Best Dishwasher Review

The top performers in our review are the Danby 18 Inch Built in Dishwasher, the Gold Award winner; the FRIGIDAIRE FFID2426TD, the Silver Award winner; and the SPT SD-9254SSA, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of Best Dishwasher.

While they’re not absolute essentials, dishwashers are convenient and they 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, while the dishwasher does the bulk of the work for you. Choosing the right model and keeping it well maintained also ensures that your kitchenware is hygienically clean. Lastly, studies show that using a dishwasher, contrary to popular belief, actually saves water and energy, providing you opt for an energy-efficient model and use it properly. Lowered water and energy consumption helps to lower your home’s carbon footprint and allows you to run a greener home. Even if you’re not overly concerned about lessening your environmental impact, choosing an energy-efficient dishwasher is still a good investment, as it helps you save money by reducing the cost of your utility bills because of your lessened use of water and power.

There’s a range of models to choose from, including tabletop, freestanding and integrated, and you also need to decide on which 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 dishwashers feature adjustable racks, multiple arms, energy-saving features, and multiple cycle options, providing a high degree of versatility and user control.

To cut down on energy use in your kitchen, even more, you can complement your dishwasher with energy-efficient induction cooktops, side-by-side refrigerators, and washing machines. These special appliances allow you to improve the overall efficiency and versatility of your kitchen while reducing your energy consumption. To further save and go even greener, you can select from a range of small smart appliances, including microwaves, slow cookers, and coffee makers.

With so many options out there, having a full understanding of the key considerations in our dishwasher reviews enables you to make an informed purchasing decision and get the dishwasher that best suits your needs and lifestyle.

One of the vital considerations is how energy efficient the dishwasher is. That concept refers to how much water and energy the appliance consumes. For consumers who want to save money and do their bit to help save the planet, the best dishwashers are those that are ENERGY STAR qualified. While older models may consume vast amounts of energy and use excessive amounts of water, good-quality modern models do not. In fact, the study conducted by the Energy Saving Trust shows that, on average, an energy-efficient dishwasher set on an eco-cycle uses only a third of the water you use when washing up in a sink. It also consumes less energy, as you are heating a comparatively small amount of water when running a dishwasher than when you must heat a full tank of water to manually wash up. When making your decision, be sure to look at the estimated yearly running costs too, as this gives you a good idea of how much the machine will cost and save you every year.

Cleaning options have a significant impact on how well-suited a particular dishwasher is to your kitchen. The more cycles to choose from, the greater control you have over your appliance. Models with specific wash zones provide a targeted area for heavily soiled kitchenware with a cycle designed to remove tough debris particles. Some dishwashers have a small-load option or a top-rack-only setting, allowing you to run a shorter cycle that targets the top rack when you need to wash a small load.

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. An eco-friendly wash cycle provides an economic option that uses less water and less energy, as does a quick cycle, which is suitable for thoroughly cleaning lightly soiled loads. If you have a lot of fine dinnerware, such as bone china, a dishwasher with a delicate cycle is a must. Choosing a model with a steam cycle is a good option for heavily soiled items. The presence of a rinse-only cycle allows you to lightly rinse dishes if you don’t plan on running a full cycle immediately.

Drying choices include the use of a heating element, which dries items 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 drying process and, when used with a heated dry option, shortens the cycles, lowering power usage.

In our dishwasher reviews, load flexibility refers to the ease of use and flexibility of each model. The number of place settings is a key consideration, as it essentially 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 a full quota of dinnerware and kitchenware after a single meal. Some full-sized dishwashers hold up to 16 place settings, whereas slimline dishwashers, tabletop or apartment-sized dishwashers can hold as few as four. The majority of dishwashers in our review have two racks, but some have a third rack, primarily for silverware and cutlery, freeing up more space on other racks to help you to 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 the position of the racks and tines to accommodate large, bulky or odd-shaped items.

