While they're not absolute essentials, dishwashers are convenient and save you valuable time and effort in the kitchen. Instead of washing and drying each item individually, you simply spend a small amount of time loading and unloading, and the dishwasher does the bulk of the work for you. Choosing the right model and keeping it well maintained also ensures your kitchenware is sanitary.

Contrary to popular belief, studies show that using a dishwasher actually saves water and energy, providing you opt for an energy-efficient model and use it properly. This lower water and energy consumption helps shrink your home's carbon footprint. Even if you're not overly concerned about lessening your environmental impact, an energy-efficient dishwasher is still a good investment, as it can save you money by lowering your utility bills.

There are a variety of models to choose from, including tabletop, freestanding and integrated, and you also need to decide on which type of interior you prefer. Other key considerations include efficiency, load flexibility and user-friendly features. Remember to consider the type and quality of the warranty and customer support. The best models feature adjustable racks, multiple spray arms, energy-saving features and multiple cycle options, all of which make a dishwasher versatile and provide a high degree of user control.

To cut down on energy use in your kitchen even more, you can complement your dishwasher with an energy-efficient induction cooktop, side-by-side refrigerator and washing machine. These appliances can improve the overall efficiency and versatility of your kitchen as well as reduce your energy consumption. To further save and go even greener, you can select from a variety of small smart appliances, including microwaves, slow cookers and coffee makers.

Best for Large Families

KitchenAid

KitchenAid has many good dishwashers that can help keep you dirty dishes clean. With almost 20 models to choose from, it’s likely you’ll find one that fits both your kitchen and your personal needs. They are generally more expensive than other dishwashers we reviewed, but they’re well worth the price given their high capacities, powerful cleaning cycles, energy efficiency and quiet running.

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Bosch

Bosch is a German company that produces some of the best dishwashers available on the market today. They’re well designed, handsome, and get your dishes as clean as, or cleaner than, machines made by other manufacturers in our review. They are also some of the quietest dishwashers you can buy. No matter if you have a small-, large- or medium-size kitchen, Bosch likely manufactures a model that fits your family’s needs.

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What Makes a Top-Rated Dishwasher?

With so many options out there, it is important to have a full understanding of how dishwashers work and what today’s models can do. In our reviews, we provide the information you need to choose the dishwasher that best suits your needs and lifestyle.

Energy Efficiency
When choosing a new appliance, one of the vital considerations is how much water and energy it uses. The best dishwashers for consumers who want to save money and do their bit to help the planet are those that are ENERGY STAR qualified. Also, be sure to look at the estimated yearly running costs, as this gives you a good idea of how much the machine will cost to use and how much it can save you every year.

Older dishwasher models use a lot of electricity and excessive amounts of water, but the best modern models do not. In fact, a study conducted by the Energy Saving Trust shows that, on average, an energy-efficient dishwasher set on an eco-cycle uses only one-third of the water used to wash dishes in a sink. The appliance also consumes less energy since it heats a comparatively small amount of water.

Cleaning Options
The number of cleaning cycles you have to choose from significantly impacts how well-suited a particular dishwasher is to your kitchen – the more cycles there are, the greater control you have over your appliance.  Some dishwashers allow you to load specific areas of your machine for targeted washing cycles. These options can be called wash zones, top-rack only or small load, and they’re convenient for the times when you don’t have a full load to wash or want to pay particular attention to stubbornly dirty dishes.

Dishwashers that meet National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) standards ensure your pots and pans are hygienically clean, providing you keep the appliance in good working order. Some machines have an eco-friendly wash cycle that uses less water and less energy. Similarly, a quick cycle option limits water and energy consumption and is suitable for lightly soiled loads.

If you have a lot of fine dinnerware, such as bone china, a dishwasher with a delicate cycle is a must. Models with steam cycles are good for heavily soiled items. When your dishwasher has a rinse-only cycle, you can lightly rinse dishes if you don't plan on running a full cycle immediately.

