How to Buy a Dishwasher: The Definitive Guide
Steve Sheinkopf | August 17, 2022 | 15 Min. Read
Dishwashers were once easy to buy. However, you have many new features and interesting brands to consider.
Washing, drying, racking, and even controls have changed since the last time you bought a dishwasher.
At the same time, popular brands like Bosch and Miele have not been available consistently throughout the pandemic.
In this article, you will learn the new brands, features from washing to drying, plus reliability from over 40,000 service calls logged by our service department last year.
And yes, you will also know how to buy and not overbuy a quiet dishwasher.
Built-In Dishwashers at Yale Appliance in Hanover
There will be plenty of videos and six recommendations for the best dishwashers to consider towards the end of the article.
I have also included some tips and videos, from dishwashers you should not buy to a simple hack to detect a slow leak in your dishwasher.
Let's get started.Short on time? Get our free Dishwasher Buying Guide
How to Buy a Dishwasher: The Definitive Guide
The principal factors to consider when buying a dishwasher are:
- Dishwasher Sizes and Types
- Dishwasher Sound Level
- Dishwasher Reliability
- Plastic or Stainless-Steel Tubs
- Dishwasher Cycles
- Unique Features
- Dishwasher Wash Systems
- Dishwasher Drying Systems
- Dishwasher Racks
- Dishwasher Styles
Dishwasher Sizes and Types
This article is about built-in dishwashers, but there are four types:
- Countertop dishwashers
- Portable dishwashers
- 18-inch built-in dishwashers
- 24-inch built-in dishwashers (the most common)
Countertop dishwashers fit on your countertop and are plugged into your faucet.
You don't have the expense of installation and losing a cabinet in a smaller kitchen, but it's less than half the size of a built-in.
You also must plug it into the faucet, so you lose the use of the faucet for a while.
None of the major brands manufacture countertop dishwashers.
Portable is the larger version of a countertop dishwasher. You have the same size as a regular dishwasher, but it's plugged into the faucet.
None of the premium brands produce a portable dishwasher.
In a smaller kitchen, you should consider the 18-inch dishwasher. The internal capacity is not much less than 24 inches.
It's a much more desirable option than a smaller stove or refrigerator.
You also have plenty of good options and brands in an 18-inch dishwasher.
Read More: Best 18-Inch Dishwashers
You will have the most options, brands, and varieties in this type as it's over 95% of purchases.
ADA Compliant Dishwashers
ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant dishwashers must have easily accessible controls from a wheelchair.
The following are the requirements for an ADA compliant dishwasher:
- The maximum high forward reach for controls and operating mechanisms is 48"; the maximum low forward reach is 15".
- Controls and operating mechanisms must be operable with one hand and shall not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The force required to activate controls shall be no more than 5 lbs.
- All rack space shall be accessible from the front of the machine for loading and unloading dishes.
Many new construction projects for condos and apartments require multiple units to be ADA compliant.
Most brands like Miele, Bosch, and GE have ADA-compliant dishwashers in their portfolio.
Read More: Best ADA Compliant Dishwashers
Dishwasher Sound Level
First, let's talk about quietness. That's the most asked question we answer in the store and blog.
You want your dishwasher to be quiet, especially with kitchens now open to the dining room.
Unlike in years past, you don't have to spend a fortune on a quiet dishwasher.
Every manufacturer will make at least a few affordable quiet dishwashers.
A dishwasher's sound level is measured in decibels (dB) or a unit to measure sound intensity by amplitude.
You don't have to buy a dishwasher below 44 decibels. Forty-four decibels or lower is considered quiet.
You will be able to hear anything over 44 dB. Any dishwasher over 50 dB will be noticeably loud.
The biggest mistake you can make is paying too much for a quiet dishwasher.
There is no need to spend $1,000 more for a 37 dB dishwasher unless it has other features you like or will use.
Two of the quietest dishwashers are Beko DDT39434X and the KitchenAid KDTE204KPS at 39 dB.
Miele has 38-decibel dishwashers in their G 7000 series, but the motor slows down for a four-hour wash and dry cycle.
All these types use a filter and have moved away from the grinder at the bottom of the dishwasher except one.
The Profile has a grinder at the bottom and is still only 42 dB, well below the quietness standard.
For quiet, look for a dishwasher 44 decibels or less, and don't overpay for one.
Watch the video below to hear what various dishwashers sound like:
Read More: Quietest Dishwashers by Decibel Rating
We calculate dishwasher reliability by dividing the products we serviced by the products we sold for a service rate percentage.
