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Dishwasher Features

Best Dishwasher Features

The best dishwashers have top of the line features that distinguish them from their rivals. Competition between manufacturers means that quite a lot of very special features are available to the consumer. Ultimately this is a good thing but it does mean that it can be very confusing when you are trying to decide between 2 models or to figure out if some features are worth the extra money.

Hopefully. you will have already read through the article that covers the Basic Dishwasher Features. This will have explained the standard features and options found on most dishwashers. Now read on to find out about the more interesting features that you may not realize are available. Knowing that these options even exist, and understanding what they can do, will really help you to decide which is the best dishwasher to suit your individual needs.

Sanitize Wash Program

Good dishwashers will have various methods of heating up the water rather than simply relying upon the household hot water supply. This means that they can increase the temperature of the water beyond anything that you would use to hand wash dishes. The combination of very hot water and good detergents will not only get your dishes sparkling clean but will also go a long way towards sanitizing them.

The key is how hot the water gets. Most models will heat the water to around 140 - 150 F which is more than adequate to get your plates clean. However, some brands have a special 'anti-bacterial' wash program designed to really sanitize your dishes. These get the water up to 160 - 165 F.
Some models are even certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).

Parents of young children will find this level of cleaning can give them great peace of mind when they are trying to ensure that everything from lunch boxes to 'sippy cups' are totally germ free.

Delayed Start

This useful feature allows you to delay the start of any wash program until some point in the future. Usually the delay is a selection of preset periods such as 1 hour, 2 hours all the way up to 12 hours. The number of delay periods offered varies from brand to brand. Using these delays means that you can run the dishwasher at night when no-one will be disturbed or to benefit from off-peak power savings.

The noise produced by a dishwasher can be a very good reason to delay the start of the wash program. Your family room may be right next to the kitchen and have an open design that does not block sounds. Party guests will congregate in the kitchen to chat. Parents will have a sleeping baby. It is a great relief to be able to enjoy the peace and quiet at the current time without having to worry about forgetting to start the dishwasher later.

Single Rack Wash

Having a big dishwasher is great when you need it but often you will not have enough dishes for a full load. Running it when it is not fully loaded can be costly and will waste water. Some manufacturers have the option to do a complete wash cycle but only on a single rack within the dishwasher. This feature is not just for Drawer Dishwashers, even some standard dishwashers now have this capability.

Rinse & Hold

Another soluton to the problem of too few dishes for a full load, is the idea of the Rinse & Hold wash cycle. You just load up one of the racks with the small load of dishes and the dishwasher runs through a quick rinse cycle but does not use up any detergents. The Rinse & Hold wash cycle uses far less water than any normal wash program, perhaps only 1 gallon or less. This removes any food particles and allows the dishes to remain in the appliance until there is a full load. Therefore, nothing remains on the dishes that could start to smell or build up germs. A great way to use this feature is to Rinse & Hold the breakfast dishes and then after the evening meal, wash the full load all at once.

Pause Wash Program to Add a Dish

It is annoying just how many times you can start the dishwasher only to then go into the den and find one of your children's plates in the TV area. This option lets you pause the current wash cycle and open the door to drop in the extra dish or bowl. This feature will only allow the door to be opened during safe periods of any wash program.

Time Remaining Indicator

If you've never had this feature then you may not realize just how useful it can be. You've set the dishwasher running a little while ago but you can't remember what wash program you used or how long it has been going. Maybe you want to decide if there is time to start another load before going up to bed. The 'time remaining' indicator tells you how long you will have to wait until the current wash program is completed. Trust me, once you have it, you will look at it all the time.

Soil Sensors

When your dishwasher is cleaning the dishes it goes through wash cycles where it blasts water at the dishes to remove food and grease. This water (that is now dirty) will splash around for a while inside the appliance. A model with soil sensors measures how dirty the water is during each wash cycle. Soil sensors use beams of light that shine through the water to detect how clear or dirty it is.

Using this information, the dishwasher can decide if the current water needs to be drained out and fresh water brought in to replace it. This stops food particles from being left on dishes and glasses during the final rinse cycles. It can also use this information to detect if the current load of dishes just isn't all that dirty. Then it can decide to shorten the wash program and skip some later wash cycles. This can save you money by reducing the amount of water and power that you use. Research has shown that soil sensors can save up to 600 gallons of water in a year.

