Before dishwashers became commonplace, the words ‘washing up’ could make an entire family scram in an effort to avoid the chore altogether. But if you did get roped into dish duty, you were probably in charge of either the ‘washing’ or the ‘drying’ (and by tacit agreement, putting everything away). Then there were the debates around whether you should fill the sink or wash plates under a running tap, or whether it’s more effective to wash in cold or hot water (definitely hot).
Thankfully, dishwashers have pulled the plug on all of these kitchen cleaning particularities. That is, of course, unless you don’t have a dishwasher (yet) or your reliable dishwasher has finally kicked the bucket and it’s time for a new one.
Luckily, our comprehensive guide to dishwashers covers: the benefits of dishwashers, how to use a dishwasher, the best dishwashers you can buy in 2023, the best dishwasher brands, dishwasher features you need to look for as well as dishwasher installation and maintenance tips that will ensure your machine lasts the distance.
Is using a dishwasher better than hand washing?
Using a dishwasher is superior to hand washing in almost every way. They’re hands down more water efficient, more energy efficient and more time efficient than handwashing. Efficiency aside, they also offer a range of other benefits: they save your hands (by reducing contact with harsh detergents), are better at killing germs, remove the visual clutter of dirty dishes on your kitchen bench and even basic models can dry everything as well. They also remove the need for your physical labour – so once you stack it and press ‘Go’, you can do something way more interesting with your time.
How to stack a dishwasher correctly
Plates should be placed at the bottom of the dishwasher, ensuring there is enough space between them to allow water and soap to reach. Cups, glasses and bowls should be placed at an angle so water can reach from below. Forks and spoons should be placed in the cutlery basket handle down, and knives handle up (for safety). The key is to avoid overloading your dishwasher.
Do you need to rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher?
No, you don’t need to rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher. Rinsing the dishes before washing them in the dishwasher just uses unnecessary extra water and may actually lead to a poorer wash. That’s because most modern dishwashers have sensors that detect how dirty the dishes are, and will adjust their jets accordingly. If the plates already look clean, the dishwasher may only conduct a light wash.
Not convinced? Try using the dishwasher’s pre-rinse cycle instead. A pre-rinse cycle runs for approximately 11 minutes and only uses 5 litres of water, compared to 9.5 litres per minute under a running tap.
Features to look for when buying a dishwasher
The best dishwasher will be one that suits your family’s needs, your budget and your kitchen. Colin Jones, category expert at Appliances Online says the key features to consider include: capacity, size, efficiency, noise levels and whether the racks are flexible or adjustable. “If you have lots of large pots and pans, you may want to consider a unit with adjustable racks, this can make it easier to load different types of dishes,” he says.
Operational features you may want to compare across models include:
- Energy saving mode
- Half load
- Racks that lift up (great for those with back pain)
- Assisted drying (either with a fan or automatic door-open feature)
- Additional wash cycles: including delicate, steam cleaning and extra rinse options
- Wifi connectivity and smart capabilities
- Child lock
- Cutlery basket or cutlery drawer
“Some brands and models may supply both a cutlery basket and a tray,” says Colin. “Cutlery baskets are great for easy loading as you just need to place everything in the basket. Cutlery trays will help your utensils get a better wash as the items are washed separately within the tray. A cutlery tray also means you have more room in the lower rack, providing you with a larger capacity.”Cutlery drawer or cutlery basket – which is better?
Another important thing to consider …
Tim, owner-operator at That Appliance Repair Guy and HiPages customer advisory board member says one thing people don’t often consider when buying a dishwasher is how much it will cost to repair down the line. “If you buy a good dishwasher, then you’ll want to repair it, rather than replace it,” he says.
“When researching a dishwasher to buy, look up the cost of repair parts first, look at the quality of the unit, the reputation of the unit and whether it’s going to be worth repairing in the future.”
Having repaired countless dishwashers over the years, he admits, “Dishwashers don’t last as long as they used to, so in my opinion, it’s a good idea to get the extended warranty.”
Best dishwasher brands
According to Canstar, the highest-rated dishwasher brands for customer satisfaction (which rates according to performance, features, value for money, ease of use, design and overall satisfaction) are:
Other highly reputable dishwasher manufacturers with legions of loyal customers include Miele, ASKO and Dishlex.
