The dishwasher has become an essential household appliance. Not only does it save us the effort of scrubbing plates by hand, but the best dishwashers are designed to clean our dishes and glassware to perfection. By simply loading a dishwasher, pressing a button and letting it do all the work, it’s also one less chore to worry about. More importantly, it eliminates the arguments about whose turn it is to wash up!
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But before you buy, there are some useful things to consider depending on your needs. Whether it’s for large families, couples or those who have hectic schedules, you’ll need the right dishwasher to suit your lifestyle.
How to choose a dishwasher
First things when looking for the best dishwasher are to consider size, design and capacity. As well as this, you need to ensure it will fit into your kitchen and has sufficient interior space. While most standard sized, 24-inch dishwashers are of the same size, capacity will differ. This is usually measured in terms of number of place settings. It’s also useful to look out for adjustable or flexible rack space with folding tines (protrusions that hold your dishes up, and can be found on both upper and lower racks), to maximise on loading space. This is ideal if you have a lot of dishes/glassware to wash at one time, or for a larger family.
Not all dishwashers perform the same, so it is important to consider the number of settings and range of features. Dishwashers can range from having 3 cycles/settings to the more advanced 10 so it's important to find one that suits your requirements. If you live alone or run a small household, it’s probably not ideal buying one with all the bells and whistles! Bear in mind, the ones with more advanced features and options will be more expensive but will have long-term benefits.
Your dishwasher also needs to be energy efficient and cost effective, saving you money on utility bills. Quieter dishwashers have a lower decibel (dBA) level.
If you're looking for sparking results, here is our guide of some of the best dishwashers you can buy right now.
1. KitchenAid KDPE234GPS: Best overall
Provides great cleaning results and convenience at a reasonable price
Dimensions (WHD): 24 x 34 x 24-inches | Cycles: 5 | Racks: 3 | Place settings: 14 | Sound rating (decibels): 46dBA | Features: One-hour Express Cycle, ProWash, PrintShield finish | Warranty: 1-year
Washing cycles are long, taking between 2-3 hours, however, the useful Express Wash efficiently cleans in just one hour. The advanced heat/dry feature enables enhanced drying. So you can unload and put away quickly, without towel drying any damp spots.
Our best overall choice for dishwasher provides great cleaning results and convenience at a reasonable price. While similar brands can cost $1,000 or more, the KitchenAid KDPE234GPS dishwasher is under the $700 mark.
Set in a sturdy stainless steel tub, its generous space has ample room to load up to 14 place settings. With flexible loading options, the third level rack provides 35% extra space which is handy!
It has a number of practical features that are highly-rated. The ProWash determines the ideal cycle for the soil level, and makes real-time adjustments to guarantee better cleaning results. And the 8-hour delay start enables you to preset the dishwasher to run while you’re at work or at night.
The overall design is sleek, and has a quality finish. It also has a PrintShield surface, meaning no more unsightly fingerprints or smudge marks. Perfect for families with young children!
While it may not have the advanced features of other models, the KitchenAid KDPE234GPS dishwasher packs a powerful punch for getting dishes and glassware sparkling, for a reasonable price.
- Read the review: KitchenAid KDPE234GPS
2. Bosch 300 Series (SHXM63WS5N): Best for hard-water households
Best for hard-water households
Dimensions (WHD): 23.56 x 33.87 x 23.75-inches | Cycles: 5 | Racks: 3 | Place settings: 16 | Sound rating (decibels): 44 dBA | Features: 'InfoLight' to signal when cycle is in progress, PureDry, Speed60 cycle | Warranty: 1-year
Hard water areas can affect the performance and longevity of your dishwasher. Not only can it leave dishes with residue and water streaks, but also affects the mechanism from performing efficiently.
The Bosch 300 Series (SHXM63WS5N) is a durable dishwasher with an in-built, water softener to tackle stubborn hard food and water stains. As you would expect from a high-spec model, it boasts impressive, advanced features. State-of-the art sensors detect and check the progress of every cycle, and its Speed60 cycle has your dishes and glasses sparkling clean in just 60 minutes. The PureDry function dries dishes in no time without the use of fans or outside vents.
The useful 'InfoLight' feature points a red dot on the floor to let you know when a cycle is in progress and turns off once completed. At just 44dBA, this is one of the quietest models on the market, so you can have uninterrupted conversations or a quiet evening.
While it is more expensive, the exceptional performance makes it a worthwhile investment, saving you more money in the long-term.