Sophisticated Wash Programs

Manufacturers have realized that not all dishes are the same. They have developed wash programs that are designed to handle the different types of dishes that you can load into your dishwasher.

There are wash programs for China and Crystal. These adjust the power of the water jets inside the appliance to be more gentle and forgiving. Typically these also vary the detergent amounts and the timings of the rinse cycles to ensure that everything is washed away to avoid soap residue.

Glassware also has specific wash programs that are strong enough to prevent wine stains but also have lots of rinsing to ensure that there are no streaks or spots from detergent residue or hard water.

Other common wash programs include some designed specifically for heavy duty items such as pots and pans with baked on food, or for plastic food containers that can develop stains unless cleaned properly. Tomato sauce is a common culprit that is very guilty of staining plastic products.

An unusual wash program that is available on some brands is one that warms your plates. This is really more of a drying program, since it circulates warm air around the plates. This makes them perfect for keeping meals warmer for longer.

Rack Configurations

One of the most useful features found in all good dishwashers is the ability to reconfigure and adjust the racks within the appliance. It is fantastic to be able to move racks up and down or to remove them completely. This gives you so many options for fitting in odd shaped or large items. The racks themselves can also offer many different way to be configured. There are lots of designs for moveable components in the racks that allow you to choose to have more holders for plates, or more stemware holders, or larger areas of flat space to lay out your cutlery. Some brands even have clips that you can add which hold light items such as tupperware lids. This flexibility allows you to load up each time, as fully as possible, to get the most out of the water and power being used.

Rinse Aid Dispensers

Most standard dishwashers have rinse aid dispensers. Rinse aids are usually bottles of liquid that you pour into a compartment in the door of the dishwasher. Other types can be little tablets that do the same job. Both types work chemically with the water to help to avoid detergent and hard water residues being left on dishes and glassware. The best dishwashers have adjustable rinse aid dispensers. This allows you to adjust the amount of rinse aid used in each load depending upon the hardness of the water in your area. The user manuals explain how to adjust each brand of dispenser.

More recently manufacturers have also started to allow larger amounts of rinse aid solution to be stored in the dishwasher. Some even allow you to pour in an entire bottle of rinse aid. This saves you from having to fill up just a load's worth every time you use it. Instead you just refill when empty.

Door Color and Door Finish

Modern kitchens are more stylish than ever and the appliances must keep up with this trend. This means that manufacturers now produce dishwashers that have many different styles of door front. You can choose from a selection of colors as well as different door materials and finishes. You can have the basic thin metal door panel design or a sleek, professional, stainless steel finish. Ultimately, you can even attach a cabinet door onto the front so that the appliance 'disappears' into the overall cabinetry in your kitchen.
For more details on these 'hidden' appliances, read about Integrated Dishwashers.

Control Panel Design

Another way that manufacturers are trying to distinguish their brand is through the design of the control panel. Traditionally, a strip of dial controls would run across the top of the appliance at the front. Today, designs tend to use touch control panels rather than twist and turn dials or push buttons. They have digital displays that inform the user what is happening inside the dishwasher.

The location of the control panel varies, too. Some models hide it away inside the dishwasher. Others build it into the top edge of the door. This can give you a totally smooth front with no visible controls. Perfect for those people wanting clean lines in their kitchen design or a fully integrated appearance.

Multiple Water Pumps

Most dishwashers only use a single pump to circulate the water around the appliance. This is adequate but not ideal. The best dishwashers have two pumps - one pumps the water for washing and one for draining away the dirty water. This design is more efficient as neither pump needs to work under excess load and they are much quieter. The end result is a dishwasher that lasts longer.


The best dishwashers can have a bewildering selection of features. They all sound tempting and it can feel like being a kid in a candy store. However, you do have to think about each feature. Decide if you really need it. Realistically, will you ever use it? If you will not use it then why spend money for it?

The good news is that none of these features is very complicated once you understand it. Take time to do your research for whichever models you are interested and don't worry. If you have looked around this website and read about the various types of dishwashers and the many features that they offer, then you will have a huge head start over most people who are thinking about buying a dishwasher.

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