Photo: KitchenAid

Dishwashers are the roommate-placating, marriage-saving, water-conserving appliances of our dreams. But with so many available options, and so many questions you might find yourself asking, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. According to Robert Wolfe of Jetson TV & Appliance in Stuart, Florida, for most people, choosing the right dishwasher comes down to “four criteria: cosmetics, capacity, quietness, and then how well it cleans. That’s usually fourth on the list.” With most modern dishwashers, he says, you can safely assume they wash well. There are other concerns, of course, but they only apply to small groups of people. Like the type of tub your dishwasher uses. The difference between full stainless steel and the less expensive tub made of half-steel and half-plastic is its easiness to clean. “If you’re in a rural area and have a lot of heavy calcium deposits in the water, those deposits will embed themselves in the plastic forever. That’s not the case with stainless steel,” says Robert McGuire, owner of Rutland Appliances in Rutland, Vermont. “Aesthetically, you’ll always have that gleaming metal.”

Whichever dishwasher you choose, treat it well. “Even the cheapest dishwasher is going to wash your dishes better than you, but don’t overload it,” says Shirley Hood, appliance specialist at Abt electronics and appliances in Glenview, Illinois. “Taking the time to load it correctly makes all the difference,” she says. “Slot your silverware the way you are supposed to, load correctly, and don’t block the wash arms.” And fight the urge to prewash. Your new dishwasher can handle it. “Active enzymes in dish soap want to attach to the food on your plates. If dishes are already pretty clean going in, those enzymes have nothing to attach to, and they’ll attach to the finish of your plate, leaving you with etched, dull plates,” says Eugene Pallas, owner of Lorain Furniture & Appliance in Cleveland, Ohio. He suggests removing anything that would really stick to your plates, but don’t worry about rinsing off things like pasta sauce. “You bought a dishwasher to wash dishes. Let it,” he says.

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