A great dishwasher can make light work of that towering pile of dirty dishes. Meanwhile, a mediocre machine can leave you cursing with crusty crockery and streaky glasses. Plus, if they're not very water or energy efficient, they'll be more expensive to run.
With so many models on the market, here are our expert tips to find the one that best suits your home and budget.
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 our expert, independent reviews.
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 the dish: CHOICE expert 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, whereas a basket lets you sort 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 top-rated dishwashers we tested
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