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Facts to Features You Should Know Before Purchasing a Dishwasher

by Olly Mason

When you have better things to do than to soak, wash, and rinse dishes, it may be time to give your after-dinner cleanup routine a change of pace. How about putting down the dish scrubber and pressing start on a new dishwasher that does all the work for you? Sounds nice, but with so many dishwasher styles and features to choose from, the decision might not seem clear. Do you opt for a dishwasher with the largest capacity, an eco-friendly dishwasher, or the seamless dishwasher with an LED light indicator that feels like it’s from the future?

There are a lot of factors when considering how to buy a dishwasher, but we like to think the more options, the better for you! Before you start exploring all the possibilities, take a moment to learn how a new dishwasher can be the helping hand you’ve always wanted in the kitchen!

Person putting yellow rubber glove on left hand

Before You Consider

Remember this mantra: proper preparation makes installation hassle-free. While built-in dishwashers come in a few general sizes (see below) the right measurements for any dishwasher will ensure a snug fit that doesn’t jostle around during use. Luckily, measuring appliances is easy, but just in case you’d like some additional help, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help answer the questions you have about installing a new dishwasher!

Depending on which dishwasher type you choose, installation may also require:

  • A 220-volt outlet
  • Working water line

Types of Dishwashers

Dishwashers aren’t necessarily complicated: Load the dishes, select a cycle, and an hour-and-a-half, you have clean dinnerware. Still, the dishwasher industry has improved considerably, even in the last decade, whereas the average dishwasher typically lasts around 10 years. So, if the last time you purchased a dishwasher was in the last decade, freshen up on the dishwasher types available to get a better understanding of which dishwasher works best with your home and lifestyle.

Stainless steel built-in dishwasher with door open against white cabinets and wooden countertops

Built-in dishwashers—also known as integrated dishwashers—are the most popular dishwasher style on the market, available in budget, mid-level, and luxury options from major dishwasher names like GE Frigidaire, and Beko. Built-in dishwashers are built into your kitchen cabinetry, providing a streamlined look, while also reducing noise during operation. Additionally, full-size built-in dishwashing machines deliver the most capacity than any other unit, averaging anywhere between 12 to 16 place settings.

If you’re looking for an eyebrow-raiser, or simply have some extra kitchen space, drawer dishwashers are the ultimate combo of visual impact and performance. Averaging around 16 to 17 inches, under-counter drawer dishwashers are half the height as a standard dishwasher. Typically, drawer dishwashers are used as a supplemental dishwashing zone to your kitchen’s main dishwasher, or even a separate dishwasher for delicate china and stemware.

However, it’s not uncommon to see double drawer dishwashers used where a conventional dishwashing unit goes. This configuration provides the flexibility to run two dedicated wash zones—say, one to gently wash especially fragile dishes and another for every plates, cups, and silverware—at the same time.

Apartment and condo-dwellers, celebrate! Even if you can’t install into your unit, portable dishwashers can keep you safe from prune hands. Portable dishwashers require no commitment (simply connect a water hose to your faucet and plug into a 120-volt outlet), take up no cabinet space, and with the dishwasher capacity of a standard unit, make easy work of dishes. While not as small as a compact counter dishwasher, portable dishwashers can be easily rolled into a pantry, kitchen corner, and sometimes even double as extra countertop workspace.

With Capacity Comes Capability

Dishwashers boast several place settings, and while it’s intuitive to think more is better, it’s easy to feel unsure what it all really means.

Dad and son load the dishwasher

Essentially, a single place setting provides enough room for a large dinner plate, standard bowl, small dessert plate, drinking glass, cup and saucer, and silverware. That’s a lot of items. Knowing how many place settings you and your home needs is an important part of understanding whether more is a value, or unnecessary water and energy usage. 

  • Standard-size dishwashers are 24 inches in width and hold between 12 to 14 place settings
  • Compact dishwashers are 18 inches in width and hold between six to eight place settings

Features and Cycles: More Than Just Buttons

Standard dishwashers provide a minimum of three wash cycles: light, normal, and heavy (also known and pots and pans). Alone, this trio of wash cycles is perfect for routine mealtime cleanup throughout the week. Still, when unexpected in-laws arrive or house guests spend the night over the holidays, it’s always nice to have something extra in your dishwashing arsenal. From style details to performance, these extras make all the difference.

Features that provide care to every dish:

  • Sanitize cycle
  • High dishwasher temp setting
  • Delicate cycle
  • Fine china cycle
  • Rinse and hold

Features that make sure there’s enough room for your dishes—even the stragglers:

  • Stemware clips
  • A removable silverware caddy
  • A third rack (look for adjustable third racks for even more accommodability)

Features that provide style & function:

  • Front-control panels are easy to access and can be adjusted during any wash cycle
  • Top-control panels give a dishwasher a seamless look that blends into your kitchen
  • Stainless steel tubs provide a sleek look throughout, are better heat insulators, and reduce the noise of a dishwasher while in use

Features that make a dishwasher smart:

  • ENERGY STAR® certification
  • Soil sensors 
  • Virtually silent noise level (45 dBA and below)
  • LED floor light indicators
  • Wi-Fi connectivity

Choose a Style

You might be asking yourself, “Does a dishwasher’s look really matter?” In the long run, performance is what matters most, but a dishwasher’s finish does may come with some perks that you might not have considered. For instance:

  • A stainless-steel dishwasher finish is versatile and helps dampen the sound during operation
  • A black stainless-steel dishwasher finish resist smudges and fingerprints
  • A black dishwasher finish helps to hide messes and scratches from everyday use
  • A panel-ready dishwasher finish lets you customize the look of your dishwasher; make a statement or blend it right in

Fully loaded built-in dishwasher with door open against red cabinetry

Costs of Dishwashers

Now that you’ve gone over the nuts and bolts, let’s talk budget. As with every appliance, the fewer the features, the more budget-friendly the appliance is likely to be. But that’s not a bad thing. In fact, for homes with two or three members, splurging on a luxury dishwasher isn’t a bad idea, but a standard 3-cycle dishwasher may provide more than enough performance and at a fraction of the cost.

Allow yourself to explore all your options with our catalog of dishwashers. We carry reputable brands for every lifestyle, ranging from mid-level options like GE® around $350 to luxury brands like Monogram at around $5,999.

Shop Where the Experts Meet Your Standards

Ready to put away the dish gloves and say hello to fast, efficient dishwashing? Trust the friendly experts at East Coast Appliance—Virginia’s largest independent appliance dealer—to find you a dishwasher that that fits your home’s lifestyle and your kitchen’s design style. Browse, shop and compare from our wide list of brands in-store or online today!