Handwashing your way through pots, mixing bowls, and place settings can take hours. At the prospect of all that labor, you might find yourself reconsidering the best dishwasher for your needs.
Having a machine clean your dishes could save you an estimated 230 hours—that’s nearly 10 days—per year. There are multiple types offered with ample wash cycles, racks, and special features, making dish cleaning hassle-free. This guide explores the important factors to consider when shopping for the best dishwasher and reviews some of the top-rated options on the market to help you spend less time standing at the sink.
- BEST OVERALL: Whirlpool 24 in. Top Control Built-In Dishwasher
- BEST BUDGET: Frigidaire 24 in. Front Control Built-In Dishwasher
- UPGRADE PICK: Bosch 800 Series 24 in. Dishwasher with Crystal Dry
- BEST SMART: LG Electronics 24 in. 42dbA Smart Dishwasher QuadWash
- BEST COMPACT: Bosch 300 Series 18 in. Compact Dishwasher
- BEST LARGE CAPACITY: Samsung – Smart BESPOKE Linear Wash 39dBA Dishwasher
- BEST COUNTERTOP: hOmeLabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher
- BEST PORTABLE: GE 23.625-in 54-Decibel Portable Dishwasher
Types of Dishwashers
Today, dishwasher users can choose from a variety of models, including conventional built-in units and compact or countertop models that are suitable for apartments or tiny houses. There are even portable options to take “on the road” in an RV or camper, along with conventional built-in units designed to fit under a standard countertop.
Today’s conventional dishwashers are built-in models designed to go underneath a countertop. They usually are situated near the kitchen sink, due to the necessity of a plumbing connection, but some dishwashers are built into a center island. Built-in models come in two sizes: standard and compact.
A standard-size dishwasher measures 34 inches tall by 24 inches wide and between 24 and 28 inches deep. These models typically handle between 8 and 12 place settings per load, though some can accommodate up to 16 settings.
Compact built-in dishwashers are also known as “18-inch dishwashers”; a typical compact unit measures 17 to 18 inches wide and 22 to 26 inches deep. The height varies from 32 to 34 inches, with the lower height accommodating ADA requirements for lower kitchen countertops. These units typically handle 6 to 10 place settings per load.
Portable dishwashers are fairly similar to the original vintage models but are much more efficient and far less messy. They are popular among renters or people with smaller kitchens. These units are usually on wheels and easily stowed in a closet when not in use.
Some of the taller portable models feature an integrated countertop to provide extra kitchen prep space while in use. But even these smaller, more maneuverable units can be pretty handy to have around and don’t require installation. Most portable dishwashers accommodate between 8 and 12 place settings.
Countertop dishwashers are similar to portable dishwashers in that they are smaller and easy to stow away when not in use. As the name implies, countertop dishwashers are designed to sit on a counter. The water intake hose connects to the kitchen sink faucet (or bar sink faucet, if the dishwasher is an entertaining accessory), and a drain hose releases the dirty water into the sink. You also will need a nearby electrical outlet to provide power.
Countertop dishwashers have a smaller “footprint” than most built-ins, taking up roughly twice the size of a microwave oven. Typical countertop units hold from six to eight place settings. One advantage of countertop models is that they are very water and energy efficient.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dishwasher
Even if you already own a dishwasher, there is a lot to gain by purchasing a new model. Besides conserving water, there’s a compelling financial reason to upgrade: An Energy Star–rated dishwasher could save you more than $40 per year. The market features abundant options, from basic budget-friendly to fully programmable smart models. If you’re not sure where your needs fall in the spectrum, keep these key shopping factors in mind.
Size and Capacity
Dishwashers usually come in two sizes. Standard built-in dimensions are 24 inches wide by 34 inches tall (34 inches being the height of most countertops and base cabinetry). Compact models are 18 inches wide by 34 inches tall, though some are designed for shorter 32-inch countertops found in handicapped-accessible kitchens. Portable units typically measure 20 to 25 inches wide, 27 to 30 inches deep, and 34 to 38 inches high. Standard and portable washers are usually fitted with two or three racks, while a compact unit holds one or two racks.
A dishwasher’s capacity is generally measured by the number of place settings it can hold in one load. Standard dishwashers typically accommodate from 8 to 12 place settings, with some handling up to 16 settings. Compact dishwashers typically accommodate 6 to 10 place settings per load.
In any case, adjustable upper racks and removable baskets earn bonus points, as either feature provides extra space for awkwardly shaped or larger items. Dishwashers in custom sizes are available by special order, but be prepared to pay more.