That brand percentage is then compared to other brands and ranked. For this article, we looked at the number of dishwashers sold and serviced from December 2020 to October 2021.
Dishwasher Reliability December 2020 to October 2021
The following service rates are based on a minimum of 90 units sold and a total sample of over 8,000 pieces.
|Fisher & Paykel||9.9%|
LG is outstanding at 1.7%. In all the years we have published reliability, that number stands out. Whirlpool manufactures a reliable dishwasher under KitchenAid, JennAir, and Whirlpool brands.
Bosch seems high, but they also manufacture Thermador, so blended, it's pretty reliable.
Beko and Miele are reliable since the most popular models are featured more. Usually, more features mean more problems.
Read More: Most Reliable Dishwashers
Plastic vs. Stainless Steel Dishwasher Tubs
Plastic (Left) vs. Stainless (Right) Dishwasher Tubs
Both plastic and stainless tubs will hold water and not leak.
Stainless, however, is non-porous, so germs and odors don't form on the surface like plastic.
Most better brands, including Miele, Bosch, Asko, KitchenAid, Café Appliances, Profile, LG, and most Samsung dishwashers, have a stainless tub.
The less expensive brands like Frigidaire, GE, Whirlpool, and Maytag, will offer a less expensive series in plastic.
Samsung and Bosch Ascenta will market a stainless tub and plastic bottom hybrid.
Bosch Dishwasher Cycles
Some dishwasher cycles have stayed the same over the years.
However, you will see a few new ones from Miele, Thermador, Beko, Samsung, and Bosch.
Cycles control wash, rinse, temperature, and dry times on dishwashers.
They range from 20 minutes on the Thermador Star Sapphire to about four hours for Miele's cycles designed to wash hood filters and stove grates.
Many reviewers make a big deal about cycles. I have a different attitude about cycles. I memorized the Maytag cycles when I started in 1986 (I was young and full of optimism).
Really what you need to know is the difference in all the cycles is how long they wash, rinse, and dry at what temperature.
Bosch Dishwasher Basic Cycles
These include Heavy, Pots & Pans, Tough, Extended Wash, Normal, and Delicate.
Many upscale brands have a speed wash for a light load.
Heavy, Pots and Pans, and Tough: These cycles are the longest, with two or more main washes, pre-washes, and rinses set at the highest temperatures.
Normal: Normal will average with less wash time and rinses.
China: Less time and lower temperature.
Speed Cycles: Whether Bosch calls it Express or Miele calls it QuickIntenseWash, these are cycles designed to wash and dry in 60 minutes.
Now the fine print: Speed cycles are for lightly soiled dishes only.
Auto: Most dishwashers have what's called a turbidity sensor measuring the residue of the water.
In an auto cycle, the dishwasher adjusts the time and temperature of the cycle based on the residue of the water.
Pro Tip: Don't pre-rinse your dishes. The sensors won't work if the water doesn't have residue. I paid for repair service two times to tell me that. Thank you, Singh (our technician and one of the company's best).
Read More: The Fastest Dishwasher Cycles
Almost every premium dishwasher has basic cycles, but a few have unique features and cycles. Some of these are worthwhile.
Beko Dishwasher Wash Arm and AquaIntense
Beko diverts 60% of the water to the bottom rack to scour the leftovers off your pans. You can even place China on the top with less water pressure.
LG Steam Dishwasher
While Beko scours, LG uses steam in the pre-wash or main washing cycles to loosen the baked-on dishes. Steam also prevents spotting on your glassware.
Miele Dishwasher with AutoDos and PowerDisk Dispenser
Miele's automatic dispenser holds 20 loads of detergent and releases the exact amount of detergent needed at the right time.
Profile Dishwasher Bottle Wash
Profile, JennAir, and Beko have dedicated bottle washes to spray the gunk off the bottom of your sports and or baby bottles.
Beko Dishwasher and EverClean Filter
Beko has a separate spray to rinse your filter, so you clean it much less than the other brands.
Profile Dishwasher Silverware Wash
Profile and Café offer special sprays just for silverware.
Samsung Dishwasher with StormWash
Samsung's separate high-pressure sprays at the bottom of the dishwasher.
Knock to Open
Knock three times on a Miele G 7000 series, and it will open automatically.
Knock to Pause
You can knock on a Fisher & Paykel dishwasher to pause the cycle.
Beko has IonGuard. It sends negative ions to neutralize the positive ions of odors (it works).
