More on Dishwashers

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

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. And that Energy Star may earn you a small rebate from your utility company. Think of it as suds money.

Here’s what to know before you check our dishwasher ratings and shop:

Height Varies

Conventional dishwashers are designed for a cavity that’s 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep. A dishwasher’s height can vary, especially with European models. “If your flooring was changed after the cabinets were installed, the cavity height might have changed,” says Larry Ciufo, the engineer 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 the 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 and still earn the government’s Energy Star. Most of our tested models used between 4 and 7 gallons of water to wash our test loads, and took 90 to 205 minutes using normal wash or its equivalent. The GE GDF510PSJSS, $465, took the longest.

What you can do: You’ll see wash times listed in our full dishwasher ratings, and we tell you how much water each model uses on its summary page.

Quick Take

GE GDF510PSJSS dishwasher

Price: $520

Energy use
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Soil Sensors Save

A soil sensor improves cleaning and efficiency by adjusting the cycle time and water use to the load’s soil level. That’s why if you rinse the dishes before you put them into the dishwasher, the sensor determines that the dishes are fairly clean and a light wash follows, 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. And when comparing models, click the Features & Specs tab in the dishwasher ratings to find out which models have a soil sensor.

The Filter Is a Factor

The filter keeps the wash water free of food that could wind up deposited on clean dishes. Self-cleaning filters tend to be noisy. A manual-clean filter must be cleaned regularly to prevent funky odors caused by food that collects in the filter. Relax, 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 dishwasher ratings, click the Features & Specs tab to find out which filter type a model has. 

Prices Range Widely

The dishwashers in our tests cost between $230 and $2,200. Some are excellent at cleaning and drying, and others disappoint. Price doesn’t necessarily track with overall performance, but dishwashers under $500 are often noisier.

What you can do: Given that there are more than 170 models in our dishwasher ratings, use the price filter to zero in on models within your budget. And see “Save on Appliances, Sale or No Sale” for ways to save money. 

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