The number and types of cycle selections varies from dishwasher to dishwasher, and finding the ideal combination for your needs will often be the deciding factor in a purchase. A typical dishwasher usually features three settings: a normal wash cycle that runs from 90 to 135 minutes, a heavy cycle for pots and pans, and a light (also known as delicate) cycle for stemware.
Pricier models offer additional options, including a programmable or “smart” mode, pre-rinse option, “quick wash” function, “rinse and hold” cycle, a delicate china cycle, and a heavy-duty sanitizing cycle.
Some dishwashers also offer a selection of drying cycles, including heated drying, quick drying, and “eco” mode. Many units feature a programmable delayed-start option, allowing you to run the dishwasher after guests are gone and the family is in bed or after leaving for work in the morning.
Water Usage and Energy Efficiency
According to the EPA, “Replacing existing dishwashers with ENERGY STAR–labeled models reduces water use by up to 65 percent and reduces energy use by more than 10 percent. A new ENERGY STAR–certified dishwasher will save, on average, 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime.” Some upscale dishwashers even include an “eco” cycle that utilizes less water, while others have a sensor that determines how dirty the dishes are and adjusts the water usage and cycles automatically.
Dishwashers on the market today are required by law to carry an “Energy Guide” label that estimates the annual power consumption and estimated yearly operation cost based on national average natural gas and electricity prices. Look for the Energy Star logo, which indicates that the unit meets or exceeds the federal minimum standards for efficiency and quality. Using an Energy Star model also helps reduce the use of fossil fuels, which reduces air pollution and protects the climate.
The last thing you want to do while relaxing after dinner is to shout over the noise of the dishwasher. Dishwasher noise is rated in decibels: the louder the noise, the higher the decibel level. Newer models boast thicker insulation, resulting in noise levels around 45 decibels. For reference, 50 decibels is roughly equivalent to the volume of a conversation.
Most dishwashers have a noise level between 46 and 50 decibels during normal operation. For a quieter dishwasher, look for a model at or below 45 decibels. Some whisper-quiet dishwashers clock in at 30 decibels, which means you most likely won’t hear them even in the kitchen, but expect to pay a premium for this peace and quiet.
Dishwasher technologies have come a long way in recent years. Here are a few features we love that are included by some dishwasher brands:
- A third rack is typically a narrow rack that sits above the top rack and may have a separate wash arm.
- Adjustable-height racks usually have foldable tines and innovative spray arms to move wash water more efficiently, as well as stemware clips, spray nozzles, special cutlery racks, programmable controls, and child locks.
- Adjustable rack designs, which include specialized “zones” to improve cleaning performance on some of the toughest grease and grime.
- Integrated and multistage water filtration removes food particles from the wash water as well as fan-assisted or heated drying.
- Soil sensor technology to determine how dirty the dishes are and automatically adjust the cycle to optimize cleaning while minimizing water and energy use.
- Smart-home technology and Wi-Fi connectivity are programmable via a computer or smartphone.
- Insert panels are included with some models to match and blend in with cabinetry.
- Stainless steel, mirrored finishes, and colored finishes integrate into your kitchen seamlessly (depending upon your current fixtures) providing a sleek, elevated look.
- Fingerprint-resistant finishes are also popular to help keep the exterior as sparkling clean as the dishes inside.
Our Top Picks
Installation first depends on what type of dishwasher you’re installing: standard or compact. You might choose to locate the dishwasher under the sink or in a kitchen island. Regardless, you’ll need plumbing and electrical outlets in order to connect it.
Installation of a dishwasher can take from 90 minutes to two hours for someone who is handy and good at reading instruction manuals. However, given the complex nature of hooking up plumbing hoses and electrical connections, you might want to call in a professional.
This 24-inch built-in dishwasher from Whirlpool offers a host of bells and whistles to make washing dishes a breeze. A tall tub design and third-level rack provide up to 37 percent more space for large or odd-shaped items. An in-door silverware basket also frees up rack space, while folding tines can be used to secure dishes during the wash cycle or folded down to create space for larger items.
The sensor cycle automatically selects the proper wash and dry settings for a load. The TotalCoverage spray arm cleans with more than 20 jets and an innovative sequence of spray patterns from multiple nozzles. The stainless steel construction features a fingerprint-resistant finish and controls that are situated on the top edge of the door, leaving an unencumbered front panel.
