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Best Dishwashers

By: Kelly Burgess on April 28, 2017

Editor's note:
KitchenAid and Bosch are the manufacturers to look to for a dishwasher that does it all and does it well -- and quietly. Whirlpool, GE and LG offer top performance and a lower price. If you need an 18-inch dishwasher, or a portable or countertop model, we found the best of those as well.

KitchenAid KDTM354DSS Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Claimed place settings - 15 Number of wash cycles - 6 Size (w,d,h) - 23-7/8 x 23-1/2 x 34-1/2

Best dishwasher

Expert reviewers and thousands of happy owners heap plenty of praise on the KitchenAid KDTM354DSS dishwasher. It's a top performer when it comes to cleaning even heavily-soiled dishes, and gets kudos for its "ProFilter" technology that continually removes food particles so your dishes aren't being cleaned with dirty water. Users also love its roomy interior and flexible loading options, and say it's very quiet. This KitchenAid dishwasher is Energy Star certified. See our full review »

Whirlpool Gold WDT720PADM Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Claimed place settings - 15 Number of wash cycles - 5 Size (w,d,h) - 23-7/8 x 27-1/2 x 34-1/2

Best cheap dishwasher

Experts and owners agree: the Whirlpool Gold WDT720PADM is a terrific value if you just want a great-performing, not-too-expensive dishwasher. It's a top performer when it comes to cleaning and drying your dishes -- with a utensil basket design that fits on the door and opens up like a rack for easy loading and unloading. Owners say it's quiet and that the attractive, stainless steel exterior is another nice touch for a budget dishwasher. See our full review »

Frigidaire FFBD1821MS Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Claimed place settings - 12 Number of wash cycles - 6 Size (w,d,h) - 18 x 22-1/2 x 35-1/4

Best 18-inch, built-in dishwasher

Reviewers agree, the Frigidaire FFBD1821MS is small but mighty -- a top performer in both cleaning and drying, and an energy miser compared to other 18-inch dishwashers. The stainless-steel drum is a nice upgrade at this price point in an18-inch built-in dishwasher. In spite of its small footprint, it boasts six wash cycles and the option to turn off the heated dry to save even more energy. See our full review »

Kenmore 14652 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Claimed place settings - 8 Number of wash cycles - 6 Size (w,d,h) - 17-5/8 x 30 x 38.5

Best portable dishwasher

If a built-in dishwasher is out of the question, but you want something close to full-size, reviewers say you won't go wrong with the Kenmore 14652 portable dishwasher. It's super easy to use, just hook it up to your faucet and start it -- dishes come out sparkling clean, too. It features a stainless-steel tub which helps drying performance. This small dishwasher rolls around smoothly on its four caster wheels. See our full review »

Sunpentown SD-2201W Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Claimed place settings - 6 Number of wash cycles - 5 Size (w,d,h) - 21.65 x 17.24 x 17.24

Best countertop dishwasher

If a built-in dishwasher is a too-tight fit, the Sunpentown SD-2201W countertop dishwasher makes a great alternative to handwashing. Dishwashing performance is as good as many full-sized dishwashers. It's not packed with features, but the five dishwasher cycles do a good job of cleaning. It's also super easy to use, just hook it up to the sink and push the right button. It's a bit loud, but no more so than any other portable dishwasher. See our full review »

Buy for $230.95

Types of Dishwashers

Built-In, 24-inch Dishwashers

This is the most common type of dishwasher in American homes. Most built-in dishwashers have a single interior space. They can range wildly in price, from basic, sub-$500 models to more than $2,000. The higher the price, the more features and flexibility you can expect, but price doesn't necessarily equate to great performance. In testing, plenty of cheap dishwashers outperform those costing much more. Top-end machines can also be among the very quietest, but sound insulation on even some moderately priced dishwashers has advanced to the point where they can be as quiet as very expensive machines -- at least most of the time.

Built-In, 18-inch Dishwashers

This compact dishwasher is the most common type in Europe and in smaller kitchens, but they are finding their place in even normal-sized American kitchens as people seek to maximize their space by downsizing in other ways. In spite of the fact that they are smaller units, 18-inch units usually cost more than the otherwise exact 24-inch model. Some 24-inch built-in dishwashers have a corresponding 18-inch option, but not all do.

Portable Dishwashers

They can't hold a lot, but portable dishwasher are handy in apartments or small homes, where space limitations or rental agreements make permanent installation impossible. These models can be on casters, so they can roll away for storage, or they may be designed to sit on a countertop. Generally smaller than built-ins, portables attach manually to a faucet for their water supply. Once known as annoyingly noisy energy hogs, today's portables can be as energy efficient and quiet as their built-in counterparts.

