When buying a dishwasher, it's important to invest in a machine that fits your lifestyle. If you love to entertain or have a big family, you need a washer that accommodates large loads. If you’re living in apartment, save space—and energy—with a smaller model.
- Space. If you’re going for a cheaper, compact model, expect to fit six to eight five-piece settings at once, while standard-size tubs accommodate 12. Love to throw parties? Taller tubs can store up to 14.
- Flexible racks. Foldable tines and removable racks are terrific for larger or odd-size dishware, so it’s easier to achieve a full load.
- Noise reduction. Dishwasher models with self-cleaning filters are typically louder than ones that require you to DIY (the former use grinders to help get the job done).
- Delay-start setting. This device is like a programmable thermostat, so you can schedule your machine to turn on at a later time. Save on household energy costs by running loads late at night when the dishwasher isn’t competing with the air conditioner or other large appliances. But if you don’t like running an unattended dishwasher, give it a pass.
- Half-load option. If you don’t have an entire load, run a rinse-only cycle (found on most models) to prevent food from sticking, then wait until your dishwasher is full.
Cost: Small dishwashers cost about $350. For a built-in machine that has a standard drop-down door, the price ranges from $250 to $1,600. As the price goes up, the noise level goes down.
Bonus tip: Hand-washing blows through 2½ gallons of water per minute, so avoid it (and prerinsing) when possible.
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