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Have you noticed your dishes aren’t quite as clean as they used to be? Do you have to run the dishwasher twice to get everything clean? Then it might be time to consider buying a new dishwasher.
But not all dishwashers are created alike. There are different styles: built-in, portable, and countertop. Built-in, the most common style, fits underneath your countertop. Portable and countertop models are both generally smaller and hook up to your kitchen sink when running. You'll also need to look at capacity, features, and if you need it, a sanitizing setting.
Whether you have a large family and lots of dishes to clean every night or you’re just cooking for yourself and perhaps another person, there is a dishwasher out there that will meet your needs. We looked at models from a variety of brands, at different price points, to help you find just the right one.
Here are the best dishwashers to get all your kitchenware fresh and clean.
Best Overall: KitchenAid KDTM604KPS 44dBA Built-In Dishwasher with FreeFlex Third Rack
Dimensions (DxWxH): 26.75 x 23.8 x 33.6 inches | Decibel Rating: 44 decibels | Capacity: 16 place settings | Cycles: 5 | Tub Material: Stainless steel
This KitchenAid model is the best overall pick for several reasons including that it's large, well-designed, and has great features. It's very similar to the KitchenAid KDTM404KPS, except this model comes with a fan-enabled hot drying cycle that can be extended by 15 minutes if needed.
Let’s start with size. This dishwasher holds up to 16 place settings over its three racks. The third rack is incredibly useful for cleaning smaller items like extra glassware and serving pieces like spatulas and ladles. The middle rack can be adjusted up or down and has four holders for stemware. The silverware basket is located on the also-adjustable bottom rack, assuring every fork, knife, and spoon is cleaned thoroughly.
With five program cycles including Express Wash, Normal, ProWash, Rinse, and Tough, even the dirtiest dishes will get clean and sanitized in this dishwasher. There’s even a cycle delay option for up to 24 hours. Two different finishes are available: stainless steel and black. With a hidden control panel, this dishwasher is an attractive and smart addition to any kitchen.
Best Budget: LG LDFN4542S Front Control Dishwasher with QuadWash
Dimensions (DxWxH): 24.6 x 23.75 x 33.6 inches | Decibel Rating: 48 decibels | Capacity: 15 place settings | Cycles: 9 | Tub Material: Stainless steel
If you’re looking for a brand new dishwasher that’s loaded with features, yet affordable, the LG Front Control Dishwasher with QuadWash is a great choice.
This replaced an older LG model with upgrades including a third rack, a larger dish height on the upper rack (now 9 inches), and a drying system. It still has a 15 place setting capacity, which should be large enough for most people. The LCD screen on the front panel also makes this model easy to use, with the option to connect this to your phone for one-touch cycles and troubleshooting.
In addition to being reasonably priced, this dishwasher is also affordable to run. LG's Inverter Direct Drive motor is engineered to be energy-efficient, so it won’t use excess power and drive up your electric bill. It is also Energy Star qualified, which means it's one of the most energy-efficient models in this class. There’s even a Half-Load Mode that saves water and energy by washing only items in either the lower or upper rack.
Best for Plastic: Bosch SHPM78Z55N 800 Series 24 in. Built-In Dishwasher
Dimensions (DxWxH): 23.75 x 23.5 x 33.8 inches | Decibel Rating: 42 decibels | Capacity: 16 place settings | Cycles: 6 | Tub Material: Stainless steel
There’s nothing quite as frustrating as emptying the dishwasher only to realize your Tupperware or other plastic food storage containers aren’t as dry as your regular dishes are. So if you in the market for a new dishwasher engineered to remedy this problem, opt for the Bosch 800 Series. Developed with a patented technology called CrystalDry that transforms moisture into heat, this dishwasher gets all of your dishes including plastics, approximately 60 percent drier.
But that’s not the only great feature of this model. It’s also one of the quietest dishwashers you can buy, so you don’t have to wait until the whole house is in bed to turn it on. If you aren’t ready to click “add to cart,” just yet, perhaps the loading capacity of this appliance will convince you it’s a great choice. It has a flexible third rack with sides that fold down for an additional 30 percent loading capacity, in addition to flexible tines so any bulky pot can fit right in.
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Best Portable: GE GPT225SSLSS 24-Inch Portable Dishwasher with 12 Place Settings Capacity
Dimensions (DxWxH): 25.4 x 23.6 x 36 inches | Decibel Rating: 54 decibels | Capacity: 12 place settings | Cycles: 3 | Tub Material: Stainless steel
With a capacity for up to 12 place settings, the GE 24-Inch Portable Dishwasher is the right choice for anyone who prefers a portable model. However, it can be converted into a built-in, should you renovate your current kitchen or choose to move, making it a smart value for the money. Black, white, and stainless steel finishes are available.
One of the best features is that this Energy-Star-qualified machine can sanitize with an NSF-certified high-temperature rinse that reduces 99.999 percent of bacteria found on dishes. Hate pre-rinsing? Then you will love this dishwasher. It features a Piranha Hard Food Disposer, which is a stainless steel blade that rotates at 3600 RPM to pulverize food particles. This also helps to prevent large pieces of food from clogging the wash arms.
This dishwasher even has an Autosense cycle, which uses a beam of light to measure the soil levels and adjusts the water temperature automatically. There is an optional part to allow you to connect it to Wi-Fi and your home assistants.
