Tips for selecting a dishwasher
Tips for selecting a dishwasher help you navigate options and accessoriesModern dishwashers offer a plethora of options and accessories, and it can be difficult for a consumer to sort through the sales jargon to determine which dishwasher is truly right for the job. Ultimately, the best course of action is to find a showroom with many different brands and models on display and do a head-to-head comparison in person. Failing that, it may be helpful to consult with a reputable contractor who has installed different dishwasher models and ask for his opinion on how various models have performed over the years. Find a good source of tips for selecting a dishwasher, do your homework and comparison shop.
Before beginning your search, however, you'll want to consider the following factors. There are literally thousands of dishwashers to choose from, at price points ranging from $100-$2,000. For the purposes of this article I’ve assumed that the reader is interested in purchasing a mid- to high-end model to complement a nice kitchen. Nevertheless, many of the considerations here listed can apply to budget models, beyond the classic’s “does it work?” and “will it fit?”
Consider your lifestyle-- do you run the dishwasher every night after dinner, or will you often go days (or God forbid, weeks) without re-loading your cabinet drawers? Every dishwasher will list its capacity in cubic feet, but it’s even more important to visit a showroom and open them up for yourself. Some models will feature an extra rack, fold-out trays, or uniquely designed storage compartments to maximize or minimize potential loading space. The popular European brand Bosch, for instance, is consistently at the top of the market, but typically has less room for dishes than its American competitors.
Do you like to stick your plates in the washer with giant gobs of food still dripping down the side? If so you may want to confirm with a sales rep that the model you have in mind has the cleaning chops to handle your days-old Alfredo sauce. American models like Kitchenaid have a reputation for handling tougher cleaning loads. Two features to look for that will help your cause are a built-in hard food disposer for chopping up those big chunks of leftover food and a steam wash option, which adds an additional round of heated cleaning to the cycle.
On the flipside of cleaning power is energy efficiency. For those interested in helping the Green cause a European model like Miele or Bosch may be the answer, as they are designed with rigorous European energy standards in mind. As a general rule, add-ons like the hard food disposer or extra wash cycles will always increase energy demands.
There’s nothing worse than missing that important conversation in a movie because the dishwasher is rumbling away in the next room. If your dishwasher is in close proximity of your dining or entertaining spaces, or if noise is an important factor, be sure to ask a sales rep how loud you can expect it to be with a full load. The German brand Miele has a reputation for running the quietest wash (it’s nearly inaudible), but you will pay for this convenience. Miele and Bosch are typically more expensive than high-end American models.
Any high-end dishwasher should offer the option of a wood panel overlay to match your adjacent cabinetry and effectively conceal the door front (with the control panel typically located at the top of the door). If this ‘integrated’ option is for you I recommend consulting with your contractor or installer before making your purchase to confirm how the door face will sit in relationship to the adjacent cabinetry. Can it sit flush with the neighboring drawer faces? Can you find an exact match for the wood grain and species in the rest of the kitchen? Are there limited door handle options?
As an alternative, you can also choose the popular stainless steel finish and handle. Here, again, you’ll want to see the actual finish before agreeing to make the purchase. As an example, Jenn Air dishwashers provide a steel alloy and handle to perfectly match the popular Subzero kitchen appliances. Conversely, Miele uses its own steel alloy that may offer a slight contrast to other stainless steel appliances already installed. As noted before, just be sure to confirm with your supplier that the finish you’re buying is exactly what you want before finalizing the purchase.