Guide to buying a dishwasher

There's little doubt that dishwashers have made life just a little bit easier for busy families and households, and these days there's a type, brand and size to suit almost any budget.

guide to buying a dishwasher

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If you're in the market for a new one, these are the features and options to consider.

What type?
Regardless of brand or budget, your first decision should be what size you really need. A full-sized model that holds around 12 place settings might be perfect for a large family, but slimline varieties that will get eight to 10 place settings sparkling clean may be more suitable for smaller households. And for singles or couples, it's well worth considering a tabletop model, which is roughly the size of a microwave and will happily take on four to six place settings, if space is limited.

Dishwashers come with a variety of features, and depending on your circumstances it's worth knowing what's available. For instance, some give you the option of adjustable or removable baskets that allow you to make room for large items - perfect if you do a lot of entertaining. Others feature anti-flood devices, either 'float switches' or 'aqua-stop', which prevent any water-based disasters.

If you're trying to cut down on your energy bills, a model that includes a delayed start timer might be high on your priority list, as it will allow you to set the dishwasher to run through the night when electricity is often cheaper.

And though very few models have taken the step of including a child-safety lock, it is well worth seeking them out if you have little ones.

As well as the above-mentioned features, dishwashers generally offer a variety of different programs, just like washing machines, to fit a particular need. These days, many include an energy-save program that washes at lower temperatures and is a more environmentally-friendly way to do the dishes, while others include an intensive or delicate program for hard-to-clean or fragile items. Whatever you model you choose, it's worth checking the energy rating as a good one will ultimately save you money on your bills.

Best buys
The price of a dishwasher varies greatly but the most expensive isn't always the best so it is possible to find a reliable and effective model to suit your budget.

For instance, the AEG F40010VI full integrated dishwasher at £700 was rated a Which? Best Buy, but at a more affordable £320, Zanussi's ZDT11001FA model does nearly as good a job.

Bosch, which frequently scores highly with the consumer watchdog, offer a variety of models, with the SMS53A12GB (£489) boasting an A++ energy efficiency rating, a useful 20-minute Turbo Speed Quick Wash and an anti-flood device. B

ut for those on a budget, their SMS40T42UK model also includes a quick wash programme, is rate A+ for energy efficiency, and Active Water technology that heats water faster and consumes less energy as a result, and it's priced at a very reasonable £289.