- A dishwasher is one of the most time-saving products you can have for your home.
- After research and expert interviews, we determined the Bosch SHEM63W55N as the best.
- It’s quiet, has an adjustable middle rack for larger items, and has a good reputation among experts.
As a homeowner, a dishwasher will give you the biggest return on investment. Instead of washing, rinsing, and drying dishes by hand, you’re free to relax while the dishwasher accomplishes the same goal.
And they don’t just save time, they also greatly reduce water usage. According to Energy Star, the average modern dishwasher uses less water than hand-washing dishes and because it can use much hotter water, it sanitizes and more effectively removes bacteria. Considering these time-saving, water-conserving, and sanitizing benefits, it’s easy to see how valuable a dishwasher can be to your home.
I was a residential carpenter for four years and have experience installing, removing, and repositioning dishwashers. I used my experience, along with the insight of four experts, to curate this list of the four best dishwashers. For a look at my research methodology, head over here.
Here are the best dishwashers in 2021
- Best dishwasher overall: Bosch SHEM63W55N
- Best budget dishwasher: Frigidaire FGID2466QF
- Best high-end dishwasher: Miele 24″ G 7566
- Best portable dishwasher: GE GPT225SGLBB
The sleek design, ultra-quiet operation, and the unanimous support of its brand by our experts make the Bosch SHEM63W55N the best dishwasher you can buy.
Pros: Extremely quiet operation, stainless steel interior tub, AquaStop leak protection
Cons: Exterior is not smudge-proof, not ADA compliant
When I consulted my experts on their most recommended brands, Bosch came up time and time again. Gurfinkel of Appliance Repair LA specifically praised the brand’s usability, reliability, and technical support, putting Bosch in the top tier of residential dishwashers.
The Bosch SHEM63W55N features a stainless steel interior tub, a roomy third rack, and an adjustable upper rack. The tines on the top and bottom racks are can fold down to customize their storage capacity. However, all this room translates to a unit that isn’t compatible with those needing special height requirements.
The Bosch SHEM63W55N boasts some special features, like a quick-wash cycle that takes only about an hour, a sanitizing setting, and a leak protection feature, a system of sensors that can detect when leaks occur and instantly shuts off the water supply. I’ve personally come home from a long weekend to find my dishwasher had leaked onto my parents’ hardwood floors, so this can be an extremely helpful feature.
Its estimated yearly energy use is 269 kWh, according to the US Government Energy Guide. This comes out to about $25 per year, assuming you run four loads per week.
At only 44 dB, this dishwasher makes around the same amount of noise as a refrigerator — which is to say it’s one of the quietest options you can buy.
The stainless steel exterior and recessed handle give it a sleek, high-end look, and the front-facing control panel allows you to monitor its operation easily. The exterior is not fingerprint-resistant, however, so if you have active kids around, you might want to have a bottle of stainless steel cleaner on hand.
The best budget dishwasher
Despite its reasonable price tag, the Frigidaire FGID2466QF still provides a lot of the valuable features you see on high-end models, like a sanitizing wash cycle, fold-down tines, and a drying mode.
Pros: Smudge-proof stainless steel, sanitizing cycle, StayPut hinge ensures the door will not fall open or closed
Cons: Slightly louder than others, plastic interior tub, not ADA compliant
The fact that the Frigidaire FGID2466QF doesn’t look like a budget model is one of the reasons Nick Yahoodain, CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors recommended it so highly.
The hidden control panel and stainless steel exterior are clean and modern. The front panel and bar handle has a smudge-proof finish, which can look darker than uncoated stainless steel. If you’re planning on matching your stainless steel appliances, visit a showroom or appliance store if possible to take a look yourself.
The plastic interior tub is less durable and harder to clean than stainless steel, though it’s likely a big reason why this machine is relatively affordable. The height also isn’t ADA compliant, which can be another drawback.
I was impressed by its door hinge, which prevents it from falling open or closing shut when you don’t want it to. The Frigidaire FGID2466QF also features fold-down tines and has a high-temperature sanitizing setting.
The Frigidaire FGID2466QF uses sensors to determine how much water pressure is needed based on how dirty the dishes are — a feature you often see in high-end models. Its dual drying options allow you to choose whether you prefer heated drying or not. It can also be programmed for half loads — an energy-saving feature that Yahoodain pointed out in his recommendation.
The Frigidaire FGID2466QF uses 268 kWh per year, assuming an average household runs about four loads per week. This comes out to an estimated yearly cost of about $32.