Push to Open
Thermador and Gaggenau Push-to-Open have no handle. Not a bad idea if your hands are full and you can't grab a handle.
Profile Dishwasher with Microban Surfaces in Blue
Profile has microban anti-microbial surfaces on the handle and racks to prevent mold (smart).
Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer
Double and single drawers were revolutionary when introduced 20 years ago. To a certain extent, they still are.
Fisher & Paykel's DishDrawer is great because you don't have to bend down as much to place your dishes in the dishwasher. However, it loads differently, so people love or despise the design.
Make sure you bring your plates and load them for yourself before buying one.
Dishwasher Wash Systems
LG Washing System
LG has oblong arms to spin in a different pattern than the straight round arms to reach various places.
Samsung WaterWall System
Samsung Dishwasher WaterWall Wash Arm
Premium Samsung dishwashers don't have arms. They wash with high-pressure sprays back and forth. Hence the term WaterWall.
KitchenAid Four-Level Wash System
KitchenAid Dishwasher with Top Rack Wash Arm
While most dishwashers have two or three arms, KitchenAid added a fourth in their top rack.
Can't find it? Look at the small holes in the second rack.
Beko CornerIntense System
Beko CornerIntense Wash System and Wash Arm
Beko arms are not on a fixed axis, so they move in a square pattern. It makes sense your dishwasher is square, so the corners are covered better than the round arms of other brands.
Miele ProLine Wash System
Miele manufactures the only dishwashers to be NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certified to sterilize dishes to restaurant standards.
The 110 volt uses three heaters, or you can buy their 220 volts and add in the extra amperage and electrical. Prices start at $4,500 to $6,500.
Dishwasher Drying Systems
Drying plastics has been an issue, especially with the most common drying methods.
The fancy industry term for basic drying is called condensation using the residual steam from the wash, JetDry, and time.
JetDry is a rinse aid to help water slide off your dishes more easily during the drying process.
In theory, this also helps your dishes dry faster and with fewer water spots.
Many brands have upgraded from condensation drying since the last time you bought a dishwasher with advanced drying technology.
Let's take a look at the new drying systems available today.
Bosch Dishwasher with AutoAir Drying System
Samsung, Bosch's 500 series, Beko CornerIntense, and Miele's G 7000 series dishwashers will pop open to release the heat and steam and speed up the drying process.
It is basic enough because steam does rise. It also reduces spots on glasses, especially when you wash at night because the moisture is released.
Miele Drying System
Miele will also allow outside air to the side of the dishwasher through a port at the bottom of the dishwasher.
The hotter air is attracted to the tub's cooler sides and dissipated as water. The better Miele dishwashers have two ports.
KitchenAid M Series Drying System
In the better KitchenAid, there is a heating element and fan to pull heat into the dishwasher for similar drying to the Miele.
LG Drying System
LG has "hybrid condensation" using an internal fan and steam to prevent spots on your glasses.
Profile and Café Drying Systems
Profile and Café dishwashers have "UltraDry." UltraDry pulls the hot air outside to dry plastics.
Bosch and Thermador Drying Systems
The high-end Bosch and Thermador dishwashers have the best drying systems with CrystalDry and Sapphire StarDry series dishwashers.
They add the mineral zeolite to the wash system to absorb moisture and heat. It can completely dry plastics even on Thermador's 20-minute wash and dry cycle.
Watch our video test below of the Thermador Star Sapphire Dishwasher's 20-minute wash and dry cycle.
The only problem with this dishwasher is that Bosch can't currently supply much of the Thermador brand and most of its own series.
Read More: Best Drying Dishwashers
Miele Dishwasher Racks
KitchenAid was first with their adjustable rack. Bosch improved the design with their "Rackmatic" 9-position rack.
Most companies have improved their top racks to be adjustable.
You have more capacity because every company removed that bottom kick panel years ago and lowered the dishwasher floor for more capacity.
Third racks for silverware are now standard for dishwashers over $800. I just moved into a temporary apartment with a basic dishwasher and missed that third rack.
You have much more room for plates at the bottom without the silverware basket.
But there are so many racks now to consider.
Best Dishwasher Top Racks
KitchenAid M Series Rack
KitchenAid Dishwasher Top Rack
Find the holes yet? KitchenAid completely redesigned their dishwasher a few years ago. Their racks hold more with that fourth level of wash action in the second rack.
Bosch MyWay Rack
Bosch MyWay Dishwasher Rack
The better 800, 800 Plus, and Benchmark series have a deeper rack to hold more items like cups.