The design and dimensions of a dishwasher should have a major influence on your purchasing decision. How much noise it makes during a cycle is particularly important if you want to run it overnight when energy tariffs are typically cheaper. The quietest dishwashers peak at 40 decibels, while the noisiest reach 50. The more spray arms a dishwasher has, the more cleaning potential it has, as more spray arms mean better water and detergent coverage. Our top-rated dishwashers have three arms, while other noteworthy models in the lineup have two. All dishwashers have filters. However, choosing one with a self-cleaning model reduces the amount of maintenance the appliance requires.

The type of interior is an important consideration, as it impacts how noisy the appliance is during a cycle, the inner temperature, and the strength of the interior. Models with a stainless-steel tub are a better choice than plastic, as they can withstand higher temperatures without the risk of warping, and they retain heat better, making them more energy-efficient. Additionally, where noise is a factor, stainless-steel models are quieter.

Dishwashers have either a recessed handle or a bar-style handle. Bar handles offer easy 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 stick out, making them a better option for small kitchens and, because they don’t have a protruding bar, they provide a cleaner, sleeker appearance.

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 into the allotted space.

While the color or finish of the dishwasher isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, if you want an appliance that complements the rest of your appliances and the style of your kitchen, it’s something that you can consider. Options in our top-rated dishwasher lineup include black, white, slate, and brushed or bright stainless steel.

When you make a large purchase like a dishwasher, it’s important you understand the warranty and support terms. While new appliances should require very little repair and maintenance, there’s always the chance that something will go wrong. While some models have a standard warranty that covers everything, many have different warranties on different elements, including a labor warranty that covers labor costs during its lifetime, a part warranty, a rack and electronic warranty, and a tub and door liner warranty. Whether the warranty is a general one or covers individual parts and components, the longer it lasts, the better.

Good customer support is crucial as, if something goes wrong, you will need help troubleshooting or product-related advice. This means the manufacturer should be your first port of call. While you can contact many manufacturers via phone and email, others also offer a live chat service.

While the dishwasher itself is a one-off purchase, there are a number of ongoing running costs, and it’s vital to take these into account. Among the most obvious is the yearly energy cost, which should be a key influencer in your decision-making process. The lower the average yearly running cost the better, as it means you’ll pay less and lower your energy consumption levels.

Dishwashing detergent is a crucial ongoing cost. Prices, quality and effectiveness all vary widely. Unless you purchase detergent with rinse aid already in it, you’ll need to buy this separately to ensure your items are rinsed properly and don’t have a dull finish.

To get scale- and film-free kitchenware from your dishwasher, you need dishwasher salt. This particular type of crystalline sodium chloride softens water and boosts the efficiency of a dishwasher’s built-in water softener to prevent limescale buildup on your washed items. It also helps to provide a streak-free finish on your items without watermarks or spotting.

Outside of the warranty, you may also incur maintenance and repair costs. You can potentially reduce these costs by making sure the appliance is insured.

Dishwashers, like all other kitchen appliances, take up valuable space. Full-size, freestanding and integrated models are large and bulky, even if you opt for a slimline model. However, if your kitchen is particularly small and the under-counter space is at a premium, you can still find a dishwasher that meets your needs. Apartment-sized dishwashers and tabletop dishwashers make a great choice in these circumstances. Obviously, they have considerably less capacity, some with only space for four place settings, but they make a good choice for single people and small families.

A small dishwasher still provides all the benefits of large models, including energy efficiency, lower utility bills and saving you valuable time. Full-sized dishwashers have a larger capacity and work well in larger kitchens with enough under-counter space. For homes with a utility room, it’s possible to move appliances, such as tumble dryers and washing machines, to make way for a dishwasher in the kitchen.

Choosing the right dishwashing detergent and using it correctly plays a significant role in how well your dishwasher performs. Firstly, make sure you choose a detergent designed specifically for automatic dishwashers. Don’t be tempted to use standard washing liquid or laundry detergent, as performance will suffer, items won’t be as clean and you can damage your machine and your dinnerware. You can also flood your kitchen by using anything other than automatic dishwasher detergent.