This dishwasher also offers a 1-hour wash cycle to clean lightly soiled loads in half the time as well as a full range of heavy, normal, and light cycles. A Sani rinse option sanitizes dishes by eliminating 99.99 percent of food and bacteria.
- Type: Built-in
- Size: 24 by 24 by 34½ inches
- Wash Cycles: 6
- Water Usage: 3.15 gallons
- Speed cycle done in 1 hour
- Flexible tines fold down for extra space
- Second rack raises and lowers for tall items
- Red light indicates that a cycle is in progress
- Customers complain of glitches in control panels and hoses
- Dishes don’t always rinse and dry completely
- Plastics flip over and fill with water
Get the Whirlpool dishwasher at The Home Depot, Walmart, and Best Buy.
Individuals looking for upscale features at a budget-friendly price won’t go wrong with this Frigidaire built-in dishwasher. This standard 24-inch model can handle up to 14 place settings in one load. A removable top rack, adjustable rack heights, and removable silverware basket all accommodate large or odd-shaped pieces.
The three separate spray arms make sure all of the dishes come out clean, and the heating element reduces drying time. The unit features a 4-hour-delay start timer and a self-cleaning filter to eliminate food particles. While this dishwasher is a bit noisier than more expensive models, at 60 decibels, it offers a great combination of features at an affordable price.
- Type: Built-in
- Size: 24 by 24 by 34½ inches
- Wash Cycles: 3
- Water Usage: 2.3–9 gallons
- Easy installation
- Large interior
- No pre-rinsing required
- Plastic racks can warp and shred
- Buttons are hard to press
- Noisy wash cycle
Get the Frigidaire dishwasher at The Home Depot, Walmart, and Best Buy.
With a range of quality features, this 24-inch built-in dishwasher is a joy for a household of any size—from families with young couples to singles and empty-nesters. Whether you enjoy cooking or you don’t accumulate that many dirty dishes at one time, you will appreciate the flexibility of an adjustable EasyGlide second rack, a third rack with wings that raise and lower to accommodate serving ware and utensils, and adjustable tines throughout.
With PrecisionWash technology that targets dishes with sensors and spray arms, and patented CrystalDry technology that promises to dry even the most stubborn plastics, this Bosch dishwasher is one of the most reliable dishwashers around. The Sanitize Option, which reduces 99.9 percent of bacteria, and Half Load wash cycles make it even more appealing for those who want to reduce their dishwasher and water usage.
- Type: Built-in
- Size: 24 by 24 by 34½ inches
- Wash Cycles: 6
- Water Usage: 3.5 gallons
- Second rack has nine adjustable positions
- Super-quiet wash cycles
- Interior is larger and more flexible than you’d think
- 60-minute cycle is just as good as the longer cycles
- CrystalDry option not as quiet as the rest of the cycles
- Plastics occasionally flip and do not fully dry
Get the Bosch 800 Series dishwasher at Best Buy and The Home Depot.
If you’re the type who likes absolute control over everything in the house, then this ultra-quiet, built-in dishwasher featuring SmartThinQ technology is for you. Just load up the dirty dishes, download the app to your smartphone, connect it to Google or Alexa, and have Wi-Fi or voice control over the QuadWash and Hybrid Condensing Drying System cycles.
There are a lot of features to like about this dishwasher, especially if you’re climate-conscious. Dual Zone technology lightens the intensity of spray on the upper rack for delicates so that you don’t have to wash them by hand. The Auto Cycle senses the level of encrustation on the dishes and sets itself, so it’s not wasting water or power. If you have a light load, you can set it to wash only on the upper or lower rack. Like others in its class, it also has an advanced filtration system, so prewashing or rinsing isn’t required.
While the three racks glide smoothly and are adjustable in almost every way imaginable, customers complain about the tines not retaining their integrity. The racks themselves also tend to rust in spots over time. Users recommend fixing problems under warranty as soon as they’re spotted.
- Type: Built-in
- Size: 24 by 24 by 34½ inches
- Wash Cycles: 9
- Water Usage: 2.8 gallons
- Interior LED lighting
- Dries with steam for reduced spotting
- Works with Alexa and Google for voice control
- The filtration food trap can clog and fill with water
- The adjustable tines fall down and stay down after a while
- Racks are prone to rust
Get the LG Electronics dishwasher at The Home Depot, Walmart, and Best Buy.
For small kitchens or small households, this 18-inch compact dishwasher is ideal. Sleek and handsome outside and customizable inside, it holds a surprising number of dishes for a compact dishwasher. That said, if more than 2 or 3 people live in the household, you’ll likely have to run it more than once per day.
