In our tests, we slather plates with egg yolks, peanut butter, raspberry jam, and other stubborn goo to see which dishwashers made our clean-plate club.
Tougher new rules have slashed the energy and water dishwashers can use and still get the government's Energy Star seal. Dishwashers that meet the federal EPA's voluntary Energy Star standard are, on average, 5 percent more energy efficient and 15 percent more water efficient than standard models. But our latest tests show that even with lower energy and water consumption, you don't have to live with dirty dishes or endure longer cycles. Better yet, some of the biggest energy misers are also easy on your wallet.
Here's what else to consider:
Look for convenience
Dishwashers that score well for ease of use usually include adjustable racks and lots of flatware slots. Some mid-priced models have third racks that let you lay down large utensils or short cups. Many also have fold-down tines, which let you fit large or odd-shaped dishes and other dinnerware. Stainless-steel tubs resist stains better than white plastic tubs, though some plastic tubs are speckled gray for less noticeable staining.
Match your cleaning habits
Our picks clean well enough for you to skip pre-rinsing. If you do pre-rinse, be sure to turn off the extra-cost power-scrubbing modes. And if you're especially concerned about noise, opt for a modle with a manual-clean filter rather than a self-cleaning one, which tend to be noisier. More models now have manual-clean filters.
Check the controls
Some models include interactive touch controls, but the usual touchpads are fine if they're clearly marked. Also look for cycle-time and other visible displays if a model has controls that are hidden when the door is closed. Many models with hidden controls display a light or other indicator to tell you the dishwasher is running, a plus for extra-quiet models. Still, with cycle times running often two hours or more, we'd prefer a more detailed indicator of remaining cycle time.
Watch the dimensions
The width and depth of every conventional dishwasher is intended for a cavity measuring 24 by 24 inches. But the height of what you're considering could pose a installation challenge if—since the time you installed the old dishwasher—you replaced your kitchen floor or put in a new countertop that dips lower than flush with the bottom edge. Either or both changes could leave less vertical space and require you to buy a slightly shorter dishwasher. Before settling on a model, measure your space and ask the seller for the full height range, accounting for adjustment of the leveling feet.