You can choose from liquid, powder, gel capsules or tablet detergents. Some offer antibacterial properties, while others are a two-in-one variety with detergent and rinse aid, so you need only buy the one product. For the best results, whichever detergent you opt for, store it in a dark, dry place. If it gets damp, it won’t clean as effectively and can damage your items.

Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure you use the correct amount of detergent. Soft water and lower temperatures generally require more detergent, while hard water and high temperatures clean effectively with less detergent. However, if you’re running an eco-friendly cycle, less detergent is necessary. If you use too much, you’ll damage your kitchenware. Glass items are particularly sensitive and can become etched with a permanently cloudy appearance.

Dishwashers come into contact with a lot of food residue, and not all the particles disappear every time. These machines also collect grease and soap scum, so knowing how to clean a dishwasher is crucial. If you don’t stick to a regular cleaning schedule, you’ll notice an unpleasant odor in the dishwasher and even on items that have been run through a cycle. Therefore, to prevent a bacteria-laden buildup and a dishwasher odor, you need to clean the appliance regularly. If you don’t, eventually the machine will stop performing 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 the machine.

Firstly, disconnect the dishwasher at 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. You should also replace the racks and filter. Then, 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 here too. Use a soft, non-abrasive cloth and warm soapy water.

Regular cleaning and maintenance is an effective way of limiting limescale buildup which, if left untreated, damages the dishwasher and decreases performance and efficiency. Keeping your dishwasher topped up with salt helps too, particularly if you choose a product designed to fight limescale.

Correctly loading a dishwasher is not as easy as simply chucking everything in and switching it on. Instead, to get the best results from your dishwasher, you have to load everything properly. You need to position all the items so that the sprayer arms can effectively spray water and detergent all over. You should make use of the silverware basket, and be sure to position your cutlery with the handles pointing down. Small items, such as cups and glasses, do best on the top rack apart from cutlery and utensils. For best results, everything should be face-down on the racks, as this allows the water spray to get right inside without water and debris collecting inside. If you have foldable tines and adjustable racks, you can alter the interior layout to make way for pots and pans of varying sizes.

There are a variety of ways to optimize the efficiency of your dishwasher, which is vital if you want to save money and reduce the carbon footprint of your home. Firstly, you should clean it regularly. Even the best dishwashers suffer from poor performance if you don’t keep them clean. You should also keep it free of limescale, as limescale 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 therefore the amount of water and energy you use. You should also avoid using a half-load setting when possible, as this still uses more than half the water and energy of a full load, so you’re better to wait until the dishwasher is full, then use a whole cycle. Unless your dishes are particularly heavily soiled, you should use an eco-friendly setting when possible, as it uses less water and runs at a lower temperature, so uses less power. 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.

Regular kitchenware and dinnerware are usually safe to load in your dishwasher. When you purchase new items for your home, check the packaging to make sure they are dishwasher safe. If in doubt about existing items, where possible, contact the manufacturer for verification. Many good-quality nonstick pans are dishwasher-safe, but older models and some lower-budget pans are not, so it’s best to double-check. Otherwise, you risk losing the nonstick finish.

Hard plastics are often dishwasher-safe. However, this doesn’t apply to every hard plastic item, and softer plastic items are generally not safe. If in doubt, leave them out because plastic can warp and melt at high temperatures. Standard glassware, pots and pans, cutlery, and utensils are generally fine to place in the dishwasher and will come out sparkling, fresh, and hygienic, providing you clean the dishwasher regularly and load the items appropriately.

One crucial point is to make sure that anything you put in a dishwasher is actually dishwasher safe. If it isn’t, the item can warp, crack or receive other types of damage. It’s usually best to avoid putting anything hand-painted inside a dishwasher as, even on a delicate cycle, you run the risk of removing the finish or paintwork. Similarly, you should wash anything with a delicate glaze by hand, unless it explicitly states the item is dishwasher safe.

