How to Buy a Dishwasher? – What to Look for Before Choosing

Do you want to know How to buy a dishwasher? Though cooking in some way is still a creative process, washing dishes does not cause joyful emotions in anyone. But family dinners and friendly parties can become much more annoying if the dishwasher stops washing dirty dishes rigorously. Although there are many important reasons for buying a dishwasher, a misconception about a dishwasher that existed earlier but is no longer relevant in recent years is it is an expensive and unnecessary device for the kitchen.

How to Buy a Dishwasher

Moreover, modern dishwashers reduce water consumption by 3-5 times compared to manual washing of the same volume of dishes, using an average of only 10-15 liters of water per run. And for washing dishes, you will no longer need hot water. Along with cleaning, the dishwasher also disinfects the dishes using high-temperature water. This treatment of dishes also removes detergent residues much better than manual washing.

In addition, most modern dishwashers do an outstanding job cleaning pans and dirty pots. And for this, potent detergents are usually used to harm our skin. And, perhaps, the last is time-saving. 

How to Buy a Dishwasher? What to Look for Before Choosing One

All you have to do is load the dirty dishes into the machine, and washing can take place even when you are not at home. Thanks to the dishwasher, you will have an extra minute for the children, watch a TV series, chat on social networks, or relax.

If these arguments convinced you of the need to buy a dishwasher, then you should figure out what they are and how they differ from each other.

Execution and Dimensions

According to the design and type of installation, dishwashers can be divided into built-in and free-standing models.

The free-standing models are stand-alone units with their tabletop and can be compact, narrow, or full-size in size. A compact dishwasher can be placed on the kitchen table, in a wall cabinet, or even on the refrigerator countertop. Such a machine, which looks like a microwave oven, usually has only a basic set of functions and a small volume. It is convenient to use in a small apartment.

The quality of washing dishes in such dishwashers is usually not the highest, but they are much cheaper than other models and are convenient due to their small size. A narrow dishwasher is under $400Under $600 is perfect for a small kitchen or family of 2-3 people. You will need a full-sized dishwasher for a large family or 4-5 people or more. The standard dishwasher width is 60x60x85 cm, the narrow one has the same height and depth but is only 45 cm wide, and the compact dimensions are usually 45x55x45 cm.

Built-in dishwashers, as a rule, are installed under the countertop of the kitchen set and “disguised” as kitchen furniture. They organically fit into the design of the kitchen, are entirely invisible, and look like part of the interior. It is perhaps their main advantage over free-standing ones. Built-in dishwashers, in turn, are divided into fully built-in and partially built-in models according to the type of installation. The first type of machine is completely hidden behind the kitchen furniture panels, and its control buttons are located on the end of the hinged door and are only accessible when it is open.

A partially built-in dishwasher has a control panel that is always visible, making it more convenient to operate. The hinged door or compartments for dishes are decorated with a material similar to the kitchen. Before buying a built-in machine, be sure to consider the color and design of the machine, and its size, so that it matches the dimensions of the kitchen set. Also, do not forget that any built-in equipment is more expensive than a similar but free-standing one.

Maximum Load

The larger the dishwasher, the greater it’s capacity and the number of dishes it can wash at one time. Now manufacturers offer dishwashers designed to load from 4 to 17 sets of dishes. According to the European standard, a set of dishes for one person is considered a set. These are three plates, a cup with a saucer, a glass, three spoons, a fork, and a knife – a total of 11 items.

Compact machines are designed to wash 4-5 sets of dishes, narrow ones for 6-9 sets, and full-size dishwashers will wash 8-14 dishes in one cycle. A model with a capacity of fewer than 6- sets is suitable for a small family of two or three people and a small kitchen due to its small dimensions. It is believed that the best option for a family of 4-5 people would be a machine designed for washing from 8 to 14 sets of dishes.

