When you first take your new dishwasher out of the box, you will notice that it is wrapped in an insulating blanket. Is this insulation necessary for the operation of your dishwasher, or was it just meant to protect it in the box?
Dishwasher insulation is necessary because it protects your dishwasher. However, you should not be worried about the blanket itself—it is not visible once the dishwasher has been installed. In the event of insulation blanket damage, contact a qualified professional immediately.
In this post, I will take you through an interesting discussion about dishwasher insulation, highlighting its significance, its working mechanism, and how it helps you save time and energy.
Also read: 8 Best Quiet Dishwashers (Buyer Guide Included)
Why Dishwasher Insulation Is Necessary
There are several reasons why dishwasher insulation is important:
- It protects the surrounding area from heat and steam damage.
- It saves you from burning yourself on a hot dishwasher.
- It minimizes loud noise while the dishwasher is running.
- It protects the appliance and minimizes physical damage to surrounding materials.
I explore these benefits in detail below.
Insulation Protects the Surrounding From Heat and Steam Damage
A dishwasher relies on heat and steam to clean your dishes, and it is not ideal when this steam and heat escapes and causes damage to the surroundings.
The dishwasher’s insulating film prevents cabinets, floors, and other appliances from heat and steam damage. The most common is heat damage to wooden cabinets.
With insulation, any steam that escapes the dishwasher is condensed and caught by the insulating film. A dishwasher insulation blanket typically consists of:
- A sound-absorbing layer
- A heat-activated adhesive layer
- A reflective layer
The heat-activated layer is usually the inner layer. This traps the heat generated from a running dishwasher. Once activated, this layer acts as a thermal barrier, preventing heat and steam from escaping the dishwasher.
Insulation Saves You From Burning
When your dishwasher is running, hot water vapor is released. Steam is potentially dangerous when it comes in contact with skin, and it is thus wise not to touch a dishwasher that hasn’t been insulated.
A dishwasher will be quite hot to the touch after several minutes of operation. This raises the question of how such a machine can be safely operated. This is where dishwasher insulation comes in handy.
The insulation between the dishwasher and its surroundings ensures that all the steamy heat remains in the dishwasher. This helps protect you from getting burned when you touch or bump into your dishwasher.
Insulation Minimizes Noise
If you have owned a dishwasher for quite some time, you can attest that it is not the quietest appliance in the house. Though very resourceful, a dishwasher is noisy, emitting sound between 70-80 decibels. This is noise equal to the noise made by a washing machine or a relatively busy downtown street.
Though this noise is not harmful to humans, it gets annoying after prolonged exposure.
Good insulation helps protect you from these unpleasant noises and makes your home environment more comfortable. Insulation reduces dishwasher noise to about 50 decibels, which is hardly noticeable. With good insulation, you can go on with your casual conversations as your dishwasher runs.
Insulation Protects the Dishwasher Itself
At times, a dishwasher runs vigorously and knocks itself against cabinets and other things in its surroundings if it is not properly secured. Over time, dishwashers can develop internal damage when they rattle and knock against cabinets and walls.
The underside of a dishwasher is particularly delicate because it is the location of the heating element. Vigorous cycles could create adequate force to damage a hot heating element.
If your dishwasher is insulated, you won’t have to worry about damage while it’s running. A properly secured and insulated dishwasher can last longer because internal elements won’t loosen and affect optimal performance.
Minimizes Physical Damage to Surrounding Materials
Dishwasher insulation also protects adjoining things from physical damage. The dishwasher vibrates when it’s running, potentially coming into contact with surrounding appliances.
The vibrations of an uninsulated dishwasher can damage other appliances if they come into contact. The vibrations also have the potential to move things off shelves.
Insulation will absorb most of the shock that dishwasher operation generates and prevent damage to counters and other appliances. Periodically checking your insulation for worn-out or deteriorating insulation will increase cabinet vibrations.
What Kind of Insulation Do You Use for a Dishwasher?
The kind of insulation you use for a dishwasher includes felt, foam, and fiberglass. Some high-end insulation is made of ceramic fiber. There also are cheaper options, including polystyrene, moving blankets, and cotton lining.
