How to Find the Best Dishwasher for Your Needs

Dishwasher inspection

Even if you don’t mind washing dishes by hand, it’s hard to deny the “set it and forget it” convenience that dishwashers offer. When you’ve served a large meal to a small army of guests or life is just too busy, being able to load up the machine to do the dish scrubbing, rinsing, and drying for you is a major relief.

Of course, if your home doesn’t have a dishwasher today, it’s up to you to find and install the perfect model, which can feel daunting based on the unbelievable number of options available. Today we’re taking a closer look at the things you need to consider to choose a great dishwasher that makes life easier.

Initial Things to Consider as You Start Dishwasher Shopping

If you’re in the market for a new dishwasher to replace an existing one that’s reached the end of its service life (which is typically about 10 years, on average), you probably already have a good idea of how your dishwasher fits into your family’s daily routines. But if you’re looking to install your first dishwasher, there are a few things you’ll want to think about before you begin comparing features and specs. The following three considerations are some of the biggest ones.

Capacity Needs

Dishwashers don’t come in a wide range of capacity options like some other appliances, but you will need to choose between 18” compact models and the more standard-sized 24” dishwashers.

The general guidelines for choosing the right size for your home and usage needs is based on how many place settings (plates, drinking glasses, and silverware per seat at the dinner table) each dishwasher holds. Compact dishwashers and so-called dishwasher or dish drawers will hold about 6 or 8 standard place settings, whereas 24″ dishwashers can fit 12 to 14 place settings when totally full.

Ask yourself how much dishware your family tends to use on a daily basis. Are there a lot of you eating meals at home? Standard-sized 24” dishwashers are typically a better choice for families with two or more people. However, even if it is just you and your dog, if you often entertain or enjoy cooking as a hobby, you may want to seriously consider the larger capacity.

Also, think about what kinds of dishes and utensils you own. Not everything is dishwasher safe (certain plastics and painted dishware, for instance), and if you tend to use a lot of disposable wares like paper plates and cups, you may not have the demand for a standard-sized dishwasher. Of course, many models now allow you to run half loads or just the top rack, so 24” models are still often the best choice for many people. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to stop in at a dedicated appliance showroom and ask the experts to help you decide!

Noise Concerns

Unlike some other appliances, such as washers and dryers, which can fit into very different areas of your home where noise may be less of an issue, dishwashers are almost always installed in your kitchen. This means that the noise level might be a major consideration depending on how you use your kitchen or how close it is to areas where your family gathers, watches TV, studies, or works at home.

Dishwasher manufacturers understand that consumers want whisper-quiet dishwashers, and many have prioritized making even budget machines much less noisy with each new model year. The best way to choose a sufficiently quiet dishwasher is to read online user reviews to check on whether manufacturer reports about sound levels tend to be true or not.

Price

As with most home appliances, dishwashers are available in a wide range of price points to meet different people’s budgets. “Entry level” machines are typically priced in the low to mid-hundreds, while top-of-the-line models can carry price tags at well over $1,000 at traditional retailers, even during sale periods. Considering scratch & dent inventory at reputable discount retailers like us here at K&A Appliance can help you get more features and premium performance options in your new dishwasher even if your budget is smaller.

Main Dishwasher Features and Things to Consider

As you begin to compare dishwasher models, you’ll see long lists of high-tech features that can be nice to have (more on those in a moment), but there are really just a few critical points to consider when it comes to assessing a dishwasher’s main capabilities.

Wash Cycles

Look for the four big ones, which will have slightly different names depending on the brands you’re considering, but are generally similar: Light/Express, Normal, Pots & Pans/Heavy, and Eco/Economy. Higher end dishwashers will often have an automatic wash cycle that can choose one of these main modes for you depending on how full the racks are or based on soil sensing technology.

Special Wash Cycles

If you wash a lot of specialty items like stemware (wine glasses, champagne flutes, etc.) or are concerned about killing bacteria with a sanitizing wash, premium dishwashers will have you covered with enhanced wash cycle options. Look for terminology like Glass or Stemware, Rinse, Quick Wash, Pots Scrub, and Sanitize Wash. The popular Bosch 300 Series dishwashers, for instance, have Half Load and Sanitize options in addition to four wash modes and an Auto setting.

Efficiency

Looking for the Energy Star label will point you to the most efficient dishwasher models on the market, but even non-qualified machines are much more efficient than dishwashers from a decade ago. If you’re replacing an older dishwasher, you may notice longer cycle times on newer models, however. While that may seem inconvenient, longer cycles actually produce cleaner dishes with less water. And newer machines don’t require you to scrape or rinse your dishes before loading, either, which also saves water.

Drying Performance

Consider how dry you want your dishes to be when you remove them from the machine. Many newer dishwashers do not use much additional heat to produce sufficiently dry dishes, but this means you may need to do a small amount of towel drying if you tend to put away dishes immediately after a cycle has completed – especially if you wash a lot of plastics. Again, reading user reviews and independent testing reports will give you a good idea of real-world performance.

Tub Material

Dishwashers typically feature two types of interiors – stainless steel and plastic. While a stainless tub is generally considered an “upgrade” that can affect price, it’s not something that really affects performance. You will want to look for models with stainless steel and/or plastic washing arms, however, as these do not rust over time.

Other Dishwasher Technology Features

The following features are generally considered extras, and while they can affect the overall price of a given dishwasher model, they’re less common on lower tier machines.

Soil sensors

Dishwashers with soil-sensing technology built in can determine how dirty the overall load is and adjust water and energy consumption accordingly. Expect to pay more for this feature upfront, but it may save you money in the long run on your water and/or power bills.

Adjustable Racks

Sometimes you want to wash very large items like mixing bowls or pizza pans that take up a lot of space on the bottom rack. An adjustable top rack will allow you to accommodate these items without getting in the way of an upper wash arm.

Wash Zones

Some models will allow you to run “half loads” or wash just the top rack of dishes at a time. This is accomplished using separate wash zones within the dishwasher, which include individual wash arms and up to three racks.

Filter

Dishwasher filters are designed to trap large food debris that can’t be sent down the drain. This prevents clogs, but some filters will need to be manually removed and cleaned every now and then. Some models have self-cleaning filters, which offer greater convenience.

Hidden Controls

While primarily a style preference, hidden controls, which are located along the top edge of the dishwasher’s door and can only be accessed when the door is open, can be helpful if you have curious young children at home or people tend to bump into your dishwasher’s control panel while working in the kitchen. Hidden controls can prevent the dishwasher from running accidental cycles.

Best Dishwasher Brands & Models We Sell

In the Lancaster, PA-area, you won’t find more dishwasher brands in a single showroom than we have here at K&A Appliance. Find a variety of the newest models from Bosch, GE, KitchenAid, Maytag, Whirlpool, and other top makers – all with original manufacturer warranties!

Save Up to 70% on Dishwashers at K&A Appliance

How can we offer all these great brands that aren’t available at all retailers? Part of the reason is that we only sell scratch & dent inventory. Manufacturers partner with us to help bring customers amazing deals on brand new appliances that can’t be sold in traditional retail outlets for a variety of reasons. Some of these have cosmetic blemishes, but most appear completely untouched!

Learn more by contacting us today, or just stop in and visit our friendly showrooms in Lancaster and Willow Street, PA!