Miele 3D Rack
Miele Dishwasher 3D Cutlery Rack
Miele will have their 3D cutlery rack, so it folds over, accommodating more on the second rack.
Miele has the best rack system. All the tines can fold up or detach to fit all kinds of dishes.
However, you have to pay $1,999 and up. You can buy dishwashers with decent racks at $849 for far less.
GE Smart Mobile App
Smart technology is not as interesting in dishwashers as ranges. You can turn your dishwasher on or off remotely from an app on your phone.
You also see the time remaining in the cycle. It may help, so you do not open a quiet dishwasher while running.
Bosch Dishwasher Styles
The most common exterior finish is stainless steel.
You can get most of them with exterior or hidden controls and handles such as pocket handles, a towel bar, or exposed controls like you probably have now.
Pocket handles are designed to match any appliances, whereas the towel bar handles match the other appliances in a package.
Pro Tip: Find the model you like. If they are out of stock, try another door style of that model. Bosch has five styles. KitchenAid and Miele have three.
Placing a Panel on Your Dishwasher
Bosch Integrated Dishwasher with a Custom Cabinet Panel
European dishwashers, like Beko, Asko, Miele, and Bosch, fit within 24 inches, whereas the American brands protrude and look like a dishwasher with a panel.
European dishwashers sit seamlessly and look like a cabinet. That's the look you want in your kitchen.
Assuming you can find a dishwasher to panel. They have been scarce since 2020.
As I write this, only Beko and SKS (Signature Kitchen Suite), the premium LG brand, are available panel-ready.
Best Dishwasher Brands
Beko Dishwasher and Pro-Style Range
The Beko DUT25401X dishwasher is a great, basic dishwasher with regular cycles, a 48 dB rating for $589, and an all-stainless interior.
However, the Beko DDT39434X Dishwasher dishwasher checks every box with a 39 dB silence rating, Wi-Fi-enabled, and special cycles for baked-on dishes.
Their new CornerIntense washes in a square pattern mirroring the shape of the dishwasher.
Combine that with their scour AquaIntense cycle, and you may look at one of the best dishwashers available.
Profile Dishwasher and Racks
I have never recommended a GE dishwasher until this new one. The Profile PDT755SYFS dishwasher addresses every possible dishwashing problem.
They feature a bottle wash and special silver wash with 40 separate sprays. The "Ultra" drying pulls air outside to dry even plastics.
GE has also coated the handle and topes of the racks with Microban anti-microbial to kill 99% of germs.
KitchenAid 600 Series Dishwasher
The KitchenAid 600 series dishwasher, the KDTM604KPS, has an innovative design featuring four sprays and the best rack arrangement.
Their ProDry uses a fan to pull cooler outside air into the dishwasher. The warmer air is attracted to the cooler side and dissipated as water.
Bosch Dishwasher and Kitchen
Bosch has been a historically good dishwasher brand. The 800 and 800 Plus dishwashers, like the Bosch 800 series SHP878ZP5N, are packed with volcanic zeolite to provide the best drying.
Miele has the best washing, drying, and rack package, plus their revolutionary dispenser for cleaner dishes and glasses.
In the Miele G7366SCVISF dishwasher, you will also have usable cycles like QuickIntenseWash and IntenseZone.
It's a great dishwasher. Then again, at $2,199, it should be.
Of course, finding any Miele dishwashers will be an issue. Miele has not only been out of stock, but they haven't taken orders since November of 2021.
Then you have the most reliable single appliance ever recorded at Yale. LG dishwashers are even more reliable than a kitchen hood, which just moves air.
LG's service rate of 1.7% is incredible. LG's best dishwasher, the LG LDP6810SS, has steam and a 44 dB silence rating at $949.
Read More: Best Dishwashers
Which Dishwashers Should You NOT Consider?
You can buy a top-of-the-line dishwasher at a certain point and not receive much from better features.
The KitchenAid 800 series adds a light inside the dishwasher and a knife caddy.
You would be better off saving $600 with a Bosch 800 Plus rather than stepping up to the Bosch Benchmark.
The Miele G 7000 series is unique, but the difference between the Miele G 7300 at just over $2,000 compared to the Miele G 7996 at over $3,000 is not that much other than a few cycles and a five-year warranty.
Look at the features in the upgrades before you make a purchase.
When Is the Best Time to Buy a Dishwasher?
Historically, in the good old days of 2019, we have always said that promotional holidays are the best time to buy a dishwasher.
