Dishwashers are the roommate-placating, marriage-saving, water-conserving appliances of our dreams. But with so many available options, and so many questions you might find yourself asking, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. According to Robert Wolfe of Jetson TV & Appliance in Stuart, Florida, for most people, choosing the right dishwasher comes down to “four criteria: cosmetics, capacity, quietness, and then how well it cleans. That’s usually fourth on the list.” With most modern dishwashers, he says, you can safely assume they wash well. There are other concerns, of course, but they only apply to small groups of people. Like the type of tub your dishwasher uses. The difference between full stainless steel and the less expensive tub made of half-steel and half-plastic is its easiness to clean. “If you’re in a rural area and have a lot of heavy calcium deposits in the water, those deposits will embed themselves in the plastic forever. That’s not the case with stainless steel,” says Robert McGuire, owner of Rutland Appliances in Rutland, Vermont. “Aesthetically, you’ll always have that gleaming metal.”
Whichever dishwasher you choose, treat it well. “Even the cheapest dishwasher is going to wash your dishes better than you, but don’t overload it,” says Shirley Hood, appliance specialist at Abt electronics and appliances in Glenview, Illinois. “Taking the time to load it correctly makes all the difference,” she says. “Slot your silverware the way you are supposed to, load correctly, and don’t block the wash arms.” And fight the urge to prewash. Your new dishwasher can handle it. “Active enzymes in dish soap want to attach to the food on your plates. If dishes are already pretty clean going in, those enzymes have nothing to attach to, and they’ll attach to the finish of your plate, leaving you with etched, dull plates,” says Eugene Pallas, owner of Lorain Furniture & Appliance in Cleveland, Ohio. He suggests removing anything that would really stick to your plates, but don’t worry about rinsing off things like pasta sauce. “You bought a dishwasher to wash dishes. Let it,” he says.
The other thing to keep in mind, our experts say, is that newer machines take longer to wash dishes than older models used to. “Old models would last 35 to 40 mins. High-efficiency, modern dishwashers, however, are all going to be in the 1.5-to-two-hour range,” says Ben Schlichter, owner of Ben’s Appliances in Circleville, Ohio.
To help you find the best dishwasher for your home, we asked seven appliance technicians and salespeople for the best dishwashers you can buy right now. Here, their recommendations.
Bosch was far and away the most recommended dishwasher brand among our experts, many of whom specifically mentioned the Benchmark series. Wolfe likes them for their stainless-steel touch panel, along with the fact that they have a third rack on top that will fit cups and bowls. “It’ll even open the door when it’s done (to let out the moist air for faster drying) and shine a light on the floor that shows how many minutes of run time are left,” he says. According to Hood, Bosch “claims to be 40 percent better at drying plastics, and they do a very good job. Also, you can run a top-rack-only cycle and wash just what you used for the week.” And the products last. “With Bosch, its dependability first,” says Christopher Zajic, president of Zajic Appliance in Sacramento, California. At under 40 dB, this is one of the quietest dishwashers available.
Any model from the Bosch 300 series will give you advanced features, durability, and a more affordable price point. “For the budget conscious, the 300 series is great,” says Rob Clark of Jetson TV & Appliance. “It won’t be quite as quiet as Bosch’s top of the line, but at 44 dB, it’s still quiet, and it has a better racking system than many other dishwashers.” That includes the actually useful third rack of the Benchmark, above, along with movable tines and a middle rack that can be moved up to accommodate larger dishes. Plus, “they’re built like tanks and reliable,” Schlichter adds.
If you hate the way many dishwashers don’t completely dry plastics and other dishes (and you don’t want to spend the money for Bosch’s humidity-relieving door-opening technology), Pallas recommends this 44 dB KitchenAid model. “One of the things that makes it so much better than its competitors is the ProDry feature. A lot of modern dishwashers have a difficult time drying the plate because of energy restrictions. They can’t run heaters. This one has a fan and pushes air through the cavity of the dishwasher.”
We didn’t know this was a thing before we started researching dishwashers, and we’re not here to judge. Maybe you have a nice outdoor barbecue setup with a built-in grill and don’t want to bring your dirty dishes inside. Whatever you do, don’t use a standard indoor model. “You could fail electrical code,” Wolfe says. This Asko dishwasher is purpose-built for outdoor dishwashing. According to Wolfe, “You don’t have to worry about getting electrocuted or it rotting outside.”
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