One of the most hated chores in any house is undoubtedly doing the washing up. This laborious task is often the cause of arguments, and when left undone can cause pile-ups of food-laden crockery which quickly becomes the home of nasty bacteria and fungi – not to mention how unsightly it looks.
Primitive mechanical dishwashers first emerged in the mid to late 1800s, but didn’t become affordable for residential homes until at least the 1950s. By the 1970s many different types had emerged, and dishwashing by hand had finally started to be deemed an unnecessary chore.
Today there are many different manufacturers of dishwashers, most of which conform to a very similar design. Whilst the variety of shapes, sizes and levels of functionality across all brands can be rather confusing, the ultimate purpose of them all remains the same – we no longer have to do the washing up manually (unless by choice!)
When choosing the right sized dishwasher to suit your kitchen (or utility room), it will largely depend upon your requirements and storage space. Standard machines measure 60cm wide, but smaller ‘slimline’ washing machines are available that measure as little as 450mm.
A standard washing machine holds 12 place settings, consisting of:
- 12 dinner plates
- 12 soup plates
- 12 dessert plates
- 12 cups & saucers
- 12 glasses
- 12 knives, forks, table spoons and teaspoons.
Slimline units will typically hold 9 place settings, but check the specifications of any machine to find out what the manufacturer recommends. For truly tiny kitchens, table-top dishwashers are available, and sit – as the name suggests – directly on top of wooden kitchen worktops. These small units often have a waste pipe which empties directly into the sink, and will hold a maximum of 4 place settings.
All dishwashers are graded for their energy efficiency on a scale of A to G. A-rated appliances are the most efficient, meaning they are cheaper to run, whilst G-rated appliances might be powerful, but are less energy efficient. All dishwashers are also measured for their energy consumption, which is measured in kWh per cycle, and gives you a direct comparison of the actual amount of electricity used.
The best machines will have high-quality motors that are efficient and quiet, whilst using the least amount of energy and water, making them better for the environment, too.
Some dishwashers have an incredible amount of different programmes and features, can automatically sense what type of cycle to run, and much more. Even the most basic dishwasher will have at least four different programmes. Here’s what modes to look out for:
- Rinse Only: This setting is handy if you just want to rinse a small number of items before doing a full cycle, or to give your dishes an extra rinse if the machine is very full.
- Main Wash: The main washing programmes will usually operate at around 50 – 65˚C, with the hotter settings being more effective at removing stubborn grime.
- Economy: Newer dishwashers will all have an economy mode. This is usually a cooler cycle that is intended to clean dinnerware that is only lightly soiled.
- Delicates: This cycle is found on more expensive models, and is intended to clean glass and other delicate items.
- Half Loads: On some dishwashers, you may find an option to do a ‘half load’ which is intended to economically wash a half-full dishwasher without wasting too much water.
- Automatic: Some newer models of dishwasher have special sensors to allow them to adapt washing to deal with a particular type of load. It will automatically adjust the cycle depending on how dirty a load is, adjusting the time and water required.
All dishwashers are measured for noise levels, which may be of interest if you are looking for a particularly quiet model for an open, social kitchen. Noise level is measured in decibels (dB) – the lower the dB, the quieter the dishwasher will be. Anything under 45 is very quiet indeed, whilst standard dishwashers are usually 60db or less.
Types of Dishwasher
For tight spaces such as apartments or small houses, a slimline dishwasher is ideal. They combine the full functionality of a standard-sized dishwasher, with a space-saving footprint.
Commonly available with space for up to 9 place settings, though some very pricey models claim to squeeze in 10. Usually between 445mm and 500mm wide.
Standard sized dishwashers are 600mm wide, and suit a normal sized kitchen or utility room. They are usually fully-featured and include plenty of different operating modes.
Normally suit up to 12 place settings, though some more expensive models can accommodate up to 14. Available in a huge range of designs, with brushed aluminium and stainless-steel frontages being the most popular.
The Double Dishwasher™ is a new design available from Fisher & Paykel. The model pictured is on show in our Gloucester showroom, and features 2 deep drawers which can be operated individually, and set to different wash cycles, whilst maintaining the 12 place settings of a standard dishwasher.
Can either be open-fronted, or integrated into the kitchen by attaching cabinet doors to the front of the drawers.
Integrated dishwashers can be either slimline or standard width, but the key difference between them and a normal dishwasher is that they are specially designed to be hidden behind a cabinet frontal. Because of this, all the controls are usually found on the top edge of the door, rather than on the front.
As they are designed to be integrated, they sometimes are not as deep as a normal dishwasher, but otherwise come with all the same features.
If you’re really pushed for space, then a table-top dishwasher is your final option. As the name might suggest, they’re designed to be situated upon your worktop, rather than integrated or stowed underneath a counter.
Because of the size limitations, they can usually only accommodate up to 4 standard place settings.
Water feeds and waste pipe are often taken directly from the sink, making them less tidy than a conventional dishwasher.
Having read this guide, we hope you will have all the information required to decide upon the perfect dishwasher for solid oak kitchens. Our Gloucester showroom has the rather unique Fisher & Paykel Double Dishwasher™ on display, so do feel free to pay us a visit if you’re still planning your new kitchen – it might be your perfect dishwashing companion.