Dishwasher Buying Guide

When your dishwasher dies, you may quickly come to miss this time-saving appliance. Loading a dishwasher and pressing start can save you more than 230 hours a year, compared with washing and drying by hand, according to Energy Star. 

Conventional built-in dishwashers, the most widely sold type and what Consumer Reports buys and tests most often, are 24 inches wide. You’ll see well over 100 models in our dishwasher ratings from a multitude of brands. But 18-inch dishwashers, which are ideal for small kitchens and apartments, have become more popular lately, possibly because people have been staying home more due to the pandemic. Other dishwasher options include countertop models and stacked dishwasher drawers. 

Much like many modern home appliances, dishwashers are growing smarter and more efficient each year, and big brands are introducing smart home technology and WiFi connectivity. Our dishwasher buying guide helps you sort through the many offerings to find the best dishwasher for your budget and needs. Whatever you choose at checkout, consider using a dishwasher detergent that cleaned up well in our tests to get the most from your machine. 

Lab-Tested for Your Home

We test dishwashers year-round, spending 28 hours evaluating each one and identifying its features. Our testers load each dishwasher with 10 place settings of white ceramic dishes with baked-on food, then run it on the normal cycle (or its equivalent) with the high-temperature wash and heated-dry options selected, if available. When the cycle is complete, we record cycle time, and the amount of water and energy used. We use a photo-imaging machine to determine precisely how clean each dish is, and we test how well each machine dries plastics. Panelists also judge noise levels

Dishwashers that perform well but don’t hold up over time aren’t winners. That’s why it’s important to consider our latest reliability and owner satisfaction survey findings. And to make it easier for you to choose the best dishwasher for your budget, we now incorporate lab-test results, predicted reliability, and owner satisfaction into one Overall Score for each model.

A Dish Load of Brands 
There are more than 20 brands in our dishwasher ratings. You’ll see familiar names such as Amana, Frigidaire, GE, Kenmore, LG, Maytag, Samsung, and Whirlpool. Ikea is there, too—and no, you don’t have to assemble the dishwasher yourself. Our experts also review the three B’s—Beko, Blomberg, and Bosch.   

Manufacturers in the high-end price range include Bertazzoni, Dacor, Electrolux, Fisher & Paykel, GE Profile, Jenn-Air, Kenmore Elite, KitchenAid, Miele, Thermador, and Viking. We work to keep up with brands that you’ll see in stores and online. That’s why we also test models from Equator, Kucht, and Thor Kitchen.

As for dishwasher drawers, Fisher & Paykel is the only brand making drawers at this time, and you’ll see two in our dishwasher ratings. And because of their growing popularity, we’ve tested a handful of 18-inch dishwashers at our lab to see how they perform.

Choose Your Look

Dishwashers are available in white, bisque, black, slate, stainless, and black stainless. Though these kitchen helpers once looked very uniform across brands, that is no longer the case. Some manufacturers have simplified the design, moving the controls to the top of the door so that they’re hidden when the door is closed.

In select models, the brand logo is also gone, and a recessed pocket handle replaces a bar. With brand names and bar handles gone, consumers can select sleek, stainless dishwashers that match seamlessly with stainless appliances from other brands.

If you’re searching for a custom look, you may be tempted to purchase a drawer design to match the functionality of your kitchen. These models typically include two stacked drawers, giving you the option to use them simultaneously or separately. But they’re expensive, and the models we tested haven’t performed as well overall as most conventional dishwashers.

Name Your Price

Dishwashers for $500 or Less
Although they aren’t the top performers in our tests, you can still get a dishwasher that’s excellent at cleaning, and very good or even excellent at drying. Most dishwashers, including lower-priced models, now have a soil sensor. It adjusts the cycle’s time and water use to the load’s soil level, improving water efficiency. And some in this price range even have a stainless interior. So what’s the catch? The features are basic: Adjustable racks and stainless steel tubs are not a given, and most dishwashers in this price range are relatively noisy.

Dishwashers for $500 to $1,000 
You can get a quieter machine, superb cleaning, and convenient features that might make it worth spending a bit more, such as adjustable racks and flexible flatware slots, along with a stainless tub, which tends to resist stains better than plastic. A soil sensor is a given. 

Dishwashers for $1,000 or More 
The styling changes, and the dishwashers are fully loaded. You no longer have to choose among useful features. Innovative accoutrements—such as WiFi connectivity and special wash zones for heavily soiled items—are added.  

Pro Shopping Tips

The width and depth of a conventional dishwasher is intended for a cavity measuring 24x24 inches. But fitting your new dishwasher in could be a challenge if you’ve tiled the floor or redone your counters, changing the height of the cavity. So before you make your final selection, carefully measure your space and ask the retailer for the full height range (and don’t forget to account for adjustment of the leveling feet).

When browsing, make sure to also take a close look at how the dishwasher’s interior is configured—the spacing of the tines, and the placement of the silverware baskets and racks. You need a dishwasher that works for how you cook and eat. 

If you are shopping in a store, consider taking some of your dishes with you to make sure they fit. Rack designs are not all the same, and dishes might not fit like they did in your old machine.

Find the Best Features

When shopping, look for features that can save you time, money, and effort.

Video Buying Guide

Watch our video below for more.

Dishwasher Brands

A Whirlpool brand, Amana dishwashers are in the lower-price range, usually $500 or less.
These sibling brands are from Europe and priced in the midrange, from around $500 to $850. You’ll see them at independent dealers.
This European brand makes dishwashers that sell for between $500 and well over $1,000. Bosch is part of BSH Home Appliances, which also makes Thermador and Gaggenau appliances.
This high-end dishwasher manufacturer was acquired by Samsung in 2016. Dacor dishwashers sell for $1,000 or more.
Electrolux is the parent company, and you’ll see both brands at big-box stores, independent appliance stores, and other national retailers. The Electrolux models go for around $1,000. The Frigidaire models start around $375, and the midpriced Frigidaire Gallery models are $450 to $750. Frigidaire Professional models are more expensive, and you’ll see them for $900 or more.
F&P is the only brand currently making dishwasher drawers. A stacked pair sells for around $1,250 or more. F&P does not make full-sized conventional dishwashers.
This brand is sold at big-box stores, independent appliance stores, and other national retailers for $300 to $1,500. The brand includes Café and GE Profile models. GE is owned by Haier.
Ikea dishwashers are made by Whirlpool and are priced in the lower range.
Kenmore is sold at Sears and has three lines: Kenmore, Kenmore Elite, and Kenmore Pro. Prices range from approximately $380 for a basic Kenmore model to $1,000 for those in the Elite line, and a bit more for the Pro models.
This high-end brand is part of Whirlpool. Models sell for $900 and up.
LG dishwashers are sold mostly in big-box stores, and prices range widely, from $500 to $1,000, and more for LG Signature models.
A Whirlpool-owned brand, Maytag makes dishwashers in the midpriced range, from $550 to $900.
This European brand makes higher-priced dishwashers. CR has tested models that sell for $1,700 to $2,200.
Available in big-box stores for $400 and up, Samsung also offers Samsung Chef Collection models for over $1,000.
Thermador is a high-end brand, with dishwashers selling for $1,400 to $2,300. Thermador is part of BSH Home Appliances, maker of Bosch and Gaggenau appliances.
Known for its pro-style kitchen appliances, Viking dishwashers are sold mainly in independent stores for about $1,000 to $1,700.
This brand is sold mostly at big-box stores for $300 to $1,000. Whirlpool also makes Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, and Maytag appliances.

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