A shiny new kitchen with all the bells and whistles can be one of the most attractive parts of buying a new home. But picking which dishwasher you want to make your glasses sparkle can leave you feeling a little, well, cloudy.
So listen up and learn a bit about today’s quiet, energy-efficient dishwashers. And when you’re ready to choose your kitchen appliance package, be sure to ask your builder what options are available to you.
If your floor plan has an open-concept kitchen and family room, you might want to consider a dishwasher whose noise level won’t interrupt homework or television-watching.
“This is something that’s fairly new — how quiet dishwashers are,” said Eric Cooper, a sales representative for Whirlpool. “I always say the sweet spot where you don’t have to pay an exorbitant amount is around 50 decibels. You can stand three feet away from it and it’s not going to interfere in a conversation.”
Cooper said an extra-quiet dishwasher can have a rating as low as 38 decibels. But if your kitchen isn’t in a wide-open space, diverting your budget toward sound reduction might not be necessary.
While dishwashers have gotten more efficient — a typical model might only use 3 to 7 gallons of water per load now — their cleaning abilities haven’t suffered. In fact, they’ve gotten so good that the age-old ‘rinse the dishes before you wash the dishes’ process isn’t necessary.
“Don’t rinse them — you really don’t need to,” said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor at Consumer Reports. “It wastes a huge amount of water to rinse your dishes. We conduct tough tests — we call it our monster mash of difficult- to-clean items — and we leave them overnight. We find that many dishwashers get those dishes clean.”
Lehrman also noted that washing cycles for full loads are getting longer. “It’s not unusual to have a dishwasher that has a two-hour cycle,” she said. “If you’re somebody who likes to unload the dishwasher in the evening, or if that long cycle is a problem, you want to look for a dishwasher that has a quick cycle.”
Manufacturers provide estimates on how much an appliance will cost to run annually. Those that are especially efficient are given an Energy Star designation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) so be sure that the appliance you have your eye on has an Energy Star sticker affixed to it.
Lehrman said that an Energy Star product uses less water and energy. “They’ll save you about $40 a year on your utility bill and 1,300 gallons of water over its lifetime, according to Energy Star,” she said.
While stainless steel is a popular finish, it tends to show fingerprints easily.
“I’ve seen a big trend change toward white and black with stainless steel accents,” Cooper said. “Some people are getting away from stainless steel because of the fingerprints and smudging.”
It’s worth pointing out that most stainless steel dishwashers feature integrated controls located on the top of the door. It gives a smooth look — one that’s prone to smudging, yes — that also might prevent accidental washes.
“From the esthetic point of view, it looks a lot cleaner and more sleek than to have the controls on the front,” Cooper said. “And if you have children in the home, they want to push buttons. With the controls hidden on the top, you might not have the dishwasher accidentally running.”
No matter your preference, one thing is certain about a new dishwasher: It’ll save you one housework headache.
“Dishwashers in that way are my favorite appliance,” Lehrman said. “Just put your dirty dishes in the dishwasher. It takes you less work and by doing less work it’s actually good for the environment and good for your wallet. It’s where being lazy pays off!”