Such models are the most popular and are mostly available in the market. Remember that pots and pans are not included in the set of dishes. Therefore, when buying, it is better to choose a dishwasher with a volume slightly more extensive than necessary, so to speak, “with a margin.”

Dish Drying Options

  • Condensation method: It is used in most inexpensive budget models. After the last rinse of the dishes, the hot water drains, and the remaining moisture evaporates from the hot dishes. Moisture is removed from the air by condensing the cold walls of the working chamber of the machine. After such drying, a small amount of moisture may remain on the dishes, but for the most part, they will be dry. It is the easiest drying method, and you can consider its long drying time for dishes as its main disadvantage.
  • Intensive drying with a heat exchanger An intermediate option between condensation and turbo drying. In this mode, air also circulates throughout the dishwasher’s interior, but there is no fan. Air movement provides a temperature difference between the water collector and the washing chamber. This drying type is more efficient than condensing and economical than turbo drying.
  • The Turbo Dryer: It is used in more expensive dishwashers. With the help of a built-in fan, dishes are blown with a stream of warm air, and moisture condenses in a particular trap. Such drying is much faster and better than condensation drying. But do not forget that this option is more complex and increases energy costs and the cost of the machine.

Wash Programs

A dishwasher’s operation principle is similar to a washing machine. First, you need to load the dirty dishes into the receiving baskets, then fill the special compartments with water softening salt, detergent, and rinse aid. The machine can wash almost any kitchen utensils (plates, cups, glasses, pots, pans, food vessels, and more.) but before that you have to know What Cannot Go in the Dishwasher.

But one thing is to rinse the glasses after champagne, and another is to wash the pan from the burnt fat. An expensive dishwasher with an automatic mode for each case will select its washing mode with a specific temperature, quantity, and duration of washing and rinsing. But the automatic selection of the type of washing is not installed in all machines, so you often have to figure out the settings and modes on your own.

Any modern dishwasher should have at least four basic dishwashing programs, but most models can have five, six, or more. Additional modes are added to the standard list, for example, a delicate mode for washing fragile dishes or a bio-mode for detergents with enzymes. 

The mandatory programs for any dishwasher should include the main mode, intensive mode, fast cycle, and pre-soak dishes. Depending on the type of dishes and how dirty they are, you can choose one of the preset options. Therefore, more temperature modes are set in the dishwasher. The machine will select the washing method more optimally for a particular type of dish.

But still, you should not chase after a large number of modes: as practice shows, only a few of them are constantly used, and an increase in the number of programs will certainly affect the cost of the dishwasher. So, let’s look at the most popular modes.

  • Main Mode: The main mode is used for daily washing of moderately soiled dishes. Water in this mode is heated to a temperature of 50-55 degrees.
  • Intensive Mode:  Intensive mode is used for washing heavily soiled dishes, pots, pans, and baking sheets, at a water temperature of 65-75 degrees.
  • Pre-Rinsing: Pre-rinsing or soaking will thoroughly prepare heavily soiled dishes for washing, especially if dried food residues are on them. The dishes loaded into the machine are rinsed with cold water and remain in the humid atmosphere of the inner chamber of the dishwasher for a long time. Thanks to this preparation, the subsequent wash will thoroughly clean the dishes from contamination. Rinse can also be used throughout the day, loading dirty dishes after the next meal until, for example, the volume of dishes required for washing can be washed by the end of the day.
  •  Economy Mode: The economy mode runs according to a shortened program and is used to wash lightly soiled dishes in water with a temperature of about 50-55 degrees. It will significantly save water and electricity. And, despite the economic mode, the dishwasher will wash the dishes as thoroughly as in regular operation.
  • Automatic Dishwashing Program:  The machine independently determines the washing mode: how many washing and rinsing cycles will be, their duration, what will be the temperature regime, and the concentration of the detergent.  Most often, the dishwasher uses an aqua sensor to recognize the water’s degree of purity. If the dishwasher has an automatic mode, then most homemakers use it as the main one. The water temperature in automatic mode varies from 55 to 70 degrees.
  • Delicate Washing: Delicate washing is useful for fragile dishes: cups, glasses, glasses made of thin glass, and glasses. The water temperature in this mode is 40-45 degrees. Dishwashers with this program are usually equipped with glass holders.
  • Bio-Program: The “Bio-program” will help to cope with the remnants of fat even when washing in cold water, thanks to special detergents containing enzymes (bio-additives). These components effectively cope with organic pollution and dissolve fats well.
  • Half Load: The half load will reduce water and electricity consumption by about 30%. This feature is especially useful in full-sized dishwashers designed to wash 10-14 or more dishes when only 5-7 sets need to be washed. In this mode, the dishes will be washed in only one compartment of the machine, in the one where you load them.

