Best Dishwashers for $500 or Less

These CR-tested models skimp on price but not on performance

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It's getting tougher to find a reliable dishwasher that delivers top-notch cleaning if your budget is $500 or less, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

"High demand for major appliances during the pandemic, coupled with supply issues from manufacturers, have made many of CR's top-rated dishwashers harder to find—and especially hard to find at sales prices customers expect," says Nish Suvarnakar, a Consumer Reports senior market analyst.

While the industry expects availability and pricing to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, people who have an immediate need for a budget-friendly dishwasher may have to make some sacrifices.

Dishwashers under $500 tend to come with basic features and have plastic tubs, which don't resist stains as well as stainless steel tubs. Another element to consider? Consumer Reports' tests have found that these dishwashers are relatively noisy.

"But if strong cleaning performance is what you’re after, you can still find a dishwasher that might be right for you," says Larry Ciufo, who oversees CR's dishwasher tests.

MORE ON DISHWASHERS

The models featured below all come in under $500 and earn a Very Good rating in our washing test, which tells you how well each model cleans a full load of glasses and very dirty dishes.

They also earn an Excellent or Very Good rating in our drying test, an evaluation of how well a model dries plastic containers. Why plastic? It's harder to dry than ceramic and glass because it doesn't retain heat, which helps the drying process. And water that remains on plastic doesn't evaporate as easily.

We spend 28 hours evaluating each dishwasher in our lab. Our testers load each model with 10 place settings of white ceramic dishes with baked-on food, then run it on the normal cycle or its equivalent.

When the cycle is complete, we use a photo-imaging machine to determine precisely how clean each dish is. We also test how well each machine dries plastics, judge noise levels, and record cycle time and energy and water use.

Our dishwasher ratings include more than 120 models from 20 different brands. We buy and test dishwashers from KitchenAid, Miele, Thermador, Viking, and other high-end brands to find out whether the priciest dishwashers are the best dishwashers. Before you check the ratings or shop, take a look at our dishwasher buying guide.

CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of four inexpensive dishwashers that earn an Excellent or Very Good in our washing and drying tests. Note that prices can change, of course, and models with a stainless finish are typically more expensive than white or black dishwashers.

4 Impressive Dishwashers for $500 or Less

Dishwasher Testing at CR

On the “Consumer 101” TV show, CR expert Emilio Gonzalez explains to host Jack Rico that testing dishwashers at Consumer Reports requires a combination of art and science.


Headshot of CRO Home Editor Tanya Christian

Tanya A. Christian

I've spent more than a decade covering lifestyle, news, and policy. At Consumer Reports, I'm happy to sit at the intersection of these specialties, writing about appliances, product safety and advocacy, consumer fairness, and the best tools and products to help you spruce up your home. When I'm not putting pen to paper, I'm exploring new cultures through travel and taking on home makeover projects, one room at a time.