Your guide to buying a dishwasher

Buying a new dishwasher? We've got everything you need to consider before heading into the store, from the different drawer styles to the various capacity options

​​​​​​​A fully integrated dishwasher from Miele  See architecture, furniture, home, home appliance, house, interior design, table, window, white
​​​​​​​A fully integrated dishwasher from Miele  See more from Miele

If you’ve ever gone without a dishwasher, you’ll understand just how much time doing the dishes by hand takes. Interestingly, according to Energy Star, the act of loading a dishwasher and pressing the start button can save you over 230 hours a year!

Here’s what you should take into account when shopping around for a new dishwasher.


The first and most important consideration when buying a dishwasher? How much it can wash at once. You don’t want to be left with dishes on the counter after dinner while you wait for the machine to finish its cycle.

In New Zealand, manufacturers commonly use place settings as a measurement for the capacity of a dishwasher. One place setting is basically all of the cutlery and crockery someone will use over a three-course meal.

If it’s just you, or yourself and one other person, 6-9 place settings should be adequate. At 2-4 people, you’ll want 9-12 place settings. Anything over four people and you’ll want over 12 place settings.

Dishwasher styles and installation types

With dishwashers, there’s the style (how many drawers it has, whether or not it’s a compact unit) and installation type (standalone, semi-integrated or fully integrated).

Here’s an overview of the different styles and installation types.

Standard: The most common type of dishwasher, standard models open via a door hinge with trays you slide out. They'll often have the highest capacities too. In most cases, this type will have space for up to 14 place settings. They’re also usually more efficient than double drawer models.

A semi-integrated dishwasher from Miele chest of drawers, drawer, furniture, home appliance, kitchen appliance, kitchen stove, major appliance, product, white
A semi-integrated dishwasher from Miele

Double drawer: You’ve heard the horror stories – but this is a thing of the past. Modern double drawer dishwashers fit into the same space as a single drawer unit, but allow you to run two different cycles at the same time. They’re quite useful for smaller households, as you don’t need to wait to fill up an entire dishwasher, but you also have the extra capacity if you need it.

Single drawer: A single drawer variant of the more popular double drawer dishwasher, these units do come with their own advantages. For one, they're smaller and can fit into tighter spaces in your kitchen. What's more, you've got flexibility. You could install one next to your kitchen sink and another in your scullery.

A double drawer dishwasher from Fisher & Paykel drawer, furniture, kitchen, product, white
A double drawer dishwasher from Fisher & Paykel

Compact: The smallest units available. Compact dishwashers are a useful for for small households and for kitchens where space as at a premium. Most compact models feature folding doors, instead of the drawer system.

Standalone: Certainly the easiest to install, standalone or freestanding dishwashers simply slide under a counter (leaving a gap), or can be placed on their own. Don’t worry – they’re finished on the top.

Semi-integrated: These dishwashers allow you to cover the fascia up to the control panel so you can integrate the unit with your kitchen. For example, if you have a kitchen with timber cabinets, you can use the same material on your dishwasher.

A Miele semi-integrated dishwasher countertop, floor, flooring, furniture, home appliance, kitchen, kitchen appliance, kitchen stove, major appliance, product, sideboard, gray, brown, black
A Miele semi-integrated dishwasher

Fully integrated: Taking things one step further than semi-integrated dishwashers, these units move the control panel to the inside of the unit. This allows you to run the fascia over the entire face of the unit and achieve a seamless look.

A fully integrated dishwasher from Miele architecture, furniture, home, home appliance, house, interior design, table, window, white
A fully integrated dishwasher from Miele

Energy and water efficiency

You can easily identify efficient dishwashers by looking for the Energy Rating Label (usually a sticker on the front). It's quite a simple system. The more stars on the label, the more efficient it is.

Interestingly, Canstar Blue research found that more efficient models tend to come with a higher price tag. This means while you’ll have a more efficient dishwasher, it could a long time before you recoup the higher initial purchase price through energy savings.There's more on the Energy Rating Label system on the Energywise website.

Noise levels

Dishwashers noise levels are, like most appliances, rated in decibels. This means the lower the number of decibels, the quieter your unit will be. Dishwashers rated at anywhere from 41 to 44 decibels will be fine in terms of noise, with some Miele units managing to operate below 40 decibels. For reference, a conversation is around 60 decibels.

Maintenance tips

A clean dishwasher is a dishwasher that won’t give you any grief. Here a few simple maintenance tips to ensure yours keeps running at peak capacity:

  • Soak the filter: Remove the filter from the bottom of the unit and soak it in water with soap. Then, rinse it off and place it back in the slot.
  • Use a speciality dishwasher cleaner: You may have heard of using an acid to clean your dishwasher, but we think it's best to use a speciality product every 6 months. They're affordable, thoroughly clean and also deodorise the inside of your dishwasher.

Story by: David Renwick

23 Jul, 2018

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