A new entrant into the Indian home appliances market, the dishwasher is fast becoming a best-seller in Indian homes. Convenient and time-saving, dishwashers are here to stay. Instead of washing a sinkfull of dishes yourself, spending a precious hour or more – after a long day, it can be extremely tedious. The dishwasher is a saviour, it saves precious time, you don’t have to wash, rinse and dry every cookware – spend 10 minutes loading the dishwasher and another 10 minutes unloading completely dry dishes.
Dishwashers are relatively expensive, starting from Rs.28,000 going up to more than Rs.45,000. This makes it more important to select the right model and to ensure the dishwasher you buy is perfect for your unique needs. Leading manufacturers of household appliances now manufacture dishwashers in India. The typical models available are free-standing or integrated. Tabletops are rarely available in the Indian market.
This article focusses on some of the features you should look out for before purchasing a dishwasher: Energy Efficiency, Water usage, After- Sales service, dishwashing racks (adjustable and fixed), and the capacity of the dishwasher, number of cycles and more.
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Key considerations while purchasing a dishwasher
Since dishwashers are relatively new in India, options available in the market are not as diverse as options available in the West. However, consumers do have several options from leading brands (Samsung, IFB, Electrolux, Whirlpool etc) to make a smart investment. Below are some critical features to consider for a smart purchase decision.
Research has proved that a dishwasher can result in savings of water and electricity. All you have to check while selecting the model is to ask about the energy efficiency rating of the machine – just as you would do while purchasing an air conditioner.
As of now, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in India does not allocate energy ratings to dishwashers. Instead, some dishwasher brands available in India use European standards. Dishwashers may be labelled as A+++, A++, A+, A, B etc and A+++ is considered the most efficient. These standards, (if available for your desired models) can play an important part in helping you decide on the model to be purchased. On an average, dishwashers consume approximately 1-1.5 units on every wash cycle resulting in a consumption of 200 – 300 units annually. Do remember a simple equation, a higher temperature setting will consume more electricity. Energy efficient dishwashers can be your contribution to saving the environment and also positively impact your bills.
Given the water challenges across India, this forms an important factor influencing the purchase decision. Contrary to popular perceptions, dishwashers actually use less water than hand washing of vessels. Studies show hand-washing uses much more water as against almost 50% lesser water used in a dishwasher. A constantly running tap is a common sight while washing utensils and this consumes anywhere from 40 to 50 litres of water for a single sink of dirty utensils. In comparison, the dishwasher uses a maximum of 12 to 15 litres, per load (comprising of utensils used for an entire day) which works out to a huge saving in water. Don’t be surprised if your water charges reduce after investing in this machine.
Another popular perception against dishwashers is the ability to clean. Modern dishwashers are designed keeping in mind the Indian cooking practices. They offer multiple cleaning options to suit almost every household. Starting from a Pre-rinse option that soaks the dishes and loosens the scum on the cookware to the Heavy option which is for very soiled dishes. Check for the number of options provided and make a comparison. Between 6 to 9 wash cycles are the norm and some machines even offer 12 wash cycles.
Do look out for special cycles such as a ‘Glass Protection’ or similar wash option to clean delicate glassware effortlessly. Taking the time to enquire and ask questions about the various options is highly recommended. Some of the popular wash options are:
- Intensive mode:For heavily soiled utensils – pots, pans, pressure cookers, dishes with dried food
- Auto/Normal mode:For a mixed load of lightly and heavily soiled cookware
- Economy mode: For lightly soiled loads – plates, glasses, bowls and slightly dirty pots and pans.
- Delicate mode:For fragile glassware
- Pre-Rinse mode: A short cycle to rinse the load and soften any dried scum
- Quick Wash mode: A shorter wash for lightly soiled loads that do not need drying
How clean are the utensils washed by a dishwasher? Is another oft-asked question. Research has proved that dishwashers deliver a greater level of cleanliness than hand-washing utensils. How? The high temperatures, of up to 70 °C which are required to air-dry the load – is the answer! Dishwashers ensure 100% dry dishes which lowers the incidence of bacterial growth. Another good factor to consider while comparing machines is to check the method of drying (air drying or steam-drying) and the maximum temperatures used.
Children in kitchens are common, which brings to another important criterion for consideration – safety. Do check if the model you are purchasing is child-proof. Most models offer child-proof doors to ensure the machine cannot be opened while it is in use.
Flexible Rack design:
Dishwashers are equipped typically, with two racks inside the machine to place the cookware, however, larger capacity models may feature 3 racks. Adjustable racks determine how efficiently you are able to load the dishwasher. The top rack is usually adjustable and the bottom one is fixed. A fixed cutlery rack is also essential. Some machines offer special racks for delicate glassware. Flexible racks make it easier to place large kadhais or cookers and also oddly shaped utensils. Look for the rack design as part of the checklist.
Place settings usually refer to the capacity of the machine. A single place setting according to Wikipedia is a complete set of crockery and cutlery provided for one person at a meal. It includes a dinner plate, dessert plate, dessert spoon, soup plate, soup spoon, a glass, tea cup, tea cup saucer, teaspoon, knife, and fork. In a household, not all these items will be used every day! But before investing in a dishwasher, it is important to understand the term.
