The Best Dishwashers Quietly Give Your Plates a Power Wash
Including the model Leanne Ford always uses.
Updated Jun 16, 2022 4:22 AM
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Raise your hand if you enjoy handwashing dishes. No one? We’re not surprised. If you yearn for that oh-so-helpful kitchen appliance to do the dirty work for you—even if you fear your cooking space is too small to accommodate one—read on.
We tapped three top designers (Leanne Ford, Robert McKinley, and Eddie Maestri of Maestri Studio) to dish on their favorite models and scoured the web for our favorite quality options. From impressive panel-ready luxury to space-saving countertop designs, there is something for every size and budget. The best dishwashers will look dynamite in your kitchen and ensure you won’t break a sweat scrubbing everyday dishes again.
- Best overall: Bosch 300 Series DLX Dishwasher
- Best value: Frigidaire 24-inch Stainless Steel Built-In Dishwasher
- Best smart: Monogram Smart Fully Integrated Dishwasher
- Best small space: GE Profile 18-inch Stainless Steel Smart Dishwasher
- Best countertop: Black + Decker Compact Countertop Dishwasher
- Best quiet: Gaggenau 400 Series 24-inch Dishwasher
Best Overall: Bosch 300 Series DLX Dishwasher
Dimensions: 34 inches high x 24 inches wide x 24 inches deep | Noise level: 44 dBA | Controls: Built-in top control | Colors: Stainless steel or custom panel–ready
What we like:
- Third rack provides 30 percent more capacity
- Adjustable rack positions allow for taller and larger items to fit
- Sensors scan the dishes throughout each load to ensure a complete clean
- Does not include a heated drying option
Why we chose it: Whether you’re cleaning up after a raucous dinner party or a quiet evening in, this hardworking dishwasher performs well for loads both large and small.
While he loves a showpiece range, Maestri prefers that all other kitchen appliances be workhorse models that visually disappear. Enter his all-time favorite, and that of many reviewers, too: the panel-ready Bosch 300 Series DLX. Its third rack provides 30 percent more loading capacity, while the half-load option reduces cycle time and water consumption when you only have a small amount of dishes to do. Smart sensors continually scan the progress throughout every cycle to guarantee squeaky-clean results. Finally, says Maestri, “It’s so quiet that you almost forget it is there.”
Dimensions: 34.5 inches high x 24 inches wide x 24 inches deep | Noise level: 54 dBA | Controls: Built-in top control | Colors: Black, white, stainless steel, or black stainless steel
What we like:
- Least expensive on this list
- Energy Star–certified
- DishSense tech automatically adjusts cycle time, depending on how dirty your dishes are
- No third rack
- Tub is plastic not stainless steel
Why we chose it: Finally a dishwasher with a modern design but not a monstrous price tag.
A sleek, modern design? Check. Energy Star–certified? Check. Ultralarge, 14-place-setting capacity? Check. And a reasonable price tag? Check! Priced under $500, this Frigidaire dishwasher is highly affordable, considering it likely includes many of the features on your wish list. Two we love: DishSense technology, which automatically adjusts the cycle based on the amount of grease and gunk to be banished, and the delay start function, so you can run the dishwasher on your schedule.
Best Smart: Monogram Smart Fully Integrated Dishwasher
Dimensions: 34 inches high x 24 inches wide x 24 inches deep | Noise level: 39 dBA | Controls: Built-in top control | Color: Custom panel–ready
What we like:
- Adjustable third rack increases capacity
- The Steam + Sani feature eliminates the need to prewash
- Custom panel and handle are required
Why we chose it: If Ford says this is her favorite dishwasher, isn’t that reason enough?
Ford is a big fan of custom-panel appliances in her kitchen designs. “I’d rather not call out the dishwasher and instead let it seamlessly ‘hide’ in the cabinetry,” she says, citing a particular favorite: “I always use Monogram’s panel-ready dishwasher.” Its barely there design allows for the installation of your chosen cabinet front, and its noise level is equally undetectable: just 39 decibels. An adjustable, expansive third rack easily accommodates an entire flatware collection plus outsize utensils, and 90 powerful jets ensure consummate cleanliness.