However, these low-end dishwasher insulation materials are poor thermal insulators. They do not prevent all the heat from escaping the dishwasher. Damage and burns are likely with these low-end insulation materials.
Let’s look at each of these materials in depth.
Polyurethane Foam Insulation
Polyurethane foam is a highly effective insulator. Polyurethane foam is a highly effective insulator with an R-value of between 3.75-4.0 per square inch of thickness.
The heat insulation effectiveness of polyurethane foam comes from its high proportion of non-connected closed microcells fitted with inert gasses. A low density also makes foam a poor conductor of sound as well. Foam also holds in water, preventing it from damaging surrounding appliances.
Foam insulation can come in preformed foam mats or pressurized foam spray. The preformed slabs are laid under, above, and on the sides of your dishwasher. Glue or adhesive is then used to attach the foam boards to the dishwasher surface before it is screwed into its position.
The pressurized foam spray, on the other hand, expands and hardens on impact with the dishwasher surface. An advantage of the spray is that it can get to hard-to-reach places and does not need glue or adhesive.
If you are in the market for foam insulation, I recommend SmartSHIELD Foam Core Reflective Insulation from Amazon.com.
It’s a highly reflective insulation ideal for hot and cold climates and water-repellent applications on the roof or landscape. It has an excellent heat resistance and is lightweight, making it easy to handle.
Felt insulators are made from sheep wool and other animal shavings. These shavings are combed, steamed, and then compressed to form the insulation.
Felt has an R-value of 3.6-4.3 per square inch of thickness so it’s an excellent choice. Other properties of felt to consider include:
- It manages moisture well, with a capacity to hold water up to 3 times its weight.
- Felt is good at sound and vibration absorption due to its weight.
- The only drawback with felt is that it is expensive.
Fiberglass insulation is manufactured using glass fibers and plastic. Fiberglass’ R-value is around 2.2-4.3 per inch of thickness, making it an excellent choice for a noisy dishwasher.
Fiberglass is more affordable than felt and foam, which is why it is commonly used. However, it has some drawbacks, which include the following:
- When disturbed, fiberglass releases particles that can cause allergic reactions when inhaled.
- Fiberglass isn’t ideal if you’re worried about dust particles collecting on the insulation.
- If you want to use fiberglass insulation, you’ll need to wear gloves and a mask when handling it.
If you’re looking for fiberglass insulation, I recommend Owens Corning R-13 Fiberglass from Amazon.com.
This pink fiberglass is formaldehyde-free and soft, ensuring your dishwasher is completely protected. The greater R-value provides better insulation performance compared to other types of insulation available.
Ceramic fiber is made from a collection of diverse crystalline or amorphous mineral fibers that are characterized by their stability at high temperatures. These include:
- Silicon carbide
- Some metal oxides
Ceramic fiber is lightweight and very tolerant to high temperatures. The material has an R-value of 2.35-5.0 per square inch. However, ceramic fiber is quite expensive compared to the other materials discussed above.
I recommend TITGGI Kaowool Fireproof Ceramic Insulation from Amazon. This is a good choice if you want a stable insulation that will last a long time. The high-temperature insulation blanket is very thick and really good to insulate any of your home appliances, such as:
- Water heating
Polystyrene, Moving Blankets, and Cotton Lining
These cheaper insulation materials are not commonly used because they have high thermal efficiency, meaning that they conduct as opposed to holding heat within them. They are also not good at sound and vibration absorption.
What Types of Insulation Are Best for Dishwashers?
The type of insulation best for dishwashers is the blanket insulator. These are easy to install because they wrap around the dishwasher or its holding cabinet. These are most appropriate if the dishwasher is to remain fitted into a cabinet.
However, you can also get insulation pads that you can put under the appliance, which is especially useful if you’re worried about vibration damage on wooden flooring.
Insulating your dishwasher is vital for its operation and safety in the kitchen area. As a heat-generating device, a dishwasher can be a safety concern if not properly insulated. Injuries to people and damage to property are possible.
Consider fiberglass, foam, or felt insulating material for a safe, quiet home environment. Even if your dishwasher does not come with insulating material, make an effort to acquire insulation and install it as you mount your dishwasher. The insulation will prolong the lifespan of your dishwasher.