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Dishwashers: Buyers' Guide

Only a third of the UK’s households have a dishwasher, but with evidence showing that dishwashers produce cleaner dishes and save money, water and arguments, if you’re part of the two thirds who don’t own one, now may just be the perfect time to start looking. With dishwashers saving you an average of 9 days a year of scrubbing and rinsing, you can spend your time doing things you actually want to do.

If you’re looking to invest in a brand new dishwasher but are feeling a little lost with such a huge variety available, all with techy features and special selling points, fear not, as we’re here to get you clued up on all the information and advice you need to make an informed buying decision and get the best dishwasher for you. 

Once you start getting a better idea of which factors will influence your choice – from style, programs and special features - you’re ready to start to compare deals and offers and read dishwasher reviews. Then all that’s left to do is click and buy – good luck!

Dishwasher types

Dishwasher size is measured by capacity of place settings that can be washed in one cycle. For example, a dishwasher with a 12 place setting capacity can hold 12 dinner plates, 12 soup plates, 12 dessert plates, 12 tea cups and saucers, 12 tumblers, 12 sets of cutlery.

Full size – A family or busy household would most likely benefit from a full-sized model, around 60cm wide, or a slimline machine with flexible storage inside. Full sized dishwashers are designed to be stored under worksurfaces and can hold up to 15 place settings. The standard is 12.

Slimline – A slimline model is usually around 45cm wide and can hold around 9 place settings – great for couples or smaller households. Slimline dishwashers have been designed to conveniently fit under a worksurface.

Compact – If you live on your own a compact dishwasher may be the best option for you. It can be integrated into your existing kitchen and takes up half the space of a regular dishwasher with a capacity of around 4 place settings.


Most standard dishwashers will have 3 main programs and a rinse cycle:

  • 65-70 degrees – uses most energy and is designed for very dirty dishes.
  • 65 degrees – the standard wash cycle.
  • 50 degrees – the most economical wash cycle which uses less energy and hot water.

Many will also have an eco, delicate and quick wash setting for various load sizes and types. A half load option is ideal for saving water by cleaning only one level of the machine. A pre-wash or soak option is great for very dirty dishes or pans and a quick wash option, that normally takes around 30 minutes, is best suited to items that aren’t very dirty.


  • Timed delay – make the most of cheaper nighttime rates by using a timed delay.
  • Washing baby’s products – Certain models now come with an integrated hygienic program for washing your baby’s products.
  • Adjustable baskets – Height adjustable racks and baskets will make storing dishes in your dishwasher much easier.
  • Load sensing – some dishwashers adjust cycle and water depending on the weight of a load.
  • Electronic LCD display – For more options and customizable programs.
  • Glass program – protect glass and delicate dishes with a specific program
  • Intensive program – for extra dirty dishes
  • Self-cleaning filters
  • Anti leak mechanism – to protect against flooding. Some dishwashers have an in-built protection against flooding, or technology to detect changes in water pressure with a valve to cut off water supply in an emergency.

Noise level

If you have an integrated kitchen/living room or an open plan kitchen it’s a good idea to shop for a dishwasher that is low-noise – look for a model with a decibel (dB) level of less than 45.

Energy efficiency

All dishwashers have an EU-rated energy efficiency and performance rating from A-G, with A being the most economical and G being the least. Manufacturers are responsible for grading their own products and Trading Standards monitor standardized tests across the industry.

Some online retailers also have top of the range dishwashers that are even more efficient than A-rated models. These are A+, A++ and A+++.

  • A+ models are designed to achieve up to 10% reduction in energy consumption compared with A models.
  • A++ models can reduce your energy consumption by up to 20%.
  • A+++ models can save you the most money – up to 30% compared with A models.

It is often the case that the more expensive the model the higher graded it will be in terms of energy efficiency and the more energy-saving features there’ll be, including time delays and temperature settings. This isn’t to say that cheap dishwashers won’t be energy efficient; many machines will feature temperature settings and programs for shorter/more economical cycles.

Water consumption may be of greater importance to you if you’re on a water meter – look out for dishwashers with a time delay so you can take advantage of cheaper electricity at nighttime and look for dishwashers that use the least amount of water possible. For example, brands such as Whirlpool and Hotpoint make full sized machines that use only 12 litres of water per wash. Bosch even have a model that uses as little as 7 litres of water per cycle.

Not suitable for dishwasher cleaning

Bear in mind that the following should not be put in a dishwasher for cleaning:

  • Decorated fine china
  • Crystal glasses
  • Gold/silver trim china
  • Cutlery with wooden, plastic, bone or pearl handles

And finally…

  • Load the bottom tray with heavier, dirtier items such as pans and dinner plates and save the top tray for glasses, mugs and smaller dishes
  • Always use rinse aid, dishwasher salt and dishwasher tablets.
  • Stack correctly for the best results.

What next?

Having narrowed down your search for the perfect dishwasher to suit your needs refine your search further on our shopping pages with the settings in the left column. By narrowing down type, specs, size and energy efficiency, you can begin to compare models and styles. 

Select keywords or choose your budget to make sure you’re getting the best dishwasher on sale to match your needs. Compare online retailers’ delivery options and costs and be sure to check out reviews of the best dishwashers you’ve shortlisted. 

Then all that’s left to do is click and buy - beats getting the dog to do it, huh?