Innovative Dishwasher Features

Advances in dishwasher technology mean dirty dishes don't have a chance. Investigate these innovative dishwasher features to find the best buy for your kitchen.
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Buying a Dishwasher

Big loads or small, washing casserole pans or crystal, dishwashers are smarter and quieter than ever. The point of a dishwasher has always been to clean dishes, pots, pans, and glasses, but today's models are doing that job more quietly, efficiently, and elegantly. Take loading options, where taller tubs, adjustable racks, removable tines, and stemware holders keep any mix of items in place while getting them sparkling clean. And you can finally break that pre-rinsing habit -- multiple arms, built-in heaters, and targeted sprays take care of all kinds of food soil.

A growing list of wash cycles (also called programs) handles every need, automatically checking soil status and offering various time and temperature options. Perhaps the most progress has been made environmentally. Like laundry equipment, dishwashers have become misers with electricity, water, and noise. Most manufacturers sell several models that meet or exceed Energy Star guidelines, so you'll save on utility costs for years to come. Plus, features such as energy savings, sanitation, filtration, hidden controls, and quiet operation are becoming available at lower price points.

What to Look For in a Dishwasher:

-- Extra insulation, cushioned tubs, and special motors keep water and mechanical noise to a minimum.

-- For an extra cost, stainless-steel interiors offer style and don't discolor the way plastic ones can.

-- Internal water heaters boost the water temperature to 140F or higher, so you can leave your wholehouse water heater set at 120°F.

-- No-heat drying saves energy but takes a bit longer.

-- Electronic countdown displays indicate how much time is left in the wash cycle.

-- A built-in disposer breaks up and traps large food particles to keep water clean and eliminates the need to prerinse. Some models have a filter without a grinder -- a quieter option but one that requires periodic cleaning (usually every few weeks).

-- Electronic touch pads, some hidden along the top of the door, are the easiest type of controls to clean.

Delayed start lets you wash when it's convenient.

-- Adjustable racks and fold-down tines let you configure the interior for specific items.

-- Cutlery baskets and racks help keep silverware from nesting, allowing cleaning and preventing damage.

A sensor "sees" the amount of food soil in the water and adjusts water use and cycle length accordingly.

-- A rinse/hold cycle lets you rinse dirty dishes before you're ready to start a full cycle -- reducing odors and preventing soil from setting while you accumulate enough dishes for a full load.

-- Special wash cycles, such as pot-scrubber, soak/scrub, steam clean, china/crystal, and sanitizing, allow you to customize your settings for specific needs. However, the three basic settings -- light, normal, and heavy (pots and pans) -- should be enough for most chores.

-- A dishwasher designed as a drawer is beneficial for households large or small. Whether installed singly or as a pair, dishwasher drawers allow dishes to be handled in manageable loads that take less time to put away. As an alternative, a dishwasher with a half-load option might be a good choice if you frequently wash less-than-full loads. However, it's always more efficient to run a full load of dishes.

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