Dishwasher Buying Guide
When looking for a new dishwasher, there are numerous factors to consider before making a purchase. We cover some of the more general ones, such as cost, delivery, manufacturer’s warranty etc., in our overview.
Below is a list of some of the other factors you may want to consider (which relate more specifically to dishwashers).
To read more, click on the headings below to expand each section.
Dishwasher Type & Sizes
The first thing you’ll need to decide on is what type of dishwasher you want. This will largely depend on the capacity you think you’ll need (see also the next point ‘Capacity’ below) and how much space you have available. You’ll then need to decide whether you want your appliance to be built into your kitchen units or freestanding.
Below are the main dishwasher types and their approximate dimensions (you can click on each one to see our reviews of that particular dishwasher type). Please note, dimensions do vary from machine to machine, although not by a huge amount.
A freestanding dishwasher is one of the more common types, so it makes it that much easier to find one that fits within your budget. A freestanding dishwasher is not built into your kitchen, so you can take it with you when you move. They are also easier to pull out when maintenance is needed. The downside? They don’t blend into your kitchen cabinetry.
An integrated dishwasher is designed to be built into the kitchen. The front panel of the dishwasher is hidden behind the door or on top of the door. This means that you can’t see how much time is left or what program is being used. It allows for a more streamlined look for the kitchen, but an integrated dishwasher is more expensive than freestanding models.
A semi-integrated dishwasher has the control panel on the outside and typically has the same finish on its outer panel as the surrounding cabinets.
If you don’t have the room to fit a standard 60 cm dishwasher, then you will want to find a freestanding slimline dishwasher that is smaller and more compact.
When you choose an integrated dishwasher, you can really only tell that it is a dishwasher when it is open because it is designed to blend in with your kitchen cabinetry. A slimline integrated dishwasher is one that is built-in and more compact, saving even more space.
If you really lack space in your kitchen and only have some countertop space available, then a table top dishwasher may be the ideal solution for you. It is also known as a countertop dishwasher; they are small, compact, and can fit neatly on your countertop, freeing up space elsewhere. They are also considered a more portable dishwasher that you can take with you when needed.
Dishwasher capacity is measured by the number of place settings a machine can hold. Standard sized machines will typically hold 12/13 place settings though some can manage as many as 15. Slimline models will normally hold 9 or 10 place settings. Compact or tabletop models will normally only hold six place settings.
As a general rule, a single person or couple would most likely find a compact model to be adequate, although these can be of limited use if you have many pots and pans. A couple or a small family should find a slimline model that would be more than adequate for their needs.
(I have three kids and get by just fine with a slimline model with some careful stacking). In turn, any larger family should find a standard-sized machine to be practical.
The number of programmes a dishwasher has can vary quite a bit from model to model. The average is probably about five programmes although some machines offer as many as 12. The main programmes you’ll encounter as are as follows
A pre-wash or pre-rinse cycle rinses the dishes before the main wash begins. This can be great if you tend to stick your plates straight into the machine with leftover food/sauce residue etc., still attached (don’t forget to empty the filter regularly though or this could soon become blocked).
Main Wash Programme
Pretty much all machines will offer a standard programme for normal daily use. This will ordinarily wash at about 65° and should be just fine for all your needs as long as the items aren’t very heavily soiled or have hard-to-shift residue such as lasagne or pie dishes.
An intensive cycle washes at about 70° and is designed to tackle the kind of burnt-on food waste that a regular wash just won’t shift. This uses more energy than the main wash, so it should only be used if needed.
A quick wash programme is designed to wash a small, lightly soiled load quickly, normally in 30-60 minutes. This could be handy if you have guests for dinner and might need to use plates/bowls etc., more than once.
Many models offer an eco programme as an environmentally-friendly alternative to the main wash programme. These programmes use lower temperatures and less water but take longer to complete, which is fine if you’re not in a hurry.
Higher-end machines often offer a glassware wash which washes at a lower temperature (35-45°) and is designed to minimise any possible harm to delicate items, including the ‘clouding’ effect you’ll sometimes notice when your glasses have been through the dishwasher many times.
Automatic / Sensor Wash
Some dishwashers offer an automatic programme that can analyse and quantify the amount of waste on your dishes and then set the temperature and water volume accordingly.
A half load option can be attractive if you only have a small amount of washing to do but don’t want to wait till you have a full load (as this will use less energy and water). Some machines specify an area of the machine to use, whereas others allow you to choose the most convenient area.
Ease of Use
As a general rule, dishwashers tend to be pretty easy to use, although obviously, some are easier than others. As part of each review, we allocate a score for ease of use, so this should give you a pretty good indication in each case. As the number of programmes is normally limited to 5 or 6, you’re not confronted with an overwhelming number of options which helps.
Most models feature a few buttons or a dial and buttons (like the Bosch model shown opposite), which can be used to select the desired programme and temperature.
Chances are you may have to at least glance at the instructions to work out what’s what, but some machines are so simple you may not even have to do that. I personally have a Beko and, to be honest, don’t think I ever looked at the instructions – it’s that easy to figure out.
