cycle, your dishwasher runs with high heat, 150 degrees, extending the cleaning time by 5 to 18 minutes. This cycle also uses more energy. You can find newer dishwashers that are EnergyStar-certified, in which the cycle is run at 140 degrees with no increase of washing time
- Rinse and Hold: It will spray your dishes with water jets to prevent food from drying out. You can use it until you fill up the dishwasher for a full load.
- Rinse Only: This is a simple spray on the dishes, not ideal for cleaning food that has been sitting on the dishes for too long. Even though it seems like a good idea to remove some food before running the wash cycle, it increases water use. The Environment Protection Agency recommends scraping rather than rinsing.
- Heat Dry: This cycle uses more electricity to dry dishes. It goes without saying that running this cycle uses more energy. A more energy-efficient way to dry the dishes is to open the door as soon as the dishwasher has finished cleaning and rinsing the dishes. The high temperature will evaporate the water. Only use the “Heat Dry” if you won’t be at home to open the door.
Different Names, Same Functions
There are many models available and the names of the cycles might change depending on the brand. Here’s a quick guide.
- “Heavy” is often called “Pots & Pans.”
- “Efficient,” you may find as “Energy Saver,” “eWash,” or “Eco-Wash.”
- “China” can also be called “Gentle” or “Delicate.”
- “Sanitation” is also called “Sani-rinse” or “SaniWash.”
There are two different types of filters: Self-Cleaning and Manual Filter.
You may find the Self-Cleaning Filters in older models. It uses food grinders to allow the food particles to go down the drain. Those models are usually noisier. Quieter dishwashers with the self-cleaning filter tend to be more expensive because of better insulation.
The downside to the manual filters is that they do require more maintenance. The mesh filter needs to be cleaned regularly. If you skip that step, your dishwasher could develop an unpleasant odor and the dishes may not get as clean as they could be. The owner’s manual will tell you how often to clean the filter.
Some models have plastic tubs, while more expensive dishwashers have stainless-steel tubs. Stainless steel is known to be more durable and saves more energy, but the cleaning performance isn’t affected by the type of tub, so the stainless-steel tubs aren’t a must.
When buying a dishwasher, you always want to check the EnergyStar rating. This rating system was implemented by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It works to rate appliances in order of how much energy they save without loss in the quality of performance and features. You will find the model’s rating on the product description.
Know the Features
Keep an eye out for the features you might want to have in your dishwasher. Here’s a list of the best ones:
- Sensors Technology: Many of the newer models are now equipped with different sensors.
Soil Sensor: This can help save money as the machine determines the power needed to clean your dishes fully. You will find this feature in many EnergyStar-certified dishwashers.
Hydro Sensor: The regulates the amount of water needed to get your dishes cleaned.
Anti-flood Sensor: With this sensor, your unit will know it there’s a water overflow and shut it off. Some models can detect any change in water pressure and have a safety valve to stop the water from running.
- Noise Control: The noise levels are measured in decibels or dBA. The lower your dBA rating is, the quieter your appliance will be. When buying your dishwasher, look for models rated between 0 and 50.
- Flexible and Smart Utensil and Dish Rack: Having adjustable racks that you can raise and lower comes in handy. Some units allow you to remove the top rack for larger pots. There are models that low you to change the placement of the racks to accommodate pots and pans.
- Third Rack: You may only find this feature in more expensive dishwashers, but they can be very useful to clean small items.
- Special Wash Zone: Dishwashers with this feature have a “zone” for heavy soiled cookware. You can clean stuck dirt from items without energy increase.
- Water Jets: Spray nozzles are strategically placed to boost the cleaning performance of your dishwasher without using more water.
- Child-safety Lock: Do your kids like to touch and open every single door they see? Well, this feature can be handy. It will lock the dishwasher door during a cycle.
Here are some interesting but not-so-important features to have:
- Smart Tech: You can start your dishwasher using an app.
- Automatic Detergent Dispenser: Your unit will know exactly how much detergent it needs.
- TouchPad: You can save some preferred settings.
Performance and Price
This is what many people want to know: is a more expensive model better than the cheaper one? The answer is: it depends.
You can find very good models that perform very well in the lower price range, but with fewer features. You probably won’t find any with adjustable racks or stainless-steel tubs and they do tend to be noisier.
In the mid-price range, you’ll get a quieter machine with very good cleaning performance and cool features. In this price range, you’ll find more models with stainless steel tubs, which won’t stain as easily as plastic.
In the upper price range, you’ll get more options for control location and many features like wash zones and smart tech.
Even the most expensive dishwasher can break. At C&W Appliance Service, we are ready for everything! Call us at (855) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form for prompt, reliable service.