"Reliability, water and energy efficiency, noise level and capacity." According to Jamie Gold, a San Diego-based wellness design consultant, Mayo Clinic Certified Wellness coach and the author of three books on design and remodeling, these are the most important factors to consider when buying a new dishwasher.
"You want a machine that will need service as infrequently as possible while working consistently well, that will reduce your utility bills while thoroughly cleaning and drying its contents, and one that will operate as quietly as possible," Gold says. "Shorter cleaning cycles, crystal and china settings are beneficial to those who entertain heavily."
If your old dishwasher is broken and repairs would be expensive, or if your apartment or house came with a dishwasher that's well past its prime, it might be time to upgrade. Newer, more efficient models can shave a few dollars off your power bill, and if you've become used to a noisy dishwasher, there are plenty of quiet home appliances on the market so you can wash and watch TV at the same time, without the volume cranked up.
How to Buy a Dishwasher: Questions to Ask
A dishwasher is a big investment that should hopefully last you at least a decade, so it's worth thinking about what is the right one for you and your family. Kathy Turley works for the Virginia Beach-based Home Clean Heroes, a residential cleaning business with an emphasis on making its client's schedules a bit easier. Here's what she says you should ask before deciding on a dishwasher:
• What size dishwasher works best within the space you have? Full size or compact?
• Do you want a dishwasher with specialty cycles for pots and pans, glasses only or top-rack only that are practical for your lifestyle?
• How much noise can you tolerate? Is a quiet dishwasher a must-have, or is your kitchen separate from the rest house, meaning a louder one may not be as bothersome?
• Where are the controls? While you may be after the sleek look of a dishwasher with controls on top or under the counter, that may not be practical if you like to know how much longer the washer has to run.
• Do you have young children and know you'll put some of their toys in the dishwasher (or heck, even dog toys)? If yes, you may want to look for an appliance that has a sani-wash or sanitizing cycle/option.
• Do you need a dishwasher with adjustable racks to handle wine glasses or baby bottles?
• Where will the silverware go? Is there a basket for it or do you prefer the rack/drawer option on some newer models?
Regardless of what product you ultimately buy, you'll want to take care of your dishwasher so that it continues to do the job well. With that in mind, here's one piece of advice, courtesy of Bailey Carson, Head of Cleaning at Handy, the New-York based online marketplace for home services: "You want to make sure you keep your dishwasher drain clear, so it’s important to clean it every few months between washes. This sounds complicated but it’s actually really simple," she says. "All you do is remove the bottom dish rack and look into the drain. If you see any leftover pieces of food that might be stuck, throw on a pair of yellow cleaning gloves and just remove it. This will keep your dishwasher draining properly, help stop your dishwasher from developing an odor and ultimately keep your dishes sparkling clean."
So what are some of the best dishwasher brands and models to consider buying? Major retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's almost always have discounts on some models, and the deals can be especially good during promotional periods around holidays like July 4th, Labor Day, and Presidents Day.
As for what brands and models are best, we asked cleaning and household design experts for their recommendations. Here's what they suggest are the best dishwashers for your money.
Best Dishwashers: Updated November 2020
Bosch 300 Series Front Control Dishwasher with Stainless Steel Tub: $849 at Home Depot
There's nothing more annoying than a dishwasher that's so loud you can't hear the television. That's why one of the main selling points for the Bosch 300 Series is that "it's so quiet! Compared to other brands that are too noisy, I fell in love with this brand," says Gladys Connelly, a Hastings, Florida-based writer for the cleaning advice website thehousewire.
Whirlpool Dishwasher with Sensor Cycle: $549 at Home Depot
Don't get too intimidated by some of the price tags you might see for dishwashers, as relatively cheaper models are available. John Carey is the co-founder of Designer Appliances, a New York and New Jersey appliance store. He writes a blog on the latest appliance trends and has an appliance-related YouTube channel.
