Dishwashers buying guide

Think a dishwasher is a luxury? We'd like to invite you to think again. In terms of cleanliness and energy efficiency, a dishwasher is far more effective than hand washing. 

Dishwashers can use as little as 6 litres of water per cycle (one bowl of washing up will use around 9 litres), because they filter and recycle the water that they use, which is positive for your electricity bill and the environment. Energy ratings for a number of our dishwashers are as high as A+++, meaning that the cost of running a dishwasher can be as little as 37p per cycle.

And of course a dishwasher also saves you the time and drudgery of washing up as well as helping to keep your kitchen tidy - simply pop your dirty dishes into the machine out of sight. Follow our guide to help you make the right choice.

We can even connect it up for you and remove an old machine. 


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How to choose your dishwasher

Decide on the capacity you need. The guide to this is the number of place settings; that's the maximum number of plates and eating utensils the machine can wash (excluding any serving dishes, saucepans or utensils). A typical 12-place setting capacity would include:

  • 12 x 24cm dinner plates
  • 12 x 23cm soup plates
  • 12 x 18.5cm dessert plates
  • 12 tea cups and saucers
  • 12 tumblers
  • 12 knives, forks, soup spoons, teaspoons and dessertspoons

If a full-sized dishwasher seems too big, then your other options are a slimline model, which is usually around 45cm wide and takes around 9 place settings, but the same height and depth.

Even if there's only one or two of you, if you tend to use lots of pots and pans, you might want to consider getting a full-sized machine.


compact model is ideal if you have very limited space and if a dishwashing load of around 4 place settings will adequately meet your needs.

There are also integrated models which can be completely concealed behind a matching fascia for a uniform look to your kitchen. Semi-integrated models are partially concealed, with the machine’s control panel visible and readily accessible.

Full size and slimline models are designed to fit under a standard worktop. Some dishwashers have a removable worktop which may save you around 3cm if it's going to be a tight fit.

View slimline dishwashers

View slimline dishwashers

When you’re tight for space, a slimline dishwasher will save you a chore and provide a neat storage option.

View compact dishwashers

View compact dishwashers

Compact dishwashers are ideal for smaller households or kitchens, or when you need an additional 'overflow' machine

Dishwasher programmes & spray arm technology



These will vary slightly depending on the machine, but:

  • There will usually be at least 3 programmes and often a rinse-only cycle
  • Rinse-only is useful if you don't have a full load and don't want food debris to create odour or harden on plates and utensils
  • Main wash programme with generally be at 65ºC, useful if there are saucepans included in the load
  • There'll often be an economy programme for normal washes
  • Plus a light or delicates programme
  • Top of the range machines sometimes offer a glasses programme
  • Some offer a half load option where you only need to use one of the two levels in the machine
  • Some machines will offer a rinse and hold function for very heavy soiling
  • Most machines have particular sensor features designed to adapt the programme to the load in the machine - they how soiled the load is and reduce or increase the amount of water or rinses needed



There are three main ways machines dry the contents after washing:

  • simple residual heat created from the washing process
  • heated air 
  • some kind of fan assistance
  • the latter is quickest and helps save energy because of the speed

Other dishwasher features


Spray arm technology

Detergent, dish placement and heat are all important cleaning elements in getting your dishes clean, but how the water is sprayed inside the dishwasher is important too, so that there are no blind spots where food debris might remain clinging to your crockery

Traditional spray arms

Traditional spray arms distribute water in a circular pattern via 2 spray arms Water is propelled to water jets, forced out and sprayed against the dirty dishes. The force of the water makes the spray arms rotate like a lawn sprinkler.

Satellite spray arm

Packing your dishwasher with irregularly-shaped items can mean a drop in cleaning quality, so some manufacturers add a satellite spray arm on the end of the lower spray arm. As the two arms spin, double rotation creates a powerful spiral of water that cleans in the corners where other washers can’t reach. 

Additional spray arm

Some machines have a third, smaller spray arm attached to the roof of the dishwasher. It spins to shower the upper basket, useful if the dishwasher has a dedicated cutlery tray at the top of the tub. Miele has the largest range of dishwashers with this feature.

WaterWall™ Jet washing system

Invented by Samsung, the lower spray arm is substituted by a bar that moves from back to front along the bottom of the tub to give maximum coverage with consistent high-pressure water jets producing a wall of water that sweeps the entire interior, including corners.