If ever we encounter a machine that we, or previous buyers, found to be overly complex or tricky to use, we’ll always try to make a point of that in the review and reflect this in the ‘Ease of Use’ score. On the whole, though, this isn’t the case. In addition to programming the machine, you’ll also need to add salt and maybe rinse aid, but these procedures are generally very straightforward.
As part of each review, we post a rating for ‘performance’ to give you an idea of what you can expect from each machine. As we tend to focus our attention on the best-selling and top-rated machines on the market, the vast majority of these do their job very well indeed.
We take into account our personal opinions and feedback from previous buyers to reach a verdict as to the results you can expect on an ongoing basis.
Overall, you should expect pretty good results from all these machines. Bear in mind that you need to use the right programme for the job – it’s no good putting a lasagne tray that looks like the pasta has been fused to it by some kind of nuclear reaction in a low-temperature cycle and expecting it to come out clean.
Also, there are other (avoidable) factors that can negatively impact performance, so you need to bear these in mind, too, namely
- Not regularly emptying the filter (yes, there is a filter, and yes, it does need emptying).
- Stacking the dishes/pans etc., badly so water can’t circulate freely around them.
- Using poor quality dishwasher tabs/powder.
Unless you happen to be very good at keeping your dishwasher clean, we recommend periodically using a product like Finish Dishwasher Cleaner (yes, sorry, more stuff that costs money) as it does help to keep results optimal.
Every dishwasher is issued with an Energy Efficiency Rating to let you know how efficient, and therefore how eco-friendly it is. Ratings vary from A+++, A++, A+, A, B, C to D (with A+++ being the most efficient and D the least). The more efficient your dishwasher is, the less energy it will consume, and in turn, the lower your electricity bills will be, so this is worth paying attention to.
To give you an idea of the possible difference, a machine rated A+++ will be approximately 30% more efficient than one rated A, so that would equate to a 30% saving on the appliance’s annual running cost (not to be sniffed at).
However, it will come as no surprise that this increased efficiency comes at a price, and the most efficient machines on the market do tend to be more expensive. You just have to weigh the additional upfront cost of buying a more efficient appliance against the potential savings on the unit’s annual running cost.
If you need to pay an extra £100 to get the model you want, and the likely saving will be £10 a year, it will be 10 years before you break even – which wouldn’t really make sense from a purely financial point of view (but may well do from an ethical viewpoint).
If you have an open plan kitchen/living area, or if your kitchen also doubles as a dining room, your dishwasher’s noise level could be a serious concern. It’s no fun trying to watch TV when you have a noisy appliance making a racket just a few feet away.
The good news is that dishwashers generally aren’t that loud – not nearly as load as washing machines, for example, as there is no spin cycle. That said, they do still make some noise, so if this is an issue for you, it’s well worth checking any machine’s noise level before you buy it.
To give you a general idea, the average noise level of a dishwasher is about 58dB, which is the normal conversation level and should be fine for most living situations. The quietest dishwasher you’re likely to find will probably be a little over 40dB, which is the equivalent of a whisper, so if this is a high priority for you, try to seek out models at this kind of level.
If you’re buying an integrated dishwasher, you probably won’t care too much what it looks like as it will be neatly hidden behind a kitchen fascia panel. However, if you’re buying a freestanding model, you’ll most likely want to make sure that the unit looks good and will fit with the look of your kitchen.
In the past, buying appliances was much like buying a card from Henry Ford at the turn of the 20th Century “You can have any colour you like as long as it’s black” or white in the case of appliances!
However, manufacturers have wised up to the fact that people sometimes like colours other than white, and you’ll find plenty of black, silver, grey and even stainless steel (like this rather fancy Siemens) models on the market now.
Controls & Display
Dishwashers tend to have their controls on either the top edge of the door, like the integrated model shown above or on the front. With just a couple of clicks, you should be able to programme the machine and start it running. Most machines will also have LED indicator lights telling you if you need to top up either the salt or rinse aid reservoirs.
Some also have an LED display with a clock timer visible on the front of the machine, like the model shown on the left. This is certainly a feature we would recommend if your budget permits as it can be very handy to know, for example, how long a programme has left to run if you’re waiting to use the clean dishes.
Some newer machines also feature touch screen displays which look neat but aren’t really a huge leap forward functionality-wise.
Flexible Interior Layout
When you buy a new dishwasher, one feature you really should look out for is racking that is adjustable to allow various layouts to be achieved. Many machines offer this, and it does come in handy, for example, when you have large pots and pans to wash rather than plates, bowls etc.
Where adjustable racking is available, you’ll often be able to configure the baskets in a variety of ways to allow for these larger items. A removable cutlery basket or cutlery tray can also be handy to free up more space.
In addition to this, you’ll also find many premium dishwashers that offer an ‘adjustable height’ top basket. This is normally a very simple procedure that will allow you, for example, to fit taller items in the bottom basket if necessary.