With three racks that offer flexible loading, five wash cycles, and six start options—including delay start, remote start, delicate, sanitize, extra dry, and machine care—this machine is a macro cleaning-up tool for the micro kitchen. And though it’s not advertised as such, an accompanying app makes it a smart dishwasher as well as a compact dishwasher.
Fans of Bosch dishwashers also appreciate that it doesn’t need a ton of detergent and that this machine’s detergent lid doesn’t give up its snap like others eventually do. However, it also doesn’t always swipe away all the mess, so some pre-rinsing is still required.
- Type: Built-in
- Size: 18 by 22.5 by 32 inches
- Wash Cycles: 5
- Water Usage: 3.0–5.3 gallons
- Surprisingly quiet for small kitchens, where noise can be amplified
- Easy to program
- Doesn’t need a lot of detergent
- Comes with an app
- Doesn’t tackle stuck-on food very well
- Odd configuration of top rack limits glasses
Get the Bosch 300 Series dishwasher at The Home Depot and Best Buy.
At only 39 decibels, this smart dishwasher is one of the quietest available. Thanks to Whisper Quiet Cleaning and insulated sides, you really can’t hear the Linear Wash Technology, which uses a sliding spray bar with Aqua Blast Jets to thoroughly clean from end to end and top to bottom. But you sure can see the results.
Available in navy blue or Tuscan steel to match the brand’s refrigerators, this dishwasher is perfect for those who love to entertain. The bottom left corner is a special high-intensity zone for pots and pans, although you still have to give them a rinse before you put them in if you want them spotless.
An express wash cycle—only 60 minutes—allows you to unload and reload multiple times throughout an evening. And thanks to its AutoRelease technology, the door opens automatically after a wash cycle so that condensation doesn’t build up, turning steam to water. However, some customers complain that the pop-open feature malfunctions.
This built-in dishwasher is also a smart dishwasher, so dirty dishes can wait until you’re out of the house to be washed. The smartphone feature also alerts you when a cycle is finished.
- Type: Built-in
- Size: 24 by 25 by 35 inches
- Wash Cycles: 7
- Water Usage: 3.2 gallons
- Remote operation via SmartThings app
- Front panel LED display shows time remaining in a cycle
- Express 60-minute cycle
- Third rack and second rack are too close together
- Automatic door-open feature malfunctions
- Dishes on the bottom rack don’t always come out clean
Get the Samsung dishwasher at Best Buy and The Home Depot.
Maybe you live alone, dine out a lot, or simply don’t have the space for a built-in dishwasher. Whatever the reason, a countertop dishwasher for those times you don’t feel like handwashing is an excellent alternative. This one offers six different wash cycles: heavy, normal, ECO, glass, speed, and rinse. And it includes a delay button so you can set it to wash when you leave.
Easy to attach to your sink with faucet adapters, the dishwasher also accommodates rinse aids so that your dishware won’t have spots and streaks. You can even throw a small dinner party for six people and get all those place settings washed at once.
- Type: Countertop
- Size: 21.6 by 19.6 by 17.2 inches
- Wash Cycles: 6
- Water Usage: 4.3–12.5 gallons
- Can attach to a faucet
- Takes up about the same space as a microwave
- Customers compliment excellent customer service
- Customers complain about an incomprehensible instruction manual
- Hard to load
Get the hOmelabs countertop dishwasher on Amazon and at Walmart.
Built on wheels so you can move it from place to place, this high-performance portable dishwasher has as many features as a built-in dishwasher. An Autosense Cycle checks the level of soiling and ascertains how much water pressure, temperature, and time is required, adjusting accordingly. The Piranha Hard Food Disposer minces food waste and disposes of it. An NSF Certified Sanitize Option eliminates 99.999 percent of the bacteria lingering on used dishware.
On the downside, all those upgrades come with a cost, making this a heavy machine to move. Cleaning cycles are as long as a built-in, as well. Customers have complained about assembly being difficult and, while hooking it up is easy if you have standard faucets, it’s much more difficult if you have anything old-fashioned or out of the ordinary. It’s also a bit on the noisy side. Still, this portable dishwasher is so modern it can even be Wi-Fi-enabled.
- Type: Portable
- Size: 23.625 by 25.375 by 36 inches
- Wash Cycles: 5
- Water Usage: 3.2–6.6 gallons
- Easy hookup if you have standard faucets
- Can be Wi-Fi-enabled
- Runs more quietly than expected
- Heavy and hard to move
- Assembly, especially attaching wheels, can be difficult
- Wheels on lower rack not sturdy
Get the GE portable dishwasher at The Home Depot, Walmart, and Best Buy.
