A partially opened dishwasher

It's getting tougher to find a reliable dishwasher that delivers top-notch cleaning if your budget is $500 or less. 

Dishwashers in this price range tend to come with basic features and have plastic tubs, which don't resist stains as well as stainless steel tubs do. 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 an Excellent or Very Good rating in our washing test, which tells you how well each model cleans a full load of glasses and very dirty dishes.

Most also earn an Excellent 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.

Lab-Tested for Your Home

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 150 models from over 20 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 test. 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

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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.