Dishwashers save time and energy

Even if you've purchased a dishwasher as recently as five or 10 years ago, you may be surprised by how much cleaning performance has improved since then. In addition, energy and water efficiency has increased and quiet operation has become a given. Most of today's dishwashers, including budget and portable models, meet current Energy Star standards for energy and water usage. These dishwashers must be at least 5 percent more energy efficient and 15 percent more water efficient than nonqualified models.

With top-rated machines, dishes that previously required significant pre-rinsing can now be dropped right into the dishwasher, even if they have gooey or baked-on food. Sensors, once available only at the very high end, are now offered on most models, even budget dishwashers. These automatically adjust the cycle to deliver just the right cleaning power while conserving both water and electricity. Engineering advancements and improvements in sound insulation mean you might be near your dishwasher and not even know it's on.

One tip, though: read your owner's manual. It may not be the most exciting book, but manufacturers design and test their dishwashers with very specific loading configurations and they include those configuration in the manual. Following those guidelines will result in both maximizing capacity and in cleaner dishes.

Finding The Best Dishwashers
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To find the best dishwashers, including top-performing budget dishwashers, we analyzed expert and owner reviews. Among the experts, top review sites include ConsumerReports.org and Reviewed.com. Both have plenty of dishwasher reviews and they perform hands on tests of the models that they rate.

User reviews fill in the back story of how a dishwasher performs in the home. Top sites for those include BestBuy.com, Amazon.com, Sears.com (for Kenmore models), Lowes.com and HomeDepot.com -- with one caveat. Amazon.com only posts original reviews. BestBuy.com makes manufacturer-sourced reviews available, but keeps them separate from reviews by its own users and does not count that feedback in its overall star ratings. However, many other sites post reviews from their own users side-by-side with those that originally appeared elsewhere -- typically manufacturer web sites. While such reviews are valid, and usually balanced, they appear again and again on multiple sites across the web. We only consider such reviews once in analyzing which dishwashers are truly best liked by their owners.

Once that data is analyzed, we boil things down further by placing particular attention on a few key factors: performance, ease of use, noise, appearance and durability. We also consider dishwasher prices and the relative value offered by different models. The final result is our recommendations for the best dishwashers.

The best built-in, 24-inch dishwashers

There are a lot of good, 24-inch dishwashers out there, but, overall, we saw some of the best feedback for the KitchenAid KDTM354DSS (Est. $1,100). Experts say it's a top performer, blasting away the toughest, baked on crud, and actually getting the dishes dry -- something many dishwashers struggle with. In testing at ConsumerReports.org, it earns Excellent scores for both washing and drying, and owners concur, saying it's one of the best dishwashers they've ever owned. Its best feature, all agree, is its ProFilter. This technology all but eliminates redeposit, the phenomenon where food particles removed from one dish land on (and stick to) other dishes. This means that, unlike most dishwashers, your dishes are being blasted with clean water throughout the wash and rinse cycle.

The KitchenAid KDTM354DSS doesn't skimp on other features either. It has six cycles, including Express, Light, Normal, ProWash, Rinse Only and Tough. There is also a Top Rack Only option if you just need to wash a partial load. The interior is stainless steel, which both improves performance and adds to the KDTM354DSS's upscale appearance. KitchenAid says this dishwasher holds 15 place settings, but Johnny Yu at Reviewed.com says they were only able to fit 11 in; however, he still makes it one of the highest-rated full-sized dishwasher on that site, with a near-perfect score of 9.9 out of 10. It also earns Best of Year and Editors' Choice awards. One thing that all can agree on: the loading options are spacious and very customizable for practically any dish size or type -- including folding tines on the bottom rack and a convenient utility basket on the upper rack for smaller items.

If keeping the noise of your appliances down is a priority for you, as it is for many people, then you should be perfectly happy with the KitchenAid KDTM354DSS. It's rated at 43 dBA, plenty low that it shouldn't bother any but the most sensitive ears. While it gets only a Very Good for noise at ConsumerReports.org, owners say it's very quiet, and many double-check to see if they actually started it or just thought they had.

Although the initial price of the KitchenAid KDTM354DSS may be more than some would like to pay, you may feel better once you know how little energy this dishwasher uses. It will only cost you about $31 per year, which is considered very efficient. It also seems to be very durable, we read very few comments about failures or other issues of that sort. Also, you can pretty much ignore the MSRP of $1,099 -- it's usually on sale for less than $1,000.

