When should I use a dishwasher?
This is ultimately a personal preference, but there are smart ways to use your dishwasher so you’re not wasting money or water.
Run your dishwasher when you have a full load — that means when the upper, middle, and lower racks are full. If you use a dishwasher when it barely has anything to clean, you can easily run up your water bills. This might mean waiting a day or two to accumulate enough dishes to run a load.
And if you have hard water, try to run the dishwasher early in the evening so you’re still awake to remove and dry dishes by hand and avoid hard water spots.
How do I load a dishwasher?
Yahoodain said that loading your dishwasher is specific to your machine and typically mapped out in the user manual, especially for machines that have specific wash zones or half-load options.
Generally, according to Brunskole, “It’s a good idea to position items at an angle to help with drainage, with the top rack commonly used for smaller items and larger on the bottom. For utensils, some dishwashers have an upper utensil rack or a silverware basket on the bottom. Whichever style you choose, review the manual before you get started to learn the best way to load your dishwasher.”
Most dishwashers have an upper spray arm that rotates to ensure jets of hot water spread evenly. But, if you pile pots and pans too high on the bottom rack, the spray arm may not be able to spin. To ensure the upper spray arm can do its job, reach in and give it a quick spin before starting the clean cycle to ensure it can move freely. If it gets caught on something, adjust the load.
Do you need to rinse dishes first?
Even though you might think you’re helping by rinsing off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, you could actually be making it less effective. This is because the sensors that some dishwashers use to determine how long a cycle should run and how much water to use can be fooled by pre-rinsed dishes. It assumes that the load is cleaner than it actually is and ends up running a lighter wash cycle.
What types of dishwashers are there?
- Built-In: These are the most common types of dishwashers. They are designed to be installed in a dedicated area under your kitchen counter and are connected to permanent plumbing hookups. They’re typically sandwiched on both sides by cabinetry or drawers, which muffle the noise of its operation.
- Portable: Unlike built-in models that are permanently installed, portable dishwashers are freestanding units that sit on wheels and can be moved around as you like. Since they don’t have any dedicated plumbing connections, they typically get their water supply by hooking directly to your kitchen faucet. The wheels allow you to roll them into a closet or storage area after use. Plus, since they’re not located underneath a counter, you can usually use their top as a kitchen workspace.
- Countertop: For those who are really tight on space, countertop dishwashers are even more convenient than portable options. They connect right to your kitchen faucet and use considerably less water than full-size dishwashers. They’re on the smaller side so they wouldn’t be a great choice for households that produce a lot of dirty dishes. We didn’t feature any countertop models in this guide, but I look forward to testing them in the future.
What sizes of dishwashers are there?
Safaradi said, “Dishwasher dimensions are standard: 23 ¾ inches wide by 33 ⅝ inches high by 24 ⅝ inches deep, except for handicapped-enabled (ADA-compliant) units which are 24 inches wide by 34 ½ inches high by 24 inches deep.” Compact-sized dishwashers tend to be about 18 inches wide.
Even though portable versions are freestanding and don’t need to fit into an opening, you still want to get a good idea of how they’ll fit in your kitchen. These dishwashers run about 24 inches wide, 27 inches deep, and 37 inches high (a bit taller than the rest due to their rolling casters).
How long should a dishwasher last?
“On average, you can expect a dishwasher to last you about 10 years with potential maintenance in between,” Yahoodain said. Gurfinkel’s caveat to that is how you use them, so make sure to follow the manufacture’s guidelines for optimal operation. One thing our experts stressed was the durability of stainless steel tubs over plastic, so that can be a large factor in the lifespan of your dishwasher.
Is a front or top-mounted control panel better?
Most dishwashers offer the option of having the control panel located either on the front of the unit or on the top of the door, which is hidden from view when the door is closed. This is really just a matter of personal preference as some people like the minimal look of the top-mounted design, and it also prevents curious kids from pressing buttons at random. I personally prefer the convenience of the front-facing panel since I can always tell how much time is remaining on the cycle just by glancing at the unit. Top-mounted units will sometimes direct a red light on the floor to indicate that it’s not finished yet, but that’s not enough information for me.
What certifications should I look for?
One of the ways to effectively clean and sanitize dishes is to use a dishwasher with a NSF/ANSI 184: Residential Dishwashers certification.
Brunskole said, “The certified sanitizing cycle on your dishwasher means it has been tested to reduce 99.999% (5-log) of bacteria. Cleaning is removing visible soil from a surface whereas sanitizing is reducing the bacteria on a surface. It is not always necessary to sanitize dishes; however, it is important to choose this cycle on your dishwasher when you have raw meat juice, for example on a cutting board, that you put in the dishwasher to clean.”
All of our top picks are NSF-certified, except for the Miele 24″ G 7566, though it uses water temperatures that meet NSF guidelines to sanitize dishes.
Yahoodain also recommended prospective shoppers look for dishwashers with a certified Energy Star rating which means the unit is more efficient than ones that meet just the federal minimum standard for energy efficiency. All of the options I chose are Energy Star certified.
Depending on where you live, you might qualify for certain rebates to cut costs and energy use, said Yahoodain.