Need to know
- A modern dishwasher uses far less water and energy than handwashing, and can save you money and time
- Features such as anti-flood devices, child-proof locks and specific wash programs can seperate good dishwashers from bad
- Price isn’t always an indicator of performance – some budget brands perform well in our tests, while there are models costing $1500–$2000 that we don't recommend
No-one really loves doing the dishes, right? The great news is that a modern dishwasher uses far less water and energy than washing dishes by hand, particularly if you run full loads.
So, if you hate unsightly dishes piled high in the sink and can think of better things to do than get elbow-deep in dirty dishwater, a good dishwasher is a great investment.
Buying the right model can make a huge difference. There are several different dishwasher types or configurations available depending on your needs – such as freestanding, built-in, integrated, semi-integrated – and lots of different features on offer.
However, models and brands do vary when it comes to washing and drying performance, as well as energy efficiency and extra features.
What our experts say
Our dishwasher expert, Ashley Iredale, has great advice if you're in the market for a new dishwasher. "A lack of some sort of anti-flood system is a dealbreaker for me," he says. "Most of us never turn the water to the dishwasher off, so there is always the potential you could spring a leak and flood your home when you're out and about. This feature means the machine includes a float valve in the sump which shuts off the water if it leaks, and it can save you a lot of hassle."
A lack of some sort of anti-flood system is a dealbreakerDishwasher expert, Ashley Iredale
You should also look at the energy and water star ratings which will give you a general idea of how well your dishwasher performs. And Ash says that you can generally take the manufacturer's information about how many place settings certain models can fit with a grain of salt: "We've found that even if a machine says it is designed to fit 12–15 place settings, it's rarely the case," he says. "When you consider all the pots, pans, salad spoons and non-standard sized plates we all use, it's unlikely you'll realise your dishwasher's full 'place-setting' capacity.
Rather than look for a 'big' dishwasher, it's better to look for a model that fits your crockery," says Ash. "Don't be afraid to take a sample plate and glass along from home to 'try it on' when you go shopping for a dishwasher."
Here are few full-sized dishwashers that failed to impress our experts and ones you should definitely steer clear of.
- Price: $969
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 62%
- Washing score: 71%
- Drying score: 34%
While this model is cheap to run, it received a very poor drying score, which reflects how dry the dishes are 30 minutes after the normal cycle finishes. Ash says: "Dishwashers dry by building up a heat load in your crockery so the water will evaporate, so while wet dishes at the end of the cycle are annoying, it can be mitigated to an extent by selecting a higher temperature program if you can. With that comes more energy consumption, though, which means higher running costs." This model also does not have any child-lock controls or special program for delicate glassware.
- Price: $899
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 62%
- Washing score: 64%
- Drying score: 48%
This model is low on price, but also low on features, with no anti-flood hose, child lock controls and no delay start feature or delicate/glassware program. It also scored a poor 48% on drying performance – who wants to have to dry wet dishes before you have to put them back in the cupboard?
- Price: $769
- CHOICE Expert Rating: 65%
- Washing score: 73%
- Drying score: 37%
This dishwasher rates well on energy efficiency and is cheap to run, however our testers noted that it also has limited features – no anti-flood feature or child lock or delay program – and it's also relatively noisy. Its drying score was also one of the lowest out of all the models we tested.