Overall, we love the Whirlpool dishwasher for its numerous features, wash cycle options, and ability to really sanitize those dirty dishes. If you’re willing to dish out a little more cash, then we also recommend the Bosch dishwasher for its energy-saving half-load option, drying technology, and adjustable rack positions that allow you to fit dishes in comfortably without breakage.
How We Chose the Best Dishwashers
When choosing the best dishwashers, we explored several features: how many wash cycles they offered; the washing, sanitizing, and drying technology with which they were equipped; whether they had adjustable racks and tines; how easy they were to install; and how much they cost in comparison to similar styles in other brands. We also looked at their energy-saving qualities and their customer service reputations.
This curated list was developed from extensive product research. We considered all the major dishwasher brands as well as several boutique ones.
Dishwashers have become a standard accessory in modern kitchens, but even with nearly ubiquitous use, there are still some tips that help users gain the most benefit from this handy kitchen helper. Here are several of the most frequently asked questions about these convenient appliances.
Q: How do you install a dishwasher?
Dishwasher installation can be a DIY project, but given the fact that it involves both plumbing and electrical connections, you might want to call in a professional. For those determined to go it alone, installation will probably take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions and gather the requisite tools: tape measure, hose clamps, wrench, electrical tape, screwdriver, and a dishwasher installation kit containing the supply lines and other components.
- Before you begin, turn off the power and water to the area.
- Determine the unit’s placement based on the availability of plumbing and electrical connections. You will need a water intake connection and a drain connection, which is why most dishwashers are located near the kitchen sink.
- Drill a hole through the sidewalls of the cabinetry to run the water, drain, and electrical lines.
- Connect the drain line and the water line. You will need a fitting called a “dishwasher 90” for the water line; this is a 90-degree angled elbow that allows the water line to lie flat rather than bending at an angle.
- Secure the electrical connections, and test the dishwasher for power.
- Level the unit using a wrench on the “legs” underneath the dishwasher, and secure it in place with the screws that came with the unit.
- Run the unit, checking for leaks; you may need to reclamp the hoses if there are any leaks.
Q: How long does a dishwasher last?
Several variables affect a dishwasher’s lifespan, including how often you run the unit and how well you clean and maintain it. The average household runs about four to five loads per week. Dishwashers will typically last anywhere from 9 to 16 years, with an average life expectancy of about 12 years.
Dishwashers with stainless steel tubs and spray arms usually last longer than units with plastic components. Professional maintenance and regular cleaning, such as wiping down the door seals, cleaning the food trap and filter, and pre-scraping or rinsing dishes, can extend the lifespan.
Q: What certifications should I look for in a dishwasher?
Energy Star–certified dishwashers reduce water use by up to 65 percent and energy use by more than 10 percent over non-Energy Star models. The CEE Rating is assigned by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, a group that works with manufacturers to build appliances that reduce energy consumption. There are three tiers for CEE ratings, and a higher tier equates to a higher level of energy efficiency.
NSF-certified dishwashers have an optional “sanitizing” feature that allows them to run at a very high temperature to kill 99 percent of bacteria. ADA-compliant dishwashers are designed to accommodate the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Q: How do you get rid of the bad smell in the dishwasher?
Sometimes, even the cleanest kitchens will be the source of funky smells. The dishwasher is often a likely culprit since food residue, grease, and grime can build up over time.
To keep bad smells at bay, regularly clean the filter and food trap. Use a damp microfiber to wipe down the inner surfaces, spray arms, and racks. For a deeper clean, fill a glass with 1 cup of distilled white vinegar, and run the dishwasher through a single cycle using the hottest water possible. Repeat every few months to keep your dishwasher squeaky clean and odor-free.
Q: Which is better: dishwasher pods or powder?
The question of pods versus powder comes down to a few variables, but for maximum dishwasher performance, you need to use the correct amount of detergent. Because pods are premeasured, it takes some of the guesswork out of the process. Pods also are convenient, which is one reason they are so popular, with more than 70 percent of dishwasher detergent now sold in pod form. Pods are, however, pricer than powder.
Q: Are pods better than liquid?
Similar to the question of pods versus powder, measuring your dishwasher detergent is important. Some people use far too much liquid detergent, creating too many suds and leaving a cloudy film on dishes. Pods deliver a combination of convenience, cleaning power, and reliable measurement, but again, they cost more than liquid detergents.