What's suitable for dishwashing

Most chinacookware and utensils you buy will state whether they're dishwasher safe on their labelling, but if not avoid taking chances with the following:

  • Patterned/decorated fine china 
  • Gold or silver-trimmed china
  • Lead crystal glasses
  • Cast iron cookware 
  • Cutlery with wooden, plastic, bone or pearl handles
While all-wood items like spoons can be washed in a machine it's worth noting that the colour may bleach out over time.
Wash silver or chrome-plated cutlery separately from stainless steel so that it doesn't oxidise. Choose a dishwasher with a cutlery drawer rather than a basket if this is important for you
Suitable for dishwashing

Care and maintenance of your dishwasher

Site your dishwasher as close as possible (approximately 1.2m) to your kitchen sink for ease of plumbing. Plumb it in before a water softener in order to maintain the performance of the machine.

All dishwashers need:

  • Dishwasher salt to help with the water softening process
  • Rinse aid to help reduce drying time and leave dishes shiny and smear-free
  • Detergent in powder, tablet or liquid form
  • The efficiency of '4-in-1' and '3-in-1' tablets may vary in hard water areas, and although they're convenient, using separate detergent, rinse aid and salt is usually cheaper
  • If you do use all-in-one tablets, you should still add salt and rinse aid to your dishwasher, but set both the dispenser dial for rinse aid and the salt regeneration dial to minimum
  • Many machines also have additive indicators on the control panel to show you when to refill salt or rinse aid reservoirs

Dishwasher cleaning

  • Use a dishwasher freshener if you want a fresh fragrance when you open the door
  • It's more important to use a dishwasher cleaner every couple of months to descale, degrease and freshen
  • Both will be redundant if you don't take time to clean out the filters where food debris gets caught - do this weekly
  • They're simple and quick to remove, and just rinse through under a hot tap

Loading your dishwasher

To get the best out of your machine:

  • Use the top basket for smaller, less soiled items as the spray arm is shorter
  • Use the bottom basket for larger and more heavily soiled pieces
  • Read the manufacturer's instructions for guidance on loading and suitability of items for dishwashing

Peace of mind, energy efficiency and the environment

Peace of mind

All the dishwashers we stock have built-in protection against flooding, activated by a sensor which closes off the inlet valve

Some top of the range machines will detect changes in water pressure at the top of the inlet hose, and a safety valve will cut off the water supply.

Our dishwashers come with a minimum 2-year guarantee, and
John Lewis own-brand appliances have 3 years. Other manufacturers may offer extended guarantees, and you can also buy Added Care, a repair and protection plan


Energy efficiency

Every dishwasher receives an energy efficiency grading ranging from A - G, with A being the most efficient and economical.

Standardised tests, monitored by Trading Standards, are carried out across the industry and manufacturers are responsible for grading their own machines, taking into account water consumption, washing and drying performance.

  • Look at water consumption figures for machines, especially if you're on a water meter
  • All dishwashers are cold water fill so aren't reliant on your boiler
  • Some have a time delay feature so that you can set the machine up to run during the night to take advantage of cheaper electricity tariffs
  • Generally the more expensive the machine, the better its energy efficiency as more sophisticated energy-saving features will have been included
  • The initial investment in a more expensive machine may be offset because it's cheaper to run in the long term
  • Top of the range machines also tend to be quieter because they have a higher level of insulation
Suitable for dishwashing

Installation, disposal and recycling

We can install your new dishwasher for £25

  • If you live within the delivery area of a John Lewis shop (you can check your postcode on the specific product page), your new appliance will usually be delivered by one of our green vans
  • We'll connect your appliance to the water and waste pipes, switch it on, and do a test wash
  • We'll remove and dispose of all packaging responsibly

Find our more about installation


We can collect and recycle your old appliance for £15:

  • If your new appliance has been delivered by one of our green vans
  • We'll remove and dispose of your old machine safely 
  • This service isn't available if your machine is delivered direct to you by one of our approved suppliers
  • Disconnect and drain your old appliance before we arrive to collect it
  • Once we've removed it, please be aware that it's deemed to be of no value and we can't return it to you

Find out more about collection and disposal



    Book and pay for installation and/or disposal when you place your order

    You'll be offered the option of these services at checkout or when you place your order, and they must be booked and paid for at that point. 

    Alternatively, you can take your old appliance to a local recycling centre to be recycled free of charge (visit to find your nearest site).

    If you live outside a delivery area, or you order a machine that comes directly from the supplier, then your new appliance will be delivered by a courier who will be unable to collect your old appliance, so you will need to take it to a local recycling centre or contact your local council who may collect it for a fee.