The different types of dishwashers
Unlike many of the other kitchen appliances, dishwashers all tend to work on a similar principle – they take cold water from the mains, heat it up, and pour it continuously over your dirty dishes together with the soap you’ve placed in. The ways in which most dishwashers differ from one another are usually in their size, capacity, compact design, intended place in the kitchen, and the various programs and features they have or lack.
This is the most common type of dishwasher simply because – like freestanding washing machines, refrigerators, clothes dryers, and other appliances – they can be placed anywhere. You don’t need to fit them in a kitchen cabinet and you don’t need to design your entire kitchen around them – you just put them wherever you want and that’s it
As such, they come in lots of different sizes and capacities, and can have every function you might want from a dishwasher.
A great option for a kitchen that’s still under construction and is being designed, integrated dishwashers are made to act as a dishwashing kitchen cabinet. This means that you’ll have a uniformly beautiful kitchen instead of a kitchen with a big white – and ugly, to some people – block sitting there.
If your kitchen is already finished and you don’t want to redesign it, it’s sometimes possible to find an integrated dishwasher model that can neatly replace one of your cabinets but that’s rare. Also, these models usually don’t get as big as freestanding models.
The last three types can be viewed as sub-types of integrated dishwashers but are sufficiently different to merit separate mentions. The first such type is slimline dishwashers. These integrated dishwashers are made as extra slim cabinets for smaller kitchens with limited space. Slim and tall, they are great for households of ~2 people with not too many dishes. While they aren’t very big, it is impressive how well they can help you utilize the limited space in your kitchen.
Similarly, compact dishwashers are meant for smaller households with limited kitchen space. They are usually as big as a large microwave or a bit bigger and can be either integrated or freestanding. They are arguably too small even for a two-person household and are mostly meant for bachelor apartments where people rarely cook.
A third type of integrated dishwashers is built-in dishwashers. The two terms are often used interchangeably but do mean different things. Built-in dishwashers are ones that are integrated below your kitchen sink and are connected directly to it. This reduces the distance the water has to travel and thus reduces the risk of pipe accidents. It also makes dealing with your dirty or just-washed dishes easier as the dishwasher is as close to the kitchen sink as possible.
What should I look for when buying a dishwasher?
With all dishwashers working on the same principle, the key differences between them fall down to their features and extra functions.
Integrated vs freestanding
We outlined the differences between the two main types above so we won’t repeat them. This is the first and main choice you’ll have to make, however, as it will dictate how your kitchen will look and where your dishwasher will be.
Another key thing to consider is exactly how big you want your dishwasher to be. Getting a dishwasher that’s not big enough for your needs is both a pain to deal with and a waste of money. You’ll have to empty and refill it constantly, it won’t be big enough for your bigger pots and trays, and it will generally be more trouble than it’s worth.
On the other hand, getting a needlessly big dishwasher means you’ll have to either wait days until it’s full to use it, forcing yourself to not use your utensils and plates, or use it at half capacity and waste water.
Speaking of wasting water, you’d also do well to pick a dishwasher with lower water consumption. These models may have a higher initial price but they are both environmentally-friendly and save from your water bill.
Extra features that might be useful
Of course, dishwashers also have a lot of additional features you may find useful or unnecessary, depending on your preferences:
- Water filtration. As dishwashers reuse and recycle water multiple times before disposing of it, it’s important to pick a model with good water filtration to keep it clean between the cycles.
- Soil sensors. Dishwashers with soil sensors can sense how dirty your dishes are and adjust the water consumption accordingly. This both saves water and makes for better washing.
- Programs and controls. Most modern dishwashers have electronic displays as that makes using and programming them much easier. Even without those, however, it’s important to pick a dishwasher that has your preferred operating programs. Some dishwashers allow for half-cycles when you don’t want to wait for the whole machine to be filled, others have high-temperature or low-temperature washing modes, etc.
- Noise insulation. Like washing machines and clothes dryers, dishwashers are not exactly quiet machines. Getting a model with good noise insulation is great if your kitchen is close to your living room or bedroom.
In short, while dishwasher can differ a lot in their size, design, place in the kitchen, and features, they all tend to work in the same base principle. So, finding the best dishwasher for your kitchen is usually just a matter of finding one that has the right capacity and size, as well as your preferred features and water-consumption.