At 52 dB, it’s well under the noise level of a normal conversation and surprisingly, a typical dishwasher — which registers at around 70 dB by the CDC.
The best high-end dishwasher
The Miele G 7566 might have an intimidating price tag, but if money’s no object, its top of the line components, reputation for quality, and Wi-Fi connectivity are worth it.
Pros: Wi-Fi connectivity, quiet operation, customizable tray designs
Cons: Not NSF certified
Gurfinkel recommended the Miele G 7566 for its high-quality and impressive five-year warranty.
It features a stainless steel tub and an adjustable third rack. It also has four LEDs to illuminate the interior, making it easy to see what you’re loading and unloading.
The Miele G 7566 has a few special features that I haven’t seen in other models — most notably, the Wi-Fi connectivity and pre-set times so you can start the wash cycle even when you’re not home. It also features a QuickIntenseWash, which cleans and dries dishes in 58 minutes compared to the average normal dishwasher cycle of two hours.
The Miele G 7566 runs even quieter than the Bosch at 38 dB.
It looks modern and minimal with hidden controls and a stainless steel bar handle. The white LED readout gives it a high-tech look and really separates it from other models that use black or red. The surface should also be easy to clean and maintain.
This model is not officially NSF-certified to sanitize glassware, cookware, and dishes though its SaniWash cycle reaches 167 degrees. This exceeds the 150 degrees that NSF requires for certification and the Miele manual describes this cycle as intended for “baby bottles, cutting boards, and prepared dishes,” but you won’t have the peace of mind that comes from an official NSF certification.
According to its energy label, it should use about 230 kWh per year, which comes out to about $30.
The best portable dishwasher
Even though it’s a portable model, the GE GPT225SGLBB has the sleek look of a built-in unit, features a hard food disposer, and is mounted on four swiveling casters for easy transport.
Pros: Hard food disposer, stainless steel tub, the top can be used as extra counter space
Cons: Loud, must be hooked up to the sink to operate, needs an additional bucket if your sink is higher than 34 inches
Gurfinkel recommended the GE GPT225SGLBB as his top portable option. It has a food disposal, stainless steel interior tub, sanitizing cycle, and can adjust the water temperature for an ideal wash cycle.
Because they lack the noise-deadening benefits of surrounding cabinets, portable dishwashers tend to be louder than built-ins. The GE GPT225SGLBB runs at 54 dBA, the loudest of all the units I researched and a little under the level of a normal conversation.
The GE GPT225SGLBB is reasonably energy-efficient at about 270 kWh/year. This adds up to about $35 with an electric water heater or $23 with a natural gas heater.
The unit is black on all sides with a metal door and laminate wood top, which you can use as additional countertop space. The hidden controls give it a modern utilitarian look.
Portable dishwashers are simple to install. Unlike built-ins that connect to existing plumbing fixtures, the GE GPT225SGLBB needs an outlet and connects via a unicouple. This is essentially two hoses: one that attaches to the faucet for hot water and the other to expel wastewater back into the sink.
If your sink is 34 inches or higher off the floor, you won’t be able to drain wastewater into the sink because it’s too high, so you’ll need a bucket or pitcher that’s lower than the height of the sink.
Our research methodology
I wasn’t able to physically test these dishwashers myself, so I leaned on my kitchen remodeling experience and background as a general contractor. I also consulted four experts for brand and model recommendations, as well as criteria that I could use to compare and contrast models as I did my research.
I consulted a food safety expert, Kaylyn Brunskole, the technical manager of Food Equipment at NSF International. I also reached out to an appliance retailer, Albert Safaradi of Albee’s Appliances, and a home remodeling expert, Nick Yahoodain, CEO of Advanced Builders and Contractors, and an appliance repair expert, Alexander Gurfinkel of Appliance Repair LA.
After consulting experts, I developed a set of criteria to use to compare potential options, including their appearance, construction, installation details, special features, energy use, noise levels, certifications, and repair and warranty details.
I then spent hours rigorously researching the most popular options from online retailers and read countless best-of lists and customer reviews, developing a list that I vetted with my experts and removing ones that didn’t meet their criteria. The result is four expertly-vetted dishwashers.
When should I use a dishwasher?
This is ultimately a personal preference, but there are smart ways to use your dishwasher so you’re not wasting money or water.
Run your dishwasher when you have a full load — that means when the upper, middle, and lower racks are full. If you use a dishwasher when it barely has anything to clean, you can easily run up your water bills. This might mean waiting a day or two to accumulate enough dishes to run a load.