Drying options include a cycle that uses a heating element, which dries dishes quickly but consumes more power. An air-dry option allows dishes to dry naturally, which lowers energy consumption. Fan drying works in tandem with heat and air-dry cycles to speed up the process – when used with the heat-dry option, it can shorten the cycle and lower power usage.

Best Dishwashers on a Budget

Frigidaire

Frigidaire dishwashers are both economical and efficient machines. The company manufactures a variety of models that range in price from just over $1,000 to less than $400, which makes them some of the least expensive dishwashers we reviewed. They’re also the most basic. So, if you don’t need a lot of extra features and want to save some cash while still getting your dishes clean, Frigidaire dishwashers are worth your consideration.

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GE

General Electric (GE) is the creator of hundreds of the electronics, appliances and other devices we use every day. It currently makes more than 80 dishwasher models ranging in price from nearly $1,700 on the high end to $299 on the low end. These dishwashers also come in a variety of sizes, capacities and styles. You can choose from a built-in, under-the-sink and portable models. So, no matter what your needs are, you can likely find a GE dishwasher that meets them.

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Load Flexibility
In our dishwasher reviews, load flexibility refers how many dishes and other items you can place in the machine. The number of place settings is a key consideration (a place setting includes one dinner plate, a dessert plate, a dessert spoon, a soup plate, a soup spoon, a glass, a tea cup, a tea cup saucer, a teaspoon, a knife and a fork) as it determines how frequently you run your dishwasher, and if you have a large family, a small place setting capacity may not provide enough space to load dinnerware and kitchenware after a single meal. Some full-size dishwashers hold up to 16 place settings, whereas slim, tabletop or apartment-size dishwashers can hold as few as four.

Most of dishwashers in our review have two racks, but some have a third rack that’s primarily used for silverware and cutlery. This frees up room on other racks to help you make the most of the available interior space. Adjustable racks and folding tines make the dishwasher much more flexible and versatile, as you can essentially alter their positions to accommodate large, bulky or odd-shape items.

Most Advanced Dishwashers

Samsung

You may associate Samsung with consumer electronics like smartphones, tablets, televisions and computers, but it also makes excellent household appliances, including some of the best dishwashers you can buy. Samsung dishwashers have several unique technologies that ensure your dishes are clean and sanitary. Each of the dishwashers are Energy Star certified to help protect the environment. Although the selection is slim, you can probably find a model that’s in your price range.

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LG

LG, best known for its high-tech electronic devices like smartphones and tablets, also manufacturers high-quality appliances. Like its smart TVs and surround sound speakers, LG dishwashers are among the best you can buy. They feature powerful cleaning technology, such as QuadWash and TrueSteam, and high load capacities. They are also quiet. LG’s selection of dishwashers is relatively slim – there are currently only 24 available – but you should still be able to find one that suits you and complements your kitchen.

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Sound Level & Design
A dishwasher’s design and dimensions will likely have a major influence on your purchasing decision. The noise it makes during a cycle is particularly important if you want to run it at night when energy tariffs are typically cheaper. The quietest dishwashers have peak noise levels of around 40 decibels, while the loudest reach 50 decibels.

It’s important to consider the material the appliance’s interior is made of because it impacts how noisy it is during a cycle, the inner temperature and its durability. A model with a stainless steel tub is a better choice than one with a plastic interior – stainless steel withstands higher temperatures without warping and retains heat better, making the machine more energy efficient. Additionally, where noise is a factor, stainless steel models are quieter.

The more spray arms a dishwasher has, the more cleaning potential it has – more arms means better water and detergent coverage. The top-rated dishwashers in our review have three arms, while other noteworthy models have two. All dishwashers have filters; however, self-cleaning models don’t require as much maintenance as those you must clean yourself.

A dishwasher can have either a recessed handle or a bar-style handle. Bar handles are easy to access, but they stick out, which isn't ideal where space is at a premium. Recessed handles aren't quite as convenient, but they don't take up space in front of the machine, making them a better option for small kitchens. Also, because they don't have a protruding bar, dishwashers with recessed handles look sleeker.