Performance Classes

For determining the overall economy and efficiency of a dishwasher, there are three crucial indicators in its characteristics: washing class, drying class, and energy class. Traditionally, classes are designated in Latin letters from “A” to “G,” where “A” indicates the best indicator, “B” and “C” – the average level, and so on until the worst class, “G.”

The washing class indicates the degree of cleanliness of the washed dishes. The quality of washing depends on many indicators, and one of the main ones is water hardness. The lower the hardness level, the better it will wash your dishes, so special regenerating salt is used to soften dishwasher water.

If the machine provides perfect cleanliness of the washed dishes, it is marked with the letter “A,” and today, almost all models of dishwashers correspond to this class. Classes “B” and “C” allow minor contamination, but such dishwashers are becoming a less common sale.

 The drying class indicates how dry the dishes will be after completing the process. Class “A” assumes completely dry dishes, and “B” and “C” allow a small amount of moisture.

Energy class is defined similarly to the classification of other household appliances: class “A” means good efficiency of the dishwasher, “B” and “C” is the average level, and so on. 

The most popular machines have energy class “A,” which consumes only 0.8-1.05 kW per wash cycle. For dishwashers of class “B,” the power consumption is 1.06-1.09 kW, and for class “C” machines, about 1.1-1.49 kW per cycle. We will see that a machine with an energy consumption of the “C” class consumes about 30% more electricity than an “A” class. Note that dishwashers below class “C” are already a rarity in the market.

In addition to the leading indicators when buying a dishwasher, pay attention to various additional features. And although you will have to pay extra for them, they make the machine’s operation the most convenient.

Additional Functions

Leakage protection (aquastop) controls the amount of water in the dishwasher. It automatically turns off its supply by shutting off the tap on the supply hose in case of a breakdown. The “partial” protection used in budget models will only protect against water overflow if the dishwasher tray is full.

The “total leak protection” that more expensive machines are equipped with will turn off the water supply not only if it overflows but also if the water supply hoses are damaged. Leak protection is used by many manufacturers but may be called differently, such as Aqua-Stop or Aqua-Control.