And if you have hard water, try to run the dishwasher early in the evening so you’re still awake to remove and dry dishes by hand and avoid hard water spots.
How do I load a dishwasher?
Yahoodain said that loading your dishwasher is specific to your machine and typically mapped out in the user manual, especially for machines that have specific wash zones or half-load options.
Generally, according to Brunskole, “It’s a good idea to position items at an angle to help with drainage, with the top rack commonly used for smaller items and larger on the bottom. For utensils, some dishwashers have an upper utensil rack or a silverware basket on the bottom. Whichever style you choose, review the manual before you get started to learn the best way to load your dishwasher.”
Do you need to rinse dishes first?
Even though you might think you’re helping by rinsing off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher, you could actually be making it less effective. This is because the sensors that some dishwashers use to determine how long a cycle should run and how much water to use can be fooled by pre-rinsed dishes. It assumes that the load is cleaner than it actually is and ends up running a lighter wash cycle.
Can you wash plastic takeout containers in a dishwasher?
Brunskole said that plastics are commonly loaded on the uppermost racks away from the lower heating element, but you should always refer to the manufacturer’s recommended washing cycles and rack loading guidelines. Even if plastic take-out containers have a dishwasher-safe label on them, check the manufacturer’s manual first to see what can and can’t be washed.
What types of dishwashers are there?
- Built-In: These are the most common types of dishwashers. They are designed to be installed in a dedicated area under your kitchen counter and are connected to permanent plumbing hookups. They’re typically sandwiched on both sides by cabinetry or drawers, which muffle the noise of its operation.
- Portable: Unlike built-in models that are permanently installed, portable dishwashers are freestanding units that sit on wheels and can be moved around as you like. Since they don’t have any dedicated plumbing connections, they typically get their water supply by hooking directly to your kitchen faucet. The wheels allow you to roll them into a closet or storage area after use. Plus, since they’re not located underneath a counter, you can usually use their top as a kitchen workspace.
- Countertop: For those who are really tight on space, countertop dishwashers are even more convenient than portable options. They connect right to your kitchen faucet and use considerably less water than full-size dishwashers. They’re on the smaller side so they wouldn’t be a great choice for households that produce a lot of dirty dishes. We didn’t feature any countertop models in this guide, but I look forward to testing them in the future.
How do you install a dishwasher?
Dishwasher installation is a pretty straightforward process, so if you’ve got a reasonable amount of experience working with appliances, you should be alright to DIY. Gurfinkel explained that a YouTube video and proper equipment like a hose and a wrench can be enough. Issues may arise if your original dishwasher wasn’t installed properly and can’t be removed — this will require breaking countertops and floors, and above all else, a professional.
If you’d rather have a professional install your dishwasher entirely, Gurfinkel recommended going with a local installer, rather than a big box store. He explained that local installers usually care more about how the installation goes since they rely on positive reviews and word of mouth, unlike big box stores.
If you decide to install your dishwasher yourself, Yahoodain said the most important things to remember are to make sure everything is connected properly and the machine is level. “You also want to check with the manufacturer to make sure that a professional installer isn’t required to uphold the warranty,” he said.
What sizes of dishwashers are there?
Safaradi said, “Dishwasher dimensions are standard: 23 ¾ inches wide by 33 ⅝ inches high by 24 ⅝ inches deep, except for handicapped-enabled (ADA-compliant) units which are 24 inches wide by 34 ½ inches high by 24 inches deep.” Compact-sized dishwashers tend to be about 18 inches wide.
Even though portable versions are freestanding and don’t need to fit into an opening, you still want to get a good idea of how they’ll fit in your kitchen. These dishwashers run about 24 inches wide, 27 inches deep, and 37 inches high (a bit taller than the rest due to their rolling casters).
How long should a dishwasher last?
“On average, you can expect a dishwasher to last you about 10 years with potential maintenance in between,” Yahoodain said. Gurfinkel’s caveat to that is how you use them, so make sure to follow the manufacture’s guidelines for optimal operation. One thing our experts stressed was the durability of stainless steel tubs over plastic, so that can be a large factor in the lifespan of your dishwasher.
Is a front or top-mounted control panel better?
Most dishwashers offer the option of having the control panel located either on the front of the unit or on the top of the door, which is hidden from view when the door is closed. This is really just a matter of personal preference as some people like the minimal look of the top-mounted design, and it also prevents curious kids from pressing buttons at random. I personally prefer the convenience of the front-facing panel since I can always tell how much time is remaining on the cycle just by glancing at the unit. Top-mounted units will sometimes direct a red light on the floor to indicate that it’s not finished yet, but that’s not enough information for me.
