5 Things to Know When Replacing a Dishwasher

For starters, longer wash times are just part of life with new models

dishwasher iStock-497491480

Using a dishwasher can save you about 230 hours per year compared with washing and drying by hand, according to Energy Star.

It's not an appliance you want to do without for long if it dies.

And in addition to saving time, Energy Star estimates that hand-washing your dishes costs $431 more in water and energy than using a dishwasher that’s Energy Star certified. That's over the lifetime of the dishwasher, which Energy Star says is 10 years on average.


If you need to replace a broken dishwasher, or you're in the market for an upgrade, we can help: We've tested and rated more than 100 models. To make it easier for you to find the best dishwasher for your budget, we combine lab test results, predicted reliability, and owner satisfaction into a single Overall Score, which you'll find in our dishwasher ratings.

The data for predicted reliability and owner satisfaction come from our survey of CR members' experiences with 72,307 dishwashers purchased between 2008 and 2018.

Here’s what to know before you start shopping.

Height Varies

Conventional dishwashers are designed for a space that’s 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep. Height can vary.

“If your flooring was changed after the cabinets were installed, the cavity height might have changed,” says Larry Ciufo, who runs Consumer Reports’ dishwasher tests. “New counters can affect the space, too.”

What you can do: Measure the space you have to work with, then check online or ask a salesperson to see the manual for the dishwasher’s minimum and maximum height, factoring in the adjustable leveling feet.

Wash Times Are Longer

Tougher federal standards have reduced the amount of water and energy dishwashers can use. All of the models in our tests use between 4 and 7 gallons of water to wash a test load and take 90 to 200 minutes using the normal wash cycle or its equivalent. The LG LDF5545ST and GE GDF630PSMSS currently take honors for the longest wash times. Each is around $530.

Some dishwashers now have a quick cycle that cleans dishes in an hour or less. It's meant for light messes, and from what we've seen in our lab, doesn't dry dishes (doing so would extend the cycle time).

What you can do: Compare wash times of the 100-plus models—you'll see the listed in our dishwasher ratings and on each model's summary page.

Soil Sensors Save

A soil sensor improves cleaning and efficiency by adjusting the cycle time and water use to the load’s soil level. If you rinse dishes before you put them into the dishwasher, the sensor will determine that they're fairly clean and reduce the wash time—sometimes leaving bits of food stuck to the plates.

What you can do: While there’s no need to prerinse dishes, do scrape food, bones, shells, and toothpicks from plates.

Nearly all of the dishwashers in our ratings now have a soil sensor, and if a dishwasher doesn't, we mention this on the model's summary page.

The Filter Is a Factor

The filter strains out food that could wind up leaving deposits on clean dishes. Self-cleaning filters, which grind up the food detritus, tend to be noisy; only about a dozen or so models in our ratings have this type.

The rest have a manual-clean filter that must be cleaned regularly to prevent funky odors caused by food that collects in the filter. It takes only a few minutes.

What you can do: To learn more about the two filter types, read Why Your Dishwasher Filter Makes a Difference. And when scouring our ratings, check which filter type a model has in the Features & Specs section.

Prices Range Widely

The dishwashers that we've purchased and tested cost between $380 and $2,300. Some are excellent at cleaning and drying, and others disappoint. Price doesn’t necessarily track with overall performance, and note that dishwashers under $500 are often noisier.

What you can do: Use the price filter in our ratings to zero in on top-performing models within your budget.

Kimberly Janeway