How to choose the best dishwasher features

Lynn Wright / 25 May 2016

Everything you need to know about the most important dishwasher features when choosing the best model for you.



Not only does a dishwasher save you from the time-consuming chore of hand washing your dishes, it does so far more hygienically and economically too. Choosing the perfect dishwasher from a vast number of dishwashers on the market can be daunting. Here’s how to figure out what features are essential and which you can live without.

For more on choosing the best dishwasher, see Tips for buying a new dishwasher. 

Best dishwasher features to look for

Adjustable racks Get the most from your dishwasher by opting for a model with upper racks that can be removed or moved up and down. That way you can reconfigure the interior of the dishwasher to suit your load so you can wash taller items in the lower rack.

Extra rack Some models come with a third rack that’s perfect for larger utensils like whisks, tongs and measuring cups as well as small items such as espresso cups. For even greater flexibility, some dishwashers allow you use just a section of this rack to accommodate other taller items placed on other racks.

Flip-down tines Dishwasher tines are the prongs that section your racks to hold plates and dishes in place. The ability to fold these down flat gives you more space so you can wash large pots and odd-shaped items. Choose a dishwasher with fold-down tines in both the upper and lower racks.

Directional spray head Most dishwashers have one or two spinning spray arms that distribute water in a circular manner, like a garden sprinkler. Some models come with a third spray arm attached to the roof. This concentrates the water in one direction – useful for washing very dirty, greasy items such as a roasting tray.

Full-width spray arm Samsung’s WaterWall dishwashers have pioneered a new type of full-width spray arm that moves back to front along the bottom of the tub, creating a wall of water that claims more thorough cleaning.

Delay start Many dishwashers have a delay timer so you can set the dishwasher to start its wash cycle several hours later.

Child lock A common safety feature that prevents the door from being opened mid-cycle, avoiding the risk of scalding a child. It also prevents changes made to settings while the dishwasher is in use.

Anti-flood device Sensors detect water in the base of the machine and stop the dishwasher from filling further, preventing flooding should the dishwasher develop a fault.

Cycles Look for a dishwasher with a range of wash cycles including a speed wash for less dirty plates and a half load or upper rack-only option, which is perfect when you have smaller dish loads.

Extra rinse or rinse/hold When you haven’t enough in the dishwasher to run a full cycle, this 5- to 10-minute rinse cycle prevents a stuck-on mess that can be tough to clean up later.

Dirt sensor: More expensive dishwashers have sensor technology that detects how dirty your dishes are and adjusts the wash temperature and length accordingly.

Ready to buy a dishwasher? Read our guide to the Four best dishwashers.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.