The 7 dishwasher details that count most

Top-performing dishwashers that are quiet and energy efficient, too

Published: April 17, 2014 02:30 PM

Innovations in dishwashers have made them quieter, easier to load, and more energy and water efficient. In fact, some are so quiet you can barely hear them running. Combined with a good dishwasher detergent, the best dishwashers from Consumer Reports’ tests produced sparkling loads of dishes without pre-rinsing. And any new machine will cost less to operate than the one you have now. If you haven’t bought a dishwasher in a while, you’ll be impressed by the following features.

Adjustable racks and loading aids. Racks that move up and down, adjustable tines, and silverware and stemware holders let you reconfigure the interior and organize the contents. Those features increase flexibility, especially when you cook for a crowd, and can help accommodate large and odd-shaped items such as cookie sheets and stockpots. Silverware holders and flatware slots also tend to improve cleaning by preventing silverware from nesting.
Recommended dishwasher. Bosch 500 Series SHP65T55UC, $900, has easily adjustable racks plus a third rack.

Half-load option. It’s always more efficient to wash a full load of dishes. But if you frequently wash half loads—just glasses, say—a model with a half-load option might help you save some energy and water compared with running a half-load in a dishwasher without that feature.
Recommended dishwasher. GE Profile PDT750SSFSS, $1,100, has a half-load option and special bottle-washing jets.

Kenmore Elite 12783
Photo: Manufacturer

Soil sensor. It adjusts water use and cycle length to the amount of soil on the dishes. A sensor can improve energy efficiency.
Recommended dishwasher. Kenmore Elite 12783, $1,200, has a soil sensor and is also one of the quietest models.

Filters. These keep wash water free of food that could be redeposited on clean dishes. There are two filter types: manual and self-cleaning. Most manufacturers have moved to manual-clean because self-cleaning filters, which use a grinder to pulverize debris and flush it down the drain with the water, are convenient but noisy.
Recommended dishwasher. KitchenAid KDFE454CSS, $1,500, has a filter that needs to be cleaned manually and very quiet operation.

Rinse/hold cycle. This lets you rinse dirty dishes before you’re ready to start a full cycle, reducing potentially unpleasant odors and preventing soil from setting while you accumulate enough dirty dishes to run a full load.
Recommended dishwasher. The Kenmore Elite 12793, $1,350, has a quick-rinse feature and is our top-rated dishwasher.

Special wash cycles. Most dishwashers come with at least three cycles: light, normal, and heavy (for pots and pans). Some also offer pot-scrubber, soak/scrub, steam-clean, or china/crystal cycles, or a sanitizing cycle, which raises the water temperature above the usual 140° F. The extra options sound good, but the three basic cycles should be enough for most chores, even for baked-on food.
Recommended dishwasher. Bosch 300 Series DLX SHX53TL5UC, $850, has a "speed perfect" cycle that uses extra water and energy to wash more quickly.

Stainless-steel tub. Steel is more durable and stain-resistant than plastic, but dishwasher models with a plastic tub tend to cost far less. Even a standard plastic tub should last longer than most people tend to keep a dishwasher.
Recommended dishwasher. Thermador Topaz Series DWHD640JFM, $1,500, has a stainless-steel tub and a nifty light that shines on the floor when the unit is running.

—Adapted from Consumer Reports Kitchen Planning & Buying Guide

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