Are expensive dishwashers worth it?
Colin says the main difference between expensive dishwashers and affordable dishwashers are the features. “Higher-end dishwashers may incorporate more advanced cleaning technology, better insulation and noise reduction, energy-saving options, including sensors that adjust cycle length based on load size and soil level, additional wash cycles and smart features.”
Tim says that while expensive machines are often well-built, they can sometimes be more expensive to repair. “I went to repair a dishwasher that was just three years old and the cost of the control board alone, which was at the front of the machine, was $900. And that dishwasher cost $2000 to buy, so the part was half the price of a new dishwasher.”
Tim’s solution? To buy a dishwasher that is well-built, simple (because less can go wrong) and has affordable repair parts. “Look at the cost of the repairs to the unit because it is going to fail.”
How long should a dishwasher last?
Which brings us to the next question, how long can you expect a dishwasher to last?
“If it’s just a cheap unit to get you by, then expect to replace it every 2-3 years,” says Tim. “A good dishwasher should last at least 10 years and may require about 2-3 repairs in that time period.”
Best affordable dishwashers under $1000
Samsung 60cm stainless steel freestanding dishwasher DW60M6055FS, The Good Guys
$749 (The Good Guys’ Deal Days offer)
Clean large amounts of cookware and dinnerware all at once with this Samsung freestanding dishwasher. With a generous 14-place setting capacity, it’s perfect for larger households. Plus, it features the option to run a ‘half-full’ load for urgent jobs (without using excessive water).
- 14-place setting
- Baskets, racks and cutlery tray included
- Sleek stainless steel finish
- Half-full load option
- Sanitise function
In a hurry? Choose Click & Collect from your nearest Good Guys and it’ll be ready for pick up from your local store in just one hour.
Haier HDW13V1W1 Freestanding dishwasher, Appliances Online
$594 (usually $629)
This affordable dishwasher was reviewed by Choice and performed just as well, if not better, than higher-end models. It can accommodate up to 13-place settings and the racks are height adjustable and foldable. It doesn’t have child lock features, so may not be suitable for families with young children.
- 6 wash cycles including fast wash, delicate wash and eco-wash
- Height-adjustable baskets
- Auto sensors
Also available at:
Beko freestanding dishwasher in platinum steel, Bing Lee
Beko machines may be affordable, but they are packed with features often seen only in higher-end models. This machine is quiet (reaching 47 dBa), comes with both a cutlery basket and drawer and even harnesses the power of steam to kill bacteria and leave plates and glasses sparkling clean.
- 7 wash programs including mini 30, auto and intensive
- Energy rating 3.5 star and water rating 4 stars
- Also available in black.
Also available at:
14-place QuadWash dishwasher in white, LG
LG’s entry model QuadWash is beloved by thousands. Happy customers say it washes well and is easy to operate. Clean loads faster with ‘Turbo’ mode, which can thoroughly clean light to moderately soiled dishes in 59 minutes.
- Half load option
- Wifi connectivity options available
- Height adjustable baskets and upper rack
- 10-year parts warranty, 2 years parts and labour + 8 years on motor (parts only)
Also available at:
Best dishwashers over $1000
BOSCH 60cm stainless steel dishwasher, The Good Guys
$1399 (The Good Guys’ Deal Days offer)
Wash large amounts of cookware easily with this 15-place setting dishwasher from BOSCH. It’s perfect for large households or those who often love to host dinner parties. Choose from six intuitive wash programs that will leave your dishes sparkling clean every time.
- 15-place setting capacity
- 6 wash programs
- Foldable racks
- Eco wash setting available
Also available at:
Bosch Serie 6 built-under dishwasher, Appliances Online
$1244 (usually $1599)
Bosch is a trusted brand in dishwashing circles and their Serie 6 range is known for its longevity. This machine has over 200 rave customer reviews and is packed with functionality including: dosage assist to maximise the effectiveness of dishwasher tablets, ‘Extra Clean Zone’, sensor technology and easy glide baskets.