By timing your purchases around then, you traditionally saved 10-35%, not just on dishwashers but almost every appliance.
With extensive backorders from major appliance brands, these sale events are becoming less frequent.
The best times to buy any appliance are:
- Black Friday
- Tax-Free Weekend
- Labor Day
- Presidents' Day
- Memorial Day
- July 4th
Of course, that was before COVID-19 and the subsequent product shortages.
Now you must look for what features you want and then buy the dishwasher instead of being brand loyal.
Being brand loyal is tough because most brands have stock shortages. Waiting could delay your purchase from six months to a year, depending on the brand.
You may want to consider a different brand matching your desired features. Unlike years past, you now have plenty of decent brands to choose from.
Read More: How to Buy Appliances During a Supply Crisis
How Much Should You Spend on a New Dishwasher?
You can buy a decent dishwasher for $600. You'll get a stainless-steel tub and all the basic wash cycles and options at $500-$600.
Between $600-$900, you have better racks, and it'll be quieter.
After $900, you can have a super-quiet machine, better racks, cycles, and better drying options.
From $1,199 to $ 1,399, you have the best zeolite drying in Bosch and the best models from KitchenAid Miele and Beko.
At $1,499, you have the start at the better Miele dishwashers. At $1,999, Miele's dishwashers have their new dispenser. Over $2,000 are the best Miele and Thermador dishwashers.
How Do You Get a Free Dishwasher?
Yes, you can "buy" a free dishwasher.
JennAir and Thermador offer a free dishwasher with other qualifying purchases of professional ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens.
A Simple Hack to Prevent Water Damage from a Dishwasher
My doctor lives in a tower in Boston. Her upstairs neighbor soaked her unit.
Dishwashers and washing machines can be time bombs, especially if installed improperly.
An egregious problem will be seen immediately.
However, you have to worry about the slow leaks because, over time, they can cause big problems.
On all our water hookups (washer, dishwasher, and refrigerator), we place the specially designed paper under the appliance.
Yale Appliance Leak Protection Paper
After 24 hours, if you see any water, we can fix it immediately.
So, before your appliance delivery, just cut some laminated paper and do the same.
Click here for our delivery worksheet for more tips.
While COVID-19 and supply shortages are still a problem, buy features instead of brands for more selection.
The good news is you can look beyond KitchenAid, Bosch, and Miele for a worthwhile dishwasher.
LG, Beko, Profile, and SKS are interesting considerations even when the more established brands become available.
You don't have to pay much more for a quiet dishwasher anymore. Remember, 44 decibels are good enough.
Don't pay more for that exclusively. Dishwashers are about cycles, washing, drying, and racks plus reliability. Pick the best features for the way you use your dishwasher.
Consider service and reliability as part of the equation because service is your biggest problem after buying appliances.
What dishwasher will you buy? Will you wait or try a new brand? You can leave your answer in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Is the Quietest Dishwasher?
Overall, Bosch is the quietest dishwasher brand. However, if you want to nap next to a dishwasher, Bosch Benchmark, JennAir, and Miele have dishwashers that go as low as 38 decibels.
These units can cost between $1,400-$3,000.
Beko and KitchenAid are 39 decibels for far less.
The human ear can't detect a difference between 44 decibels and lower, so this isn't a feature you should pay extra for.
2. What's the Best 18-Inch Dishwasher?
There aren't many options for the best 18-inch dishwashers, but it's an important question for older cities like Boston, with many small apartments that can't accommodate a full-size machine.
Bosch, Miele, and Beko are the top three choices in this segment.
They emulate the larger 24" counterparts regarding features and functions, only sacrificing about six place settings on average and providing a more than generous space for 8-10 place settings.
3. Do You Need Salt for Your Dishwasher?
It depends where you live. Salt is a good option if you have hard water in your area. Salt is added to soften water and prevent scaling.
Get our free Dishwasher Buying Guide with tips, trends, and reviews of all the major brands. Over 1 million people have already found answers in a Yale guide.
Why Should You Trust Us?
It seems that every appliance review has nothing but glowing comments about almost every product, yet you read customer reviews and they are almost universally bad.
We are here to fill in the disconnect. We'll give you the best features, and the drawbacks as well, including reliability based on over 37,000 calls performed by our service team just last year. Our goal is to give you ALL the information so you know what's right for you.
Please consider subscribing or adding to the conversation in the comments below. We appreciate you stopping by.
Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.
Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.
A Note About Pricing
Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.