If you have cast-iron pans or skillets, you should wash them by hand, as they require care and seasoning and, if scratched or etched, they quickly develop rust. While you can clean knives in the dishwasher, it’s important to note that sharp edges dull much faster in a dishwasher than when you clean them by hand.

Crystal should never be placed in the dishwasher. Apart from the risk of etching and clouding if you wash with too much detergent, fine crystals can easily crack at high temperatures. Food particles and high-pressure water spray can cause chips.

You should avoid placing copper pans in a dishwasher. If the detergent and high-pressure spraying arm remove the finish or scratch the copper, it can oxidize, ruining the appearance and changing the color. Gold- and silver-plated items have a similar reaction, and silverware becomes irrevocably tarnished.

To avoid a clogged dishwasher and damage to the machine, never put anything with labels or adhesives inside. An example would be a jar with a label still on it. The labels and adhesive residue form a sticky mass that lodges in the drain or the filter, resulting in a blockage.

To help you find the best dishwasher for the price and to provide a fair comparison, all the models we tested were under $1,500 across a variety of brands. When compiling our dishwasher reviews, we looked at a range of factors, including all the influential factors that make up ease of use and energy efficiency. These key elements allow you to compare models to make an informed purchasing decision.

Wirecutter seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our test methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available through reading our reviews. Results of our evaluations were not provided to the companies in advance of publication.

Dishwashers are a useful but big investment. However, the more energy-efficient the model is, the less it costs to run, and the more money you save. So, providing you keep it in good working order and optimize its efficiency, it could save you hundreds of dollars over its lifetime, eventually saving you more than the original cost of the dishwasher.

All of the models from the range we tested, apart from one, are ENERGY STAR qualified. All have an estimated yearly running cost of between $27 and $33, so there’s only a small difference in cost, based on average use and with an electric water heater. However, exact costs will vary depending on your usage, the type of energy you use and the cost of energy in your area. The majority of the products in our lineup also have eco-friendly cycles that help you to further reduce yearly running costs.

We also looked at the length of time it takes for each of the dishwashers to complete a full normal wash and dry cycle. Longer run times can result in higher energy costs on hot cycles, but can provide better results that consume less energy at lower temperatures. Our tested machines have run cycles ranging from 76 minutes to 130 minutes.

Our reviews include a range of cleaning options, as these impact the efficiency, versatility and performance of the dishwashers. The 10 top-rated dishwashers in our lineup have between six and nine cycles to choose from, with each of our top three having seven cycles. Of the top three, only our gold-rated dishwasher offers targeted wash zones. Each of the three offers top rack-only cycles and eight of our 10 top-rated dishwashers are NSF-certified.

All the best dishwashers have eco-friendly wash cycles to help you reduce your energy consumption, as do the rest of our top 10 and many of the 20. again. Variable sprayer arm pressure can be found in 23 of the 30 dishwashers we tested, including our top three choices. This means that depending on the cycle you set, the sprayer arm automatically adjusts its pressure. For example, if you choose a delicate cycle that you can find on any of our 10 top-rated dishwashers, the sprayer arm adjusts and uses only a gentle pressure; whereas if you use the heavily soiled cycle, the sprayer pressure increases. This ensures you get an effective clean without damaging the items. We found quick cycles and rinse-only options on the majority of the dishwashers in the lineup, but steam washing and fan drying are less common.

We looked at a range of features to determine how flexible the dishwashers are and how easy they are to use. Load flexibility factors include the place setting capacity, the number of racks, whether the racks are adjustable and whether the dishwasher has foldable tines. Place settings across the range we tested go from 10 to 16, so each caters to medium and large gatherings, with our gold pick having room for 16 and bronze and silver with room for 14. The larger the capacity, the more you can fit in, and the less often you need to run the dishwasher, which reduces the amount of energy you use.

Only a handful of the 30 products we tested have three racks, and only the bronze model from our top three. Folding tines are commonplace, appearing in 28 of the 30, closely followed by adjustable racks that appear in 27 of the models.