Best Countertop: BLACK+DECKER BCD6W Compact Countertop Dishwasher
Dimensions (DxWxH): 21.7 x 21.5 x 17.2 inches | Decibel Rating: 60 decibels | Capacity: 6 place settings | Cycles: 7 | Tub Material: Stainless steel
If you are a renter, perhaps your place doesn’t have a dishwasher, or your kitchen is too small to fit a standard or built-in appliance. In those cases, a countertop dishwasher can be a true game-changer. This Black+Decker model is the best choice for a variety of reasons.
It wins major points for aesthetics. While many countertop models are only available in a black or white finish, this comes in stainless steel and looks almost like a miniature oven, making it blend into most updated kitchens, as opposed to being an eyesore.
While it doesn’t hold as many dishes as a standard model, it can hold up to six place settings, which should be more than enough for two people eating dinner. Better yet, the seven wash cycle programs include Intensive, Normal, Eco, Glass, 90 minutes, Rapid, and Soak. So no matter how dirty your dishes are, there is no need to worry about getting the job done.
Note that this is heavy at 46 pounds, so you might need help storing it away when not in use. If you're worried about plumbing, you just hook this up to your kitchen faucet and disconnect when done.
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Best Drawer Model: Fisher & Paykel DD24SAX9N 24-Inch Front Control Built-In Dishwasher
Dimensions (DxWxH): 22.5 x 23.5 x 16.1 inches | Decibel Rating: 45 decibels | Capacity: 7 place settings | Cycles: 6 | Tub Material: Plastic
If you prefer a drawer-style dishwasher to a standard model, the Fisher & Paykel 24-Inch Front Control Built-In Dishwasher is a great choice. Sleekly designed with lots of great features, it is also one of the easiest models to load since it sits at bench height.
In terms of capacity, this dishwasher has room for up to seven place settings, which is adequate for smaller families. However, because it has collapsible racks, it’s easy to fit larger dishes such as mixing bowls or serving pieces into the machine.
With a cycle delay option, this dishwasher can help save money, allowing you to set the machine to run at night when the cost of power is often less expensive. Lastly, the stainless steel finish and LCD screen have a stylish look to compliment any kitchen.
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The KitchenAid KDTM604KPS 44dBA Built-In Dishwasher with FreeFlex Third Rack (view at Home Depot) has everything you could want in a modern built-in dishwasher, including getting your dishes super clean. If you're in need of an ADA-compliant drawer model, the Fisher & Paykel DD24SAX9N 24-Inch Front Control Built-In Dishwasher (view at Amazon) will not disappoint.
What to Look for When Buying a Dishwasher
A dishwasher cycle is the program to wash, clean, and dry your dishes. Examples include normal, heavy, and gentle. In general, the more cycles a dishwasher has, the more expensive it costs. That said, if pre-rinsing your dishes is a chore in itself, you might want to look for dishwashers that can handle heavy soil. If you're only one or two people, you might not need as many cycle options as a larger household.
Racks are usually made of metal and coated in plastic so they won't rust or scratch the dishes. A standard dishwasher has a top and bottom rack, with static tines separating the plates and glassware. In more high-end models, those racks can move slightly to account for larger pots or serving ware. A drawer-like third rack usually increases the price but has a higher capacity and can fit small flat utensils, saving them from getting lost in the other racks.
Today’s dishwashers are far less noisy than they used to be, but the level depends on the model. Most people will be comfortable with a dishwasher that runs at 50 decibels or below. If you're in a particularly small house with light sleepers or others who need quiet, you might want to look for the lowest number of decibels possible.
An energy-efficient dishwasher will use less water and electricity, so it is less expensive to run. Look for appliances that are Energy Star certified. A standard size Energy Star certified dishwasher should only cost about $35 per year to run.
Is there a correct way to fill your dishwasher?
Actually, yes! But don’t fret—the guidelines are simple, John Cirrone, a kitchen appliance buyer for P.C. Richard & Son assures us. “Always load from back to front and unload top to bottom,” he advises. This is a matter of convenience and safety, as this balance creates more stability.
Obviously, bowls and cups should all be loaded face-down to avoid any pooling of water. Cirrone adds that this also allows for better drying. “Your larger dinner plates and serving plates should go on the lower racks and be loaded vertically,” he says.
No matter how you place everything, make sure there’s enough space in between what you’re washing. It’s always advised for functional and environmental reasons that you wait until the dishwasher is packed out before you run the load, but you do have to give your items clearance for the jet spray to make contact with their surfaces. And most importantly, “do not block any of the jets!” he says.
Should I put my pots, pans, and other large items in the dishwasher?
That depends. First of all, not all cookware or small appliances are dishwasher-safe, so you want to check the label to avoid damaging anything. However, Cirrone believes it’s best to avoid putting large pots and pans in your regular load, since they take up a lot of space. He also discourages users from putting wooden utensils and cutting boards in the dishwasher. Wooden items are porous and will get oversaturated in a dishwasher. They also may not dry properly, which can create an environment for mold growth or cause the wood to split.
Should you ever clean the inside of your dishwasher?
“Yes!” Cirrone confirms. "It is recommended to clean the inside of your dishwasher periodically," he says. "This will keep the jets working well and limit the amount of growth of any kind of bacteria." You should also check its interior for stuck-on or large pieces of food or any residue after every cycle. His recommendation is to do a deep clean monthly, but if you put your washer through the wringer, feel free to clean it as needed. To do so, “use a dishwasher-safe tablet or cleaner from a brand like Affresh, or any other trusted brand that clearly states it’s for use on dishwashers,” he says.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
This article was written by Amanda Lauren, a freelance writer who has written hundreds of articles about home and lifestyle. She’s personally used a variety of dishwashers over the years, is an excellent loader, but admittedly not as enthusiastic about pre-rinsing.
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