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.
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
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
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.
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
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
There are a
lot of good, 24-inch dishwashers out there, but, overall, we saw some of the
best feedback for the (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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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
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.
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
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 (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.
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
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).