By ANYA GILBERT for BBC GOOD FOOD
Buying a dishwasher is a large financial commitment that, when made well, will save you time, effort and money by cutting the cost of your annual energy bills.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, the average UK home uses nearly 350 litres of water every day and washing the dishes accounts for around 5 per cent of domestic water use.
Dishwashers can be an all-round more efficient way of cleaning dishes and, importantly, allow you to spend less time at the sink in rubber gloves.
We surveyed over 1,000 households to find out what dishwashers people currently own, why they chose them, what features they find most useful and whether they would buy them again.
We also spoke to domestic white goods experts from AO.com, Currys PC World and whitegoodshelp.co.uk along with specialists from Glotech Repairs and Pimlico Plumbers, to bring you trusted advice and recommended dishwasher suggestions, and help you make an informed decision about what dishwasher to spend your money on.
Discover some of the best dishwasher brands and find the right dishwasher for your household and budget, with the BBC Good Food dishwasher buying guide.
For more unbiased expert buyer’s guides, visit our reviews section to find 400+ round-ups of everything from slow cookers to food processors.
This year, we rallied the BBC Good Food community with a survey distributed across our website, newsletter and social media channels to establish your favourite dishwasher brands, usage and purchase drivers, and received 1,264 responses.
80 per cent of BBC Good Food’s online audience own a dishwasher, 51 per cent of whom said they use it about once a day. A very small minority said they use it once a week or less often (5 per cent). 63 per cent of respondents have owned their dishwasher for over three years and 12 per cent have used theirs for 10 years or more.
When choosing a dishwasher, the top two most important factors by a clear margin are value for money and high energy rating. Water usage and product guarantee were the next important factors in people's decision making.
People valued the brand's legacy in their selection criteria. 29 per cent of recipients chose their brand based on it being known for quality; playing an even more important role than whether the machine was the best fit for the kitchen/washing area or its reviews.
Responses also suggest that people are more open to paying for a high quality dishwasher from a reputable brand than they were concerned about whether the brand was cheap.
When it comes to choosing a dishwasher, Lauren Clark, Trading Director of AO.com says: ‘carefully consider what features are important to your household, such as:
Some dishwashers are more adaptable for switching between stacking pots and pans and lots of glassware.’
‘We're looking at all the same features as the buyer at home when choosing which dishwashers to stock at AO.com. The following are factors to consider:
Depending on the design of your kitchen, dishwashers can be installed differently to best fit the space available. There are three main types:
Integrated: integrated dishwashers sit under your kitchen counters and are entirely hidden by a furniture door that matches the rest of your kitchen.
Semi-integrated: the dishwasher is also placed under a countertop but the machine’s panel and door is on show.
Freestanding: these can stand alone wherever you place them and are finished on all sides.
Andy Trigg, director of whitegoodshelp.co.uk with 44 years in the white goods and domestic appliance industry, shares his recommendations of features to look out for when buying a new dishwasher.
Place settings: this should be prominently mentioned in the dishwasher’s specs and capacities range from 12 place settings up to 16 on a full-size dishwasher. The place settings calculation should be around 10 items per person, including cutlery.
Anti-flood protection: a dishwasher with anti-flood protection should detect leaks, drain out the water and shut off before any major damage is done.
Child lock: with all dishwashers, as soon as the door is pulled open the dishwasher stops working. You can usually just see the spray arms slowly come to a halt. However, the dishwasher could potentially be full of very hot water, plus there is access to sharp knives. So, it might be desirable to have a dishwasher with a child lock system.
Adjustable top rack: some top racks move up and down to accommodate extra large dishes or pans.
Hot fill option: some dishwashers can be connected to the hot water supply instead of cold. This may or may not be something that you are aware of as a possibility. Dishwashers are normally plumbed in with only a cold water supply, so if you wanted to use hot water instead you would need to have extra plumbing fitted.
Quiet Mark symbol: if a dishwasher is advertised and promoted as being quiet, then it should be fairly safe to rely on that.
Eco setting: a longer wash cycle that uses less energy.
Auto wash: sensors that can detect how clean or dirty the water is and adjust the wash cycle accordingly.
Time remaining display: whilst not always 100 per cent accurate, they do usually give a reasonable estimate of the time remaining. It's extremely useful if you don’t want to leave a dishwasher running when leaving the house or going to bed (never leave a dishwasher running when no one is around).
Legislation by both the UK Government and the European Commission dictates that all dishwashers sold in the EU must have a label showing their energy efficiency rating. The grading system used ranges from A+++ (most efficient) to G (least efficient).
The energy class on these labels take into account the following information:
Insights on the machine’s noise emissions, drying performance and water consumption per standard cycle should also be included, according to UK legislation.
An efficient dishwasher will not only use less electricity and water to run but can also cut the cost of your energy bills.
‘Modern, energy efficient dishwashers are a great way to save water usage in your home,’ says Lauren Clark of AO.com. ‘It’s a common myth that they use more water than hand-washing, and the higher temperatures used means that they are also far more effective at killing bacteria.’
Using data by Carbon Footprint, Peter Earl of Compare the Market presents the average yearly running cost of a 1.44kWh dishwasher against those of other energy-guzzling household appliances.
Costing £19.44, the dishwasher sits just in front of a kettle at £16.90 and behind an electric oven at £21.08.