Overall size plays a key role in your purchasing decision. You need to accurately measure the available space, taking into account height, width and depth, to ensure you choose a model that fits neatly in its spot.

While color and finish don’t affect how your dishwasher runs, if you want one that complements the rest of your appliances and the style of your kitchen, it's something that you can consider. The top-rated dishwashers on our lineup come in colors like black, white, slate, and brushed or bright stainless steel.

Warranty & Support
Anytime you make a large purchase, it's important you understand the warranty and support terms. New appliances shouldn’t require much repair and maintenance, but there's always a chance that something will go wrong. Some models have a standard warranty that covers everything, but many manufacturers provide different warranties on different elements – for example, it may include separate warranties for labor, parts, the rack and electronics, and the tub and door liner. Whether the dishwasher comes with a general warranty or one that covers individual parts and components, the longer it lasts, the better.

Good customer support is crucial. When something goes wrong, you may need product-specific advice or help troubleshooting. The manufacturer should be your best resource, even if you bought the dishwasher in a store. While you can contact many manufacturers via phone and email, others also offer help over live chat on their websites.

Dishwashers with the Best Warranty

Maytag

Maytag has been a heavyweight brand name in household appliances for more than a century. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many Maytag dishwashers to choose from anymore. As of the time of this writing, there are only four models available on its official website. Nevertheless, they have powerful cleaning tools, easy-to-use controls and high load capacities.

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How to Keep Your Dishwasher Clean

Dishwashers come in contact with a lot of food residue, and not all the particles disappear every time. They also collect grease, limescale and soap scum, so knowing how to clean your dishwasher is crucial to keep it running for years to come. Without regular cleaning, dishwashers can develop unpleasant odors, and the smells can even cling to items that have run through a cycle. Eventually, the machine can stop working as effectively, and particularly when washing at low temperatures, your dishes may harbor bacteria after cleaning. Even if your machine has a self-cleaning filter, you still need to clean it.

To do so, you first disconnect the dishwasher from the wall outlet for safety. Make sure it's empty and remove the bottom rack. Take out the filter and follow the cleaning instructions in the user manual. Use a soft, clean cloth to wipe over the interior, making sure you get right into all the corners and crevices. Check the drain and remove any debris, as buildup can result in a serious blockage and damage the machine.

After you replace the racks and filter, add a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container to the top rack and run a complete hot cycle. This process removes odors, bacteria and food particles. To remove stains and lingering odors, sprinkle a cup of baking soda across the bottom of the machine and run a short hot cycle. Remember to clean the door seal, the handle and the exterior, as debris and bacteria collect there too. Use a soft nonabrasive cloth and warm soapy water. 

How to Correctly Load a Dishwasher

To get the best results from your dishwasher, you must load your dishes properly. You need to position all the items so that the sprayer arms can effectively distribute water and detergent all over.

Small items, such as cups and glasses, do best on the top rack, away from cutlery and utensils. For best results, everything should be face-down on the racks, as this allows the spray to get right inside without water and debris collecting inside. If your dishwasher has foldable tines and adjustable racks, you can alter the interior layout to make room for pots and pans of varying sizes. It’s also important to correctly load the silverware basket – cutlery should be loaded with the handles pointing down.

How to Optimize Efficiency

There are a variety of ways to optimize your dishwasher’s efficiency, which is vital if you want to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. First, you should clean it regularly using the instructions we provide above. Even the best dishwashers suffer from poor performance when their filters are full. You should also keep it free of limescale, as this buildup reduces efficiency and performance and damages the machine.

You should only run your dishwasher when it's full. This limits the number of cycles you run, and as a result, you use less water and energy. You should also avoid using a half-load setting when possible – it uses more than half the water and energy of a full load, so you're better off waiting until the dishwasher is full to use a full cycle.

Unless your dishes are heavily soiled, you should run your load on an eco-friendly setting, as it uses less water and runs at a lower temperature, so it uses less energy. To save money, if you have a cheaper nighttime tariff for your energy, select a model that has a delayed start, and set it to come on during the night.

