Dishwasher buying guide

Buying a dishwasher will free you from the chore of washing-up. Once you have your new appliance installed and up and running you can kiss goodbye to your messy kitchen, as pots which once piled high on your worktops will be sitting in your dishwasher being scrubbed 'til they shine.

Things to decide: Where will it go and how many pots?

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Before deciding on your choice of machine you need to know where it’s going to sit and how much space you have to play with. Depending on your requirements you can choose from the following options - full-size, slimline or table-top.

Full size: A full-size dishwasher takes up the most room and generally measures around 60cm wide. These are perfect for large families or people who often entertain. They accommodate the following per wash: 12 dinner plates, 12 small plates, 12 bowls, 12 cups and saucers, 12 knives, forks, tablespoons and teaspoons.

Slim-line: People with a less space and fewer pots to wash may want to opt for a slim-line model. Although the same height as a full-size dishwasher, they are narrower (measuring 45cm) – great for slotting into that tight space between the fridge and the washing machine. And you don’t lose that much space as on average they can fit nine place settings in per wash.

Table-top: People living alone in a property where space really is an issue are well-suited to the table-top dishwasher. These are far smaller than a traditional washer, and look completely different too. A major plus point is mobility: These can be moved to sit pretty much wherever you want but are most often placed on top of a work surface – hence the name. One of these will measure around 50cm wide and cover four place settings.

Integrate me: An integrated dishwasher is a good option for the style-conscious among us who don’t want the look of their lovely kitchen spoiled by an unsightly white dishwasher. An integrated machine will be built into your existing fitted kitchen – disappearing behind your matching units when not in use to maintain a sleek and seamless look. You can also choose a semi-integrated machine – which hides everything but the controls behind your units.

Freestanding: If you’re likely to be moving at anytime in the future, your best option is a free-standing model. Although this won’t look as smart as an integrated machine, you will be able to unplug it and take it with you when you move. But even if you have no intention to up-sticks, having the freedom to shift your appliances around the kitchen or even into the utility room is a major plus for many people.

What's the programme?: Most dishwashers offer at least three programmes alongside a rinse only cycle but many high-end machines give more options. The all-purpose standard cycle washes dishes at 65c – great for getting off grime and grease. The eco cycle is good to the environment – using less energy but taking a bit longer to get the job done.

Further settings: Some machines will feature a baby cycle, which works to get rid of harmful bacteria from spoons and bowls used to feed your little ones. Much like its washing machine equivalent, the half-load programme blasts your pots clean with lesser water than is used on a full run for those times when you’re eating alone. Also, run a pre-soak cycle to shift those stubborn stains that just don’t want to budge from that lasagne dish.

Other features

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Timer Delay: This allows users to capitalise on cheaper energy tariffs by setting the dishwasher to start at off-peak times – which often kick-in when most people are tucked up in bed.

Fuzzy Logic (yes, it’s back): Many high-end models use fuzzy logic to measure the load of your wash and adjust the temperature and water consumption to suit – saving energy and money.

Dishwashing and the environment

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Like tumble dryers, dishwashers are graded A+ to G on their energy efficiency – the best machines will be marked A+. If the environment is important to and you like the sounds of an A-rated machine, then look for one with an Energy Saving Recommended mark on it. Although you pay a bit more for one of these, the extra cash will give you green credentials with the family and save you money on bills in the long run.

Safety first – what can’t I put in?

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Although you may never want to wash a pot again, it’s important to know that not all items are dishwasher safe. So unless the labelling states otherwise, don’t put any of the following in your washer -crystal, patterned china, silver or gold plated china and cast iron pans.

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