Best Small Space: GE Profile 18-inch Stainless Steel Smart Dishwasher
Dimensions: 32.5 inches high x 18 inches wide x 22.5 inches deep | Noise level: 47 dBA | Controls: Built-in top control | Colors: Black, stainless steel, or white
What we like:
- Slim design for small spaces
- Holds up to eight place settings
- Auto-senses the correct amount of water and water temperature
- The limited warranty only lasts one year
Why we chose it: Because small kitchens deserve a quality dishwasher, too.
Just because you’re short on kitchen space doesn’t mean you can’t fit a quality dishwasher. This GE model has a petite, 18-inch-wide design yet holds up to eight place settings. Its auto-sense cycle adjusts to the ideal time; the sanitize function kills 99.999 percent of bacteria lingering on dishes; and its piranha hard food disposer—named after the fierce fish for the way it grinds up errant food particles—tackles dirty dishes wash after wash.
Best Countertop: Black + Decker Compact Countertop Dishwasher
Dimensions: 21.5 inches high x 22 inches wide x 17.5 deep | Noise level: 60 dBA | Controls: Fully integrated | Color: White
What we like:
- No complicated setup, just need a basic faucet hookup
- Can hold six place settings
- Portable, can move house to house with you
- Takes up precious countertop space
Why we chose it: Thought you’d be resigned to handwashing as long as you lived in a house or apartment without a dishwasher? Think again.
If you can’t sacrifice a cabinet to accommodate a dishwasher, take heart—and a peek at this Black + Decker countertop model. It measures a mere 21.5 inches wide and can hold six place settings—and its sleek stainless steel will vibe with any modern or contemporary kitchen. It features seven cycle settings, so you won’t waste water or energy while getting dishes sparkling.
Best Quiet: Gaggenau 400 Series 24-inch Dishwasher
Dimensions: 32 inches high x 24 inches wide x 22 inches deep | Noise level: 42 dBA | Controls: Built-in top control | Colors: Stainless steel or custom panel–ready
What we like:
- Tailor the wash cycle with one of eight programs
- Safe to use with delicate glassware and dishes
- Barely there noise level
- Includes a steep price tag
Why we chose it: It’s quiet; it’s beautiful; and it’s McKinley’s favorite.
At a hushed 42 decibels, the Gaggenau 400 Series dishwasher won’t interfere with intimate after-dinner conversation. But the sweet near silence is just one reason McKinley selected it for the kitchen of this cool Montauk, New York, rental. “Small but thoughtful elements, such as sleek, integrated touch points and a projected timer that displays the minutes left in the cycle, were key deciding factors,” he says. The machine also boasts the use of zeolite for safer, more efficient washing of your delicate glasses and Grandma’s cherished china; a push-to-open door; and the ability to turn on extra jets if battling particularly greasy, baked-on cookware baddies.
On Our Radar
This Bosch dishwasher checks all the boxes. It fits up to 16 place settings, is extremely quiet, has adjustable racks (including a third rack), and is Energy Star–certified. Its sleek stainless steel design would be right at home in any modern kitchen.
LG wasn’t lying when it included smart in the name of this dishwasher. The company’s app lets you download additional cycles onto the machine and alerts you when a cycle is complete, and the dishwasher itself uses steam to improve cleaning performance. So smart, indeed.
Celebrated for its impeccable cleaning performance and innovative features, this Miele model is a workhorse you might want to invest in. You can start and operate it remotely with the Miele app, and the machine auto-dispenses the correct amount of cleaning powder for each cycle from the PowerDisk dispenser (for up to 20 washes, so no need to add cleaner each time, but you will need to stock up on discs from Miele!). The G7566 includes an EcoTech Heat Exchanger that captures heat already in the dishwasher, transferring it to the water so it isn’t wasted.
How We Chose These Products
Most important, we shopped for dishwashers that do their job well: sanitizing, cleaning, and drying dishes without so much as a spot left over. If a dishwasher can do that all at a whisper level of noise, all the better. We also kept an eye on water and energy efficiency, cycle options, and how flexible and efficient the interior configuration is.