If the KitchenAid KDTM354DSS is not in stock, then we recommend the virtually identical KitchenAid KDTM354ESS (Est. $1,000). It has a slightly higher noise rating of 44 dBA -- still very good -- and slightly different options that shouldn't affect either performance or ease of use. Or, if you want an upgrade, consider the KitchenAid KDTM384ESS (Est. $1,200). This is a seriously cool-looking dishwasher with a window and lighted interior. Nothing on TV? This will keep you entertained for hours. Along with our Best Reviewed pick, these two KitchenAid KDTM series dishwashers are the top-rated models at ConsumerReports.org and all get very high ratings from owners as well.

The only other dishwasher that gets a higher rating than the KitchenAid on Reviewed.com is the Bosch 800 Series SHX68T55UC (Est. $1,000), with a perfect score of 10, as well as Best of Year honors. The Bosch 800 line is a series of dishwashers that vary in finish, style and control placement; some even allow you to customize the cabinet as an inexpensive upgrade your kitchen. There are dozens of different models in the 800 series line, including those, like the SHX68T55UC, that are exclusive to specific retailers, in this case Lowe's.

One thing all of the Bosch 800 series dishwashers have in common is they get good reviews across the board from experts and owners. In fact, some experts say that Bosch makes the best dishwasher you can buy. So what keeps the SHX68T55UC out of our top spot? All else being equal, this dishwasher did not rise to Recommended status in ConsumerReports.org's latest round of testing, earning slightly lower ease of use scores. And we saw that reflected in owner reviews as well, with quite a few saying that the bottom rack simply does not fit larger or thicker dishes -- some note that the tines seem closer together than on other dishwashers they've owned. This is in spite of the fact that one of the key features of the Bosch SHX68T55UC is its folding tines on the bottom rack.

At Reviewed.com, Matthew Zahnzinger doesn't have any problems with how the Bosch SHX68T55UC loads. In fact, he touts those folding tines as a plus. He also loves the ability to adjust the top rack to three different heights, as well as the third rack above the top rack -- unique because you can lay cutlery in it instead of placing it in a separate basket (although there is also a cutlery basket), or use it for small items like ramekins, etc. However, that does take some height away from the main top rack, he notes, making its easy adjustability even more important. Again, owners are not the fans of this shallow rack that experts are, saying it's not as useful as advertised and they'd prefer a more traditional design. However, it's easily removed if you prefer not to use it.

The Bosch SHX68T55UC features a traditional bar-style handle and digital controls that are hidden away on the inside top edge of the door (other models offer slightly different designs, such as pocket door designs). There are no exterior buttons, displays or markings. A red InfoLight shines on the floor to let you know that the dishwasher is running -- a good thing because owners say that, yes, this machine is that quiet.

Another well-regarded Bosch dishwasher is the Bosch 500 Series SHP65TL5UC (Est. $900). Again, this is merely one in a line of well-reviewed dishwashers. The SHP65TL5UC is a pocket door design that doesn't have the folding tines found on the 800 Series, but it does have a SpeedPerfect function that's said to deliver the same cleaning performance but in less time. As with the 800 Series, other models may offer different exterior designs and control locations/types.

Feedback is very strong for the Bosch line. ConsumerReports.org tests the Bosch SHP65TL5UC and gives it Excellent scores for washing, drying and energy use. It also gets Very Good scores for noise and ease of use. Reviewed.com names the Bosch SHP65TL5UC an Editors' Choice and awards it Best of Year honors, with an overall score of 9.9, commenting that, "Thanks to helpful features, good stain removal, low 44 dBA sound ratings, a useful third rack, and affordable sale prices, we think this great dishwasher is also a superb value."

With the exception of the SpeedPerfect option found on the SHP65TL5UC, and the different handle, these dishwashers offer similar features. You'll find five wash cycles to handle everything from lightly soiled items to those with heavy, baked on stains. You can further customize those with options to sanitize dishes or treat them with extra care. SpeedPerfect does cut down cycle time, but uses more water. An Extra Shine option is designed to keep spotting to a minimum. Load flexibility is good and the SHP65TL5UC has the same third rack configuration.

Both of these Bosch dishwashers carry a 44 dBA noise rating. You can find pricier machines with better ratings, but users and experts say that it would be hard to improve on the noise levels of the Bosch. More than one user reports that they have to check for the InfoLight on the floor to reassure themselves that they remembered to start it.

