How a Dishwasher Works

When purchasing a dishwasher, there are a few things to keep in mind.  In order to choose the best features for you and your family, you must decide how often you will use the dishwasher and what you will be washing. Another thing to take into account is how much energy and water each model will use.  We suggest purchasing an Energy Star model.

The Soap and Detergent Association recommends a water temperature of more than 130 degrees Fahrenheit, and other sources recommend temperatures up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it very important for a dishwasher to be able to reach high temperatures. Having a high-temperature cycle (or rinse) will ensure that you sanitize the dishwasher's contents. You can also look for dishwashers with an option called NSF sanitizing rinse. The NSF national standard establishes evaluation criteria to ensure residential dishwashers clean and sanitize dishes effectively to help prevent food borne illness. Some models have internal water heaters which raise water temperatures to 160 degrees Fahrenheit thus allowing a household to keep the water heater turned down to an energy saving 120-degrees and get the desired results from a dishwasher.

  • If you plan on using the dishwasher more then one time each day, it is recommended to purchase one with an accelerated wash cycle and a thermal heating feature to quickly dry dishes
  • If you bake or host big parties, you should choose a model with adjustable racks to fit baking sheets and party platters. Find Adjustable Rack Dishwashers Here
  • If it takes you a week to dirty enough dishes to wash one load, look for a model with the option to wash the top-rack only or the bottom-rack only
  • If you have a large family, you should select a dishwasher with a higher capacity, such as a tall tub design. You may also want to consider a dishwasher that has adjustable racks and a capacity of up to 15 place settings at a time. Find Large Capacity Dishwashers Here.

    A number of models include a built-in food disposal. Other models paired this built-in food disposal with other features such as multidirectional spray jets and rinse-and-soak cycles. These features can save you the hassle of hand-rinsing dishes, glasses and flatware before placing them into a dishwasher. If dishes are pre-rinsed using a dishwasher pre-rinse cycle, approximately one gallon of water is used compared to 25 gallons of water pre-rinsing in the sink.

    There are a few dishwashers with self-cleaning filter systems. If the dishwasher does not have this feature then you will need to manually empty the filter periodically, Failure to do so can negatively affect daily performance, as well as increase the likelihood of damage to the machine.

    Below is a list of the main features of a Dishwasher:

  • Auto-Clean/Sensor A mechanism within the machine that is intended to adjust water levels to the soil of the dishes
  • Automatic Temperature Control Heats the water as it enters the machine, insuring proper water temperature.
  • Child Lock-Out Feature Prevents children from operating the unit.
  • Controls Both mechanical and electronic controls are common.


    Dishwashers Controls

  • Cycles Three cycles (light, normal, and heavy) will handle most loads. Some models offer many more, but three should be sufficient. The most important dishwashing cycles are Light, Regular, Pots & Pans and Econo settings. The econo cycle will air dry dishes saving on heating element energy costs. Enhanced cycles such as Glass or Stemware, Rinse, Quick Wash, Pots Scrub and Sanitize Wash are features you want to have, but expect to pay more. A stainless steel dishwasher interior is a beautiful feature but will not improve washing performance - it is mainly a style option. However, a stainless steel dishwasher washing arm will not rust and will be more durable.

    Dishwasher Performance Features Performance is influenced by the number of washing levels - how and where the jets of water are distributed during the dishwashing cycle. A three tier system will provide a good washing and more levels will ensure even better coverage, but price will be influenced. A 'quiet' package is also a good feature. Dishwasher detergent and rinse agent dispensers are usually standard features and a detergent dispense system ensures the right amount to clean the load. Electronic dirt sensors are definitely nice-to-have features. A child safety lock is important if you have small children.


  • Energy Star Qualified
    Energy Star Dishwashers To see our assortment of energy star dishwashers, click here.

    The unit meets the new federal energy consumption guidelines. This feature allows you to save money and help conserve energy. ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers use at least 41 percent less energy than the federal minimum standard for energy consumption. These dishwashers use “smart” features such as effective washing action, energy-efficient motors, and sensors that determine the necessary cycle length and water temperature.


  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) have certain height guidelines and We are proud to provide dishwashers that comply. Also, our ADA dishwashers are helpful when remodeling a kitchen or dealing with a smaller space. For more information regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act, please visit www.ada.gov. To see our assortment of ADA compliant dishwashers, click here.

  • Filter
    Dishwasher Filter
    Removes small food particles from the wash water. Some models require that you remove the filter regularly for cleaning.


  • Food Grinder/Disposal
    Dishwasher Grinder
    Removes large pieces of food from inside the unit.

  • Rinse Aid Dispenser
    Dishwasher Rinse Aid Dispenser
    Automatically dispenses the rinse aid to speed drying and help eliminate spotting. Some dispensers automatically adjust the amount of aid dispensed to the hardness of the water.

  • Time Delay A feature that delays operation up to 12 hours. This allows you to take advantage of off-peak electric rates and to use hot water at a time when it is not being used by other household members.
  • Tub Materials Both plastic and stainless steel are common. Plastic is cheaper, but may crack or discolor. Stainless steel will not.