- Read the review: Bosch 300 Series (SHXM63WS5N)
3. Whirlpool WDF520PADM: Best budget
If you’re after an inexpensive dishwasher that still does the job, this is an excellent choice
Dimensions (WHD): 24 x 34.5 x 24.5-inches | Cycles: 4 | Racks: 2 | Place settings: 14 | Sound rating (decibels): 55 dBA | Features: : AccuSense soil sensor, heated dry or energy saver (no heat), in-door silverware basket | Warranty: 2-year
If you’re after an inexpensive dishwasher that still does the job, Whirlpool WDF520PADM dishwasher is an excellent choice. The added bonus is that you can find it on the market for just $398, making it value for money.
Although it is ‘no-fuss’, it has practical features for cleaning dishes and glassware to a high standard. The AccuSense soil sensor determines how dirty dishes are and adjusts the normal cycle as needed. And if you only have lightly-soiled items, the one-hour wash cycle is designed to clean items in half the time. Also convenient for saving you time and water consumption.
A minor drawback is that it doesn’t have a third top rack. However, the in-door silverware basket can be attached to the door, freeing up more space on the bottom rack. This may not be high-spec to do heavy-duty cleaning in a hurry, but it is ideal for a basic yet efficient dishwasher.
- Read the review: Whirlpool WDF520PADM
4. LG LDT6809SS: Best smart dishwasher
Does all the brain work
Dimensions (WHD): 23 x 33 x 24-inches | Cycles: 10 | Racks: 3 | Place settings: 15 | Sound rating (decibels): 44dBA | Features: SmartThinQ Wi-Fi App Control, TrueSteam technology, works with voice-activated Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa | Warranty: 1-year. LG Motor has 10-year
Dishwashers have moved with the times, and the high-tech, Wi-Fi enabled, LG LDT6809SS dishwasher does all the brain work. At just a touch of a button, you can customize or monitor your washing cycles from your phone.
This model is one of the most versatile, user-friendly and reasonably priced Smart dishwashers on the market. It’s well engineered with all the mod-cons including, a powerful QuadWash, that uses four spray arms instead of the conventional two, and advanced filtration system that quickly gets rid of heavy-duty food stains. With 10 cycles to choose from, its superior technology delivers sparkling dishes and glassware every time. And at 44dBA, it is super quiet that you won’t even hear when it’s on!
Considering you can expect to spend thousands on a similar, high spec dishwasher, the LG LDT6809SS dishwasher only costs around $744.80. Convenient for those always on the go or for busy households, this model provides all you’ll need and more.
- Read the review: LG LDT6809SS
5. GE PDT145SGLWW: Best dishwasher for small spaces
Small yet packs a powerful punch
Dimensions (WHD): 18 x 34 x 22.5-inches | Cycles: 3 | Racks: 2 | Sound rating (decibels): 47dBA | Features: 3-level wash, Piranha hard food disposal with removable filter, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa ready (voice control hub required) | Warranty: 1-year
If you don’t have enough space for a 24-inch dishwasher, the GE PDT145SGLWW dishwasher is small yet packs a powerful punch. Its wide range of features includes the practical AutoSense that adjusts the right temperature to the soil level. The Sanitize option significantly reduces bacteria and enhances drying, while the hard food disposer prevents any long-term clogging of the washing arms.
Set in a quality, stainless steel tub, it is durable and looks attractive. Although it only has two racks, the folding tines provides sufficient space for couples or smaller households. If you do require more loading space or have large families, this is probably not ideal.
For a dishwasher of this size, it is surprisingly expensive at $809.99. But it doesn’t compromise on quality and performance, which is reflected in the price. For its top cleaning results, practicality, and not to mention space convenience, these make it a worthwhile investment.
- Read the review: GE PDT145SGLWW
As well as the best dishwashers, we also review and rate the best side-by-side refrigerators and French door refrigerators. If you're looking for laundry appliances, check out our guides to the best front load washers and best dryers.
How much does a good dishwasher cost?
Dishwashers range dramatically in price – from a small countertop unit that costs $200 to a built-in unit that costs more than $2,000. The average price of the best-selling dishwashers on Lowe's and Home Depot is right around $500. At the upper end of the price range you get features like lighted interiors and windows, so you can see your dishes as they wash. The higher you go in price, the more customization you get. You can pay to have the dishwasher's exterior match your cabinetry exactly. That can be worth the extra investment, especially if you are doing major renovations anyway. Most buyers are staying in a much lower price range, though.
What do you get when you buy an expensive dishwasher?
There are some extremely expensive dishwashers on the market, but what do you get when you pay all that extra money? Clean dishes, of course, plus lots of advanced features.
Among other things, higher-price models typically have more cycles, including specialty ones for bakeware, delicate items like fine china and crystal, and other specific types of dishes. Many top-of-the-line machines are smart dishwashers with sensors that gauge how dirty and big the load is so you get the cleanest dishes and silverware possible. These dishwashers also have well-designed filtering systems and spray arms that distribute water and detergent better.