And don’t forget design. As practical as a dishwasher is, it must also fit seamlessly into your kitchen, so we selected sleek models, as well as ones that can be fitted with a custom panel.
Our Shopping Checklist
Types of Dishwashers
Most standard dishwashers are slide-in models that connect to your home’s plumbing, but compact, freestanding units with wheels are available, too—portable appliances that can move when you do. These days, however, there are also integrated dishwashers (installed with a custom panel to blend into your cabinetry), drawer dishwashers (that open outward like a drawer instead of a pull-down door), and countertop dishwashers (the name says it all) ideal for close quarters.
Dishwashers have a variety of cycle options, offering different degrees of power. Choose a cycle depending on how dirty your dishes are. Across brands, you’ll generally see a combination of:
- Normal: For day-to-day use with average dirty dishes, select the normal cycle.
- Quick wash: If you’re truly in a hurry (dinner guests will arrive in an hour and somehow every plate, glass, and utensil is dirty), the quick cycle can be your hero. But beware: It uses more water, heat, and energy.
- Heavy-duty/pots and pans: This cycle uses extra water and more heat to scrub hard-to-clean cookware.
- Delayed wash: Select a delay option to time the dishwasher to run when it’s most convenient for you.
- Sanitize: Kills 99.999 percent of bacteria that may be lingering; a sanitizing cycle heats the water temperature to more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Before shopping for a dishwasher, determine what features are most important to you. Would you like adjustable racks to accommodate oversize pots? How much noise can you tolerate? (Anything under 49 decibels will have a relatively quiet cycle.) What kind of convenient smart features will make your life easier?
If you’re working with a mess of dishes a lot of the time, a third rack, most often used for silverware, can open up capacity significantly—say, 30 percent. Many modern models have a soil sensor that sends a beam of light through the wash water to measure clarity, thereby determining the temperature, water amount, and time it will take to properly clean any combination of dishes. Don’t forget to look for a model with an Energy Star label, as well. That indicates that the dishwasher will use less water and energy, lowering your utility bills while also being nicer to Mother Nature. A standard-size Energy Star–certified dishwasher costs just $35 a year to run and saves an average of 3,870 gallons of water in its lifetime.
In the Market for a Dishwasher? Don’t Forget To…
- Take a close look at how the interior is configured. Can you comfortably arrange your wineglasses, a stack of plates, and a casserole dish after a dinner party?
- Consider cycle time. It can range from 90 minutes to three hours. Note that there’s no correlation between cycle time and performance.
- Look for one under 49 decibels; this will make for a relatively quiet cycle. If you’re particularly sensitive to noise, go for a model under 44 decibels, which is nearly undetectable to the human ear.
Q: Real talk: Do dishwashers save water?
Absolutely. Dishwashers are becoming more and more energy efficient, even compared to a decade ago. This is thanks to smart sensors and the Department of Energy, which set the standard that a full-size dishwasher cannot use more than five gallons of water per cycle. More than likely, that’s far less than you’d use handwashing a full load’s worth of dishes. Less water also means you’re using less heat, which in turn uses less energy. Win-win-win.
Q: Do dishwasher pods expire? Mine are looking pretty old.
While dishwasher pods might not technically expire, they work best when used within 15 months of being manufactured. After that, they lose effectiveness and may not clean tough food remnants on dishes as well. Store pods in a dry, room-temperature space—under the sink, perhaps—to keep them in their best condition.
Q: Do dishwashers have filters?
Once your dishes have been washed off, those old clumps of peanut butter have to go somewhere. Dishwashers do have filters, and they’re an overlooked, unsung hero of the appliance. There are two types of filters: self-cleaning and manual-clean. Most new models have manual-clean filters, since they’re far quieter (self-cleaning filters include noisy grinders that pulverize food), but be aware that they occasionally need to be cleaned out. Check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website to determine which type of filter your dishwasher includes.
The Last Word
Small kitchen? Tight budget? Very particular about style? There’s a dishwasher out there for just about anyone, so do your hands a favor and find one in our guide!