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The dishwashers that won't let you down when entertaining this summer

We dish up the five top-scoring dishwashers from our tests, plus handy tips for choosing the best model for your kitchen

mystery box dishwashers that wont let you down this summer
Last updated: 06 December 2019

Regardless of how you celebrate this time of year, it'll likely revolve around food
– and lots of it. And lots of food means lots of washing up (sigh). 

A great dishwasher can make light work of that towering piles of dirty dishes, leaving you more time to enjoy the festivities. So 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 to the shops with you. Don't be embarrassed – salespeople want to sell you that dishwasher, so they'll humour you! And imagine how unpopular you'll be if you find out on Christmas day that all those festive glasses and plates need to be washed by hand because they don't fit in the dishwasher.

What to look for in a dishwasher

Our dishwasher expert, Ashley Iredale, says you should look for these eight features in a new dishwasher:

  1. Anti-flood device: this will stop leaks in the hose, not just the machine. 
  2. 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. 
  3. Fault display: notifies you of any problems, whether they're simple or more serious.
  4. Accessible filters: filters that are easy to remove and clean. 
  5. 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. 
  6. 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. 
  7. Child safety: if you have little kids (including guests!) look for child-safe door locks, control locks and detergent-dispenser locks. 
  8. 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. 

Look for a dishwasher with a salt dispenser, which will make the water softer for a better wash

Three dishwasher stacking options to look out for

  1. Adjustable plate racks: some models come with fold-down trays, which can be useful if you want to put pots and pans in your dishwasher. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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 in the dishwasher?
  • 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 five dishwashers that won't let you down this summer

Only CHOICE members can access our detailed dishwasher testing data. If you're not yet a member, join CHOICE to get instant access to all of our expert, independent reviews. 

Or log in below to unlock this article and find the dishwasher of your dreams. The sheer range of models on the market can mean it's hard for you to pick the right one – but that's where we come in.

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