  • Noise:  The noise level of a dishwasher is also a rather important indicator and can vary from 35 to 55 dB for different models. If you plan to use the machine not only during the day but also at night, you should choose a “quiet” dishwasher with a noise level of up to 45 dB. Such a low noise level in modern vehicles is possible due to the soft suspension of the engine and the use of modern composite materials.  This option will be ideal if you have a light sleep or the family has small children. One has only to consider that you will have to pay extra for comfort because dishwashers with a noise level above 45 dB usually cost less.
  • Delay start: The delay start is a very convenient feature in electronically controlled dishwashers. It will allow you to postpone washing dishes at a convenient time for you, from 1 hour to 20 hours. It will be especially convenient if the day and night electricity rates are different; therefore, you will save money by postponing washing dishes at night. 
  • 3-in-1 Function : The 3-in-1 function is designed to operate the machine with special tablets (“3 in 1”, “5 in 1”, etc.). It is handy if you don’t want to waste time and money dosing water softener, salt, detergent, and rinse aid into separate compartments. Tablets “3 in 1” is similar in their composition, have all these components in the right proportion, and will greatly simplify washing dishes.
  • Child lock: Child lock with a combination of keys will block the dishwasher’s control, and your curious child will not be able to make their own “adjustments” to its operating mode.
  • Beam on the floor: In washing dishes with a fully integrated dishwasher, you can not only influence the process but also know how much time is left before the end of the wash. Moreover, some modern models of machines work so quietly that you also cannot determine by ear whether the wash is over or not.  In this case, the “beam on the floor” washing progress indicator is helpful. Its principle of operation is simple: the LED projects a red dot on the floor, which disappears when the washing process is completed. Some dishwashers are also equipped with a sound indication of the end of washing dishes.
  • Inner surface: The surface of the inner chamber of the dishwasher can be made of stainless steel. It, of course, increases the cost of the device, but in addition to its beautiful appearance, it is also efficient. The steel surface is durable, easier to clean, and resistant to heavy pans or pots falling on it.
  • Digital Display: The digital display in electronically controlled machines reflects all current settings and functions, water hardness, water temperature, time until the end of the wash, and possible malfunctions.
  • Connecting to hot water: Connecting to hot water will save you a lot of energy, as most dishwashers only connect to cold water, heating the wash water with an electric heater. But there are also disadvantages here, since hot tap water is usually of poorer quality, and if it is turned off, the dishes will have to be washed by hand in cold water.
  • Removable nozzles: Removable nozzles for spraying water will allow you to wash any large-sized dishes and the most inaccessible areas. Adjusting the level of the baskets, their inclination, and removable and folding holders for dishes will allow you to save working space inside the machine, adjusting it to your needs. 
  • Self-cleaning filters: Some models of dishwashers are equipped with a self-cleaning function, allowing you to load dishes into them without cleaning them. The waste crusher crushes and eliminates them, preventing clogging of the drainage system. Self-cleaning filters allow you to reuse water for washing dishes and to clean them. It will significantly save energy on heating water and reduce its consumption.
  • Internal Lighting: In addition, dishwashers may have other features that facilitate their operation. These include the internal lighting of the washing chamber, which will help when loading and sorting dirty dishes. 

Installation and Operating Instructions

After purchasing a good dishwasher, you will find all the necessary connecting hoses and fasteners in the delivery set. It will not be difficult for you to connect the dishwasher to cold water supply, sewerage and electricity if you already have experience installing household appliances. 

Otherwise, you should contact a specialist because improper installation can damage the machine and flood your kitchen. Built-in cleaning filters are used to purify tap water used for washing dishwashers. Over time, they can become clogged. If the washing quality deteriorates, the filters should be removed and washed or replaced with new ones after prolonged use.

Even though the dishwasher can wash almost any kitchen utensils, it is not recommended to wash items made of wood, aluminum and copper, silver or gold, crystal, and mother-of-pearl. Do not wash sponges, towels, and napkins in the dishwasher, as well as products made of synthetic materials that do not tolerate high temperatures. Be sure to use special salt or water softeners; otherwise, the nozzles supplying water will clog after a while, and the machine will fail.


It is worth saying that most modern dishwashers, including inexpensive budget models, do their job quite well. The main differences in the models that affect the machine’s price are the capacity, different temperature conditions for washing dishes, and additional features such as quick drying, leakage protection, and others. The class of the dishwasher and, consequently, its price depends on them. Remember that in an elite-class dishwasher like under $1000, you also pay part of the cost for the manufacturer’s brand. 

We hope that, from our review, you have received enough necessary information about the models of dishwashers, their classification, and operating modes. And now, focusing on your needs and financial capabilities, you can easily choose the device that will satisfy all your requests as much as possible.

Best Dishwasher Buying Guide,, By Brian G.,
How to buy a dishwasher,, Andrew Gebhart,