Most Energy Efficient Dishwashers

Electrolux

Electrolux makes some of the best dishwashers on the market today. Each model comes with brand-specific controls such as IQ-Touch and Wave-Touch. The machines also come in a variety of sizes, so you can choose one that fits your kitchen. They all have an array of wash cycles and options to address specific dishwashing needs. Additionally, almost all the models sold by Electrolux are ENERGY STAR qualified, so they use as little power as possible to get your dishes clean.

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What Should You Never Put In?

Make sure that anything you put in your dishwasher is actually dishwasher safe. If it isn't, the item can warp, crack or be otherwise damaged. It's usually best to avoid putting anything hand-painted inside a dishwasher – even on a delicate cycle, you run the risk of stripping the finish or paintwork. Similarly, you should wash anything with a delicate glaze by hand, unless it explicitly states that it is dishwasher safe.

Cast iron pans and skillets should also be washed by hand, as they require care and seasoning, and if scratched or etched, they quickly develop rust. While you can wash knives in the dishwasher, it's important to note that their sharp edges will dull much faster than if you clean them by hand.

You should never place crystal in the dishwasher. Apart from the risk of etching and clouding if you use too much detergent, fine crystal can easily crack at high temperatures. Food particles and high-pressure water spray can also cause chips.

Avoid washing copper pans in the dishwasher. If the detergent and high-pressure spraying arm remove the finish or scratch the copper, it can oxidize, ruining the metal’s appearance and changing its color. Gold- and silver-plated items react similarly, and silverware becomes irrevocably tarnished.

To avoid clogging your dishwasher and damaging the machine, never put anything with labels or adhesives, such as a jar with a label still on it, inside. The labels and adhesive residue form a sticky mass that lodges in the drain or the filter, resulting in a blockage.

What Else Is Important When Choosing a Dishwasher?

There are a few other noteworthy features to consider when choosing the best dishwasher for your needs. Features that improve how convenient and safe the appliance is should all be taken into account before you finalize your purchase.

Maximizing Efficiency With a Soil Sensor
Dishwashers with soil sensors can detect whether the load is clean or whether it needs further washing. This sensor uses an infrared signal to establish whether the water is clean or contains particles, and the dishwasher adjusts washing time accordingly. So, if your dishes are still dirty, the machine extends the wash cycle. Without one, the dishwasher simply runs through a fixed cycle.

The soil sensor limits the need to rewash items with a second full cycle. However, if you don't clean your dishwasher regularly, the soil sensor may use more energy in the long run, as it will continually sense particle-laden water and signal the machine to run longer cycles.

Safety Features
It’s a smart idea to choose model that has a child lock. This feature keeps kids from opening the door or changing settings while the dishwasher is running. Hidden controls are another safety feature. Models like the GE Profile hide the control panel on the top of the door so it isn't visible or accessible when the dishwasher is closed.

Do You Need a Hard-Food Disposer?

While a hard-food disposal feature isn't essential, it saves time and effort and can increase the efficiency and lifespan of your dishwasher. Models with hard-food disposers grind up large, hard particles and flush them down the drain so you don't have to rinse and scrub dishes before you load them in the dishwasher. This feature keeps your dishwasher clean and prevents clogs, and hard particles aren’t left behind on your dishes.

Delayed-Start Function
Delayed start isn't a vital function, but it is useful, particularly if you want to run your dishwasher during the night to save money. Dishwashers with delayed-start functions allow you to choose your cycle and the time you want it to begin. Some models only let you program six hours ahead, while others have a maximum delayed start of 24 hours.

A dishwasher performs a crucial job in your kitchen. Without one, you can spend a lot of time cleaning your flatware, and handwashing is often not as effective as machine washing. Picking the right dishwasher for you and your kitchen is very important. The brands in our lineup can help keep your dishes clean, sanitary and ready to use at any moment.

Contributing Reviewer: Danny Chadwick