Best Dishwashers of 2019

Angela Parkinson ·
Home & Appliance Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

We’ve been reviewing dishwashers since 2010. Since then, we’ve spent more than 400 hours analyzing information like customer reviews, specification sheets and sales activity. Based on what we found, we recommend KitchenAid dishwashers for most households. This company makes several dishwasher models, including basic, affordable ones and more expensive, feature-rich machines that have interior lighting, bottle wash spray nozzles and extra powerful drying systems. KitchenAid’s dishwashers are also generally quiet and energy efficient and have high-performing soil sensors. Some models’ controls are on the top and others on the front, and most of the brand’s dishwashers come in different colors, so you can choose one that looks good in your kitchen. 

Best Overall
KitchenAid
The best-reviewed dishwasher brand on the market offers something for every household, with advanced features that make your daily cleanup routine fast and easy.
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Best Value
GE
The GE selection is broad enough to include some of the top-rated machines on the market, but they also have some very economical options.
View on Sears
Most Innovative
Samsung
The Samsung brand offers new ideas for getting your dishes clean, such as automatic-opening doors that take advantage of air drying and walls of water (instead of central rotating arms) for efficiency.
View on Sears
Best Overall
KitchenAid is a respected name in appliances, especially when it comes to dishwashers. A close look at the most popular sites that review dishwashers yields more positive reviews of KitchenAid units than any other brand.
We selected a KitchenAid dishwasher as our top product three out of the last seven years. That ties with Bosch for the most No. 1 Top Ten Reviews rankings. Bosch also ranks high on the dishwasher review sites, but KitchenAid dominates with a lot of great features and options for all types of homes. We found KitchenAid prices to be generally more expensive than most other brands we considered, but you get a lot of value for the price. These machines also offer a lot of good features that are designed to make it so you do not have to rewash after the wash cycle. There are nine wash arms designed to reach the dishes in every corner of the wash tub and targeted jets in whose path you can position dishes with the most stubborn food residue.
Pros
  • This brand gets numerous positive reviews.
  • Strong cleaning capability means less rewashing.
  • Nine wash arms cover more territory than the one or two on your old machine.
Cons
  • The prices are generally high.
  • Extras like the front window on some models are nice but unnecessary.
  • This brand does not offer as many models as others in our comparison.
$1299.00Home Depot
Read the full review
Best Value
General Electric (GE) is a familiar name for household products, with a vast selection of dishwashers across a broad price range. We like that this brand offers quite a few on the lower end of the spectrum, including several under $300.
That is rare among the brands we considered. . Most other brands have just a handful of budget units — and starting at a higher price (around $500) than the GE options. GE dishwasher reviews are mixed, but you should be able to find a unit with the features that matter to you for a price you can afford. Some GE models that fall in the middle-to-upper price range are ranked high in terms of customer reviews and professional review sites. Top Ten Reviews ranked a GE unit at No. 1 two out of the seven years we have been comparing dishwashers, though that was one of the higher-priced models.
Pros
  • There are many models to choose from.
  • The lower-priced GE models cost less than lower-priced models from other brands.
  • Unlike many brands, GE offers portable models.
Cons
  • Other brands get better ratings on review sites.
  • GE does not get as many positive customer reviews as other brands.
  • Most GE models are very basic.
$584.99Sears
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Most Innovative
Samsung designers create dishwashers that break the mold of traditional units. For instance, instead of rotating arms in the middle of the appliance, some models are equipped with sprayers along the bottom that form walls of water to clean dishes.
This brand also offers some units that open their own doors at the end of a cycle to take advantage of air drying for dishes that don't respond well to the heated drying feature. Many models require very little maintenance because of hard-food disposers that break down particles of food. Digital sensors on some Samsung dishwashers will shut down the unit in the event of a leak. Sleek touch controls also elevate the Samsung appliances from competitors. Samsung does not offer a wide variety of dishwashers. They also run a little expensive when compared with other brands. If you want the best in dishwashing innovation, though, a Samsung is the place to get it.
Pros
  • The hard-food disposer on many models means less maintenance.
  • The automatic-release door allows dishes to dry efficiently.
  • The digital leak sensor is designed to prevent potentially extensive and expensive damage.
Cons
  • Samsung selection is comparatively small.
  • Samsung's most economical options are still relatively expensive.
  • Other brands rank better with customers and professional reviewers.
See Special OfferSears
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Best Portable Options
There are few portable models available from any manufacturer that we included in our comparison, but Frigidaire offers a couple of options.
Portable dishwashers are widely regarded as having inferior cleaning power, but if you don't have the right hookups for a built-in model, a portable can give you some cleaning assistance. You attach the hoses and roll it into a spot by the sink and let it do a lot of the dishes for you. Frigidaire had more positive reviews than the other brands we compared for portable dishwashers, and more color options. There were brands with more portable models than Frigidaire, they just weren't in our roundup of the best brands. Even if your kitchen doesn't have space for a built-in dishwasher, coordinating the look of your appliances can be a nice way to have a more pulled-together look.
Pros
  • Frigidaire offers more than one color so your portable dishwasher can match other appliances.
Cons
  • There are brands that offer more models of portable dishwashers.
$393.99Sears
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Most Energy Efficient
Miele is a dishwasher brand that boasts a long list of efficient models. A search of the U.S. Department of Energy website shows that it has more Energy Star-certified models than any other brand in our comparison.
In fact, it had the most Energy Star-certified models of any brand listed on the DOE site. Dishwashers earn the Energy Star label when they are 12% more efficient than non-certified models. Miele has a lot of Energy Star dishwashers, but their units tend to cost more than other brands, too. They can save you money in water and power costs over the life of the machine, though.
Pros
  • Miele offers a broad range of efficient models that can save you money in energy costs.
Cons
  • Miele machines tend to be pricier than other brands we considered.
US$999.00Miele
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Most Customizable Interior
Beyond the two regular racks in the Bosch 800 Series’ dishwashers, there is a flexible third rack with sides that fold down.
Thanks to this feature, it can hold a 30 percent larger load of dishes – up to 16 place settings. Further, you can move the racks between three slots, for a total of nine rack configurations. That way you can wash all sizes of serving platters, beverage containers, cooking tools, wine glasses, pot lids and other awkwardly shaped items. The trademarked EasyGlide system means the racks slide in and out smoothly as you load and unload the dishwasher.
Pros
  • The Bosch 800 Series has a wide range of dish rack positions.
Cons
  • This is a relatively high-end brand, so it’s more expensive than others.
$899.00Home Depot
Read the full review

