October 12, 2018 | Dishwashers

What to Look for When Buying a Dishwasher

What to Look for When Buying a Dishwasher (2)

Dishwashers always make a wonderful addition to a kitchen. Not only do they take away the chore of having to handwash dishes, but they also provide you more highly sanitized dishes and a lower water bill. Seems like a win-win, right?

Don’t be fooled, however. Not all dishwashers provide the same level of service. Some offer a basic cleaning while others provide a high-level service that will make you wonder why it took you so long to purchase the dishwasher in the first place. Of course, the frills do come at a price.

When shopping for a new dishwasher, you want to take into consideration the types of dishwashers available, the features that are offered and have an understanding of the racks and washing cycles.

Types of Dishwashers

Most dishwashers come in two sizes of capacity: standard or compact. Standard is typically 24-inches and is normally what you would find in a family home. For smaller kitchens, an 18-inch compact dishwasher is usually the best fit. Standard size dishwashers can clean 10 to 12 place settings, while compact dishwashers have the ability to clean up to 9 place settings.

Then, of course, there is the choice between built-in, portable, drawer or countertop types.

  • Built-in dishwasher. Most dishwashers you see in homes would be considered built-in. They fit the flow of a kitchen much like a range would – secured under the countertop and flush with the cabinets.
  • Portable dishwasher. This type of dishwasher is just as it sounds – portable. It is not permanently attached to any plumbing and works with a simple faucet connection. It can roll into and out of your kitchen with ease, and can be handy for those with a small kitchen – but you have to consider the storage factor.
  • Drawer dishwasher. Also called “dish drawers,” these dishwashers are also installed into the kitchen. They offer a great amount of space, energy efficiency, and water conservation. They look great and have a lot of high-end features. Of course, they are also the most expensive type of dishwasher on the market.
  • Countertop dishwasher. For smaller families or those with counter space to spare, a countertop dishwasher could be an ideal choice. They don’t offer a very large capacity, but they do provide you a simple way to get clean dishes – without giving up cabinet space.

The Basics

Just as with any appliance purchase, there are a few things that you need to learn before you run out and make your purchase.

Yes, as discussed above, dishwashers typically fall into the category of 24in or 18in units, but that does not mean you shouldn’t measure. While the height for the dishwashers is often a perfect fit to slide right under the countertop, it is not a guarantee. Remodels that have added additional flooring, uniquely-designed cabinetry, and other such situations could cause the measurements to be off – resulting in a dishwasher that won’t fit. So, be sure you measure carefully to ensure that you have the right amount of space for the type of dishwasher you desire.

Another thing you will have to consider is your dishes. Most people use a standard-sized set of dishes, but others commonly use oversized dishes. Not all dishwashers are capable of handling the oversized dishes, so you’ll want to be sure you choose one that does.

Finally, keep in mind that although dishwashers come in a variety of colors and finishes, this is an appliance you are adding to an already built kitchen. You will want to match the dishwasher with your other appliances to maintain a coordinated look.

Know Your Features

Features are no small thing when it comes to dishwashers, so you will have to make some choices. Here are a few of the most popular dishwasher features:

  • Top ControlsTop-control dishwashers offer a convenient array of control options on the top of the door, making it easier than ever to configure your wash.
  • Add a dish –This option means that when you come across that straggler of a glass, you can just pop it in the dishwasher at any time.
  • Light wash. This is a wash option that can be used for fragile items, like wine glasses.
  • Delay start. If you need to start your dishwasher at a later time, such as once you leave the kitchen or house, you can load it up and get it ready to go, and then use the delayed start option.
  • Plate warmer. If you love serving your meal on a warm plate, then you can use your dishwasher to warm them before you are ready to plate the entrée.
  • Pots and pans wash. This wash option is for those bigger, sturdier items that require more power to clean.


Dishwasher racks vary in both design and size. Most commonly, dishwashers have two racks. However, there is the possibility of the third rack. This is usually just to accommodate large cooking utensils and silverware.

One great feature to look out for is an adjustable upper rack. Sometimes the big items you have to wash far outweigh the small ones. When you need more space, this adjustable rack drops down and provides you that extra space. In addition to the adjustable racks, you will find that some dishwashers also offer removable racks – which come in handy when you need to wash those odd-shaped or oversized items.

Mistakes to Avoid

Purchasing a dishwasher can be a rather large investment. It is something that you will want to do your research on, to avoid novice mistakes – like these:

  • Buying on impulse. Know what you are looking for before you go. This reduces your chances of impulse spending and ending up with something you don’t like.
  • Falling for the “bargain.” Select the features that are important – and know which ones you don’t want. Don’t get fooled into buying something that doesn’t have the features you want the most just because of a sale, for instance.
  • Not spending extra for an energy efficient model. They may be more costly in the beginning, but if you plan to use your dishwasher often, you will save money in the long run.

If you are ready to get rid of your dishpan hands, then it is time to get yourself a dishwasher. Hopefully, with a few smart buying techniques, you will find the perfect dishwasher for your kitchen.