With smart features and streamlined looks, today’s dishwashers ensure your kitchen clean-up zone is stylish and practical. Here’s what to look for when you’re shopping for a new model
Most dishwashers fit into a 24-inch-wide space under the kitchen countertop, but the interior options can vary greatly by price. Budget-priced models clean dishes well but offer fewer options, such as flexible loading features, and tend to be noisier than upscale models. New dishwashers use less water and energy and many include a range of special wash features to allow you to customize your settings for specific needs. The three basic settings— light, normal, and heavy (pots and pans)—should be enough for most chores, however. To minimize noise, look for models with extra insulation, cushioned tubs, and special motors that keep water and mechanical noise to a minimum. Cabinet panels (available as kits from most dishwasher manufacturers) can disguise the dishwasher and provide a seamless look. Consider whether you want electronic controls integrated into the top edge of the door to further streamline the look, or front-facing control panels that allow you to see that the machine is running and where it is in the cycle. Dishwasher drawers offer an alternative to traditional dishwashers. Typically, these feature two stacked drawers that can be used together or individually. Their pullout drawers make loading and unloading easy, and they efficiently handle small loads. They can be a good choice for small households, or as an extra dishwasher for larger households. They are typically more expensive than standard-size dishwashers. With
• Adjustable racks and fold-down tines let you configure the interior for specific items. Cutlery baskets and racks help keep silverware from nesting, allowing thorough cleaning and preventing damage.
• A built-in disposer breaks up and traps large food particles to keep water clean and eliminates the need to prerinse. Some models have a filter without a grinder—a quieter option but one that requires periodic cleaning (usually every few weeks).
• Delayed start lets you wash when it’s most convenient.
• Electronic countdown displays let you know how much time is left in the wash cycle.
• Electronic touch pads are easy to clean. Some are hidden along the top of the door for a seamless look.
• Internal water heaters boost the water temperature to 140 degrees F or higher, so you can leave your whole house water heater set at 120 degrees F.
• No-heat drying saves energy. But keep in mind that it also takes a bit longer to dry dishes.
• A rinse/hold cycle lets you rinse dirty dishes before you’re ready to start a full cycle—reducing odors and preventing soil from setting while you accumulate enough dishes for a full load.
• Sensors detect the amount of soil in the water and adjust water-use and cycle length time accordingly.
• Stainless-steel interiors look stylish and don’t discolor the way plastic ones can.