Dishwasher technology is constantly improving, and modern appliances have a host of features to help make washing up a breeze.
Find out what a spray arm does and why you should watch out for a time delay. We’ll also explain many other features, to help you pick the right model.
SPRAY ARM TECHNOLOGY
Spray arms dispense the water evenly in your dishwasher to cover all your dishes and cutlery, ensuring a thorough clean. Every dishwasher has them, but there are four main types:
This is the most common style and has a circular water distribution pattern, similar to a garden sprinkler system. Water is pumped into the two spray arms, located under the lower and top baskets, and is then sprayed onto the dishes. The water pressure causes the arms to spin, which circulates the water evenly.
ADDITIONAL SPRAY ARM
Some dishwasher brands have a third spray arm attached to the roof. This is usually found in dishwashers with a dedicated cutlery tray at the top of the machine, giving a more in-depth clean.
The water pressure causes the arms to spin, which circulates the water evenly.
Cleaning performance can drop if the water jets can’t get to everything – which can be an issue when trying to wash awkwardly shaped dishes. That’s where a satellite spray arm comes in handy. This a mini spray arm located on the end of the larger bottom spray arm. The double-rotation means water can reach awkward corners and nooks that might not be cleaned properly otherwise.
This washing system uses a bar spray arm that moves back to front along the bottom of the tub. As a result, all the dishes get an even coverage from a wall of water, hence the name. This is a relatively new feature that high-end brands are starting to include in their newest models.
Waterwall is a washing system that uses a bar spray arm that moves back to front along the bottom of the tub.
CONTROLS AND DISPLAYS
Control panels are generally located on the front door of the dishwasher, but some models have them on the top edge of the door. This is primarily for stylistic reasons, so the controls are hidden when the door is closed.
Many models have LED clock timer displays to tell you how long a programme has left to run, and an alarm to signal when it’s finished. Touch screen controls are becoming more common, although most models have a mixture of dials and buttons. Indicator lights are useful too. These warn you when the salt and rinse aid levels are too low, taking the guesswork out of filling them up.
Many models have LED clock timer displays to tell you how long a programme has left to run, and an alarm to signal when it’s finished.
INTERIOR LAYOUT DESIGN
Adjustable racks are a really useful feature to have, as they allow you to change the layout to fit each load. If you have larger pots and pans to wash, height adjustable racks will let you fit them into the lower rack, even if you have a full upper rack. Some models now have a lifting mechanism attached to the racks, so you don’t have to bend down far to load or unload the dishwasher.
Fold down prongs are helpful if you have a large number of glasses or wide trays that need holding up. Some models have a third tray designed specifically for cutlery too – this ensures it receives a thorough clean and frees up more room in the lower trays.
Specific wash zones are designated areas for heavily soiled items that need extra attention. They don’t feature in every model, but can be useful if you have extra tough stains to shift.
Stainless steel interiors are the latest trend in dishwasher design as they’re sturdy and low maintenance. They use a lower wattage heating element for drying their loads, saving energy and money. This system is also kinder to any heat-sensitive items you may have.
These models are a bit more expensive than the average plastic-lined tub, but their design means they save you money in the long run.
Stainless steel models are quieter and have more efficient drying cycles as the heat is reflected back off the metal lining. They can also work at a higher water temperature, so all your dishes are sterilised and sparkly clean.
A delayed start is a really helpful feature to make sure your dishes are clean and ready to use exactly when you need them. Just load up your dirty plates, choose what time you want the programme to start, and enjoy freshly cleaned dishes ready for dinner.
A child-safety lock is useful if you have young children. This prevents curious fingers from changing the programme settings or opening the door while the dishwasher is running.
A child-safety lock is useful if you have young children.
Sensor washing is a feature often found on higher-end models. Detecting the soiling level of the water, it adjusts the temperature and length of the wash. Soil sensors such as Whirlpool’s AccuSense follow the same principle, but base the cycle length and water use on how dirty the load is.
Some models are also fitted with a load sensor, which detects the load’s weight and only uses the required amount of water.
Dishwasher filters are generally tube-like sieves in the bottom of the machine. These collect the food that comes off in the wash and stop it being redeposited back onto clean dishes. Manual filters require you to empty them out by hand, whereas self-cleaning versions complete this themselves.
Some higher-end brands feature doors that stay at whatever angle you leave them at. So, you can say goodbye to doors suddenly dropping down when you’re loading or unloading the washer.
You’ll also start to find some high-end models with AutoOpen drying technology. This feature opens the dishwasher door at the end of the cycle, which allows fresh air to help dry your crockery.
Manual filters require you to empty them out by hand.
Steam dishwashers use high-pressure, high-temperature steam during the wash to loosen tough, dried or burnt on stains. This powerful cleaning performance means there’s no need for pre-washing.
The high-temperature of steam kills bacteria, giving you hygienic dishes for your whole family to use. It doesn’t require harmful or expensive cleaning chemicals, plus you only need a small amount of water to create enough steam to clean the entire load.
Dishwashers with heat exchangers treat delicate glasses and porcelain with additional care, so you won’t have any accidents in the wash.
Most new dishwashers now include efficient or ‘eco’ technology. This function can often be combined with the appliance’s cycles to increase the efficiency of the programme.
A really useful safety feature, anti-flood protection means you won’t come home to a flooded kitchen. It automatically turns off the water supply if it detects a burst pipe, and will stop water levels rising too high in the base of the machine.
A really useful safety feature, anti-flood protection means you won’t come home to a flooded kitchen.