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Dishwashers: All You Need To Know

Monday, 06th September 2010

Given the choice, most of us would happily give up that flat-screen television in favour of a dishwasher that means no more washing up by hand. In busy households the dishwasher is one of the hardest-working appliances in the kitchen, so it makes sense to find one that fits your lifestyle and washing-up habits perfectly. Look for a model that combines energy-efficiency with a range of programmes that you'll actually use, and you can safely hang up the washing-up gloves forever.

Fully-integrated, semi-integrated or freestanding?
The choice really comes down to whether you're happy to make the dishwasher a feature within your kitchen, or whether you'd prefer it concealed or partially concealed behind paneling that matches the rest of your kitchen cabinetry.
Fully-integrated models are completely hidden behind a door that matches your kitchen cabinetry, and will blend in seamlessly with your kitchen. The control panel is positioned at the top of the door so that it's only seen when the door is open.
Semi-integrated dishwashers are concealed behind a furniture door, with a visible control panel at the top.
Freestanding models, which are generally cheaper than integrated and semi-integrated, will stand out within your kitchen, and are available in black, white, stainless steel and glass-paneled.

What about dishdrawers?
These handy dishwashers are ideal for small households that only do small or infrequent runs, or for those who prefer not to bend down when they empty the machine. They are made up of one or two drawers that are positioned just beneath the benchtop. They use considerably less energy than conventional dishwashers, and can be set to run independently or together, so you can run larger loads, or have one drawer washing while you load the other with dirty dishes.

What size do you need?
Dishwashers range in side from a compact 450mm width to a full-size 600mm width. They typically hold 12 place settings, but the smaller machines take eight or nine settings.
If you have a busy household or entertain regularly, then a larger machine will save you time and energy. If you're short on space and only use the dishwasher a few times a week, then a slimline, dishdrawer or even a benchtop version might be adequate. 

Check the energy rating
Dishwashers can use up a fair amount of power, so it makes sense to check the star rating for water and energy efficiency. The ratings go up to six stars - the more stars the more energy-efficient the model is.
Dishwashers either have a hot or cold water connection, which affects its power usage. Cold water connections are more energy-efficient as they only heat water for the part of the cycle when hot water is necessary, while a hot water connection heats the water throughout the cycle. But do keep in mind that dishwashers with cold water connections can be slower to run than their hot water equivalents.

Options to look out for
It's easy to be dazzled - and a little confused - by all the different programmes offered by today's dishwashers. Do your research before you hit the shops, and decide which options will really benefit your household, and which you can live without.
Some of the most useful options include:
- Eco-friendly options: Half-load, eco run and cold water wash, all of which save power.
- Whisper quiet run: If your dishwasher is located anywhere near your dining or living room, the last thing you want is a noisy machine that's going to disturb you every time you sit down. Look out for machines with a low decibel noise rating.
- Flexibility: Look for height-adjustable, removable and fold-down baskets that will give you the flexibility to change the configuration of your machine to suit the dishes you're washing.
- Child-friendly features: Such as child-lock and a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel front.
- Entertainer's options: Consider a special programme for delicate glassware, and fast fan-assisted drying to remove condensation from inside the machine.  
- Safety options: Anti-flood function and a fault display to alert you to any problems with the machine. 

Tips for efficient dishwashing
- Most manufacturers agree that pre-rinsing is not necessary and wastes water. Scrape bulky remnants of food into the bin, and let your dishwasher deal with the rest.
- If your glasses are coming out with stubborn water marks, it might be time to top up the rinse aid.
- To save you time, some dishwasher tablets now combine detergent and rinse aid in one.
- For the best results, put glasses on the top rack, and plates and bowls all facing the centre of the machine so they receive maximum water.
- Baking sheets and platters should be positioned along the outer edges of the bottom rack so they don't block the water and detergent.
- All plastics, such as containers and drinking cups, will need to go on the top rack. Always check plastics are dishwasher safe before running them, otherwise they can bend and warp in the machine.


Georgia Madden

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Comment from MelBrandle on Wednesday, 18th May 2016

Be very careful when you're moving around kitchen appliances. Whether from storage to use or vice versa when you are moving. Too much jostling around can cause the fluids in the machinery to go all wonky. It will take time for it to settle before you can switch them on again without spoiling the appliance.

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