Dishwasher Buying Guide

A Guide To Find The Best Dishwasher To Meet Your Needs

The Greatest Appliances Dishwasher Buying Guide shares all you need to know to make an intelligent decision before buying your next dishwasher.

Our Dishwasher Buying Guide knows about egg yolk, strawberry jam, and breakfast cereal: what is it about these foods that make them the same? The caked-on, baked-on, dried-on residue is a difficult enemy of most dishwashers.

In our Dishwasher Reviews, we demanded more of a dishwasher than most of you will ever dream of –  we loaded 10 place settings caked with those difficult foods. We then allowed them to sit overnight, then we ran them through a normal wash cycle. We also checked the quality of the noise of the dishwashers as well. You should also check out all of our Appliance Buying Guides.

image of a dishwasher buying guide

More stringent rules have reduced how much water and energy dishwashers are able to use and still maintain the seal from the government’s Energy Star. On average, Energy Star certified dishwashers are about 12% more energy efficient and 30% more water efficient than what you will find with standard models. This difference can result in your saving hundreds of dollars throughout the life cycle of your dishwasher.

Our Dishwasher Buying Guide Knows The Right Price

Outside of how they performed in our tests, dishwashers are different in type, features, and obviously, price. On the cheaper end, dishwashers can range from about $200 to over $500. Prices for higher-end models can blow up to about $2,500.

image of smith countertop dishwasherInexpensive Dishwashers

Typically, if you choose a model at a low price point, you’re buying more performance than glitz, and not as many convenience features. They normally range in price up to $600. A lot of them clean almost as well as higher-priced dishwashers, and you might still be able to get adjustable racks and a soil sensor. On the other hand, cheaper dishwashers are usually a bit more noisy than higher-end models and don’t have as many flexible-loading options to make room for larger items.

Higher-End Dishwashers

At around $700 and up, higher-end models are usually quieter and come standard with ample flatware slots, folding tines, and other flexible-loading features. Hidden controls and a cycle-time display provide style and convenience. Many high-end dishwashers come with a stainless-steel tub, which is more resistant to stain than plastic.

Dishwasher Drawers

In the event you have new construction or a complete kitchen renovation, you may want to give consideration to dishwasher drawers. They normally include two small, stacked drawers which you are able to use at the same time or separately. In comparison to dishwashers that have doors, the drawers are more easy for loading. However, they can be costly, and models we reviewed haven’t performed as well overall as lower-priced conventional dishwashers. The capacity is fairly small, which limits how much you can wash at one time.

Our Dishwasher Buying Guide Knows What To Look For Prior To Shopping

image of a whirlpool portable dishwasherSearch for Convenience

The dishwashers that performed well in the ease of use category typically included adjustable racks and a ton of flatware slots. Some mid-range dishwashers provide third racks which allows you to lay down big utensils and short cups. A lot of them also offer fold-down tines, allowing for the fitting odd-shaped or large dinnerware and other dishes.

Think About Your Cleaning Habits

Each one of the “best buy dishwasher” picks do a good enough job cleaning that you can skip the pre-rinse process prior to loading. Sometimes pre-rinsing can cause your dishes to be even more dirty as opposed to cleaner. The majority of dishwashers that cost more than $500 or so that were sold in the past five years have a sensor that dictates the thoroughness of a washing cycle. During the initial rinse, the sensor finds out how dirty the water is and this determines the correct amount of time and water will be needed to get the dishes clean.

Match Your Décor

If you are concerned about looks, you will want to go for the cabinet-front dishwasher because they accommodate panels that will easily blend in with the look and feel of your cabinets.

Watch Out for the Controls

A number of the dishwashers come with interactive touch controls, but the normal touchpads are okay if they’re marked clearly. If you can’t see the controls when the dishwasher door is closed, check to see if you can locate the cycle-time and other visible displays. A lot of models that have hidden controls display a light or other indicator to inform you that the dishwasher is working, a bonus for models that are extra-quiet. But, with cycle times sometimes lasting more than two hours, we suggest getting a modle with a more detailed indicator of how much time is remaining in the cycle.

Check the Dimensions

Each conventional dishwasher’s width and depth is intended for a cavity that measures 24 by 24 inches. If you have recently re-done your cabinets or re-tiled your floor, you may find that fitting your new dishwasher in place could be a challenge because the height of your cavity may have been changed. Prior to selecting a new dishwasher, be sure to measure your space and inquire about the full height range of the unit. Remember to take adjustment of the leveling feet into account as well.

Our Dishwasher Buying Guide Knows the Best Features

When you are searching for the perfect dishwasher, you will want to look for features that will save you time, money, or effort. Ideally, the best selection will do all three.