"Our go-to pick for customers looking for a great value is the Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ stainless steel dishwasher, which retails for just under $600," he says. "In addition to its attractive price-point, its sensor cycle saves you money on your water and energy bills by automatically selecting the correct wash and dry based on how dirty your dishes are."
Maytag Front Control Dishwasher in Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel: $749 at Home Depot
If you always use the highest setting, you run the risk of using more power and water than is really required for your smaller loads, which can add up on your monthly bills. But if you aren't sure how much force to apply, why not try a dishwasher that will make the decision for you?
Zachary Weiner is the owner and CEO of the San Francisco-based financial consulting firm Restaurant Accounting. He likes the Maytag MDB4949SHZ because "its long warranty and effectiveness in cleaning dishes are on par with high-end dishwasher variants. Aside from its stainless steel exterior and interiors, this Maytag dishwasher has 12 washing settings that cater to different scenarios," he says. "It also boasts a sensor that computes the optimal cleaning time based on the amount of oil and gunk in the dish pool, saving water and electricity when washing relatively cleaner dishes."
Whirlpool Top Control Tall Tub Built-in Dishwasher: $698 at Home Depot (list price $799)
If a Bertazzoni or Miele dishwasher is just a little too fancy (read: expensive) for you but you still care about how things are going to look, then check out this Whirlpool model, which comes in a choice of fingerprint resistant black, white, or stainless steel. Annie Singer, Head of Marketing for the San Francisco-based BestReviews.com thinks this Whirlpool 24" dishwasher has quite a bit more to recommend it beyond just aesthetics.
"We love this product because it's quiet, long-lasting, and effective. It has a unique movable silverware basket that we haven't seen in other models, which allows you to reposition it to free up more space for pots and pans. You can also choose the 'quick wash' option, which reduces the wash time to one hour," she says. "The only thing we didn't love about it is that it can be awkward to load the silverware basket when it's placed in the door."
Fisher Paykel Full Console Single DishDrawer: $849 at Amazon
Does your budget and space mean you need a washer that small, but that still gets the job done? Maryana Grinshpun is an architectural designer in New York City and the owner of Mammoth Projects, which works with residential and commercial clients on projects at varying scales, "with a focus on renovations," she says. "We work with lots of single folks as well as busy, young families. We prefer to use the Fisher Paykel line as they are well priced, and come in a variety of sizes that are easy to integrate into compact, NYC kitchens. They are great for those who live alone, or busy families who may not need a full-sized dishwasher."
If aesthetics are of the utmost importance to you, and you just want your kitchen to look as pristine as your plates will get after a thorough washing, then Bertazzoni might be your brand. Brynn Olson is a Chicago-based award-winning interior designer who has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Today Show, and she swears by them.
"When finding the perfect dishwasher for our clients, we're always looking for three very specific characteristics to ensure we've hit the nail on the head for their specific needs: Quiet yet efficient, functionally versatile and aesthetically integrated," she says. "Bertazzoni delivers that trifecta of Energy Star-rated silent operation; adjustable, removable racks; and a powerful wash system supplying top tier performance that our clientele expects. I've utilized the Heritage Series Dishwasher with a stunning, traditional pull for a very personal project — a kitchen renovation for my own parents."
Miele G 6880 SCVi K2O AM: $2,299
The Miele dishwasher comes with Knock2open capability, which basically means you just tap the front of the washer to get it to open. That can help you avoid germs, and can also be a lifesaver for people with mobility issues, according to Gold.
"The Knock2open feature means less germ spread between family members, as you can use an elbow or knee to open the door, rather than your hands. Two deliberate taps mean your pet or toddler bumping against it probably isn’t going to get them inside," says Gold. "This is not an inexpensive purchase with a $2,299 list price, but when it comes to appliances, you’re looking at a 10- to 20-year investment. It’s worth buying something from a respected brand with features that you’ll use every day. I designed kitchens for homeowners for more than a decade, and the only regret I’ve ever heard is under-spending on significant items."