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. 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 an otherwise identical 24-inch model. Some 24-inch built-in dishwashers have a corresponding 18-inch option, but not all do.
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.
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 non-qualified models.
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 on very high end machines, 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.
recall affects some popular dishwashers
In October 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the
recall of about 408,000 dishwashers due to a possible fire hazard; the
dishwasher power cord can overheat and catch fire. While several instances of
this happening have been reported, there have been no injuries. This is an
expansion of a 2015 recall for the same issue, which affected approximately
Brands include Bosch, Gaggenau, Jenn-Air and Thermador. Although several
of the affected dishwashers were included in our previous report, only
non-affected models are included in this update. Consumers who find that they
own one of these defective dishwashers are advised to stop using their
dishwashers immediately and contact BSH Home Appliances toll-free at
888-965-5813 to arrange for a repair.
about the prices in this report
When it comes to dishwashers, prices are all over
the place. And, at some retail sites, you can't even see the price until you
add it to your cart. For that reason, we are quoting the manufacturer's
suggested retail price (MSRP) in this report, even though most of the models we
recommend here are almost always found on sale for less. In other words -- don't
be put off by a seemingly "high" price, that's more than likely not
even close to what you'll pay.
Finding The Best Dishwashers
To find the best dishwashers, including top-performing budget
dishwashers, we analyzed expert and owner reviews. Among the experts, top
review sites include Consumer Reports. Reviewed and Good Housekeeping. All have
plenty of dishwasher reviews and they perform hands on tests of the models that
User reviews round out the picture for us as to how a dishwasher
performs in the home. Top sites for those include Best Buy, Home Depot, Amazon,
Lowe's and Sears (for Kenmore models), One caveat, however, Amazon only posts
original reviews. Best Buy makes manufacturer-sourced reviews available, but
keeps them separate from reviews by its own verified buyers. Many other sites post
reviews from their own users side-by-side with those that originally appeared on
the manufacturers' 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 our analysis.
built-in, 24-inch dishwashers
There are a lot of good, 24-inch dishwashers out there, but we saw the
best feedback for the KitchenAid KDTM354DSS (Est. $1,150). 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. It's one of
the highest-rated dishwashers at Consumer
Reports where, after testing, it earns Excellent scores for both washing and
drying. Good Housekeeping testers agree, awarding it 4.5 stars out of 5. Owners
say 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.
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 says they were
only able to fit 11, along with a serving setting; however, he still makes it
one of the highest-rated full-sized dishwasher on that site, with a score of 9.4
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
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 Consumer Reports,
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 $1,150 --
it's usually on sale for less.
If the KitchenAid
KDTM354DSS is not in stock, then we recommend the virtually identical KitchenAid KDTM354ESS (Est. $1,150).
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.
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 top-rated
models at Consumer Reports and all get very high ratings from owners as well. There
are a couple of other models in the series, but they cost more and get lower
ratings from owners than these three.
The only other dishwasher that gets a higher rating than the KitchenAid
on Reviewed is the Bosch 800 Series SHPM98W75N (Est. $1,200),
with a perfect score of 10, as well as Best of Year honors. This particular
Bosch is not included in the recent recall; you can find out which specific
models are part of that recall at this link. We also discuss the recall
in more detail in the introduction to this report.
Bosch is a popular dishwasher brand that some experts say is the best
you can buy. So what keeps the SHPM98W75N out of our top spot? Quite simply, it
doesn't seem to dry your dishes, even on the Extra Dry setting. Consumer
Reports rates it as just Good in that category, and doesn't give it a
recommendation after their testing. Owners almost unanimously say that the
dishes remain quite wet -- some say water literally leaks out of the dishwasher
when they open it and they have to dry everything off manually -- yet they
still give it very high ratings. Quite frankly, that surprises us, as most
consumers are usually quite harsh on dishwashers that don't dry well. Still,
it's a top performer in washing dishes, earning an Excellent in that regard at
Testing at Reviewed backs that up, in their tests the Bosch SHPM98W75N
"removed everything except a little spot of dried spinach," and
"The heavy cycle destroyed all stains." So, if extremely clean dishes
are your priority and you don't mind a bit of extra work to wipe the dishes
dry, or open the door and leave them to drip dry, this Bosch's features are
what really make people happy.
Most popular of those is the three racks, which are all highly
adjustable. The upper rack has three height adjustments and up to nine rack
positions. The tines on most of the racks fold to accommodate different sizes
of dishes. The third (topmost) rack angles for even more loading options. It
can be used as a silverware drawer (in place of the also included silverware
basket), to accommodate small items such as dessert bowls, or removed
altogether to accommodate tall items in the upper rack. This is also one of the
quietest dishwashers in this report at just 39 dBA. 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.
The Bosch SHPM98W75N sports 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 handles). There are no
exterior buttons, displays or markings.
It costs a bit less, but the Bosch 500 Series SHPM65W55N ($900) is also well-liked by experts and owners. (Again, this model is not
part of the recall.) It's the second highest rated dishwasher at Reviewed, with
a score of 9.6 and an Editors' Choice award. There, Cindy Ballen says it
"gets dishes spotless. She also praises its attractive appearance and many
extra convenience features. The interior is not quite as flexible as in the 800
Series, but it's still better than most dishwashers, with a flexible third rack
and folding tines.
