Buying Guide for Dishwashers

So, you're sick of cleaning piles of dirty dishes by hand. We hear you! The good news is that dishwashers are more affordable than ever before, and they're also more energy and water efficient than they used to be.

But where to begin? Here is a helpful buying guide that will have you eating off sparkling clean plates faster than you can say "suits my lifestyle".

Getting the right size dishwasher

First, you need to make sure that your new dishwasher will fit your kitchen. Measure the depth, width and height dimensions of your space to determine what dishwasher size will fit. Be extra vigilant with your measurements as the standard dishwasher size can vary slightly between brands. You don't want to discover the hard way that your brand new dishwasher is 1mm too wide for the space.

Dishwashers range in size from slimline (around 450mm in width) to standard (600mm in width). Height and depth dimensions will differ, so it's important to always double-check before purchase.

'Place settings' explained:

When you're shopping for a dishwasher, you will notice that capacity is measured in 'place settings'. This can be a little confusing, because the number of place settings (i.e. all the plates, cutlery and glassware needed for a three course meal) will vary depending on the size of your plates.

The dishwashers available at Appliances Online vary from the very small benchtop models (6 place settings) through to the large 14 place setting models. Obviously, the more place settings it can handle, the more dishes it can clean. The table below should provide a rough guide:

Size of household (people) Place settings required
1-2 6-9
2-4 9-12
4+ 12+

However as stated, your most important consideration is whether or not the dishwasher will physically fit the space available in your kitchen.

If you want to chat to one of our experienced appliance experts about finding the right size dishwasher, give us a call any time on: 1300 000 500.

Compact dishwashers

If you only have a small household, you can save space, money and resources by buying a slimline dishwasher, a benchtop dishwasher or a single drawer DishDrawer™.

However, if you're the kind of person who frequently has guests round for dinner, you might like to consider a standard dishwasher with a half load option. That way, you can use your dishwasher to wash large loads after a party, but also use it during the week to clean smaller loads of only a few plates and glasses ? without wasting electricity or water.

A double DishDrawer™ is another great option for people whose dishwashing needs vary. Use the top drawer for small loads, and use the bottom drawer in conjunction with the top drawer to clean up larger pots and pans after a busy cooking session.

Types of dishwashers

Standard dishwasher

The standard size of a dishwasher is 600mm wide by 600mm deep, with a variable height of 810mm-850mm. Please note that these dimensions can vary depending on the model and the brand. Some models allow you to adjust the height to fit to your benchtop.

If you have an average-sized household (around 4 people) and a 600mm wide cavity in your kitchen, a standard dishwasher is probably your best option.

Standard dishwashers are generally finished in stainless steel, white or black, and are generally used as a freestanding appliance.

Semi-integrated dishwasher

Semi-integrated dishwashers are designed to be built into your kitchen cupboards. Some models allow you to fit your own custom panel to the front of the dishwasher to suit your existing decor.

Fully integrated dishwasher

Similar to a semi-integrated dishwasher, fully-integrated dishwashers are designed to integrate into your kitchen for a completely streamlined look. The only difference between fully-integrated and semi-integrated dishwashers is that the control panel of a fully-integrated dishwasher is located inside the top of the door, so that when the door is shut you won't see the controls at all.

Some fully-integrated dishwashers allow you to fit your own custom panel to the front of the door to perfectly match your decor.

Benchtop dishwasher

Ideal for small households or for apartment living, benchtop dishwashers can be placed on top of a kitchen bench. These dishwashers are especially great if you live in a rental property, as they're easy to relocate when you reach the end of your lease.

Slimline dishwasher

Designed to fit narrow spaces, these dishwashers are usually around 450mm wide.

DishDrawer dishwasher

Unique to Fisher & Paykel, the DishDrawer style of dishwasher features a 'filing cabinet' design of one or two separate drawers. The one-drawer models are perfect for small households, whereas the two-drawer models are convenient because they allow you to run two different cycles at the same time. So, you could wash your delicate glassware in the top drawer while washing your pots and pans on a heavy cycle in the bottom drawer.

The drawer design is also highly ergonomic, making these dishwashers easy to load and unload. If you or anyone in your family has back problems, a DishDrawer dishwasher could be a sensible choice.

