A Stress-Free Guide to Getting a Dishwasher


You will be hard-pressed to find someone who likes the drudgery of hand-washing cookware and serving plates and bowls. With a dishwasher, you take away some of the pain during clean-up, saving you lots of time and effort. Wondering if you should invest in one yourself? Read this guide first.

First things first: How does a dishwasher work?

Design: Starry Homestead

After loading your dishwasher with dirty dishes and selecting the programme you wish to run, the dishwasher then starts to draw water from a hose connected to your water supply.

Once enough water has pooled at the bottom of your appliance, a heating element will start to heat the water up. At the same time, detergent is released.

The heated soapy water than gets channelled via an electric pump into the spray arms using enough force to get rid of stains and debris on your dirty dishes.

When the cleaning is done, the dirty water is then drained before starting another rinse cycle to wash the dishes with clean water. It completes the process by drying your dishes.

A few myths to dispel about dishwashers

Design: Design 4 Space

In Singapore, dishwashers aren’t popular with most homeowners, who are under the impression that these appliances waste water and don’t clean as well as hand-washing. But that isn’t really true.

Dishwashers often wash in temperatures higher than room temperature depending on the setting you use, with some going up to 70 degrees Celsius to allow for better sanitisation.

Newer dishwashers nowadays are also highly water efficient, and unless you are hand-washing efficiently e.g. washing dishes in a filled sink rather than under a running tap, it’s likely dishwashers are a more water-efficient choice.

Since October 2018, PUB has included dishwashers under the water efficiency labelling scheme, so you can tell how water efficient a particular dishwasher is by the number of ticks it has.

Types of dishwashers

With so many dishwasher types out there, see this visual guide to help you decide which type you need.

Factors to look out for when shopping for a dishwasher

Design: Weiken

Besides pricing, there are a few things you will need to consider before getting a dishwasher.

Location: Decide where you want to locate your dishwasher when planning for your kitchen renovation. To cut down on additional costs, choose a location close to the water supply to reduce the amount of piping work that needs to be done. Most dishwashers need to be connected to a power outlet, the water supply as well as a drainage pipe. If you have existing cabinets that you don’t wish to hack away, consider getting a countertop dishwasher that can be connected to your kitchen faucet or a freestanding dishwasher that you can locate in areas like your service yard.

Capacity: Standard size dishwashers usually come in 60 cm widths with 13 to 14 place settings, which is a decent size for large families or if you entertain very often. Slimmer models that come in widths of 45 cm have about 9 place settings, suitable for couples or if you don’t eat in often. (A single place setting is usually taken to comprise a large dinner plate, a small dessert plate, a drinking glass, a soup bowl, a coffee or tea cup with saucer and a handful of cutlery.)

Types of programmes: Most dishwashers come with a standard wash, which washes dishes at a high heat of around 60 degrees Celsius and is great for everyday, general cleaning. There are dishwashers with delicate cycles that run at a lower temperature, suitable for fragile items. Look out for models with economy wash if you wish to save energy and water, as it washes dishes at a lower temperature with less water. The programme is also suitable if your dishes aren’t that soiled. There also dishwashers with more intensive programmes that wash items in very high heat, which is appropriate for very dirty dishes or if you wish to sterile things like baby bottles (make sure they are dishwasher safe before throwing them in).

Components: You will want to look out for dishwashers with racks that are adjustable for greater flexibility of use. Some dishwashers allow you to remove the top rack, which is useful if you wish to wash larger and bulkier pots and pans. Look out also for dishwashers that come with separate baskets for utensils and flatware as that will make things a lot more convenient.

Noise level: This may be a concern for you if you are planning to let your dishwasher run after you go to bed or if you have new-borns or young children who take naps in the afternoons. Consider investing in models that are quieter so you don’t disturb sleeping time.

Safety features: Consider dishwashers with child-lock features if you have young children at home, which can prevent them from opening the appliance during mid-cycle. Anti-flood devices are also a good feature to look out for if you want a greater peace of mind. The feature stops water when it senses any changes in water pressure.

Drying systems: Besides cleaning your dishes, dishwashers can also dry them. There are different types of drying systems to consider. Hot air drying is highly effective, although it tends to use more electricity as it uses a heated element to heat up air to dry the dishes. For a more energy-saving drying system, consider dishwashers that use residual heat, which is the heat left from the final rinse. There are also fan assistance drying systems which pull in dry air from the outside of the dishwasher to dry your dishes.

Using a dishwasher effectively

Design: Ovon Design

Once you’ve invested in your dishwasher, it’s important to learn how to use it properly so that your appliance can last for a long time. Most dishwashers are expected to have a lifespan of about 10 years. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as much as you can. In general, here are a few things to note:

  • Before loading your dishes, scrap them clean from food debris before placing them in your dishwasher. Larger food particles may cause your dishwasher filter to get stuck over time.
  • When placing your dishes, make sure that the spray arms can move around freely. You also don’t want to place taller dishes right in front of the spray arms, as they will impede water flow to the rest of your dishes.
  • As a general rule of thumb, if you have a top and bottom rack, glassware, cups, smaller bowls, wine glasses, cooking utensils and other delicate items go on the top rack, while larger plates, pots and pans go on the bottom. Don’t overlap your items, which will prevent them from being cleaned properly.
  • Flatware is usually placed in the accompanying basket. Some baskets come with slots that help to separate your utensils so they don’t overlap one another during the cycle. If not, consider placing some utensils handle facing up and some utensils handle facing down for better cleaning. Mixing things up helps for more even water distribution. For safety reasons though, table knives and dinner knives should be placed with their handles facing down.
  • Avoid overcrowding when loading your dishwasher. An overcrowded dishwasher will not properly clean all your dishes.
  • Avoid putting too much detergent than necessary. More detergent doesn’t equal cleaner dishes. Excess detergent will stay on your dishes, defeating the purpose.
  • Should you pre-rinse your dishes before placing them in the dishwasher? It depends on your detergent and also how often you run your dishwasher. Some dishwasher detergents work better when they have something to “hook on” to when washing your dishes and without any food particles to aid them in the washing, they can cause your dishes to wear and tear down faster. But if you don’t run your dishwasher every day, you might want to consider pre-rinsing your dishes so that leftover grime doesn’t get too attached. Experiment to find out whether pre-rinsing or not works better for your dishwasher.
  • There are some things that should never be placed in a dishwasher. These include cast-iron pans, wares made from copper, wares made from wood, delicate crystal or china, non-stick pots and pans, insulated tumblers as well as kitchen knives. Plastics can go in only if they are certified dishwasher safe.

Did we cover everything you need to know about dishwashers? If not, send your questions to us at or hit us in the comments below.

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