In addition, luxury dishwashers are sturdier. Many have stainless steel interiors, so they are quite durable – they can handle heavy loads and still last a long time. You'll also find that expensive dishwashers are easier to maintain and clean, are quieter, and keep interior heat better.
High-end models tend to include child locks and are quite energy efficient, although many cheaper dishwasher have these features as well. However, most luxury models have useful extras like a water overflow protection feature.
In general, expensive dishwashers also look great. They’re designed with aesthetics and functionality in mind. Many have fingerprint-resistant and smudgeproof exteriors and can be covered with custom-made front panels that match your kitchen cupboards.
When to buy a new dishwasher
When your trusty dishwasher starts making funny sounds as it chugs along, the question confronting you becomes, “Should I get this fixed or buy a new one?”
Cathie Ericson, writing for Realtor.com in 2018, outlines five questions to ask yourself before deciding whether to repair or replace any appliance. A key consideration is how old the device is.
In the article, Ericson quotes Tim Adkisson, director of product engineering for Sears Home Services, who says, “Appliances aren’t made to last forever, and a general rule of thumb is that if your appliance has reached the ripe old age of 7 or more, it’s probably time for a replacement.”
Ericson says you need to think about other factors as well, using a washing machine as an example. “First, consider how often it is used—a single person’s washing machine will typically last much longer than a family’s because, well, never-ending kid laundry,” she says. In addition, it’s important to consider how well the appliance has been maintained and how involved and costly repairs might be. You'll also want to assess whether a new appliance would save money.
How do I clean my dishwasher?
It’s common for the inside of a dishwasher to become covered in hardened mineral deposits – typically calcium. You also might smell a foul odor and notice that mold is growing inside. When this happens, your first impulse might be to reach for a tough, dry scouring powder and start scrubbing away.
Advice from home experts? Don’t do it.
Harsh cleaning agents can harm your dishwasher’s interior, and there are safer and easier ways to maintain a clean, fresh-smelling dishwasher.
Home expert Bob Vila recommends you clean your dishwasher every two months to “add years of service to the machine that tackles your least favorite chore.” After you put on rubber gloves, remove the bottom dish rack and clear away any wet, disgusting debris that could block the drain area on the bottom of the washer. You then replace the rack, put 1 cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container on the upper rack, and run your dishwasher on a hot water cycle. After that, Vila suggests spreading a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the machine and running a cold cycle.
If there’s mildew or mold inside, you can place a bowl of bleach on the bottom and run another cycle – but avoid doing this if there’s any stainless steel in your dishwasher, Vila says. Instead, just run another vinegar cycle, and that should address the problem.
Should you open the dishwasher while it runs?
Who hasn't come across a forgotten coffee mug and popped it into the dishwasher while it was running? As long as the wash cycle was in the early stages, no problem, right? Maybe for the dishes, but some consumers worry about breathing the chemicals in the steam that emerges from the machine.
However, there is little to fear, according to one expert.
Brad Woods, former assistant chair for the Department of Engineering at Wright State University, answered a question on the topic on Quora, asked by a pregnant woman. He said most dishwashing cleansers are relatively harmless surfactants and enzymes. More troubling are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which can evaporate when the machine's water temperature hits 140 to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Some dishwashing detergents contain VOCs, and they can potentially interact with human body tissues and chemistry.
"However, the amounts are so small, they're unlikely to be a health hazard," Woods said. Ultimately, there isn’t too much risk, as long as you don’t stand in the steam and inhale large amounts of it. In fact, most of what you smell are fragrances added to the detergent, not solvents.
Most likely, there are more VOCs in common household items such as paint, paint remover, brake cleaner, glue, nail polish, and new carpeting and new furniture. As a precaution, he recommends airing out your home regularly.
Is it safe to install a dishwasher next to an oven?
It’s probably best to avoid installing your oven and dishwasher next to each other, according to one expert. Mark Farver, an avionics/embedded systems engineer, addressed this question on Quora and urged caution for anyone installing a dishwasher in the United States.
In the U.S., most dishwashers are built to be surrounded by cabinets. “They do not have an outer case, but are generally just the inner tub area with some insulation and parts bolted on,” Farver says. “For cost reasons, the tub and many of the parts are going to be plastic and the heat radiating off an oven is going to degrade, melt or even set fire to the plastic or insulation blanket.”
In addition, a dishwasher by itself cannot hold up the countertop above it because the dishwasher requires support on either side. “A cabinet is required on both sides of the dishwasher and the countertop ‘bridges’ over the dishwasher which is just slid into the opening and loosely held with screws.”
