Dishwashers used to be a luxury item but today it would be a rare kitchen renovation that didn?t include one. If you are considering replacing your old dishwasher, you might be surprised at the improvements made in these modern machines, both in technology and design, writes Sarah Cumberland.

While the number of Australian households with a dishwasher is still slightly less than 50%, they have become standard appliances in new and renovated kitchens. Dishwashers are the second-most used appliance in the kitchen after the fridge, according to Craig Douglas, vice president sales and marketing at Fisher & Paykel Appliances in New Zealand.

Australians replacing their dishwashers now represent a growing percentage of sales now too, according to James Vogdanos, national product manager at Asko. Few households go back to washing up by hand once they have used a dishwasher.

So why buy a dishwasher?

Water savings

?Using a modern dishwasher to its optimum capacity will use less water and energy than washing, rinsing and drying the same amount of dishes by hand,? says Rudolf Niemoeller, group product manager domestic appliances, at Miele Australia.

?For a long, long time, dishwashers have been more efficient than washing up by hand,? says Tony Lee, product and promotions co-ordinator from Omega Appliances. ?People still think they are saving water at the sink. Most good European dishwashers get an average water efficiency of 11 to 16 litres per load. Now it takes around 22 litres to fill a sink. If you rinse, wash, then rinse again, that?s 66 litres minimum. I?ve seen some people use several litres just to rinse a glass!?

A better, hygienic wash

?A dishwasher has to prove itself to be more efficient than washing up by hand,? says Vogdanos. ?Modern dishwashers certainly prove their efficiency, with a wide range of dishwashing programmes, enabling heavily soiled items to be washed at higher temperatures than what would be possible to do by hand.?

?Our skin begins to sense danger at water temperatures of 42 degrees,? says Omega Smeg?s Lee. ?We perceive that as quite hot, but it?s not enough to kill bacteria. In Smeg dishwashers, you can select a temperature range of between 45 and 70 degrees.”

LG dishwashers have an extra hot option for an 80°C rinse, explains the company?s category manager whitegoods, Glacel Lubrin.

?Because you can wash at such high temperatures, it?s far more thorough and hygienic. If you?re concerned about the energy used, you?re not heating all the water used in a cycle, just the initial wash and the rinse off. You might use more for really stubborn loads, but that is the same case when washing by hand.?

Storage and convenience

A dishwasher can be used as an ?interim storage cupboard? for dirty dishes, glassware and cutlery, rather than piling these items up on the kitchen benchtop or in the sink, says Miele?s Niemoeller.

Fisher & Paykel?s Double DishDrawer units are sold with this in mind, according to senior industrial designer Mark Elmore. ?For people who have a regular lifestyle, they could buy two sets of dishes and use both DishDrawers alternately,? he says. ?Unpack clean dishes from one straight onto the table, while the other can be loaded up with dirty dishes.?

?All new homes demand a dishwasher,” says Omega?s Lee. ?Even if there is just one person in the house. A dishwasher keeps your benches clean and the dirty dishes out of sight. You don?t have to run it half empty. You can let the load build up, just use the rinse and hold setting. And there is no need to rinse everything. Just scrape the plates. Even if it?s welded on, there will be a program to solve it. Trust that your machine will get it clean.

Time savings

Loading and unloading a dishwasher takes much less time than washing and drying the same amount of dishes by hand. Let the dishwasher do the hard work! Don?t waste your time at the sink!