A great dishwasher can make light work of that towering pile of dirty dishes, leaving you more time for activities more enjoyable than the washing up. Here are some tips to help you choose a dishwasher that will make cleaning up a breeze.
Plus, for CHOICE members only, we'll reveal the five top-scoring dishwashers from our rigorous lab testing. If you're not yet a member, join CHOICE to get instant access to all of our expert, independent reviews.
What size dishwasher do I need?
There's no point buying a great new dishwasher if you can't fit your fancy dinnerware in it. Different dishwashers come with a variety of internal layouts, so the extra-tall glasses and large dinner plates you only bust out for special occasions may not fit easily into all models.
If you're unsure, take one of your biggest plates and tallest champagne flutes (or at least their measurements) to the shops with you. Don't be embarrassed – salespeople want to sell you that dishwasher, so they'll humour you!
What to look for in a dishwasher
Our dishwasher expert, Ashley Iredale, says you should look for these eight features in a new dishwasher:
- Anti-flood device: this will stop leaks in the hose, not just the machine.
- Concealed heating element: this protects items from damage if they fall through the basket, and stops food from being burnt onto the element, which can cause a bad smell.
- Fault display: notifies you of any problems, whether simple or more serious.
- Accessible filters: filters that are easy to remove and clean.
- Fan or auto open: some models now come with fan-assisted drying, and others even automatically open once the cleaning cycle is complete, which helps with drying.
- Salt dispenser for softening hard water: dishwasher detergent may not work as well in areas with hard water. Look for a dishwasher with a salt dispenser, which will make the water softer for a better wash.
- Child safety: if you have small children (including guests) look for child-safe door locks, control locks and detergent-dispenser locks.
- Water connection: check whether a hot or cold connection is recommended for the machine. If you're connecting hot water, check the recommended maximum hot water inlet temperature – you may need a tempering valve if the water in your pipes is too hot.
Quite a dish: CHOICE expert and testing team leader Ashley Iredale.
And consider the following features to give yourself more flexibility when stacking your dishwasher:
- Adjustable plate racks: some models come with fold-down racks, which can be useful if you want to put pots and pans in your dishwasher.
- Height-adjustable top baskets: an 'easy-to-lift' top basket offers you more versatility when loading – you can adjust the height without needing to remove the top basket completely. Some models can even be adjusted when fully loaded.
- Cutlery tray or basket: this depends entirely on your cutlery loading preference – a tray lets you sort cutlery as you load, while a basket lets you sort at the cutlery drawer.
How to get the most out of your dishwasher
- Use a good detergent: your dishwasher is only as good as the detergent you put in it. Check out our dishwasher detergent reviews to find the best product for you.
- Put dirtier items closer to the middle of the dishwasher: anything in the corners of the baskets won't be cleaned as thoroughly. Check our guide on how to load a dishwasher, and find out the definitive answer to the age-old question: should you stack your cutlery up or down?
- Check that the spray arm can move freely during the wash cycle. If it gets stuck, your dishes won't get clean.
- Don't bother pre-rinsing your dishes: just scrape and go. Our test results show that you don't need to rinse before you put the dishwasher on, which means you can save the water.
- Deep clean your dishwasher: giving it some love will improve performance and avoid any nasty smells. Our guide to cleaning your dishwasher tells you everything you need to know.
The 5 best dishwashers we tested
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