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Dishwasher Buying Guide

Dishwasher designs continue to improve as manufacturers offer an ever-growing selection of dependable energy-efficient machines at every price point. Review dishwasher features and buying tips before purchasing a new model for your kitchen.

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Whether standing idle or in operation, dishwashers serve a kitchen well. They rinse, clean, and dry plates and glasses, but also provide a handy cache for stashing dirty dishes and cookware when food prep or a party is underway.

Interior capacity (calculated by the number of place settings that fit inside) is tied to model size and doesn't increase with higher prices. Standard dishwashers measure 24 inches wide and accommodate between 12 and 15 place settings; compact models measure 18 inches wide and hold eight or nine place settings. Both sizes are available as built-in units or as portable versions (including convertible models that also work as built-ins). Portable dishwashers can be positioned wherever there's extra space and rolled to connect with a faucet when needed. Dishwasher drawers measure 24 inches wide and are sold singly or as a pair of independently operating dishwashers, with each drawer handling six or seven place settings. Countertop dishwashers, measuring 17 inches high, are designed to slide beneath upper cabinets, attach to a faucet, and clean six place settings.

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Available in bisque, black, white, silver, and stainless-steel finishes, basic-to-best dishwasher categories deliver attractive options that advance contemporary to classic decorating styles.

In fact, when it comes to dishwashers, higher prices don't necessarily signify increased value for your dollar; even basic models are equipped with energy-efficient systems and desirable cleaning and loading options. Here's a look at what small-to-large budgets will buy.

Standard dishwashers, priced between $300 and $600, are generally Energy Star-qualified 24-inch built-ins equipped with plastic tubs. Most have a tall tub, which maximizes interior space, and supply three to seven wash cycles. Dishwashers at the higher end of this range sport adjustable racks and tiered organizational systems, including stemware holders, removable tines, and flatware slots. Some feature sound-reduction packages, delay-start operations, and hidden controls, as well as self-cleaning filters and sanitation cycles. Countertop dishwashers are available for between $200 and $250.

Midrange dishwashers, costing between $600 and $800, provide all of the above plus additional cleaning processes and model options. In this price range, you'll also find 18-inch and 24-inch portable dishwashers and 18-inch built-in dishwashers. Dishwashers in this range boast extra rinse and washing cycles, steam prewash and cleaning functions, and intuitive sensors that adjust water usage based on load type. Some machines have stainless-steel tubs, valued for their stain and odor resistance, and base lights that illuminate the floor to indicate the machine is running. Single dishwasher drawers pop up in this category, with starting prices around $650.

Top-of-the-line dishwashers, ranging in price from $800 to $2,000, take it up a notch by expanding on the conveniences found on basic and better machines. "Best" dishwashers offer up to 16 wash cycles, including power-scrub cycles that remove baked-on grime with concentrated sprays of steam, triple filtration systems, quieter motors, and hard-food disposers, which grind up food bits so they'll wash down the drain. Cabinet-panel-ready dishwashers and double dishwasher drawer units come into play at the higher end of this range.

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