‘On average,’ writes Earl, ‘the majority of modern dishwashers use 11-13 litres of water per cycle. Hand-washing, on the other hand, can call for up to nine times that amount.’
Small actions like fully loading your dishwasher before turning it on and scraping excess food from your plates will help improve the efficiency of your dishwasher’s water and energy consumption.
Our survey revealed that a dishwasher’s water consumption was a top-five deciding factor for participants when it came to buying their dishwasher. Andy Trigg shares a simple rule of thumb to follow.
‘Dishwashers with the highest A+++ energy rating tend to use the least water. This is likely to be because a dishwasher using less water will also use less energy to heat up.’
‘The annual water consumption quoted for dishwashers is based on 280 wash cycles a year,’ Trigg tells us. ‘That works out as 5.38 wash cycles per week. So if you use your dishwasher more or less than that, your costs will vary accordingly.’
Having checked the annual water consumption figures of 50 dishwashers from various brands with a range of place settings, Trigg found that the amount of water used by a dishwasher doesn’t always correlate to its capacity. He recommends instead, using the energy rating as a more accurate guide of a dishwasher’s water efficiency.
Annual water consumption of a dishwasher data:
A+++ rating: lowest 2,492 litres – highest 2800 litres
A++: lowest 2,520 litres – highest 3,360 litres
A+ rating: lowest 2,880 litres – highest 3,360 litres
A noisy dishwasher could become quite intrusive if, for example, you have an open plan kitchen/living area. You will find details of a machine’s airborne acoustic noise emissions rating and class on the machine’s energy label in dB(A).
‘Some dishwashers are praised for being almost silent (44dB),’ says Andy Trigg, ‘whilst others can be very noisy (50dB).’ The following noise emission classes relate to the decibels generated during the average wash cycle.
Dishwasher noise emission rating data*:
B: 39 - 45
C: 45 - 51
*data taken from the European Parliament Commission Delegated Regulation with regard to the energy labelling of household dishwashers, 2019.
It’s common for dishwashers to have small cutlery baskets that sit in the bottom layer during washes. Others have a slim tray that pulls out like a drawer and sits right at the top of the machine for laying cutlery down in.
Cutlery trays allow for extra washing room between each piece and offer more flexibility for utensils such as spatulas, tongs and sharp knives to also be washed safely. Sometimes, large dishwashers have both. A separate cutlery tray leaves you with additional room for plates in the lowest dishwasher rack.
Smart dishwashers connect via WiFi to an app on your phone, allowing you to control them remotely through that app. You no longer have to pay through the nose for them but Andy Trigg suggests approaching these with an air of caution.
‘Think carefully before paying extra for smart features,’ says Trigg. ‘These technologies seem to be put there mostly because they can.
‘Being able to turn your dishwasher on remotely has no advantages as far as I'm concerned because you should never run a dishwasher when no one is present in the house. They are a potential fire risk. If you can see that there are genuinely useful (and not just novel) functions on a smart dishwasher then you will no doubt be happy to pay extra for one.’
A dishwasher’s size comes down to two factors; its physical dimensions and the number of items or place settings it can hold. Measure the space you have available for a dishwasher and compare that to the standard dimensions of these three common types.
Recommended dishwasher dimensions:
Full-size: 120-150 items / 60cm wide / 4+ people
Slimline: 90-100 items / 45cm wide / 2-4 people
Compact: 40-60 items / 55cm wide / couple
You will often find annual running costs provided in dishwasher product descriptions, which comes in useful when deciding what dishwasher to buy. However, many reviews and product retailers quote the energy usage of dishwashers in pound sterling rather than kilowatt hours. When comparing the running costs of dishwashers, take these with a pinch of salt and remember that as energy prices change, so will the annual running costs of the dishwasher.
If you look for a dishwasher with a high energy rating, you will likely save more on energy bills over the long-term.
How often the machine is used and how well it’s cared for can both affect the lifespan of a dishwasher. A smart investment can often last 10 years.
‘Dishwashers are relatively reliable,’ says Trigg. ‘Compared to something like a washing machine they have very few parts. They don't do as much physical work either. Usually only on once a day, and essentially they are just heating up water and swishing it around, which isn't particularly hard work. So dishwashers can last a very long time.’
‘If your dishwasher is still functioning, but you feel like the dishes aren’t coming out as clean as they should be, or that the cycles take too long for your family’s requirements, it may be worth looking into replacing it,’ says Lauren Clark of AO.com.
‘Drainage issues are a common problem people experience with their machines’, says Mark Davidson, appliance engineer with Pimlico Plumbers. ‘This happens for two main reasons; people don’t scrape their plates before they put them in the dishwasher,’ and ‘the other is broken glass where items have smashed in the wash and the tiny shards have got stuck when draining the machine.’
If you’re having issues with your current appliance, we recommend checking the product’s warranty or checking in with the manufacturer to see if your existing dishwasher could be repaired before you replace it.
‘Running a regular cleaning cycle and cleaning out the filters will certainly help it to last longer,’ adds Clark.
Mark Reeves, director of Glotech Domestic Appliance Repairs shares his top tips for taking care of your dishwasher.
To see the complete range of Quiet Mark Awarded Dishwashers, click here.
To read the original article on the BBC Good Food website, click here.