Tips for buying a dishwasher

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Sizes & styles

Though dishwashers are relatively standard in size at 24” wide, you may have less than 34” in height if, say, new flooring was laid on top of old flooring. Or your countertops are slightly lower for handicap accessibility.

In these cases, you will need to seek out a “short tub” or ADA compliant dishwasher. An increasing number of dishwashers now offer hidden controls along the top of the door instead of front controls for a more seamless appearance. For a truly integrated appearance, several manufacturers offer models with an unfinished door, able to accept a custom wood panel.

Frigidaire's OrbitClean alternating arm action  focuses four times more water and detergent in a  concentrated area while rotating around the interior.

Frigidaire’s OrbitClean alternating arm action focuses four times more water and detergent in a
concentrated area while rotating around the interior.

Basic models offer just one or two spray arms, but most dishwashers have a spray arm on the bottom, in the middle, and at the top of the dishwasher tub. These spray arms typically have a direct feed of water as opposed to the indirect tower design of the past.

European-style models (i.e. Bosch, ASKO, Miele, Electrolux, etc.) use a slightly different approach to cleaning. These models feature high wash temperatures (30-40 degrees more than comparable models) and increased water pressure. The increased water temperature and water pressure creates a more effective wash cycle, able to cut through even the toughest baked-on grease.

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Traditionally, silverware baskets are located front and center in the lower rack, but some models feature a long basket on the side of the lower rack, which often can be split into sub baskets and relocated or removed. Some high-end dishwashers offer a flat, dedicated silverware tray at the top of the dishwasher that frees up more space in main racks.

dcs-tall-dishdrawerFor flexible use options, consider dish drawer dishwashers, which can be purchased as single drawer (using half the water and electricity of a standard dishwasher) or double units (each drawer runs independently for convenient flexibility). Drawers also reduce bending for those with back or knee problems.

Features to consider

  • Anti-Leak Safety – shields hardwood floors from damage in the case of an internal leak. Water will be contained within the pan, shielding hardwood floors from damage. A sensor within the safety pan may also shut down the dishwasher to prevent further damage.
  • Internal Water Softener – ensures soft water is used, which reduce fogging and etching to glassware and improves cleaning power of detergent
  • Stainless steel interiors are less likely to absorb odors or stains than plastic interiors and results in a quicker overall dry time through condensation
  • Third racks may be adjusted and nearly removable to use otherwise-wasted space. Sometimes used as a glassware rack for the frequent entertainer.
  • Hard food disposers typically grind up food particles and flush them out, but European-style models’ high wash temperatures and increased water pressure emulsify food waste that is washed away at the end of the cycle. Not using a disposer means less energy consumption and fewer moving parts, resulting in fewer breakdowns and quieter operation. A food trap prevents more durable items, such as chicken bones, from entering into the mechanics of the unit.

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  • LED electronic read-outs – show the time remaining in a cycle. Wash times are longer today than they were in the past to make up for today’s more eco-friendly but less-potent detergent. A normal wash used to be 45- 60 minutes, but is now between 90-135 minutes, depending on the model.
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