Why Trust Us?

Top Ten Reviews has been researching and comparing dishwashers since 2010. We have invested more than 400 hours during that time, learning about features and trends and determining what makes a good dishwasher. We have studied YouTube videos and product manuals. We have spoken with customer service representatives and other product experts. We have visited home improvement stores to get a closer look at features and capabilities that could reduce the time you spend cleaning up after meals every day.

How We Researched

We’ve spent more than eight years and hundreds of hours researching and evaluating dishwashers. In our research, we first look for new models from brand-name companies, then choose dishwashers that fit a generally middle-class income, though we also include budget and splurge options to provide you with a wide selection of choices.

We look for quantifiable features like number of cleaning cycles, energy costs, rack adjustability, sound output and the number of spray arms. In addition, we list dimensions so you know whether the dishwasher will fit in your kitchen. We also consider whether a dishwasher has a child lock, sanitation features such as soil sensors, and convenience features like a delay start, touch controls and an easy-to-use handle.

We gather information by reading user manuals, examining the manufacturers’ websites and looking at consumer reviews on independent websites. We then put the facts we’ve gathered into a proprietary weighted spreadsheet, which helps us rank the dishwashers we’re reviewing. In addition, to a degree, we rely on our own subjective experience with dishwashers.

How Much Does a 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.

According to a 2017 article on Designer Home Surplus’ blog, expensive dishwashers perform better and have many more features than their average-price counterparts. 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. The article also states expensives 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.

How To Improve Your Dishwasher’s Appearance

If your dishwasher is unsightly but still works well, there’s no need to replace it. Here are a few ideas to perk up your ugly-but-useful dishwasher:

An article on HowStuffWorks suggests checking whether your dishwasher is recessed enough that it can be made to look like another under-counter cupboard. If so, you can buy and attach a panel made to look like a cupboard door. The idea is to create the look of a series of identical (or at least coordinated) cupboards.

However, if your machine sticks out far enough or is so tall that it cannot fit into an under-the-counter cupboard space, you might consider buying a replacement panel for the front of your dishwasher that blends in nicely with your cupboards. If you can’t find a panel that works, you can always pay a carpenter to make one. That option isn’t cheap, but with good carpentry workmanship, it can improve the look of your kitchen and it will cost less than buying a new dishwasher.

