Most modern dishwashers operate on the same principles: Dishes arranged in a box are sprayed with jets of water to remove grease and food particles. Whether it’s a countertop or a built-in model, leftover water returns to the kitchen drain system. There are standard features that appear in nearly every type of dishwasher: racks for holding dishes, jet systems, and washing arms. However, there are other special features that can enhance the cleaning performance. You may find that these convenient features are worth the extra price.
Older dishwasher models were typically made of enamel-coated metal. The enamel would crack over time, however. Modern dishwashers have either plastic or stainless steel tubs. The plastic is fairly durable, but stainless steel looks nicer, causes fewer vibrations, and allows for super-hot sanitizing cycles.
Jet Sprays and Wash Arms
All dishwashers have jets that stay in place and shoot out water during a cycle. There are also washing arms under each rack that spin around to spray water in all directions, ensuring that every dish is reached. A dishwasher may have one to three washing arms. Other models instead have a central tower that comes out of the upper rack and rotates. The downside to the tower is that it takes up space in the upper rack, and it’s frustrating to try to fit glasses around it.
Different dishwasher models offer different wash cycles. Some people are content with just the most basic wash cycles: light, normal, and heavy. However, you may be interested in additional wash programs that specially handle loads of pots and pans, fine china, and glassware. If you’re particular about how your dishes are cleaned, you may spring for a dishwasher that has a gentle wash for wine glasses and a heavy wash for really dirty pots and pans. Sophisticated wash cycles can eliminate wine stains, streaky glasses, and baked-on food residue. Just be honest with yourself: If you typically mix all those types of dishes together into one load, you probably shouldn’t pay extra for special wash cycles you won’t use.
Many dishwasher models proudly advertise their NSF-certified sanitizing cycles. These dishwashers can heat water up to 160° to 165°F; that’s hot enough not only to clean dishes but also to kill the most common bacteria. If you’re a parent of small children, you’ll appreciate a sanitizing cycle for your little one’s germ-covered sippy cups and pacifiers.
If you’ve ever had a noisy dishwasher, you know it’s best to run it during the night or some other time of day when it won’t disturb the family. Many dishwasher brands have designed delayed start features that hold off a wash cycle for varying lengths of time. This way you can program the cycle whenever and be assured that it runs when it’s supposed to.
Single Rack Wash
We all know that running a less-than-full load is a waste of water and energy. But with the new single rack wash cycle, you can still get a smaller amount of dishes clean with the appropriate amount of water. This is very handy because sometimes it’s just not feasible or convenient to wait for a full load of dishes to run.
Automatic Soil Sensors
Dishwashers aren’t just becoming better at cleaning dishes, but they’re also getting smarter. With soil sensors, the dishwasher automatically detects how clean or dirty the water splashing around the tub is. If it’s too dirty, the dishwasher will drain it and spray clean jets of water. If the water isn’t very soiled, the dishwasher will shorten its wash cycle, saving you water and energy costs. With this highly efficient system, a household can save up to 600 gallons of water a year.
Without adjustable racks, it can be a real challenge fitting in that extra-large pot or those baking sheets. If you can adjust the height of the upper rack or remove it all together, you’ll have much more flexibility in arranging dishes to maximize space. Many dishwashers today also offer fold-down tines, moveable silverware baskets, and stemware holders to make securing special items easier. The more space options you have, the easier it will be to fully load the dishwasher, saving you time, power costs, and frustration.
Rinse Aid Dispensers
Many people add rinse aids to cut down on detergent residue. Some dishwasher models make it even easier to add rinse aids with a dispenser that stores up to a full bottle at a time and releases the appropriate amount per load. This feature saves you the time and hassle of adding rinse aids every time you run the dishwasher.
Two Water Pumps
Dishwashers with two water pumps, one for washing and one for draining, are quieter, more efficient, and typically last longer.
Selecting a new dishwasher doesn’t have to be a bewildering, confusing ordeal. If you do your homework and know in advance which features you want, you can narrow down your choices and pick the dishwasher that’s perfect for you and gives you years of satisfactory performance.
|Brittany Rowland researches new developments in Appliances, Kitchen and CE products features with a vigor to which few would aspire… but someone has to do it. See more about Brittany
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