If you want your dishes dry at the end of a cycle, we have three words of advice: Use rinse aid.

Dishwashers dry items in a variety of ways. Some use electric heating coils, others raise the temperature of the water at the end of the cycle using the residual heat to dry, and others use a fan. But for optimal drying, every dishwasher manufacturer recommends rinse aid no matter how your machine works.

You might think rinse aid is a gimmick—just another thing manufacturers want you to buy. But it works. Rinse aid not only prevents spotting but it also causes water to sheet off glassware and dishes by breaking the bond between the water molecules and the dishes. In fact, it could more accurately be called “dry aid.”

Consumer Reports has long tested drying by using plastic cups because plastic cools more quickly than ceramic materials and is harder to get completely dry. Only a few dishwashers in our dishwasher Ratings score better for drying than they do for washing. And performing well on our washing test is no guarantee of equally good drying.

One of our top-scoring dishwashers, the KitchenAid KDTM354DSS, $1,080, and the similar KitchenAid KDTM354ESS, $1,000, earned excellent scores for drying, and our perennial CR Best Buy, the Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC, $700, was very good at drying. A number of other Bosch models aced the drying test. But don’t buy by brand alone—other KitchenAid models in our tests were only so-so at getting dishes dry.


We've Updated Our Ratings

After noise, the biggest complaint Consumer Reports gets about dishwashers is that dishes aren’t dry when the cycle is over. We hear you. So we've added the drying score for each model to the dishwasher Ratings table so you can more easily compare this test result across all models.

 

The Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC dishwasher. Use a rinse aid with it.
Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC, $700

Dry Ideas

In addition to using rinse aid, try these steps to improve drying:

  • Run the kitchen faucet before starting the dishwasher. That way, the water entering the dishwasher is hot.
  • When loading the dishwasher, place the dishes so they aren’t touching. That improves water circulation.
  • Use heated dry or other available heat options on your machine.
  • As soon as the cycle ends, open the dishwasher door a few inches to let the moist air escape.
  • When emptying the dishwasher, unload the lower rack first. That way any water that might have pooled on your coffee mugs won’t spill on the clean dishes below.

Don’t forget to check our drying scores before choosing your new dishwasher.

Dishwasher Buying Guide