Best Dishwashers of 2018

A dishwasher cleans dishes efficiently without wasting energy. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best dishwasher to make after-dinner cleanup easy.

Searching for the Perfect Dishwasher

Let's face it: washing the dishes after dinner is a chore. With a dishwasher in your kitchen, however, you never have to scrub another plate, pot, or glass again. That's the theory, anyway. In truth, not just any dishwasher will do — you want one that works efficiently and delivers truly clean dishes without wasting too much water or energy.

What type of dishwasher suits you? Chances are you need a specific size for your kitchen. You'll also want to choose a dishwasher with the right cycles, loading design, and noise level for your home. And don't forget about energy efficiency!


A Dishwasher with a Stainless-Steel Tub Can Be Quite Beneficial

A dishwasher with a stainless-steel tub resists stains and odors better than a dishwasher with a plastic tub. The steel can also help your dishes dry faster.

Types of Dishwashers

All dishwashers may seem the same, but there are several different types to choose from.

The option that most people picture when they think of a dishwasher is a built-in dishwasher. These appliances are usually 24 inches wide, though dimensions may vary slightly, and they fit beneath a kitchen counter. A built-in dishwasher can usually accommodate 12 to 16 place settings in one wash. Prices run from $470 to $1,900 for built-in dishwashers.

Compact dishwashers also install beneath a counter, but they stretch only about 18 inches wide and typically fit eight to 10 place settings. Because these appliances are smaller, the upfront cost is less — usually between $375 and $800. If you live in an apartment or need a dishwasher for a smaller area of your home, like a bar, a compact dishwasher is a great choice.

Portable dishwashers are ideal for rentals and homes that don't have a lot of space. Installation is extremely easy: simply place the unit on your countertop or beside your sink and connect it to the sink. Some portable dishwashers have wheels and can be rolled out of sight when not in use. Size varies from 21 to 25 inches, and price ranges from $190 to about $480. Most portable dishwashers can accommodate eight to 12 place settings at once.

Drawer dishwashers are similar to built-in dishwashers in that they sit under a counter, but they have drawers that slide out for easy loading. Drawer dishwashers are usually 24 inches wide and can hold anywhere from seven to 14 place settings. There are both single-drawer and double-drawer dishwashers on the market today. Prices range from $400 to $1,200.

A dishwasher with removable racks and/or adjustable shelves can be customized to accommodate oversize pots, pans, and dishes. Some dishwashers have stemware holders to keep wine glasses secure during a wash.

What's Your Control Preference?

Many dishwashers today have front panel controls found right on the door. These tend to be easy to read and manipulate, and you'll always know what the status of a load is just by looking at the door.

Top-control dishwashers have gained popularity in recent years, too. These machines have controls along the door's top edge. When the dishwasher is in use, the panel is hidden, giving the appliance a clean, sleek look. Because the panel is hidden, the settings can't be accidentally changed, which many users consider a benefit. And while it's true that you can't see all the controls as the dishwasher works, many top-control dishwashers have an exterior indicator light, so you can monitor the status of the cycle.

What Size Dishwasher Do You Need?

The right dishwasher size for you depends on two factors: how much space you have and how many dirty dishes you want to tackle at once. Before you start shopping, measure the area where you plan to install the dishwasher, so you know exactly how much space you have.

While standard built-in dishwashers are usually 24 inches wide and compact dishwashers are usually 18 inches wide, height and depth also affect capacity. Built-in dishwashers typically stand 34 to 35 inches tall and are 24 to 28 inches deep. Compact dishwashers usually stand 34 to 35 inches tall and are 22 to 26 inches deep. A dishwasher with a taller tub usually has a greater interior capacity.


Compact Dishwashers Aren't the Best Choice for Energy Efficiency.

Compact dishwashers don't have energy efficiency on their side. You may find that you need to run a compact dishwasher more often, resulting in greater electricity and water consumption. If you can fit a standard-size dishwasher in your kitchen, it's probably your best bet.

How to Buy a Quiet Dishwasher

Dishwashers get a bad rap for being noisy, and you probably don't want to worry about disturbing the rest of your household every time you run a load. It pays to take note of decibel rating before you buy. A dishwasher that's rated at 45 decibels (dB) or lower is nearly silent. Dishwashers that run between 45 and 50 dB are quiet but not silent. Those above 50 dB get progressively louder.

If you have hard water in your area, consider a dishwasher with a built-in water softener.

Choosing Cycles

If you've got some dirty dishes to clean (who doesn't?), you want a dishwasher with the right wash cycles to suit your needs. Cycles vary from model to model, but here are some general options that you'll want to consider.

  • Light, normal, and heavy cycles come standard on most dishwashers. These cycles allow you to tailor a wash based on what you're cleaning.
  • Delayed wash allows you to choose the time that your dishwasher will begin work. You may be able to program the machine anywhere from one to 24 hours in advance.
  • Quick wash is a cycle that handles "slightly dirty" loads in less time than a standard cycle.
  • Rinse and hold is a selection that allows you to rinse some dirty dishes before you're ready to wash them. Choose this if you don't have a full load yet but you want to rinse your dirty dishes before you wash them.
  • Sanitize lets you quickly kill up to 99.9 percent of the bacteria and germs with a rinse cycle. It's ideal for cleaning baby bottles and cutting boards.


Cycle Features Vary Among Dishwashers

Some dishwashers have a special cycle designed for cleaning glass, china, or crystal. This gentler cycle protects your delicates and uses cooler water.

Other Features to Consider

In addition to having the right cycles, you want to be sure your dishwasher has all the right cleaning features for a thorough washing. The following features are definitely nice to have:

  • High-efficiency water jets: These high-power nozzles are strategically placed to enhance cleaning without using more water.
  • Advanced water filtration system: This helps filter out food particles for a more thorough cleaning. Dishwashers with manual filters that require cleaning every so often are usually cheaper than those with self-cleaning filters.
Some dishwashers have a heated dry feature, which can significantly reduce the drying time for your dishes.

A Word about Energy Efficiency

An energy-efficient dishwasher isn't just better for the environment — it can spare your pocketbook, too. Start by looking for a model with the ENERGY STAR label. That designation means that the dishwasher meets stringent standards set by the U.S. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Beyond the ENERGY STAR label, there are some features to look for that can help cut energy use and cost.

  • Soil sensors can detect how dirty your dishes are during a cycle and adjust the time and water level accordingly.
  • Short wash cycles reduce the length of the cycle for lightly soiled dishes, so you don't run the dishwasher for longer than necessary.
  • A half-load option allows you to fill just a portion of the dishwasher for a smaller load. The cycle doesn't run as long or use as much water.

Always unload the lower rack of your dishwasher first after a cycle is completed, so you don't need to worry about the dishes from the top rack dripping onto them.

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