This week we’re talking about dishwashers. We’ll cover some of the newest and most popular options that you’ll have to choose from when selecting a new dishwasher. Since most of our homes already had a dishwasher installed when we bought them, many of us have never had to shop for a dishwasher. I’m hoping these 12 quick tips will help you narrow your choices.
Before we get to that, shouts out go to Jamie and Ankur for their 5 star ratings and reviews. Thank you both for taking the time to let me know that you like the podcast. Ankur lives in Australia and says “Your podcast is simply awesome and just what an aspiring home builder needs.” Jamie, who’s here in the US, and is actually in the construction industry says, in part, “My new home will certainly be better because of your help and tips. Thanks.”
I want thank you both for those kind words and I also want to thank all of you who sent me encouraging emails and offers to help with my house plan after hearing last week’s episode. I cannot even express how much comfort and support I felt. You’re the best.
I appreciate so much.
Alright, ready to get into our 12 dishwasher quick tips?
1. Choose an Energy Star Dishwasher.
On average, Energy Star dishwashers are 12% more energy efficient and 30% more water efficient than standard dishwashers. This could potentially save you hundreds of dollars over the life of the appliance.
2. Consider dishwasher drawers, especially if it takes you a while to accumulate enough dirty dishes to fill a conventional dishwasher.
Dishwasher drawers are about half the size of a conventional dishwasher, so you can completely fill the dishwasher drawer in about half the time that it takes to fill a regular dishwasher.
Most people buy 2 dishwasher drawers and stack them one on top of the other. You can use them simultaneously or separately. The other option is to separate the 2 drawers and put one drawer on each side of the kitchen sink. Putting the dishwasher drawers on each side of the sink is more ergonomic since you can load and unload the dishwasher without having to bend over as far as you would with a conventional dishwasher.
The downside of dishwasher drawers are that 2 of them are typically are more expensive than a single dishwasher unit. And in testing done by Consumer Reports, drawers didn’t perform quite as well as conventional dishwashers.
3. Look for a Rinse and Hold cycle if you don’t want dishwasher drawers, but it takes your household a while to completely fill the dishwasher.
The rinse and hold cycle does exactly that. It rinses dirty dishes and holds them in the dishwasher until you’re ready to run a full wash cycle. This keeps food from hardening on dishes while you wait until the dishwasher is full enough to run a full load.
4. Select a model with a third rack in the upper part of the dishwasher.
That rack let’s you lay silverware and cooking utensils flat. This is a great use of space within the dishwasher and allows extra long or oddly shaped utensils to be easily loaded and cleaned.
5. Go for models with adjustable racks and tines (keep reading if you don't know what a tine is).
Dishwasher tines are the prongs that stick up in your dishwasher to hold dishes in place. Look for models with tines that can fold down flat to allow you to easily place wine glasses and large platters and pans in the dishwasher. Adjustable racks that will move up or down will also help you accommodate large and oddly shaped dishes.
6. Invest in a dishwasher with a soil sensor, if you have it in your budget.
You’ll probably have to pay $500 or more for a dishwasher with a soil sensor, but you won’t have to do any pre-rinsing before loading dishes. Just scrape large pieces of food off of your dinnerware and place it right in the dishwasher.
In fact, pre-rinsing dishes before placing them in a dishwasher with a soil sensor can even make your dishes come out dirtier. Here’s why…the soil sensor accesses how dirty the water is after the dishes go through the initial rinse cycle. The sensor then adjusts the amount of time and water needed to properly clean that load of dishes. If you pre-rinse the dishes, the soil sensor will think your dishes need only a light washing.
7. Choose a model with different Wash Zones, especially if you often put heavily soiled cookware or platters in the dishwasher.
A certain area of the dishwasher will be designated for heavily soiled items needing a special cycle. Consumer reports testing found that these specialized wash zones clean as promised.
8. Decide whether you want a dishwasher with a self-cleaning or a manual filter.
To remove food from the dishwasher water, many dishwashers have a filter. This keeps food from being re-deposited on clean dishes. There are two types of filters: self-cleaning and manual.
Self-cleaning filters grind up food debris and wash it down the drain, so you won’t need to regularly clean the filter. The downside is that a self-cleaning filter is noisy, since that grinders is almost like a mini garbage disposal. If you want a super quiet dishwasher, you’ll probably want the second type of filter— a manual filter.
A manual filter doesn’t have grinder, so it’s quieter, but you’ll need to clean the filter periodically to avoid smelly food odors. From what I’ve read online, you only need to clean the filter every few months. Some folks say they only clean it once a year. And cleaning the filter takes no more than a couple of minutes and apparently it’s pretty easy since most of the time there’s almost nothing in the filter.
9. Choose a Stainless Steel Interior Tub for greater stain resistance.
You’ll find stainless steel interiors in mid-range to higher-end models. Stainless steel tends to resist staining better than light-colored plastic tubs. To help camouflage stains, some newer models now have gray-speckled plastic tubs or combination stainless and plastic tubs, which are little more budget friendly than dishwashers with all stainless steel tubs. If staining won’t bother you, go for the standard, economical plastic tub which, Consumer Reports says, should “last longer than most people keep a dishwasher”.
10. Choose a model with Hidden Dishwasher Controls, only if that's the style you prefer.
Where the controls are won't effect function. Controls that run along the top edge of the dishwasher door are hidden when the door is closed. This is a good option for people who want to put cabinet fronts on their dishwasher, or for folks who like very clean lines and surfaces.
The downside is that you won’t be able to see where the dishwasher is in the wash cycle. Partially hidden controls are a good compromise. You’ll know when the machine is on and running and, some partially hidden controls will tell you the time remaining in the wash cycle.
11. Pay a little more for a Heat Dry option if you don’t want to wait several hours for your freshly washed dishes to dry.
Lower end dishwashers take hours to dry dishes because they rely on simple drainage and the residual heat in the tub. More expensive models heat the water of the final rinse cycle to extra hot temperatures so that the water will heat up the stainless tub for quicker drying of dishes. Alternatively, a heating element, with or without a circulating fan, is added to the dishwasher. Beware though, a heat dry cycle increases convenience, but also uses more energy.
12. Choose a quiet dishwasher.
Today’s quiet dishwasher models range from 40-45 decibels, which will be slightly noticeable. But the noise won’t force anyone to talk louder.
Quieter models may cost a few hundred dollars more than standard dishwashers, but for most of us, it’s money well spent, especially if your kitchen is open to other living areas or if you and your family and guests spend a lot of time in and around the kitchen.
Ultra quiet dishwashers have noise levels at 39 decibels or less. I'm planning on getting the quietest dishwasher I can afford.
According to Consumer Reports, many modestly priced dishwashers (those costing $600 or less) perform fairly well— some of them cleaning nearly as well as premium-priced dishwashers. But modestly priced models won’t have many of the convenience options that you’ll find in higher end models.
Well, those are my 12 dishwasher buying guide quick tips. I hope they’ll help you when it’s time to go shopping. Don’t forget to check the red tag/clearance and scratch and dent areas of your appliance store. You may be able to get a dishwasher with all the bells and whistles at a greatly discounted price.
If you haven’t already, make sure you subscribe to the show so new episodes will automatically be downloaded to your device, and you won’t have to try to remember the name of the show or the day it comes out.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete, it’s subject to change and it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.