Despite topping our kitchen appliance wish-list statistics show that less than 50% of UK homes own one. Back in 1994 though that figure was just 18% so it’s growing fast. Often, with older and smaller properties it’s a question of space but for many, when they’re having a kitchen renovation, a dishwasher is a must-have.
Since 1984 technology has vastly improved too, giving us models that can cater for up to 14 place settings, efficient 45cm wide designs for those tight on space and an array of features inside that make loading and unloading less of a chore.
Your first decision will probably be to choose your model – either built-in, semi built-in or freestanding. For a sleek modern look, most people opt for a fully built-in model with controls on the inside. A semi-integrated design has the controls on a top panel on the outside, while a freestanding one just slots into a gap between cupboards. Freestanding models are easier to remove if you move home and some styles, such as those from Smeg, Gorenje and Swan, have a distinctly retro feel and come in a variety of colours to suit your scheme. Dish-drawers, such as those from Fisher & Paykel have two independent compartments so you can wash as many or as few pieces as you like on different programmes without wasting energy.
The latest top-of-the-range machines from companies such as Miele, Bosch, Siemens and Whirlpool have a plethora of programmes, from pre-washes, eco settings, intensive clean and ones that leave your Tupperware and glasses bone-dry at the end of the cycle. Which you choose will usually depend on your budget as the more bells and whistles, the more you’ll need to pay. If your budget is a bit tighter then opt for a machine that’s got an A++ rating for energy to ensure it’s not costing you a fortune to run. In open-plan spaces, a machine with a quiet operation is key unless you want dinner party conversation interrupted by the dishwasher. Models usually range from around 45- to 50dB. That might not seem a wide range but as a rise of just one decibel can actually make a machine 30% noisier it’s worth checking out before you buy.
If you have children then it might be wise to opt for a machine with a safety lock and ones with built-in sensors that detect a problem and shut off the machine to prevent flooding are also a good idea.
Go for models with height-adjustable racks for oversized plates and glasses, fold-down prongs for when you’re cleaning just pots and pans and dedicated cutlery trays that sit at the top of the machine leaving more space below. Capacity is important, too. Models at the cheaper end of the market will usually have space for 10 place settings, while more sophisticated machines with adjustable racks can take up to 14 place settings. Perfect if you’re a big entertainer.