One of the key considerations we looked at when rating design was the peak noise level, which varies between 40 and 50 decibels. Generally, the quieter the better, particularly if you want to run the appliance overnight. The top three dishwashers came in at 42, 48, and 42 decibels, respectively, with the silver-ranked model toward the high end.

All but one of the top 10 feature three sprayer arms for thorough and effective cleaning. With a third sprayer arm, the dishwasher has more spray coverage.

Self-cleaning filters appear in the gold and bronze dishwashers and in two others in the top 10, while the silver and the remainder of the 10 have manual filters. Apart from two toward the end of the lineup, all of these dishwashers have stainless-steel tubs to provide an efficient, durable interior that holds heat well.

Our reviews included the available warranty and the type of customer support available, as these elements play key roles in your purchasing decision. All 30 offer phone or email support, while 23, including our top 3 picks, offer live chat support.

Surprisingly, our top-rated dishwasher only offers one-year warranties for labor, parts, rack and electronics, and tub and door liner. Every dishwasher in the lineup carries a one-year labor warranty to cover the cost of labor on any repairs or maintenance work carried out. Six of the 30 have two-year parts warranties, including the silver- and bronze-rated models, while the others all have a one-year parts warranty. We found that nine have one-year rack and electronics warranties; 19 offer five years of coverage; and two provide 10 years of rack and electronics coverage. The tub and door liners are also covered by warranties, with nine of our 30 having one-year coverage, two having 10-year coverage and 19, including our silver- and bronze-rated models, offering a lifetime warranty.

There are a few other noteworthy elements to consider when choosing a dishwasher to make sure you get the best possible model to meet your needs. Features that improve the convenience of the appliance and safety precautions should all be taken into account before you finalize your purchase.

A soil sensor allows the dishwasher to establish whether the load is clean or whether it needs further washing. While only our gold-rated model of our top three picks actually has a soil sensor, these devices can be useful and increase efficiency. A soil 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.

The integration of a soil sensor helps prevent the need for re-washing items with a second full cycle. Without one, the dishwasher simply runs through a fixed 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 run longer cycles.

For homes with children, a dishwasher with safety features is paramount. Choosing a model like the LG TrueSteam, or any of our top three picks that feature a child lock, is a smart option, as it prevents the door from being opened or the settings from being changed while the dishwasher is running a cycle. Hidden controls act as another safety feature. Models like the Electrolux Wave-Touch have the control panel hidden away on the top of the door so it isn’t visible or accessible when the dishwasher is closed.

While a hard-food disposal feature isn’t essential, it saves time and effort and can increase the efficiency and lifespan of your dishwasher. So you don’t have to rinse dishes and remove any hard particles before you load your dishwasher, a model with a hard-food disposer grinds up large, hard particles and flushes them down the drain. This feature helps keep your dishwasher cleaner, prevent dishwasher clogs and stop hard particles from being left behind or sticking to your dishes.

A 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, such as the Electrolux IQ-Touch, have a maximum delayed start of 24 hours.

From our testing of 30 different dishwasher models, our top picks are the Danby 18 Inch Built in Dishwasher, the FRIGIDAIRE FFID2426TD and the SPT SD-9254SSA. Overall, we found these models to be the best dishwashers for energy efficiency, operating costs, flexibility, and versatility. The three models all have low to moderate cycle times, although the gold-ranked dishwasher runs a full normal cycle in 100 minutes — 21 minutes faster than the silver and bronze. However, it costs slightly more to run at an estimated $33 per year.

Our top three each achieved a score of 95 percent for ease of use, thanks to their large capacities, adjustable racks, folding tines, and range of features. However, in this category, the Electrolux Wave-Touch received a score of 100 percent because of its long-delayed start times and a fuller range of features, including touch-sensitive controls.

With so many separate elements to take into consideration, choosing the right dishwasher requires careful thought and research. To find out more about all the products in our lineup and to make your decision easy, be sure to read the customer reviews.

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