By Jessica Tolliver
Today’s dishwashers come with a host of features and upgrades. When shopping for a new model, consider the following:
Sizes and Types of Dishwashers
When shopping for a dishwasher, you’ll find that most models are built to fit 24-inch-wide openings, though 18-inch models are available as well. You’ll also find several types:
The classic design.
Usually installed in pairs, drawer-style dishwashers fit in the same space as traditional models but pull out of the cabinet like a drawer.
Convenient if you are not able to install a built-in model, portable dishwashers come in finished cabinets on wheels, connect to the sink faucet with a hose and plug into a standard electrical outlet.
Saving Water With Dishwashers
One primary difference between your current dishwasher and the new models you’ll find when shopping is likely to be efficiency. Increased energy standards require that new dishwashers use less water and energy than ever before. (As a result, some models take longer to clean than older models do.)
If you want an even more efficient model, look for one with the yellow Energy Star label. Dishwashers with the Energy Star rating use at least 25 percent less energy than required by federal standards.
Additional energy-saving features to look for when buying a dishwasher:
The dry cycle operates without heat, using less energy but leaving dishes slightly damp when finished. Simply crack open the door for a few minutes before unloading, and the dishes will air-dry.
If your utility company lowers energy rates at off-peak times, program the dishwasher to run during those times.
For lightly soiled loads, a short wash cycle uses less water and energy but still gets the dishes clean.
Features and Upgrades for Dishwashers
When shopping for a new dishwasher, you’ll pay more for added features, so consider which ones you’ll use the most. The most common are:
Most dishwashers today come with at least three cycle options: light, normal and heavy. Additional cycles may include rinse, stemware/china and pots/pans.
A built-in sensor detects how soiled dishes are and adjusts the cycle accordingly.
It’s more durable than plastic.
Extra insulation ensures quiet operation, an important feature if your kitchen is adjacent to frequently used rooms, like the family room or bedrooms.
Food disposer and filter:
A dishwasher with an integrated food disposer grinds up food deposits and flushes them away, eliminating the need to pre-rinse dishes. Models with self-cleaning filters require less maintenance.
A taller tub accommodates oversized pots and cookie sheets.
This is certified to eliminate 99.9 percent of bacteria in the wash.
This prevents children from adjusting the settings.
Adjustable and removable racks, cup shelves, stemware holders and silverware racks accommodate different sizes and shapes of dishes.
Controls are tucked into the top of the door -- rather than on the front of it -- for a sleeker appearance.
Once you figure out which dishwasher features will best meet your needs and lifestyle, you’ll find the right model.
Jessica Tolliver writes about home decorating and maintenance for many magazines, including House Beautiful Kitchens and Baths, House Beautiful Home Building, Good Housekeeping Do It Yourself and numerous special interest publications for Better Homes and Gardens and Woman's Day. She is the author of two books on decorating, and she uses her microwave to disinfect kitchen sponges.
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