Although we focus on only two specific Bosch dishwasher models in the extensive 500 Series and 800 Series lines, expert reviewers assure us that almost any Bosch model will be superior to most other dishwashers. Users largely agree as well, although they have more ease-of-use quibbles than the experts do -- both with the third rack and with the tines in the bottom rack. In fact, in his review of the Bosch SHP65TL5UC, Zahnzinger acknowledges that some thicker plates won't fit well in the bottom rack of Bosch's dishwashers.

You can get a top-performing dishwasher at a lower price point

Unless you really like high-end appliances, there's no reason to spend more than $600 for a dishwasher that will leave your dishes sparkling -- and your wallet a bit fatter. The best of the bunch in this price class is the Whirlpool Gold WDT720PADM (Est. $600), with an attractive, stainless-steel appearance that is a nice upgrade for a budget dishwasher. It lacks some other features you'll find on more expensive dishwashers, including a plastic interior that some pan for its cheap-looking aesthetic, but most people don't care -- it's not like they give tours of the interior of their dishwasher to guests.

What's important is that the Whirlpool Gold WDT720PADM excels when it comes to cleaning, earning an Excellent for both washing and drying performance at ConsumerReports.org. Yu, at Reviewed.com, is less impressed, finding that there was too much redeposit for his liking. It also struggled with tough jobs, like burnt on cheese. Still, owners' experiences more closely mirrors that of ConsumerReports.org's findings. The vast majority say that the WDT720PADM is excellent at getting dishes clean and thousands have weighed it to give it very high ratings. At 51 dBA it's not the quietest -- but we also saw few complaints about that. We also saw very few durability complaints.

In spite of its sub-$600 price (the MSRP is $599, but it's almost always on sale for around $540 or less), the Whirlpool Gold WDT720PADM has some nice features. One that Yu calls out for particular praise is the unique design of the cutlery basket, which attaches to the door and allows you to load it from the top, as usual, or open it up to lay the flatware to avoid touching the dirty tops of the silverware. The WDT720PADM also has a "silverware spray" function to be sure everything in the cutlery basket comes out clean. The upper rack is adjustable, but Yu says it's a two-handed hassle. Again, users seem to disagree and they like that flexible loading option.

At a slightly lower price, the GE GDF610PGJWW (Est. $500) gets a nod from Reviewed.com, with a score of 7.7 and an Editors' Choice award. Matthew Zahnzinger says it's "What a dishwasher should be." He goes on to praise its excellent performance in both washing and drying. And, of course, it's terrific value. The GE GDF610PGJWW has one particular feature that Zahnzinger particularly calls out: the option of targeting your wash zone to the upper or lower rack. Like the Whirlpool, the GE GDF610PGJWW has a plastic interior, but it sports a more traditional, less modern exterior, with a small pocket handle and exterior buttons and indicator lights. That, along with the Whirlpool's significantly higher ratings from owners and its performance in testing at ConsumerReports.org, are the only things that kept this dishwasher out of our top spot, it was certainly a close call. The GE GDF610PGJWW is white, it also comes in stainless as the GE GDF610PSJSS (Est. $600), slate as the GE GDF610PMJES (Est. $600), and black as the GE GDF610PGJBB (Est. $500).

It costs a little more, but the LG LDF5545ST ($700) also gets a good grade from Reviewed.com, scoring a high rating of 9.4 out of 10, and an Editors' Choice nod. Zahnzinger is impressed with this LG's cleaning ability, saying that it scores right up there with some Bosch dishwashers -- Reviewed.com's highest rated brand. And, nicest of all at this price, it has a stainless steel, rather than a plastic tub. Owners also say the exterior is nice looking; an attractive blend of old-school, front controls (although they're electronic, not the push-buttons of yore) with a full-length pocket door.

But back to performance. In testing at Reviewed.com, Zahnzinger says, "The Normal cycle cleaned everything almost flawlessly, only slipping up when it came to baked-on spinach. However, it did well in avoiding redeposit, often a challenge for cheaper dishwashers. However, at ConsumerReports.org, while the LG LDF5545ST scored Excellent in Washing, it earns only a Very Good for drying.

Users give LG LDF5545ST generally good marks, although we did see a few comments that the racks feel flimsy and the bottom rack comes of track easily. We also saw more recent durability complaints with this dishwasher than with others in this report. In addition to stainless, this dishwasher comes in black stainless as the LG LDF5545BD (Est. $800) and black as the LG LDF5545BB (Est. $650).

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