Since most dishwashers last about 10 years, make sure you've chosen a model that suits your needs. One thing to consider is how much it'll cost to run the unit. Many modern dishwashers meet the U.S. government's Energy Star qualifications for energy savings. These specifications mean that the machine uses less electricity and water, which will save you money on your utility bills. When shopping, look for a yellow label that specifies the amount of energy required to run that particular model. If you want to cut your costs even more, choose a machine that has an air-drying option to prevent using additional electricity to run a drying cycle.
Capacity should also factor into your buying decision. A conventional dishwasher will hold up to 12 five-piece place settings. If you're single, have a small family or don't eat at home much, you might want to consider a compact washer, which will hold around 8 place settings. Countertop models and single dishwasher drawers hold about half the maximum load of conventional machines, which is about six place settings.
When you own your home, you can choose whatever dishwasher you'd like, provided it fits into your kitchen. Renters don't have that luxury. If you rent and want a dishwasher, a portable or countertop unit might be the best solution, especially if your landlord isn't open to the idea of installing a conventional machine.
Of course, homeowners have to worry about costs too, and today's dishwashers have a plethora of special features that can help clean your dishes. For example, while most washers have four basic cycles that correspond to the dishes' level of grime (Heavy, Normal, Light and Rinse), some advanced models have options designed especially for scrubbing pots, sanitizing cups, bowls and plates and washing crystal or china. Soil sensors detect dirt levels and can adjust how much water to use during different cycles. Some models even have quiet motors, so running a midnight load won't wake up everyone in your house.
However, all these options come at a price. High-end units can cost hundreds more than basic machines. But no matter how much you pay, you're still going to have to rinse and load your dishes into the machine. Upscale models will do more of the work for you, but no dishwasher is going to clean a sink full of dirty dishes without your assistance.