Clean up with our step-by-step guide to finding the perfect dishwasher
If you’ve never owned a dishwasher you might dismiss it as an unnecessary luxury. But look a little closer and you’ll find that today’s models are efficient, inexpensive to run and will clean your pots and pans infinitely better than washing up by hand ever will.
So, whether you’re buying your first or fifth model, follow our top hints and tips to ensure you choose the best dishwasher for your kitchen.
What size should I buy?
Most dishwashers are full-size models at a standard 60cm wide. For families, this is the best option. If your kitchen is only small, slimline models at 45cm wide are ideal for single or two person households.
“However, it’s important to remember that just because you live in a smaller home, it doesn’t mean you don’t need a full-size dishwasher, especially if you are a keen cook,” advises Andrew Wesdell, Electrolux product manager for dishwashers. “People with smaller space should view their dishwasher as an extra cupboard.”
Tabletop dishwashers are a great option if you don’t have space within your cabinetry. Though they can really only cope with the washing up of one or two infrequent cooks. A neat idea from Fisher & Paykel is the DishDrawer. The single model starts at 60cm wide and takes up the space of a drawer unit.
Should I choose integrated or freestanding?
Full-size and slimline dishwashers come in three types: freestanding, fully integrated and semi-integrated. Freestanding models come in standard 60cm or 45cm widths so easily slot into a space in your cabinetry, you can also take them with you when you move.
Fully integrated models are completely hidden behind a panel that matches your kitchen cabinetry. The controls are sited inside, on the top of the door. With a semi-integrated dishwasher, a partial panel hides the lower part of the door but the controls are visible at the top.
“While freestanding dishwashers are generally less expensive than built-in appliances, they do not offer the streamlined and seamless look and feel you get with semi-integrated and fully integrated models,” says Michael Haigh, head of marketing at Britannia Living.
Freestanding models are simple to fit providing the water inlet and waste outlet are already in place. But there are a couple of points to note with integrated models, as Andrew Wasdell explains. “When buying an integrated dishwasher, it is important to consider hinge types. If it has a normal hinge, you’ll have to cut the kitchen plinth to install it. Look out for models with either a double fulcrum hinge, so there is no need to cut the plinth, or a sliding hinge which can be installed in a plinthless kitchen.”
Most dishwashers are standard dimensions, so if you are replacing an existing fully integrated model then your current door panel should fit. For semi-integrated, it is important to look for a model with a control panel that matches your existing appliances.
Place settings explained
Dishwasher capacity is given in place settings. A place setting consists of a dinner plate, soup plate, dessert plate, a glass tumbler, teacup and saucer, a knife, fork, soup spoon, dessert spoon and teaspoon. Few loads today would include all these items and it doesn’t take into account pans, trays or larger items. However, it’s a useful way to compare the sizes of different machines, as it’s the only consistent measurement of capacity that all manufacturers adhere to.
“The average number of places settings is 10 for a slimline model and between 12 and 15 place settings for a 60cm integrated dishwasher,” says Kelly Penn, marketing manager for Hoover Candy Baumatic. “Though some manufacturers now make machines with up to 16 place settings.”
What does the energy efficiency label show?
The EU energy label is the easiest way to make an at-a-glance comparison between dishwashers. It shows the energy rating between A+++ and D. Where you see manufacturers stating an energy rating of A+++-20%, for example, they are maintaining the model is 20% more efficient than a A+++ machine, which is currently the best rating the energy label recognises.
The label also shows the annual electricity consumption in kWh per annum (the average for a 60cm model is around 300kWh/annum), and water consumption per annum – the average is around 3000 litres per annum, though on individual models look out for those that can wash a load in less than 10 litres. Drying performance is shown rated from A to G.
Finally, the capacity in place settings and noise rating in decibels – look for noise levels lower than 50dB.
If you want to make sure that the model you buy will accommodate your favourite casserole dish, large dinner plates or long-stemmed wine glasses, take them along to the showroom to check. Look out for adjustable baskets and racks that will accommodate different-sized items and hold them in place. And machines that have a cutlery drawer at the top leave more room for bigger items in the bottom of the dishwasher.
Features such as multiple spray levels will help ensure a thorough clean. “Our dishwashers feature a set of powerful high-pressure jets to dissolve away heavy soil from pots, plans, baking trays and lasagne dishes without the use of any additional water,” says Jennifer Taylor, senior brand manager at Whirlpool.
It’s all too easy to use the same program every time. But taking time to investigate special functions and programs can save time, energy and produce even better results.
“The Gorenje GS62215WUK freestanding dishwasher has a half-load function that allows users to run the dishwasher while half full, only using the required energy and water,” says Stuart Benson, sales director at Gorenje UK.
Intensive programs run at high temperatures and might involve extra and concentrated sprays to deal with baked-on food. By contrast, eco programs save energy by running for a long time at lower temperatures. A delayed-start function is useful for running the machine overnight. And look out for quick-wash cycles that will refresh lightly soiled dishes or an extra-care glassware program.
The latest smart technology
It’s worth investing in a dishwasher with intelligent sensor technology as your machine will automatically use less energy and water. After an initial rinse, sensors detect the amount of soiling on the dishes and automatically adjust the temperature, time and amount of water to ensure excellent results using minimal resources.
Meanwhile, the next generation of dishwashers are already embracing smart-home technology, allowing users to control and monitor them from a smartphone or tablet. Hoover Wizard was the first range of Wi-Fi enabled kitchen appliances in the UK, as Owain Harrison, UK head of sales and marketing at Hoover Candy Baumatic explains.
“The Wizard app recommends the dishwashing program likely to achieve the best results based on the type of dishes, amount of crockery loaded and the level of soiling. It will even prevent the user from washing incompatible items together, such as baby bottles which require a high temperature and delicate glassware which needs a lower temperature.”
How do you dispose of a dishwasher?
When you’ve chosen the new model, it is important to consider how you’ll get rid of your old one. “A symbol on the back of your old appliance that will let you know whether you may dispose of it in normal household waste,” advises Rhys Evans, sales director UK & Ireland, V-ZUG UK. “Contact your local authority to find out what the recycling facilities are for household waste.”
If your local council doesn’t take away appliances, you could try the retailer or manufacturer you’re buying the new one from – many offer this as a service if you pre-select it as an option.
Top maintenance tips
Finally, once you’ve got your brand new dishwasher installed, you’ll want to ensure it stays in excellent working order. Make sure you regularly wipe round the door and seals to remove any food remains or rinse aid and keep the filter and spray arm clean. At least once a month, run the dishwasher empty at a high temperature with a small amount of detergent or specialist cleaner to reduce any build-up odour or sediment. Lastly, simply try not to overload the dishwasher on each wash – this will allow the water to reach every area of the appliance.