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What to Consider When Shopping for a Dishwasher

May 10, 2021

A father and a child loading the dishwasher

You have better things to do in life than wash and dry dishes by hand, and let’s be honest — once you’ve had a dishwasher, you can never really go back. However, if you’ve had yours for a while, you may not realize that today’s dishwashers have come a long way with advances in everything from cleaning power and performance features to quieter noise levels, energy efficiency, and stylish appearance.

Whether you’ve decided to buy your first dishwasher, you need a replacement or you want to upgrade what you have, it’s important to know what to look for so you can make an informed decision on your new investment. So we’re loading you up with what you need to know with this handy dishwasher buying guide.

Capacity and Size Options for Every Situation

Like with any appliance, it’s important to remember that dishwashers can come in different sizes. Size also goes hand in hand with capacity (generally gauged by how many complete five-piece table settings can fit inside during a normal wash).

You’ll want to measure the space in your kitchen before you go shopping so you know exactly what size dishwasher you should be looking for. It’s heartbreaking to fall in love with a new dishwasher only to find out it’s not a perfect match when you get it home.


Standard dishwashers typically measure about 24 inches across and they are often designed to be built right into your kitchen. Most can usually wash about 12 place settings, but some larger capacity models can hold as much as 14 or even more. Keep in mind that built-in dishwashers, once installed, are usually there to stay with the house if you ever decide to move.


A compact dishwasher is also typically built-in, but at around 18 inches across they’re an ideal choice for smaller kitchens. Of course, this means they will also have a proportionately smaller washing capacity; you can expect that a compact dishwasher will hold eight place settings at a time. You may have to run an extra load or two, but it still beats standing in front of the sink every night!


If you have a space that’s too small for a standard or even a compact model (like a studio apartment or a dorm room), this portable option is here to make sure you don’t miss out on the joys of having a dishwasher. They’re almost always smaller, and come equipped with wheels so they can be easily moved — and yes, there are even some that can sit on your countertop. Bonus: Because it doesn’t require installation, not only can you store it away when you’re not using it, but you can take it with you if you move.


For those who like to keep their appliances hidden in plain sight, this is a true find. It’s typically about the same width as a standard dishwasher at half the vertical size, so it’s small enough to fit in with the rest of your cabinetry and roll out like a drawer. You can even find models with double drawers that allow you to wash each drawer independently.

This option is likely to be on the pricier side, but no worries — Acima has you covered with flexible lease-to-own* payment options, so you don’t have to worry about relying on credit or going over budget to enjoy the next-level design aesthetic and convenience this dishwasher offers.

Energy-Efficient Models: Stack Up the Savings

In today’s world, there seem to be more incentives for consumers to choose appliances that use water and electricity more efficiently. Not only does this come in the more instantly gratifying form of lower utility bills, but if you own a home, you could see some tax benefits as well.

A dishwasher that displays an Energy Star logo is your proof that it’s been certified by the Consortium of Energy Efficiency and that it will save you money compared to those dishwashers without this rating. A soil sensor, which identifies how dirty your dishes are (and even what kind of food is on them) is another feature that allows for greater efficiency; it will prompt the dishwasher to adjust the water temperature and wash time automatically to the perfect amount for each wash.

Which Washing Cycles Are on Your Wish List?

When shopping for your dishwasher, you’ll find that most come equipped with regular cycles such as light wash, regular wash, heavy wash, and economy settings. Most also give you the option of air drying or heated drying.

If you’re looking to upgrade, check out some of the latest and greatest models that offer enhanced cycle capabilities such as glass or stemware wash, rinse, quick wash, pot scrub, and sanitize wash. These add-on cycle features are certainly handy, but of course, they may cost more for the convenience and new tech.

Stacking and Racking

Most standard dishwasher models are built with two racks. However, you will also find models with three racks, extending loading options, and dishwasher capacity to allow you to pack in more dishes per wash and make cycles more efficient. Special dishwasher features can also come with adjustable or removable tines, shelves, and racks built to accommodate tall stemware, awkwardly shaped items, or convertible multiuse racks. Some even offer a closed compartment for baby bottles, rings, and other small items for your convenience.

Select a Style That Suits Your Kitchen

Just like refrigerators and ranges, dishwashers are available with white, black or stainless exteriors, so you can choose the finish that matches your other kitchen appliances. Some stainless models also feature a stainless interior (versus plastic) which, while elegant and modern, will not affect how the dishwasher ultimately performs. However, a stainless-steel washing arm is more durable than standard arms and is less conducive to rust — a plus considering that you’ll hopefully have your dishwasher for many years to come.

Consider Noise Level When Making Your Purchase

Noise level is an important consideration when shopping for a dishwasher. Some dishwashers are louder than others, and if you're someone who likes to keep the kitchen clean and organized while doing dishes, you'll want to find one that doesn't make too much noise. You can ask sales associates in the store about the noise level of different models, or check online reviews to see what other consumers have to say.

Durability of Your New Purchase

When shopping for a dishwasher, it's important to consider the durability of the appliance. You want to make sure you select a model that will last for years to come. Some factors you may want to consider include the type of material used for the dishwasher's exterior and interior, as well as the washing arm. We recommend checking out reviews online of any dishwasher you are considering to make sure  it has a good reputation for durability.

Ease of Use

When shopping for a dishwasher, it's important to consider the ease of use. You want to make sure you select a model that is comfortable for you to use. There are a lot of features a dishwasher can have that may sound good up front, but figuring out how to use these can actually be quite difficult.

Get a Better Dishwasher for Your Dollars with Lease-to-Own

Now that you’re armed with options, you can go shopping knowing that Acima can help you get a top-of-the-line dishwasher without having to have cash on hand or rely on credit. Of course, you have to factor in how much money you want to spend — but with our flexible lease-to-own* alternative to financing, you can feel free to shop at your favorite appliance store and invest in the dishwasher that’s perfect for you.