While we found fewer recommendations for budget dishwashers than for models costing $600 or more, several low-end Whirlpool models did well in professional tests, including the Whirlpool DU1055XTVQ and the Whirlpool Gold GU3600XTVQ. However, both are now discontinued, and we couldn't find much feedback on the newer models that have replaced them.
Maytag models fare better, and several appear to offer solid, no-frills performance at a bargain price. The JetClean Plus MDB7759AWW (*Est. $590) , a slightly stripped-down version of the top-rated MDB8959AWW (*Est. $660) , is Energy Star-rated and available in black, white or stainless steel (for about $100 more). It also has most of the same features, including hidden controls, a self-cleaning filter, a quick-wash cycle and a stainless-steel tub. It doesn't have an adjustable upper rack, nor does it include the quick-wash cycle or directed jets for cleaning silverware.
The MDB7759AWW isn't included in any professional tests, but more than 200 users at HomeDepot.com give it high marks. Owners say this dishwasher cleans well and looks great, and most find it reasonably quiet (one compares its noise level to trickling water). Several say it's inconvenient to load, and the dishwasher gives owners some installation problems. While a few users complain that the machine doesn't dry dishes thoroughly, others say it does fine job when the heated drying feature is switched on. Overall, more than nine out of 10 owners say at HomeDepot.com that they'd recommend this dishwasher.
We found even better user reviews for a slightly less expensive Maytag dishwasher, the JetClean Plus MDB7749AWW (*Est. $550) . This Energy Star-rated model comes in bisque, black and white (stainless steel is available for an extra $100 or so), but it lacks the hidden controls of the more expensive Maytag machines. Although it isn't included in expert tests, the MDB7749AWW gets very good reviews from more than 200 users at HomeDepot.com. They say it's quiet, has a good selection of cycles and cleans very well, although it gets more complaints about residue left on dishes than more expensive Maytags. As with the MDB7759AWW, some users find this dishwasher awkward to load and tricky to install. Still, more than 90 percent of owners say they would recommend this dishwasher to a friend.
The lowest-priced dishwasher for which we found recommendations is the Maytag JetClean Plus MDB4709AWW (*Est. $420) . This bottom-priced model isn't Energy Star-rated and is a bit louder than other Maytag dishwashers. It comes in black, white and bisque; a stainless-steel option costs about $100 more, but the toe-kick and control panel are black. This budget dishwasher lacks some higher-end features such as a stainless-steel tub and a steam cycle, but it does include a self-cleaning filter. In professional tests, the MDB4709AWW earns excellent scores for cleaning performance, but its ease of use is only average and it's noisier than most models. Users at HomeDepot.com agree that this dishwasher can be loud, but they also say it's roomy, cleans well and offers good value for the price. A few owners note that the construction feels a bit flimsy, but we saw only one report of an actual breakdown.
If you're not replacing an existing built-in dishwasher or planning a new kitchen, a portable dishwasher might be a worthwhile choice. These units connect to the kitchen tap for their water supply -- an adapter is usually required -- and roll out of the way when not in use. Dirty water drains out through a second hose. There are various types of portable dishwashers on the market, ranging from very small countertop units to freestanding models that are almost as large (and as costly) as built-in dishwashers. Portable dishwashers aren't generally designed for the high end of the market, and don't come with a lot of bells and whistles or in stainless steel.
We found no professional tests for portable dishwashers, and they don't receive as many owner reviews as built-in models. The freestanding Danby DDW1899WP (*Est. $460) and Kenmore 17742 (*Est. $825) get high average ratings, but neither has enough comments for us to form a good overall picture of performance and reliability.