The drying cycle of a dishwasher typically works in just one of two ways: heat drying and condensation drying. The type of drying cycle your new dishwasher has will depend on the dishwasher model you choose.
When you have a heat drying cycle, the dishes are dried with forced hot air. The moisture from the dishwasher is turned into steam. The small fans then push that steam through exhaust vents. With condensation drying, the dishes are rinsed with hot water at the end of the cleaning cycle.
When shopping for your new dishwasher, the price will also be a factor in the decision-making process.
Lower Price Range
Dishwashers in the lower price range aren’t always going to be the top performers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something affordable that is still good at cleaning your dishes and drying them. Even some of the lower-priced models now come equipped with a soil sensor. This soil sensor can adjust each cycle’s time and the water used according to the soil level of the dishes. This can help improve efficiency.
However, at this price point, also keep in mind that you may only find the more basic features, and adjustable racks may not be one of them. You may also find that dishwashers at the lower end of the price spectrum may also be noisier than the more expensive options.
For a quieter dishwasher and one that is good at cleaning performance, you can look at the mid-range price. You will be spending a bit more but will have access to more features like adjustable racks and even flexible slots for flatware. Some also have a stainless steel tub that is much more stain-resistant than a plastic tub.
Higher Price Range
When you spend more money, you will have access to even more premium features, and they tend to be more fully loaded. You can often find more innovative features such as special wash zones for your heavily soiled items and even WiFi connectivity, so you can control and manage your dishwasher from your smartphone.
Another consideration to keep in mind when shopping for the right dishwasher is the brand.
A Beko dishwasher may come with a more manageable price tag in many cases. They also offer some of the quietest dishwashers currently available on the market today. Beko dishwashers have a lower decibel level and can be found as low as 39 dBA. However, most of the Beko models are between 45 and 59 dBA. This is the same noise level as a refrigerator.
Beko dishwashers also have a simple and clean design that can easily integrate into any kitchen. You will find several variations to choose from, including black, white, and stainless steel.
A Bosch dishwasher is also an affordable dishwasher model and has lower noise levels of around 44dBA and lower. They have a very unobtrusive design, and many of them come in stainless steel, black, and white. Some can even accept custom panels. The average life expectancy of a Bosch dishwasher when properly maintained is about 10 years.
Candy brand dishwashers offer incredible value and great products. They are a parent company of Haier. Candy dishwashers allow you to efficiently wash, degrease, and sanitise your dishes in a short time while maximising their overall energy efficiency.
Indesit is a brand offering various dishwasher designs and sizes to suit any household size and kitchen space. Some models are even capable of washing your dishes in just 30 minutes. You can also choose from different place setting capacities, including 10, 12 and up to 14. All of their dishwashers have an energy class rating of A or higher.
Hotpoint is known for its long, lasting stainless steel interiors and three-stage water filtration systems that allow for more effective and hygienic cleaning. This brand offers affordable, dependable, low-cost appliances that are reliable and long-lasting.
When looking at brand ratings, you may find that Hoover has a better brand rating when compared to Beko. They offer high-quality dishwashers in different sizes and designs with features you are sure to love, such as different automatic programmes and even WiFi connectivity.
This is just a small sampling of the best dishwasher brands you can choose from. When narrowing down your options, consider what type of dishes you will need to load into your new dishwasher and find one that meets your specific household needs.
Dishwasher Buying Guide FAQ
Here are the answers to some of the more commonly asked questions when it comes to finding the best dishwasher for your home.
How much should I spend on a dishwasher?
How much you spend really depends on your budget and what kind of dishwasher and features you want. You can find a bargain dishwasher for less than £200, but the more you spend, the more features and programmes you will have. The best dishwashers based on price can usually be found between the £400 and £599 range.
What dishwasher stacking options should I look out for?
It is always a plus to look for a dishwasher with different stacking options. Adjustable or extra racks or loading racks are good to have. Racks that can move up and down and have adjustable tines allow you to reconfigure your dishwasher’s interior so you can fit more.
Where is the best place to buy a dishwasher?
The best place to buy a dishwasher is from a reputable store. Appliances Connection and Amazon are two retailers to consider as you journey to find the best dishwasher for your space.
Do dishwashers need to be serviced?
A dishwasher is a relatively low maintenance appliance and typically only need service when there is something wrong. The best thing you can do for your dishwasher is to keep it clean. Inspect the hoses and drains on occasion and keep them clean and free from clogs.
What is the average life of a dishwasher?
The average life of a dishwasher is between six and 10 years. However, some major components may break over time, such as the motor or pump, requiring a repair.
Is it better to use a dishwasher or wash it by hand?
When you wash dishes by hand, there is a chance that you will have much higher water consumption than if you were to use a dishwasher. A dishwasher is going to prove to be a more environmentally friendly option for this reason.
What brand of dishwasher is the most reliable?
A Bosch dishwasher is proven to be one of the more reliable dishwasher brands to choose from because it has spacious racks and is easy to load. Bosch is also known for having an exceptional customer service record. However, other dishwasher brands have also proven reliable, including Miele and Whirlpool.