- Anti-fingerprint stainless steel finish and soft-touch activated buttons
- 8-wash cycles including hygiene plus and extra- dry option
- 4-star energy rating, 5.5 star water rating
- Made in Germany
Also available at:
Fisher & Paykel 60cm double dishwasher drawers in stainless steel, Bing Lee
$1699 (usually $1899)
Dishwasher drawers are great for kitchens were the load size varies from day-to-day. You can run a half load when there are only a few items to clean, or run both drawers on days you entertain. They’re also a great option for smaller kitchens where the standard dishwasher door size is unfeasible. Fisher & Paykel are the original dishwasher drawer specialists, launching the first machine in the late 1990s.
In addition to being quiet, looking great in a modern kitchen and conserving both energy and water, this unit features a ‘Sanitise’ option which can kill up to 99.9% of bacteria in the final rinse.
- True half load wash
- Quiet operation (reaching 43dBA on standard cycle top drawer)
- 6 wash programs including eco and delicate
Also available at:
Miele freestanding dishwasher G7104SCCLST, Bing Lee
At over $2000, Miele’s freestanding stainless steel dishwasher may be pricey, but it will save you on running costs. It boasts a 4.5 energy rating and a 6-star water rating. It is also significantly quieter to run than many other dishwashers on the market, at just 41dBA.
- Flexline baskets and 3D multiflex tray
- Eco programme to reduce water consumption
- Half load function
- Best noise levels
One dishwasher recently garnered plenty of attention on Instagram when architectural designer Georgina Wilson said it could complete a full load of dishes in just three minutes! The Hobart Premax Undercounter Dishwasher is a commercial-grade machine that, while not exactly pretty (she recommends installing it in a butler’s pantry, out of sight) is a ‘godsend’ for frequent entertainers.
“They don’t look great in the main context of your kitchen, where you may prefer to conceal these appliances,” she says in the Instagram video.
Can I install a dishwasher by myself?
If your kitchen has had a dishwasher installed previously, and there is a water supply, energy supply and a drainage point, installing a new machine yourself is possible.
“If you’re a DIY-er, installing a dishwasher is probably medium-level difficulty as long as you follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions,” says Tim. “It can be as simple as pushing back a freestanding dishwasher into place, making sure that the hoses are in the correct position so they’re not going to get crushed at the back, behind the machine.”
“Install the dishwasher outside of the cavity, making sure the hoses reach to the water point, to the drainage point and the cord reaches the power point so you can test the machine while it’s outside and everything is visible. If you have the ability to run it outside of the cavity and you have any issues or need to repair it later on, it will be really easy to slide out, diagnose and fault-find and it will save you a whole lot of money and hassle.”Tim’s top tip for installing a dishwasher DIY
Common dishwasher installation mistakes
Aside from crushing pipes and hoses behind or underneath the machine, Tim says some of the most common dishwasher installation mistakes include:
- Trapping the dishwasher inside the cavity with flooring. “If you put in a new floor, remove your dishwasher first, floor all the way to the back of the cavity, then re-install the dishwasher.”
- Not taking steam and moisture into account: “Make sure that the steam released by the dishwasher isn’t going to cause any damage to your cabinetry.”
- Failing to use the correct adhesives: “Cabinet-makers will often use a higher heat-resistant glue around the oven and dishwasher cavities, but if you’re doing it yourself and haven’t allowed for higher heats, it could be an issue.”
Maintaining your dishwasher
One way you can ensure your dishwasher cleans well for years to come is to keep it clean! This means running a hot cycle with a dishwasher cleaner once every six months. “What these do is they clean away all the limescale and any mould build up,” says Tim.
How to clean a dishwasher filter
Cleaning your dishwasher filters is the key to sparkling clean dishes. But Tim says the task requires more than just tapping out the food scraps and putting it back in. He says most people ignore the most important part: the oil filter or oil element, which can usually be found around the dishwasher filter.
“Oil filters, or oil elements, should really be cleaned every week,” he says. “If you haven’t been doing it weekly, then take out that element filter and run it under hot water and scrub it with a nylon brush (or toothbrush). Get all the oil off the element filter.”
It may be a wonder cleaner, but there are some things you should never clean with vinegar – and your dishwasher is one of them, says Tim. “I’ve worked on a lot of units that have had people putting vinegar and other things through them, but it actually perishes the plastics, because they’re not really designed for that type of acid. They’re only designed to take certain detergents.”Should you clean a dishwasher with vinegar?