Adjustable (or Extra) Racks and Loading Aids

Being able to move racks, adjustable tines, silverware, and stemware holders up and down and allowing you to configure the interior of the dishwasher and organize your dishes in a way you prefer is ideal. These features come in handy whenever you’re hosting a crowd and will help you a ton with fitting large or oddly shaped dishes. If you buy a high-end dishwasher, you will probably get a third rack that you can use for small cups and large utensils. A couple of models allow you to raise or lower parts of the rack so that you can fit taller items in there.

Soil Sensors

Soil sensors adjust the time and water use according to the soil level of the load, which results in improved efficiency.

Rinse/Hold Cycle

The rinse/hold cycle allows you to rinse dirty dishes if you are not ready to start a full cycle. This prevents the more difficult foods from getting more recalcitrant and can also reduce odors. The prevention of soils from setting in as you accumulate enough dirty dishes for a full load make this a priceless feature.

Wash Zones

Some of the more modern dishwashers have a heavily soiled items designated area, running a special cycle in that zone. These areas don’t have to run the entire cycle, with specific models, it only runs for a couple of minutes. In our tests, they worked exactly as they were supposed to.

Special Wash Cycles

The majority of dishwashers have a minimum of three cycles: light, normal, and heavy. Of course, the heavy cycle is used mainly for pots and pans. Most of the newer models come with an “express” or “quick” cycle. That cycle cleans lightly soiled dishes as quick as 20 minutes. A number of the models provide a single-rack, pot-scrubber, soak/scrub, steam clean, china/crystal, or sanitizing cycles as well. The three main cycles are adequate for most chores—even for food that’s good and baked-on.

Stainless-Steel Tub

Stainless-steel tubs are normally available in mid-range and higher-priced models, stainless steel seems to avoid staining better than light-colored plastic. Gray-speckled plastic tubs aid in hiding the stains and reduce the total cost. Any plastic tub will usually last longer than the majority of people will keep their dishwasher. Some of the more modern models come with hybrid stainless/plastic tubs.

Heated Dry

Lower-priced dishwashers normally dry in couple of hours after a wash cycle using only drainage. The residual heat then remains in the tub. Pay a higher price, and some models will either increase the heat of the water during the last rinse (to heat up the stainless tub) or utilize a heating element to dry the dishes. Sometimes paired with a fan to blow the warm air around. These features raise the level of convenience, but will also increase your power bill.

How Loud Are They?

Some of the dishwashers we tested sounded a lot like an airplane landing. This is very annoying when some wash cycles can last as long as 3 hours in some cases. Note: Some of the manufacturers might provide you with a decibel rating, however they average the sound level of an entire cycle (which includes the—silent—dry cycle), which is not at all an accurate representation of how loud the dishwasher is.

Our Dishwasher Buying Guide Knows The Best Brands

Asko is a Dishwasher Buying Guide Favorite

A quality brand, Asko dishwashers are distributed by the Sub-Zero and Wolf distributor/dealer network.

Bosch is a Dishwasher Buying Guide Favorite

This brand out of Europe manufactures dishwashers in the higher end of the market. One of their claims is that its dishwashers are among the most quiet.

Frigidaire is a Dishwasher Buying Guide Favorite

This is a brand that is sold mainly at big-box stores, independent appliance stores, and other national retailers. The company also manufactures the Frigidaire Gallery and Frigidaire Professional lines. Electrolux is the parent company of Frigidaire.

GE is a Dishwasher Buying Guide Favorite

GE is the second biggest dishwasher brand and offers 4 lines: GE, GE Profile, GE Café, and GE Monogram. Prices vary from around $300 for a basic GE dishwasher model to $1,400 for a GE Monogram product. The GE Café line provides professional-style models at reduced prices when compared to the GE Monogram series.

Kenmore is a Dishwasher Buying Guide Favorite

Kenmore, the biggest dishwasher brand in America, offers three lines: Kenmore, Kenmore Elite, and Kenmore Pro. Prices vary in range from about $300 for a basic Kenmore model to over $1,600 for the double-drawer dishwasher.

KitchenAid is a Dishwasher Buying Guide Favorite

This premium brand has positioned itself as a maker of dishwashers jam-packed with features. Typically toward homeowners that have gourmet kitchens and are typically sold through independent dealers.

Maytag is a Dishwasher Buying Guide Favorite

Maytag manufactures dishwashers in the mid-priced range and is owned by Whirlpool.

Miele is a Dishwasher Buying Guide Favorite

This European brand, like Asko, manufactures dishwashers that typically excel in energy efficiency but come at a higher price.
We hope our Dishwasher Buying Guide.  Now you have the information you need to buy the best dishwasher for your needs and budget.