Yet another approach – which is an inexpensive choice – is to use appliance paint that fits your decor on the front of your dishwasher. You also could consider buying another new door for your dishwasher with a different color or look, provided the manufacturer makes them or you can find one that fits precisely. This most likely will need to be professionally installed.

Another fairly simple and inexpensive DIY approach is to buy a length of peel-and-stick stainless steel “paneling” that comes with a sticky backing and can be cut with scissors, according to an article in the online publication Hunker. It sounds cheesy, but produces surprisingly attractive results.


Dishwasher Facts & Fallacies

Some people are convinced there’s no need for a dishwasher and believe washing dishes by hand gets them equally as clean. However, that is not the case, according to the online and print magazine, Real Simple.

“To kill most of the bacteria on a dirty dish, water must reach a scalding 140 degrees Fahrenheit,” says Kelly Reynolds, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the magazine reports. “That temperature is easily reached in a dishwasher, but in a sink, it’s nearly impossible. Hot-water heaters are typically set at 120 degrees to prevent burns, and most people can’t stand to keep their hands in a stream of water that hot for more than a few minutes. So, when it comes to washing dishes, high-tech beats low.”

Other people think dishwashers are bad for the environment, but that’s not the case, either. The online publication Homes to Love notes that you can actually save water and energy using a dishwasher. “Research in 2008 showed that, based on households studied in Britain, Sweden, Germany and Italy, households with dishwashers used about half as much water and about a quarter less energy than those without.”

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.

Will Installing a New Dishwasher Help Me Sell My House?

In many instances, the answer is yes, according to Utah real estate agent Brandon Nielson of Equity Real Estate. Nielson says many buying decisions are influenced by things like the age and condition of all the kitchen appliances, how they look together, and kitchen’s overall ambience.

A home can still sell without a new dishwasher, but if you are spending money to upgrade other appliances, adding a new dishwasher – especially if all the appliances match – can be quite helpful, he says.

“A lot of time, people get a new oven and cooktop, but they neglect the dishwasher. It could have a negative impact because it looks old and a possible buyer might question the functionality of it, whether it will leak,” he said.

Each home is unique and potential buyers are not necessarily keen on a particular home just because it has new things in it. Nielson said buyers gauge how a house feels when they walk in, especially if they get a sense that it has been well cared for, he said. However, having an appealing kitchen is a huge selling point. “The kitchen is the No. 1 factor,” he said. “That’s where everyone spends their time.”

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 in 2017 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.

Can I Make My Own Dishwasher Detergent?

Yes, you can. However, avoid using any ingredients included in regular dishwashing liquids or laundry soap; these make so many suds that your dishwasher might overflow with a sticky mess of soap bubbles and water.

According to an article by writer Rochelle Karina in the online publication Hunker, there are several types of dishwasher detergents and rinsing aids that you can make yourself, including a gel-type detergent, a creamy detergent and a basic detergent. The ingredients are typically available at grocery stores pr sometimes health food stores, as well as online. These involve things like Castile soap, liquid glycerin, white vinegar or citric acid crystals, and washing soda.

But while you can make your own detergent,  not every homemade concoction works well in every dishwasher. You may end up with spots or residue on your dishes, or with some kind of deposit inside the dishwasher. In addition, some homemade detergents can harden into a rock-like state. In an article on the DIY Natural website, writer Betsy Jabs provides answers to several frequently asked questions about how to make, preserve and use homemade dishwasher detergents, along with a recipe for detergent she says is safe for all types of dishwashers.

Get What You Need From a Dishwasher

If you’re going to the trouble and expense of buying a new dishwasher, it’s wise to get one with features that make your life easier – for example, exceptional cleaning, ease of use and energy-saving features.

As you look through a brand’s line of dishwashers, pay attention to the sizes the models come in as well as the different exterior finish and color options. Also, consider where the controls and door handles are located and the number of place settings each dishwasher can clean at one time – depending on the dishwasher, you may be able to wash 10 to 15 place settings at a time.

As you look at these features, consider what you need the most from a dishwasher. For example, if you have a small family, you probably don’t need a dishwasher that can fit 15 place settings. Also, if you use many odd-size dishes, it’s best to get one that has more than two racks so you can customize the interior.

Further, you might get by nicely with a dishwasher that has just a few basic wash cycles, or you may need one with a greater variety. Top-notch dishwashers have normal, heavy, auto, express and rinse-only cycles, though you can also find models with half-load, delay, delicate, extra shine and sanitizing cycles.

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