Other considerations

Energy rating

Every dishwasher has an energy rating, which is displayed beside the main product image:

The more stars, the more energy-efficient the appliance. Energy-efficient appliances have two key advantages:

  1. Reduced running costs. While you will pay more upfront for a dishwasher with a good energy rating, it will eventually 'pay for itself' through energy savings.
  2. Reduced impact on the environment. The more energy-efficient your appliances, the greener your household.

If you're concerned about the size of your electricity bills, look for a dishwasher with a delayed start option. This makes it possible to run the dishwasher during off-peak periods.

Water Rating

The WELS Water Rating system enables you to compare water efficiency between models:

The more stars, the more water-efficient. Because water is such a precious resource in this country, Australia has some of the most water-efficient dishwashers in the world.

It's a common misconception that dishwashers use more water than washing up in the sink. However the most water-efficient dishwasher can use as little as 11 litres of water per cycle, which is amazing considering that the average kitchen sink holds around 20 litres.

You can save more water by placing your dirty dishes directly in the dishwater without rinsing them first. Look for a dishwasher with a rinse cycle ? designed to remove crumbs, sauce and grease ? before the main wash cycle begins.

Another thing to be aware of is that water ratings are based on the amount of water the dishwasher uses to complete a normal cycle. Special programs such as the heavy cycle will use more water.

Features & Programs

Dishwasher features vary between different brands and models, but here are some things to look out for:

Wash cycles

While most dishwashers will give you the option of a normal, delicate and heavy cycle, others come with more specialised programs such as an extra-hot hygienic wash (which is good for washing baby bottles, for instance) or a quick wash cycle (perfect for when you need to get light loads clean in a hurry).

At a glance, it would seem that more wash cycles = better. However, most people only really end up using the same cycle every single time, because having too many options becomes confusing. Thus it?s important to look out for a dishwasher that uses intelligent sensor technology to automatically calculate the right conditions to get the best results.

Drying cycle

After the wash cycle is complete, some dishwashers will dry the dishes so they're ready to be put back in the cupboard straight away. Generally speaking, the more expensive the dishwasher, the more effective the drying program will be.

Bear in mind that most drying cycles use additional energy. So if you are trying to save electricity, you could opt instead to simply open the dishwasher door once the wash cycle is over and the let the residual heat inside the cavity do the work.

Please note: very few dishwashers are able to dry plastic items such as Tupperware containers.

Filters and food disposal

Most dishwashers are able to rinse any food residues off your dishes before washing, saving you the trouble of rinsing in the sink. However, you will need to empty the filter in your dishwasher regularly, otherwise food build-ups could cause bad odours.

Some of the higher-end dishwashers feature self-cleaning filtration systems, which is great because it saves you effort, and is more hygienic.

Digital displays

Dishwashers with a digital display are convenient because they can show you important details such as how much time is remaining in the cycle.

Delayed start

By delaying the start of the wash cycle, you can take advantage of off-peak energy rates. You can also set your dishwasher to wash when you're out of the house or asleep at night, so the noise won't disturb you or your guests.


Most dishwashers come with a Decibel rating. To give you an idea of how the Decibel rating compares to other sounds, you can refer to this chart:

Environmental noise Decibels
Whisper quiet library 30dB
Normal conversation 60-65dB
Telephone dial tone 80dB
Traffic noise 85dB
Train whistle 90dB
Jackhammer 95dB

Please note that the Decibel rating for a dishwasher is taken during the normal cycle ? other cycles might be nosier. Additionally, the noise level will be affected by where the dishwasher is positioned ? if it's built into your kitchen cabinetry it will make less noise than a freestanding model.

Frequently asked questions

Q: Can I use regular dish soap in a dishwasher?

A: No, this will hinder the wash cycle. The suds will build up heavily in your dishwasher and may cause it to overflow from the appliance to the floor.

Q: Can I wash my fine china or antique china in my dishwasher?

A: No. Fine china, antique china, gold trimmed or hand-painted dishes are not suitable for dishwashers. This is because of the heat from the dishwasher. It is best to just hand wash these delicate items.

Q: There is a bad odour emanating from my dishwasher. Why? What is the cause?

A: If there is a bad odour coming from your dishwasher, try emptying your filter or do an empty rinse cycle with a small amount of white vinegar.