9 mistakes to avoid when buying a dishwasher

Shopping for dishwasher
(Image credit: Getty Images)

With winter sales upon us, it's prime time to score a great deal on a new dishwasher. Our list of mistakes to avoid when buying a dishwasher will give you the key information to make the smartest purchase without getting swept up in the savings hype.

From properly measuring your space to ignoring inflated dishwasher "deals" that seem too good to be true, these tips will help you see past the sales hype and find the best dishwasher to suit your household needs and budget. Our expert intel is your guide to shopping smart this deal season.

1. Ignoring energy and water efficiency

According to Consumer Reports, today’s dishwashers use around half the energy and water they did two decades ago, with most using between 4 and 6 gallons of water during each load. But that doesn’t mean all dishwashers offer the same energy and water efficiency. 

"Choosing a cheaper model of dishwasher without considering energy efficiency is a big mistake," says Brian Johnson, appliance expert at MyJobQuote.co.uk. "You may save on the purchase price, but that’s no good if it costs more to run. And if you’re using the dishwasher once or twice a day, those extra costs are going to stack up."

Looking for a dishwasher that has an Energy Star symbol will save you money across your utility bills, as it uses around 12% less energy and up to 30% less water than one that doesn’t have the Energy Star symbol. The Department of Energy estimates this can save up to 3,870 gallons of water over the average lifetime of a dishwasher. 

Using environmentally and energy-friendly settings on your dishwasher, such as Eco mode, light load, or air dry settings, can save you even more. 

Brian Johnson of MyJobQuote
Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson has worked as an appliance expert for MyJobQuote for four years and has worked in the industry for over 25 years. Brian continues to work for clients, providing appliance diagnostics and repairs while also providing expert advice to industry professionals and homeowners. His expert tips have been featured in a range of reputable publications over the years.  

2. Not considering capacity and usage

It may be tempting to plump for the biggest and fanciest dishwasher, especially if you find a great deal, but do you really need enough capacity for 16 place settings? You could run the risk of wasting energy and water running halfloads. Similarly, a slimline dishwasher may seem like a great idea if you have a small household or a tiny kitchen, but you could find yourself running multiple loads a day. 

Have a think about your household habits and needs. A standard-sized dishwasher can generally hold around 12 place settings, which is usually about right for the average household.

3. Not measuring up before you buy

"One of the biggest dishwasher mistakes comes from measuring up incorrectly," says Johnson. "People often forget to factor in space for the pipework when they choose a dishwasher, leaving the appliance jutting out from underneath the worktop. So, when you’re measuring the available depth under the counter, take 2 to 3 inches off your total to allow for pipework at the back." 

Ensure you measure the height, width, and depth of the space available for your new dishwasher, and consider any countertops or cabinets that may impact the measurements. Standard dishwashers need at least 32 inches of clearance, while larger models may need around 34-36 inches. Check where the water and electrical connections are located, too, and make sure your new appliance can hook up to the water line and power source. 

One final check is to measure how far you can open the dishwasher door to fill and empty it properly and ensure there’s nothing that can impede it from opening fully. And don’t forget - measure twice, or even three times, to ensure you’re selecting the right size and model of dishwasher for your space.

4. Thinking you have to go for a lower decibel rating

This may seem like counter-intuitive advice, but the fact is, most modern dishwashers are super-quiet during operation. The average dishwasher noise output ranges from around 45 to 50 decibels (dB), which is no louder than your refrigerator, or the sound of rainfall. So, do you really need to fork out hundreds of dollars more for that ultra-quiet appliance? Maybe not. 

Open dishwasher with dishes in kitchen

(Image credit: Alamy)

5. Overlooking the warranty

A solid warranty gives you peace of mind that the manufacturer will stand behind the product if anything goes wrong. On rare occasions, dishwashers fail earlier than expected due to mechanical or electrical issues, or poor workmanship or faulty components can cause problems. A good warranty should cover parts and labor for one to two years or longer, so look for a dishwasher that comes with this.

6. Not checking the interior

"Be sure the dishwasher you buy is going to work for you," says Johnson. "You don’t want to be hand-washing tall glasses and large baking trays because they don’t fit in your dishwasher. Standard-sized models typically hold up to 50 items more than slimline dishwashers, but the adjustability of the racks can also affect how much you can fit in."

It’s always a good idea to check out your chosen dishwasher in person if you can. This will allow you to see if your cookware and dishes can be accommodated. If you’re a keen cook who likes to use multiple pans and trays, and you find none of them fit in your dishwasher - you’re going to be sorely disappointed!  Johnson adds, "Some racks move up and down and have foldable sections to help accommodate awkward items. So, look out for these handy features."

Clean mugs and glasses in dishwasher

(Image credit: Getty)

7. Ignoring customer reviews

Before making any dishwasher purchase, look at as many user reviews as you can across multiple websites. This will give you a realistic idea of its performance, reliability, ease of use, efficiency, and any common issues that tend to crop up. 

Reviews from real users highlight potential shortcomings in certain dishwashers that manufacturers won't advertise, such as noise levels, insufficient spray coverage, ineffective cleaning, etc. You’ll also get a feel for the quality of customer support your chosen brand or retailer offers and learn which features are worth the extra cash or are unnecessary add-ons. 

8. Opting for a model in a 'premium' color

You may be tempted by a gorgeous stainless steel dishwasher, but could you save hundreds of dollars by opting for the same model in white? You’d be surprised by how much the cost goes up once other colors and materials are used on a standard dishwasher.

 It’s worth considering whether you really need that glossy black premium model or whether, at the end of the day, a standard white fits just as well in your kitchen. It’s also a good idea to think about whether you’re likely to change your kitchen decor in the future, which could make your brightly colored dishwasher more of an eyesore than a talking point!

9. Falling for an inflated dishwasher deal

Probably the most crucial part of getting a bargain is doing your research thoroughly before the event. Use a price-checking website to track the cost of your favorite dishwashers to see if that price is truly a great deal. 

Many websites inflate the cost of appliances in the months before events like Black Friday so they can look like they’re offering great savings, but consumers are getting savvy. Be cautious of any deal that seems too good to be true because it probably is. Make sure you set a budget, take the time to do your research, and make an informed decision. Happy hunting!

Joanne Lewsley
Customer Advisor, Vacuums, Cleaning and Air Quality

Joanne Lewsley is a UK-based freelance writer and editor, covering health and lifestyle news and features. She creates evidence-based health and parenting content and has worked with some of the world’s best-known brands and websites, including BabyCentre UK and Medical News Today. 

You can read more of Joanne's work and get in touch via her website: https://www.joannelewsley.co.uk/