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Your Guide to Dishwashers

Wrinkly hands, greasy water and piles of dishes emerging from your sink like volcanic islands in the Pacific. If the thought of scrubbing your fingertips raw and fumbling around with wet glassware no longer appeals to you, then a dishwasher can become your new best friend around the kitchen.

So as you start your journey to find your new dishwasher, consider these tips from The Brick’s product experts.

Know Your Needs

Dirty dishes pile needing washing up.

Images courtesy of Thinkstock.

Before buying an appliance, nothing is more important than making an honest evaluation of your day-to-day needs. Which features are must-haves, how often will you use the new machine, and how do you hope the new appliance make your life easier?

For instance, if you have a larger household, you’ll likely want a dishwasher with a larger capacity. If you have plenty of delicate plates and stemware, look for adjustable racks that help keep these pieces from cracking. And if your last dishwasher sounded like a factory furnace, chances are you’ll prefer a model with noise reduction.

Before you pull out your credit card or chat with a sales representative, take a moment to consider how your new dishwasher will best fit into the mix.

Dimensions

What could be worse than picking out that new stainless steel model with wash zones and soil sensors, scheduling a delivery, guiding the delivery team to your kitchen, then discovering your brand new dishwasher doesn’t fit in its intended space?

Standard dishwashers are 24 inches wide and with a universal height designed to fit flush under your counter. However, changes to the flooring in your kitchen could prevent your installation – raised subfloor or tile might prevent your dishwasher from fitting into the intended space while a lowered floor could cause a gap, keeping it from sitting flush with the underside of the countertop. Most dishwashers now come with adjustable feet to help minimize these slight gaps, but the feet adjust only within about an inch.

Types and Styles

Whirlpool White Dishwashers

Image courtesy of The Brick.

Types

Built-in: This is your typical dishwasher, resting below the counter and alongside the bottom cupboards with no sides exposed.

Compact: These are narrower types of built-in dishwashers. Ideal for smaller households, compact dishwashers range from about 17.5 to 20.5 inches wide, about half a foot less than the standard model.

Portable: A dishwasher on wheels, these models move to wherever they’re needed. Simply attach the hose to the water line from your sink and roll it out of the way when you’re done.

Countertop: Another type that works using your kitchen sink, these small capacity dishwashers rest on your counter, perfect for small offices or those who live on their own.

Styles and Handles

Front-Control: The traditional display, all of the dials and progress monitors are available right on the front panel.

Top-Control: The controls are hidden along the top edge of the dishwasher door, a little harder to monitor but worth it if you prefer the seamless, clean look throughout your kitchen.

Recessed, Pocket and Bar Handles: Beyond the look alone, buyers dealing with arthritis or other usability issues might want to look for a handgrip that helps to better open and close the dishwasher.

Efficiency

Dishwashers have a cost beyond the price tag. Depending on the efficiency of your model, you might notice changes in your monthly utility bills.

The two independent consumer regulators that rate energy efficiency are ENERGY STAR® and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE).

CEE and ENERGY STAR logos

For a dishwasher to receive an Energy Star certification, it must achieve at least 41% better energy efficiency than the industry average. Dishwashers awarded with a CEE designation fall into one of three tiers, with Tier One being reliably efficient but Tier Three being the most efficient.

Some provinces also offer tax benefits for installing energy efficient appliances, so be sure to keep your receipts. If you misplace yours, most stores will likely have your transaction on record and offer to forward you a copy.

Place Settings

While refrigerators, ovens and other appliance capacities tend to be listed in cubic feet, dishwashers are most often described by the number of place settings. Here are the three sizes you’re most likely to see based on this number:

  • Compact: Up to 8
  • Standard: Up to 12
  • Tall-Tub: Up to 14

When deciding on a capacity, remember to keep in mind the typical volume of dishes your household goes through in a week. If dirty dishes remain in the tub for too long between washes, your machine might develop a lingering odour.

Tub Material

Dishwasher tubs – the walls that lock in the water and keep the machine from leaking onto your kitchen floor – typically come in one of two materials: plastic and stainless steel.

Plastic tubs are cost-effective, durable and often outlive the dishwasher itself. They are, however, more likely to require extra cleaning to remove hard water stains and other discolouration. While stainless steel is a little more expensive, this material is better at trapping heat. Not only does this allow your dishes to dry faster and more efficiently, but stainless steel is typically a better sound insulator than plastic.

Speaking of which…

Noise Level

How noisy do you want your dishwasher to be? Chances are you want it loud enough you can tell it’s working, but not so loud that it causes headaches or drowns out conversation in your kitchen. A peaceful hum is ideal.

Recognizing sound as a persuasive sales feature, appliance manufacturers have taken to adding sound dampening insulation to their wash tubs along with other vibration-reducing parts. So is it worth it to pay a premium price for a quieter dishwasher? If you’re otherwise satisfied by an entry-level machine and are wondering how much quieter a top-of-the-line machine would be, refer to customer testimonials like the ones available on each product page of The Brick’s online catalogue.

Features

Top Tray Cutlery Rack

Image courtesy of The Brick.

The higher-level considerations we’ve discussed so far are worth learning, but it’s the bells and whistles that convince us to choose one machine over another. From a specially designed utensil tray to an easy-to-read control panel, your dishwasher is meant to make your life easier. So don’t feel guilty about favouring a machine based on the special features that call out to you.

Here are some of the more common features you’ll encounter when comparing dishwashers:

  • Loading
    • Adjustable or removable racks
    • Third rack for utensils, ramekins, espresso cups and other small items
    • Tines you can adjust or fold down to accommodate odd-shaped dishes
    • Silverware caddies and stemware holders
  • Soil Sensors: Monitors the cleanliness of the dishes and adjusts the wash cycle accordingly
  • Wash Zones: Allows you to wash only the top rack or the bottom rack, saving you from having to wait until a full load is ready before washing
  • Special Wash Cycles: Regular, delicate, quick, steam, extra rinse or rinse/hold, NSF certified sanitizing rinse, etc.
  • Food Disposal: Rapidly turning blades that pulverize and flush away food particles so they don’t end up back on your clean plates and glasses
  • High-Efficiency Water Jets: More rinsing action and less water for a more environmentally friendly option
Brada White Portable Dishwasher on Wheels

Image courtesy of The Brick.

Put Your Knowledge to Use

Now that you have a better handle on the styles, features and considerations that come with buying a dishwasher, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned.

Check out The Brick’s online selection of dishwashers from the industry’s leading manufacturers and give your scrub brush a well-deserved break.

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