The dishwasher is fast becoming an essential item of kitchen furniture, not surprising when you consider that the average household spends up to 500 hours a year washing dishes. But before you invest in that dishwasher you always promised yourself, take a look at our buying guide to get some idea of the different types, what they can do and how efficient they are.
Choosing the right sized dishwasher will depend upon your needs and storage space. A standard sized machine measures around W60 x H85 x D60cm and may offer the option of being integrated.
For less space, there are slimline and compact models. Think about how much washing up needs to be done. A standard dishwasher holds 12 place settings and will typically hold:
12 x 24cm dinner plates
12 x 23cm soup plates
12 x 18.5cm dessert plates
12 cups and saucers
12 knives, forks, soup spoons, dessert spoons and teaspoons
Dishwashers are rated on a scale of A to G according to their energy efficiency. A-rated appliances are most efficient and therefore cheaper to run, while G-rated appliances are least efficient. The best machines achieve a first class 'A' rating for actual washing performance, in addition to an 'A' energy rating for the least amount of electricity and water consumed; which is also better for the environment.
Depending on the machine, programmes will vary, but there will usually be at least four and often a rinse programme.
Rinse only: the rinse only setting is handy if you're machine is not full enough for a normal wash and you want to remove the worst of the dirt before it dries on or smells.
Main wash: the main wash programmes will generally be around 55°C and 65°C, the hotter the setting, the more effective it is for removing stubborn grease and stuck on food.
Economy: a cooler wash that's more economical for lightly soiled plates and cutlery.
Glass and delicates: the more expensive models sometimes have a programme for glasses or delicates.
Half load option: this will wash small loads more economically.
Automatic programming: these are machines with built-in intelligence known as 'fuzzy logic' can adapt washing to deal with the type of load. It uses sensors to assess how dirty a load is and adjusts the programme of washing and time required.
Drying: all dishwasher cycles include a period of drying either using residual heat from the wash or via heated air sometimes circulated by fan. Heated air is quicker and more energy efficient.
Getting the best from your dishwasher
Stacking loads correctly
For optimum cleaning results, it's important to load your dishwasher in the right way. Stack smaller, less dirty items in the top tray as the spray is less extensive, and the more soiled pans at the bottom. Make sure that the dishwasher's neatly stacked so not to obscure certain items from cleaning and not precariously loaded to avoid breakages during the wash.
Items not designed for dishwashers
Some tableware and cookware may fade, cloud, rust or break in the dishwasher, so avoid loading:
Gold or silver-plated china
Cast iron pans
Cutlery with non-stainless steel handles
Care and maintenance
As well as dishwasher detergent, all machines need dishwasher salt to help soften the water and clean more effectively, and rinse aid to brighten and help dry the load. Most dishwashers will have some type of indicator to let you know when these need refilling. Remember to keep the filter clean of waste and run through dishwasher cleaner now and again to remove debris and limescale.
Dishwasher noise levels are measured in decibels (dB). The lower the dB, the quieter the appliance will be. For example, a dishwasher with a dB rating of 43 is quieter than a boiling kettle. This is an important consideration especially with today's open plan living.
Take Home Today
If you need your new dishwasher quicker than our standard delivery times, look out for selected items with the “Take Home Today” logo. These items are available in selected stores for same day collection. Simply contact the store to check that the item is in-stock and then collect.