Tips for buying a new dishwasher

Chris Torney / 10 November 2015

Using a dishwasher to do the washing up won’t just make your life easier. It can also reduce your water consumption and energy bills.

Dishwashers generally use less hot water than washing crockery and cutlery by hand – but this is provided you use them in the most energy-efficient way possible

So what factors do you need to consider when choosing a dishwasher?

Size and type

As with washing machines and fridges, you can buy both freestanding and integrated dishwashers – the latter are designed to be hidden behind kitchen cupboard doors, and tend to be more expensive.

There are three standard size options: full-size, streamline (which are slightly narrower) and compact. Compact dishwashers are roughly the size of a large microwave and are designed to sit on a worktop rather than the floor.

Program options

The best dishwashers have a number of washing programs that can be selected based on what you need to be cleaned.

For example, a glassware program is suitable for glasses and other lightly soiled crockery – it has a shorter wash cycle and uses less energy.

Energy-efficient programs take longer than normal but use water heated to a lower temperature, thus keeping a lid on your gas or electricity bill.

Check also whether the dishwasher has a delay-start setting, which can be useful if you have cheaper electricity at night.

Other features

On some models it is possible to adjust the height of the top rack – this can allow you to place larger items in the bottom of the dishwasher, as well as creating more space in the top.

The option to attach a large spray head instead of one of the washing arms can help deal with particularly dirty items such as roasting trays.

Care and maintenance

Dishwashers need to be regularly replenished with dishwasher salt and rinse aid. If you don’t keep salt levels topped up, limescale can build up inside the machine and could stop it from working effectively.

Sensors on your dishwasher should indicate when levels of either substance are low.


Your dishwasher should reduce your energy bills as long as you ensure it is only run when full. Use the energy-efficient program when you can, and avoid rinsing dishes with the hot tap before you put them in the machine. This should not be necessary with a decent dishwasher, and doing so means you are using more hot water than you need to.

Read about energy-saving lightbulbs here

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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.