For a family of 4, eating three meals a day, a model with a place setting of 12 should suffice. On an average, an entire day’s utensils can be loaded and washed in one cycle. Do check the place settings before making a purchase. Models are available with a minimum of 6 (perfect for a single person or even a working couple) going up to 14 place settings (for those who entertain frequently or for large families)
Space and type:
Do check the space availability in your house and match the size of the dishwasher accordingly. Most free-standing dishwashers are compact and suitable for most spaces. A free-standing machine gives the flexibility of moving it. Free-standing models work best for apartments and can be installed in a Utility area alongside a washing machine or even in the kitchen if space is available.
Another option is installing dishwashers into your modular kitchen. These are integrated dishwashers and cannot be moved. If you are installing a modular kitchen, integrated models are a good option. Both versions will require a water inlet in close proximity to the machine.
A high noise level can be distracting especially if you plan on using the machine at night. Interiors of the machine impact the noise level greatly. Stainless steel interiors are recommended as they are quieter.
After Sales service:
This is a deal-breaker and cannot be comprised. The dishwasher is a gadget and is subject to breakdowns, which makes warranty and support a critical factor in deciding the perfect dishwasher to buy. Warranty is offered by the manufacturer and some stores like Croma even offer extended warranty. However, the warranty covers only some parts and certain features are assured under a warranty.
More important is after sales service, availability of service staff, online live chat, email contact details etc. A quick check online about reviews of service on websites is a good idea. Ensuring you are able to contact the support staff is critical especially after the warranty period expires. Breakdowns can be frustrating and when service is delayed, it can cause chaos in your routine.
Keeping the dishwasher clean:
The main purpose of dishwashers is to clean food remains and dirt off plates and other utensils. As time goes by, the machine accumulates dirt (food residue and oil or grease), keeping the dishwasher clean becomes essential. Leaving a dishwasher uncleaned for a long period can result in unpleasant odours. More importantly, the machine will not perform to maximum efficiency. There is also an added risk of bacteria formation both in the machine and on cleaned utensils.
Before loading the dishwasher, it is recommended to scrape off the food residue. This ensures the machine does not have to spend effort in breaking down and flushing out large particles of food. The high temperatures and detergents/salts break down the smaller particles of food and flush it out. The filter is usually the main source which collects the scum.
Here are some quick steps to clean your dishwasher:
- Unplug the machine. A dishwasher is an electrical gadget and like all gadgets, unplugging the machine from the socket is essential for safety
- Follow the manufacturer instructions to remove and clean the filter
- Clean the inside of the machine (every corner and crevice) with a clean warm damp cloth
- Wipe every surface of the machine – door, handles, outside and all around the machine
- Inspect the drain for clogging and built-up debris to avoid future breakdowns. Clean thoroughly if required
- Replace the filter and racks
- Run a hot wash cycle using a cup of white vinegar or some baking soda to remove odours and bacteria.
Another benefit of regular cleaning is it reduces the build-up of limescale, which is a by-product of hard water. Using rinse-aids, salts and recommended dishwashing detergents also goes a long way in ensuring efficient working of the dishwasher.
Loading a dishwasher:
To get maximum cleaning efficiency, loading the dishwasher correctly is essential. The sprayer arms, which release the detergents and water, should reach all the utensils. The best way is to ensure utensils are placed face down – this is especially true for the larger pots and pans. Normally, plates, glasses and smaller items are placed on the top rack. The larger items go onto the lower rack. Adjustable racks are preferred in the machine as these allow for flexibility to load the machine. Cutlery – spoons, forks, and knives go into the cutlery rack. Do remember to place cutlery with handles positioned down. Delicate glassware should be carefully placed with the stems pointing up.
How to increase efficiency?
- Clean the machine regularly
- Use the recommended dishwasher detergents, salts, and rinse-aids
- Try and ensure you run a full load to reduce water and electricity consumption
- Scrape leftovers from the dishes before putting them into the dishwasher
- Ensure you select the relevant cycle – if plates and utensils are not heavily soiled, opt for an Eco wash or if you are washing only plates use a shorter cycle with lower temperatures
- Remove all labels and other adhesives from the utensils. These can clog the filter and drain pipe
What can and cannot be placed in the dishwasher?
Dishwashers are convenient but there are materials which should not be placed in the dishwasher. Several materials are not heat-resistant and can crack or warp under extreme heat. Here is a quick list of what can and cannot be placed in the dishwasher.
Can be placed in the dishwasher:
- The dishwasher is a pro at cleaning chinaware, glassware, and cutlery.
- Large and small stainless steel pots and pans (even steel pressure cookers, milk vessels) can be cleaned efficiently.
Can be washed in the dishwasher but with care and at lower temperatures:
- Experts are of the opinion that it is possible to wash ‘microwave safe’ plastics in a dishwasher. They recommend that customers use a lower setting such as a quick wash to wash plastics such as casseroles.
- Delicate crystal ware can be washed at the lowest temperatures. Heat can result in cracks and broken expensive glassware
Absolutely cannot be placed in the dishwasher:
- Copper or aluminium utensils. These will stain and oxidize very quickly resulting in ugly patches
- Iron vessels are prone to rust, even iron knives should be hand-washed
- Glass or ceramic ware with gold or silver plating or etching. The heat and spraying action of the dishwasher can result in chipping of the plating/etching
- Wooden utensils are liable to warp in the dishwasher. Knives with wooden handles are best washed with hand
Dishwashers are convenient and save time. Investing in a dishwasher equipped with the accurate information can enable you to make a smart purchase decision. With the myriad choices available, it can be a tough decision. We hope this exhaustive guide supports you in making an informed decision.
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