Users give the Bosch SHPM65W55N very high ratings across the board, with
the very adjustable third rack (same as in the SHPM98W75N) coming in for a lot
of praise. Many users say they don't even bother using the silverware basket
any longer because that rack is so useful. It cleans extremely well, they note,
and is very quiet. Like all Bosch dishwashers, most agree that it doesn't dry
well, and Consumer Reports gives it only a Good in that category, which keeps
it from earning Recommended status there. Still, most owners seem to have found
plenty of work-arounds for that issue and the other features of the SHPM65W55N
negate that one.
Like it's more expensive 800 Series sibling, the SHPM65W55N is quieter
than most at 44 dBA. A red light shines on the floor to let you know it's
running. There are several models in the 500 Series; the SHPM65W55N has a
pocket handle and hidden front controls.
top-performing dishwasher at a lower price point
Unless you really like high-end appliances, there's no reason to spend
more than $700 for a dishwasher that will leave your dishes sparkling. The best
of the bunch in this price class is the LG LDF5545ST (Est. $700), with
Reviewed calling it, "One of the best affordable dishwashers we've ever
tested." There Matthew Zahnzinger notes that it cleans as well as some Bosch
dishwashers they've tested, even on the normal cycle. The only exception was
baked-on spinach, which all dishwashers struggle with. If you need a lot of
baked-on spinach removal, however, the heavy-duty cycle has you covered. In
all, it has nine wash cycles, quite an impressive selection for a budget
Those nine cycles is one of the plusses that leads Andrew Gebhart at
CNET to award the LG LDF5545ST a pretty impressive 4-star rating (this site is
notorious stingy with its stars). As with Reviewed's testing, CNET found it did
an impressive job of cleaning. That's due to LG's proprietary "Quad
Wash" feature which adds a couple of wash arms into the standard two. That
leads Gebhart to note that he admires the fact that LG chose to focus on
performance than flash.
Flash or no flash aside, the LG LDF5545ST doesn't skimp on features,
with Gebhart also noting that it is one of the most feature-rich dishwashers
he's tested. Those include flexible loading options like adjustable racks and
fold-down tines. There's also a half-load option for cleaning just the top or
just the bottom rack, and a Dual Zone feature that is more gentle on the top
rack, more forceful on the bottom. A utensil basket is also there, but it's one
of the only cons Reviewed finds, saying it seems "clunky" and didn't
Owners are as impressed as the experts with the LG LDF5545ST. Most are
very pleased with how many features they got for the price -- and quite a few
say they used features, such as the half load option, that they thought they'd
never need. Many also praise its quiet operation; at 48 dBA it's not the
quietest around, but it is pretty good, and it earns an Excellent from Consumer
Reports in that category. Of course, there are dissenters, and we spotted a few
complaints about the top rack seeming flimsy, as well as for various durability
issues, but no more than we see with most other dishwashers at this price
The LG LDF5545ST is stainless
steel. It's also available in black stainless as the LG LDF5545BD (Est. $800),
black as the LG LDF5545BB (Est. $650),
and white as the LG LDF5545WW (Est. $650).
At a slightly lower price, the GE GDF610PGJWW (Est. $550) gets a nod from Reviewed, with a score of 7.2 and both Editors' Choice and Best
of Year awards. Matthew Zahnzinger says it's "What a dishwasher should be."
He goes on to praise its excellent performance in both washing and drying. 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.
Owners like this GE too, giving it
above-average ratings. Most are just pleased to get such a well-performing
dishwasher at such a good price. Others are very complimentary of the zone wash
option that Zahnzinger likes so well, and say its four wash cycles are plenty
-- most people only use one or two, anyway.
The GE GDF610PGJWW has a plastic interior; the
exterior features a small pocket handle with exterior buttons and indicator
lights. The GE GDF610PGJWW is white, it also comes in stainless as the GE GDF610PSJSS (Est. $650),
slate as the GE GDF610PMJES (Est. $650),
and black as the GE GDF610PGJBB (Est. $550).
Dishwashers are a nice luxury, and it's fine
if you're into high-end appliances, but the fact is that some people just need
-- or want -- an absolutely basic dishwasher that doesn't cost much and will
get their dishes clean. If that's you, take a look at the Whirlpool WDF520PADM (Est. $530).
It earns scores of Excellent for both washing and drying from Consumer Reports,
and owners are very pleased as well, giving it high ratings across the board.
The Whirlpool WDF520PADM is a pretty
straightforward appliance, with four wash cycles, including a popular one-hour
cycle, a couple of drying options, and a four-hour delay. The digital controls
are straightforward to use and a "lock" function ensures that no one
interrupts a cycle already in progress. The two racks are not adjustable and
the silverware basket is an in-door style to free up room in the main
compartment. The exterior is basic-looking, but not ugly by any means. The WDF520PADM
is the stainless version, which, by the way, is often on sale for around $350,
making it a fabulous buy. It also comes in black as the Whirlpool WDF520PADB (Est. $430),
or white as the Whirlpool WDF520PADW (Est. $430).