Unless you enjoy daily, paper-plate picnics and don't mind permanent dish-pan hands, you probably want the convenience of a dishwasher. Like the Jetsons' cleaning robot, Rosie, modern dishwashers know what your family needs to do those dishes right: Detergent, water heated to about 158 degrees (F) and dead bacteria.
Trends in home dishwashing
Dishwashers have evolved and you can find the following features when you shop today:
- High efficiency models that use less water and electricity
- Drawer dishwashers that match cabinetry
- Extra-deep dishwashers designed to accommodate large pots and pans
- Hygiene cycles that give an extra-hot rinse to prevent food-born illness
- Adjustable racks to accommodate tall glasses and extra-large, 13-inch plates
- Insulated models that run almost silently
- Timers that let you start your dishwasher after everyone has left for the day
- Splash-free disconnect valves that allow you to use your sink while the dishwasher is running
- Removable silverware baskets for easy loading and unloading
Popular Brands of Dishwashers
Popular brands include Dacor, Miele, KitchenAid, Whirlpool, Bosch, Fisher and Paykel, Electrolux, Viking, Kenmore and Maytag. Most manufacturers cover the standard colors and finishes--stainless steel, white, bisque and black. For several hundred dollars more, cabinet-matching front panels are available as kits. Or you can buy color panels from firms like Appliance Art. The company even sells appliques that replicate classic paintings: Those who really hate to do dishes, can choose a panel featuring Edvard Munch's, "The Scream!"
Today's dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand, and water-efficient dishwashers use 30 percent less water than that, which can save up to 800 gallons of hot water, per year. Replacing a pre-1994 dishwasher with a new, Energy Star rated dishwasher can cut your dishwashing energy use by 25 percent. You can decrease your energy usage even more by running the dishwasher in the morning, skipping the drying cycle, and letting your load air dry while you're at work.
Dishwasher Size Matters
Most conventional dishwashers are constructed to fit a 24-inch-wide space under your kitchen counter top. They attach to a hot-water pipe or hose, a drain and electrical line. Compact, portable dishwashers resemble finished kitchen cabinets; they can simply be rolled to the sink and connected to the faucet. On the downside, when you opt for compact, you often sacrifice capacity for convenience.
Do you have a large family? Enjoy entertaining? Many households are discovering the joy of owning two dishwashers to deal with the extra workload.
Dishwasher price points
The cost of a dishwasher can vary widely: Inexpensive "builder models" are often priced at less than $300; mid-range versions cost between $500 and $800; and "designer" dishwashers can ring up to more than $2,000. At the mid-range price point, dishwashers should be reasonably quiet, offer numerous timing options and cycles, be energy-efficient and--most importantly--do a good job of cleaning.
High-end dishwashers don't always do a better job than mid-range models; but, features like double drawers and silent operation do come with a price tag. Likewise, the cheapest dishwashers can prove expensive, when they operate loudly, run long wash and dry cycles, or still require someone to rinse the dishes before loading. Consider all of these factors before buying.
Where to Find Dishwashers
Dishwashers can be ordered online or purchased from kitchen contractors, "Big Box" retailers like Home Depot, Lowes and Sears, or local appliance stores. Delivery and installation add to the total cost of purchase, so don't leave that out of your calculations.
Want more information? Get quotes on an array of dishwashers with installation by completing the form on this page.