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Buying the wrong dishwasher can mean years of annoyance: It’ll take two hours to wash your plates, making a racket the whole time, and you end up having to hand wash tough stains away anyway. If you’re determined to buy a dishwasher that actually gets the job done, here are some features and specs to consider beforehand.
SKIP AHEAD Best dishwashers
How to buy a dishwasher
The best dishwashers excel at some specific capabilities.
Washing and drying
Obviously, you’ll want a dishwashing machine powerful enough to get all the stains off your dishes. You’ll also want to consider how well it dries those dishes: Most dishwashers leave a few drops of water here and there but the best of the best can eliminate those last few wipes with the dish towel (and reduce the chance of spotting)
Number and length of dishwasher cycles
The more programmability your dishwasher has, the more versatile it becomes if you need to run a quick wash or delay it for a few hours. In addition, one dishwasher’s “normal” cycle might be three hours, while others can be as quick as an hour and a half.
Running the dishwasher can really put a damper on movie night. While delay modes help run the dishwasher at more opportune times, there’s nothing like running the dishwasher and forgetting it’s there. Most manufacturers measure noise in adjusted decibels — I recommend looking for a model clocking in at 45 dBA or lower, if you can.
To mitigate your environmental impact (and keep your electric bill reasonable), look for an Energy Star rating before you buy.
Dishwasher rack configuration
Some dishwashers are more “what you see is what you get,” while nicer models may have portions of the rack that fold up or down to fit larger dishes, wine glasses and other oddly-shaped items. Having a third rack at the top can also be a godsend for fitting in a few more cooking utensils or Tupperware lids.
Best dishwashers to shop 2021
With the above in mind, here are a few great models to choose from.
Best value dishwasher: Bosch
Dishwashers can range from a couple hundred bucks to a couple thousand, so finding a sweet spot can be tough. The Bosch 300 Series has earned high marks from reviewers for years, though, thanks to its superior cleaning power, reliability and quiet operation. It has a third rack at the top for smaller items, lots of adjustability and comes in multiple colors and styles — you can choose a model with hidden controls along the top, too, if you prefer a cleaner look. It’s slightly older than the more recent 500 series (which I personally own and love), but the 300 saves you a bit of money without much sacrifice.
Best high-end dishwasher: Bosch
If you want to step up to a nicer model, check out the 800 series, also from Bosch. (Alongside sister brand Thermador, these two brands have absolutely swept reviews for the past few years, which is why there are a few models from them on this list.) The 800 series offers even quieter operation, better drying properties (even when it comes to plastic dishes), a larger third rack and the same coveted cleaning power Bosch is known for.
Best dishwasher with a fast cycle: Bosch
Bosch’s Ascenta series is more of an entry-level dishwasher but it still does a great job of washing and drying, and has one of the shortest cycles you’ll find in a dishwasher, clocking in at only 95 minutes. If speed is of the essence, it’s a stellar choice.
Best affordable dishwasher with a long warranty: IKEA
You might not have known IKEA sells dishwashers, but they do — and they’re better than IKEA’s reputation for value furniture might lead you to believe. The IKEA ESSENTIELL does a great job washing and drying and comes with a five-year warranty to give you peace of mind — a far cry from most brands’ one-year warranty.
Best easily available and affordable dishwasher: Whirlpool
If you don’t have an IKEA that delivers to you nearby, this Whirlpool model is similarly affordable and more widely available in locations not served by an IKEA (albeit with a more typical 1-year warranty).
Best budget dishwasher: Frigidaire
For under $400, this Frigidaire will provide you the basic features of a dishwasher. With a 4.1-star average rating from over 4,000 consumers, this energy star certified dishwasher includes five wash levels, a steam-cleaning option and one-hour quick wash. Even as the most affordable option on the list, the Frigidaire has one of the higher capacities on the list — it can clean 14 place settings in one cycle.
Best smart dishwasher: Miele
This dishwasher is powered with Miele’s PowerDish, which automatically dispenses the right amount of cleanser for the cycle. All you need to do is load the machine with a cleaner and it’ll be good for up to 20 washes. The EcoStart capability is another smart feature that makes this Miele model a contender for your next dishwasher replacement. It allows you to program the dishwasher to run when utility rates are lowest, according to Miele. Like the other dishwashers on this list, the dishwasher features quiet performance, adjustable racks and shelves and speed.
Best countertop dishwasher: SPT
If you don’t have the space for an under-counter dishwasher — or you’re just looking for something low-cost to get you by for small loads — a countertop dishwasher like this model from SPT is perfect. Its performance is impressive for its small size, with the same multiple wash cycles and automatic detergent-dispensing you’d expect from a full size dishwasher. To use it, just hook it up to your faucet and go.