- Dishwasher Buyers Guide
Dishwasher Buyers Guide
Dishwasher Buyers Guide
Dishwashers generally use less water than washing up by hand, especially when used on economy programs, so don’t be put off buying one on environmental grounds. And what’s more, they can wash crockery more thoroughly and more hygienically than washing buy hand.
Which type should I choose?
Freestanding standard-sized dishwashers (60cm width) are the most widely sold and the best option to go for if you have the space. They generally wash around 12 place settings (one place setting consists of a dinner plate, soup plate, dessert plate, a glass tumbler, tea cup and saucer, a knife, fork, soup spoon, dessert spoon and a teaspoon). Alternatively, you can get integrated dishwashers that fit inside a cabinet and have a matching exterior panel. Semi-integrated units have panels that don’t cover the controls. Integrated and semi-integrated models are slightly smaller and tend to be pricier. If you have limited space, you can get slimline freestanding models (45cm width), which tend to wash around six place settings, or a table top machine which has a much smaller capacity and can generally wash four place settings.
Is there much difference in efficiency between dishwashers?
Different models use different amounts of electricity and water. A-rated machines are most efficient while those with a G-rating are least efficient.
Which are the most useful programs?
Most machines have three main programs: an intensive wash at 65-70 C which uses most energy and is designed for very dirty pans; a standard wash at about 65 C; and an economy wash, at around 50 C, which usually takes longer to run but uses less energy. Other programs you may find include automatic programs which sense how dirty the dishes are and adjust the program accordingly. Machines with automatic sensors are generally quite pricey, though. You can also get a quick wash, which usually takes around 30 minutes to run, for items that aren’t very dirty, a half-wash program which would wash only the top or the bottom rack, a delicate or fragile setting which washes at low pressure and low temperatures to prevent items made of glass or china breaking or fading, and an extra-drying program. If you use lots of pans, a pre-wash or soak program might be handy as these loosen dried-on food. The more programs the machine has the pricier it is likely to be so choose a machine that only has the programs you think you will use.
What are rinse aid and salt for?
Rinse aid helps to reduce drying time and leaves dishes shiny and smear free. Salt helps to soften the water.
Should I use combination tablets, powder or liquid gel detergent?
Although combination tablets dominate the dishwasher detergent market and are convenient to use, they aren’t necessarily the best option. Powder and liquid gel detergents give you more control over the dosage required and dissolve faster than tablets, so are better if you use the quick-wash program. Most manufacturers recommend that if you use combination tablets you still should add salt if you live in a hard water area so that takes the edge off the convenience of tablets. It also makes them less cost effective. And, if you don’t have a program for using three-in-one tablets, you could invalidate your warranty by using them. If in doubt, stick with separate detergent, rinse aid and salt.
How can I avoid buying a noisy machine?
Is it necessary to rinse plates before putting them in the dishwasher?
No, it’s a waste of time and water. Just scrape off any remaining food and put it in the dishwasher.
What do I need to do to maintain my dishwasher?
You should regularly use a dishwasher cleaner to descale, degrease and freshen your machine. Also clean out the filters regularly and rinse them through.
Which features are useful on dishwashers?
The following features are generally useful:
Adjustable racks: These give the option to change the rack height to accommodate different items. For example, you could have large saucepans in the lower rack and have a shallow upper rack or have tall glasses in the upper rack and have less space below. Some machines come with lay-flat cutlery trays instead of baskets where you place cutlery vertically.
Indicator lights: These warn you when the rinse aid or salt need topping up. If you let them run low, you risk damaging your machine or its contents.
Child lock: This is useful to prevent the door being opened mid cycle and risk scalding a child.
Timer delay: This may be useful if, for example, you want to time the machine to come on at night time if you have an Economy 7 tariff which charges less for electricity used at night. However, ensure you have a smoke alarm if you do run the machine when you are sleeping.
Anti-flood device: These detect the presence of water in the base of the machine and stop the dishwasher from filling further.
Three-in-one button: These are for using dishwasher tablets that have a three-in-one function (ie salt, rinse aid and detergent).