Make Dinner Clean-up Easy: What to Look for When Buying a Dishwasher

No More Washing by Hand

Modern dishwashers have come a long way from Josephine Cochrane's original 1886 model, which she invented because she was unhappy with the way her servants chipped her fine china as they hand-washed it. As with any major appliance, including laundry equipment and water softeners, there are a multitude of factors to consider when you are shopping for a dishwasher. Budget is a top consideration, as dishwasher prices range considerably and the available choices can be overwhelming. Let's take a closer look to help you with your search for the best dishwasher.

Types of Dishwashers

Most conventional residential dishwashers are installed under a countertop and connected to a hot water pipe, electrical outlet and drain. If kitchen space is tight, you may want to consider a compact dishwasher such as a countertop dishwasher, which takes up less space but has a smaller capacity than a conventional model. Another option is a portable dishwasher, which is also compact and rolled to the sink when needed. Drawer-type dishwashers offer more flexibility, as the drawers can be used individually or simultaneously.

Dishwasher Features

Research indicates that an expensive dishwasher doesn't usually produce cleaner dishes than a cheap dishwasher. The difference in pricing is more a matter of fancy features, and, to a lesser extent, operational noise levels. More expensive models offer options like adjustable racks, dirt sensors, multiple cycle options, stainless steel tubs and hidden touchpad controls. Energy-efficient dishwashers can save you a significant amount of money over the life of the appliance, so be sure to check the energy rating on each model you consider.

But the number of features isn't the only aspect to consider when you're shopping for a dishwasher. In fact, the first element to look into is the capacity: a machine that's too big will waste an enormous amount of water, and one that's too small will waste time. You'll need to figure out how many place sittings (and utensils and pots and other kitchen tools) you use at each meal and find a model that is built to accommodate at least that many pieces. If you're working with a limited amount of kitchen space, look for a model that boasts a taller tub in a regular sized shell. These versions will have smaller working components, but they should still be powerful enough to handle a full load of dishes.

Best Dishwasher Brands

There are many excellent manufacturers of dishwashers. Several notable dishwasher brands are:

  • Bosch. The Bosch dishwasher is highly rated by reviewers and respected for its quiet operation. Bosch dishwashers are also known for their energy efficiency.
  • GE. GE dishwashers are known for their inventive features. GE has four lines of dishwashers which adapt to almost any budget, ranging in price from about $250 to $1,400.
  • Kenmore. Kenmore dishwashers are among the best-selling brands in the U.S. Known for dependability, the company recently introduced several new features, including hidden controls and top-rack-only washing.
  • KitchenAid. KitchenAid dishwashers are positioned among the high-end brands, and are respected for their effective cleaning performance and quiet operation.
  • Maytag. The Maytag dishwasher is known for its durability. This brand is owned by Whirlpool and introduced a steam model last year.
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