What certifications should I look for?
One of the ways to effectively clean and sanitize dishes is to use a dishwasher with a NSF/ANSI 184: Residential Dishwashers certification.
Brunskole said, “The certified sanitizing cycle on your dishwasher means it has been tested to reduce 99.999% (5-log) of bacteria. Cleaning is removing visible soil from a surface whereas sanitizing is reducing the bacteria on a surface. It is not always necessary to sanitize dishes; however, it is important to choose this cycle on your dishwasher when you have raw meat juice, for example on a cutting board, that you put in the dishwasher to clean.”
All of our top picks are NSF-certified, except for the Miele 24″ G 7566, though it uses water temperatures that meet NSF guidelines to sanitize dishes.
Yahoodain also recommended prospective shoppers look for dishwashers with a certified Energy Star rating which means the unit is more efficient than ones that meet just the federal minimum standard for energy efficiency. All of the options I chose are Energy Star certified.
Depending on where you live, you might qualify for certain rebates to cut costs and energy use, said Yahoodain.
How do you clean a dishwasher?
This can vary depending on the machine, according to Yahoodain, who explains that cleaning “depends on the type of dishwasher, finish (stainless, plastic, or a mix), and the type of filter which catches leftover food in the machine.”
I have personally had success using a simple mixture of warm water and vinegar and using a dishrag to wipe down the interior components. That being said, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions first.
You can also buy dishwasher cleaning tablets, like these from Affresh, to keep build-up at bay. There are a few different types that work for different brands, so make sure you get the right one. Try to clean your dishwasher once a month, or at least on a regular cycle.
When should you use the sanitizing cycle?
If your dishes, knives, or dishwasher-safe cutting boards have been in contact with raw meat, you should disinfect them with the sanitizing cycle. The same goes for any baby-related items such as bottles or toys. Brunskole said, “A good rule of thumb is to use the sanitizing cycle on your dishwasher when dishes inside have sat for more than two hours. Food left at room temperature can be a breeding ground for bacteria leading to potential foodborne illness.”
What should you do if your dishwasher isn’t draining?
Try running your dishwasher a second time — it may have shut down by itself in the middle of the initial cycle. If there’s still water collecting at the bottom, try these fixes: unplug the dishwasher and check the hose for clogs or kinks, run your garbage disposal, and clean the air gap that connects to the drain hose (if your dishwasher’s hose doesn’t empty into the garbage disposal drain).
Wash zone: Your dishwasher has multiple areas that can be washed in different ways — these are wash zones. Typically a dishwasher will have two wash zones, the upper and lower racks, giving you the option to wash both or just one. This comes in handy when you only have half a load of dishes to clean.
Filter: Your dishwasher filter prevents pieces of food from ending up back on your dishes or clogging your drain. These can be either self-cleaning or manual versions, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to keep them clean.
Sensor wash: Using a beam of light to analyze your dishes, sensor wash dishwashers can determine the best cycle, temperature, and duration to clean specific dish loads.
Lower rack: This is the main storage area of the dishwasher and is used for items like plates, pots, pans, and larger bowls.
Top rack: This is the second rack of the dishwasher and is used for cups, glasses, and oddly shaped utensils that may be too tall for the bottom rack.
Third rack: Located at the top of the dishwasher, this is a thin tray that slides out and provides the ideal space to lay down smaller or irregularly shaped items. A third rack can sometimes act as the utensil basket, freeing up valuable space on the bottom rack.
Settings: Each machine has different settings, but these are among the most common based on my research.
- Normal: The standard cycle that should be used on typical, moderately soiled loads. The duration can vary depending on the machine, but on average lasts about two hours.
- Eco: Lower washing and rinsing temperatures to minimize the amount of energy and water used. This cycle can take longer than normal, up to 2.5hours.
- Auto: A sensor analyzes how soiled the dishes are and selects the best cycle.
- Quick Wash: This setting uses more water and higher temperatures to get your dishes done quickly, though this can sometimes result in less effective results than a normal wash. This cycle can usually run between 30 and 60 minutes.
- Sanitize: Uses extra-hot water (above 150 degrees F) to sanitize your dishes and destroy bacteria. This is recommended when washing dishes that have come in contact with raw meat or any other source of potential bacteria. This cycle is usually used in addition to another cycle and should add about 30 minutes to the wash time.
- Pots & Pans: This setting uses extra water to ensure your extra-large cookware is cleaned effectively. This cycle tends to run about 2.5hours.
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