Dishwashers are a magical invention. You fill them up with your dirty, greasy dishes and close the door. Later, when you open the door they have been replaced by clean, sparkling dishes. This happens with no effort, while you do something fun instead. Choosing a dishwasher instead of hand washing dishes seems to be an obvious decision.
However, this only works if you have the right dishwasher. You will live with this kitchen appliance for a long time, probably using it every day. A typical dishwasher will last between 9 and 12 years. You must select the best one that meets your own particular needs. Dishwashers are complex pieces of equipment and they can be very expensive. So this choice is an important one to get right. Read on to find out about the issues that you need to understand in order to make the best selection.
Usually the most important consideration when choosing a dishwasher is size. How big of a space is available in your kitchen? Will you have to remodel in order to make room for a dishwasher? Is this a replacement for one that is already built into the kitchen cabinetry? The answers to these questions will narrow down your possible choices from the selection of different types of dishwashers that are available.
The most common type is the standard 24 inch built-in dishwasher that sits under your countertop work surface. There are also slimmer 18 inch models. Some models are portable and can be hidden away in a cupboard. Others are small enough to sit on top of a work surface. Some are even designed to look like a cabinet drawer.
Capacity is a concept that is closely related to size. Obviously, a small countertop dishwasher cannot handle a single load of dishes as large as the big built-in models. However, not every person needs such large capacity. For example, a single person living in an apartment, a retired couple or maybe a small family living in their RV. Take an honest look at your own needs and you may realize that a compact dishwasher is your best choice.
Make a List - Check it Twice
Another important issue is the many different features that are available in modern dishwashers. The range of choices can seem overwhelming. However, the key is taking each one in turn and understanding it. Then you can simply decide if you need it, and add it to your shopping list of features to buy. Here is just a small selection of some of the dishwasher features that you can choose.
Internal food grinders (or food disposers) break down any food residue from the dishes and allow them to be drained away with the water. This avoids the need to regularly clean and unclog filters. However, this does make them noisier to operate. This can be a problem if you spend most of your time in the kitchen. Typically, European manufacturers tend to use filters instead of food grinders.
There are many different ways to clean dishes, and many different types of dishes that need to be cleaned. Therefore, modern appliances have multiple wash programs with various wash cycles. Some are designed specifically for china, or glassware, or pots and pans, or plastics. The variety is endless and seems wonderful. Again, try to be honest and decide if you really will take the time and effort to learn how to select and operate all of these programs. Or will you just stick to the basic heavy or light wash programs and leave the rest untouched? If you won't use them then why pay for them?
Whichever type of dishwasher you buy, they all use water and power. Minimizing the use of these is a smart move. The best way to do this is to ensure that you always run your dishwasher with a full load of dishes. This avoids waste and reduces the number of times you use the appliance. Modern dishwashers have government approved 'EnergyStar' ratings that tell you how much money you can expect to spend on water and power over a year. This is a great way to compare models to decide the most economical.
There are many more features available but don't worry. Do your research online, learn about them and how to use them. None of them are difficult once you understand them. With a little effort you will soon be confident about concepts such as 'delayed start', 'soil sensors' and 'integrated doors'.
Now you know about some perils of choosing a dishwasher, you can avoid these pitfalls, and make the best selection. Get out there and buy the best dishwasher that matches your own requirements. Enjoy life away from the sink!
Also check out our Dishwasher Buyer's Guide for more information.