Should you rinse dishes before putting them in the dishwasher?
The answer is no, at least if your dishwasher was manufactured in the last five years. TODAY Home, the online publication showing features from the Today Show, looked at this household chore in 2018 and found that pre-rinsing dishes actually counteracts your efforts to get them thoroughly clean.
"Believe it or not, it’s actually more beneficial to not rinse your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher,” Morgan Brashear, Cascade scientist with Procter & Gamble, told TODAY Home.
Modern dishwashers have sensors that determine how long a cycle should run and how hot the water should be, Brashear said. The water that flows over dishes during the dishwasher’s prewash cycle clears away things like crumbs and condiments. If you rinse dishes ahead of time – even if you add one that wasn’t pre-rinsed – it can mislead the dishwasher’s sensors, and the machine will run a shorter cycle. As such, your dishes will be less clean than you probably would like.
The best thing to do is simply scrape off big pieces of food before you load the dishwasher, and according to Brashear, you should use a detergent designed to break down food. Then just push the buttons and let the dishwasher do its job.
Dishwashers: You can clean more than you think in them
We all know you can clean dishes, silverware and glassware in a dishwasher, but have you considered all the other ways this machine can make your life easier? For example, you can put many of your kids’ messy, germy, saliva-covered toys on the top rack to sanitize them, according to an article on Real Simple Magazine’s website.
Real Simple also suggests cleaning such things as ceramic cabinet knobs, tools with plastic or metal handles, and household items like fan grills. Further, you can wash switch plates and vent plates if they are made of plastic, aluminum or steel as well as light fixture covers that aren’t enamel, painted in any way or antique. In addition, dishwashers do a good job cleaning sporting equipment like shin guards, knee pads and mouth guards. The publication also suggests running potatoes through the rinse cycle on the dishwasher’s top rack.
Some of the magazine’s recommendations may seem a bit unsavory, depending on your standards. For example, it suggests you use your dishwasher to clean plastic hairbrushes and combs (after removing all hair) and footwear like flip-flops and rainboots with the liners removed.
How to load your dishwasher for the best results
Like any appliance, a dishwasher works best if you use it correctly. It’s financially and energy smart to run only full loads, although some dishwashers now have a half-load cycle.
According to a 2015 LifeHacker article, you should fill your dishwasher starting at the bottom, arranging larger, more durable items there and taking care to put the dirtiest dishes in the center. This is because the water circulating system is in the bottom middle of the machine. Tall items like baking sheets should go in the back so they don’t block circulating water from getting to other dishes or cookware.
More delicate items, such as drinking glasses, should go on the top rack. Glass items should not touch since they can break if the water flow makes them clank together. In addition, you should put anything that is heat-sensitive on the top rack, since that’s farthest from the drying source in the bottom of the dishwasher. Knives, forks and spoons go in the cutlery holder with the handles down so the parts that touch food – and your mouth – get thoroughly clean.
In addition, don’t overfill the machine. Doing so can prevent the water and dishwasher detergent from circulating properly, and your dishes will not get as clean as they could.
Can I put liquid dish soap in my dishwasher?
If you run out of dishwasher detergent, please don’t squirt in regular liquid soap “just this once” to get the dishes clean.
“The main issue is that dish soap creates suds and dishwasher detergent does not,” according to the online publication Spoon University. Using liquid soap in your dishwasher can cause sudsy foam to overflow onto your kitchen floors, depending on how much you put in. If you use it frequently, regular dish soap will also create scum, and the dishwasher may develop drainage problems such as clogged filters and damaged pipes.
If you do make this mistake, HomeQuicks.com writes that you should quickly turn off the machine and get the dishes and cutlery out. Using a bucket or any big container, scoop out the water inside the dishwasher and pour it down the sink – you can switch to smaller containers as the water level gets lower. Towels come in handy when soaking up whatever is left. It also helps if you wipe the inside of the machine with towels and wipe off the soap dispenser with a cloth to clear away as much of the liquid soap as possible.
Vinegar is great at cutting down on suds, so pour a cup of white vinegar into the bottom of dishwasher, throw a handful of salt on top of that, and run the dishwasher for four or five minutes. Then open the machine to look for suds – if you see any, pour in another cup of vinegar. Repeat this process until you don’t see suds.
After that, HomeQuicks.com suggests giving your dishwasher a regular cleaning by putting Tang Orange Drink in the soap dispenser and running a full cycle. You can then put a cup of vinegar on the top rack and run another full cycle to clear away the citrusy smell. At this point, your dishwasher should be free of any liquid soap residue, and the dishes you took out originally can be washed – using the proper dishwasher detergent this time.