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Buying a Dishwasher

how to buy a dishwasher, dishwasher buying guide

Dishwashers rule for more reasons than getting rid of dishpan hands. They slash hours off your weekly chores, literally hide your dirty dishes, and, best of all, use less water than hand-washing -- 9 gallons versus 20.

But should you go for a high-end European unit that will run you $700 or pick up a basic model for under $200? Here’s what to consider:

Is it the right size?
The standard width of a dishwasher is 24 inches, but 18-inch models are also available. If you usually make reservations for dinner, a smaller unit might work for you. Go for a larger washer if you like to cook at home or have big dinner parties.

Can it get into hot water?
The water heaters in most homes are set to 110 degrees. But to get your dishes sparkling clean, a dishwasher needs water heated to 140 degrees. Make sure the unit you buy has a water-heating feature.

Is it eco-friendly?
Approximately 25 percent of dishwashers meet green guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program. So be sure to check for the yellow Energy Guide label on machines. The lower the Energy Star number, the more efficient the washer is. This will also translate into a lower overall utility bill!

Does it have all the cycles?
Almost all brands come with the standard light, normal, heavy, and pots/pans settings. But the rinse-and-hold feature is a bonus that removes food from dishes that are going to sit before a full cycle runs -- a big plus if you tend to use every last dish in the cabinet before turning on the dishwasher.

Is there already enough noise in the house?
Consider how important a quiet wash cycle is before you commit to a unit. If you usually run your dishwasher at night, look for machines with added insulation and smaller motors.

Are you a control freak?
Smart controls are available on state-of-the-art dishwashers. These use sensors to monitor cleaning during wash cycles and tailor the machine’s effort to meet the load’s requirement.

Plan on moving?
A good dishwasher will last about nine years. So if you're planning on sticking around your current nest, spend a little more now and spare yourself from prematurely having to buy another dishwasher!

-- Mararget Winslow

See More: Buying Appliances