We've just updated this article to include the LG LDP6797ST. We're testing a lot of dishwashers right now, so stay tuned for further updates!
It’s hard to understand exactly how good having a home appliance like a dishwasher is until it breaks. Sure, you can hand-wash your plates but it’s scientifically proven that your dishwasher does a better job with less water.
But just because it's better than nothing, a bad dishwasher is still something you should avoid. We've tested enough dishwashers to spot the duds, and know what to look for in the great ones—it should be energy efficient, offer a low noise level, great stain removal, drying ability, and rack flexibility, to name a few.
After testing hundreds of dishwashers and thousands of dirty pans, plates, and casserole dishes, we’ve found dishwashers that excel at everything. Today, our favorite standard dishwasher is the Bosch SHPM98W75N(available at AppliancesConnection for $1,119.10). As a member of the elite 800 Series, we think the SHPM98W75N has the best design and performance. It cleaned everything from leafy spinach to baked-on cheese, all while being quiet enough to be welcome in a library.
Here are all the standard-sized dishwashers that we think are the best, in ranked order:
Bosch 500 Series SHPM65W55N
Bosch 300 Series SHXM63WS5N
Bosch Benchmark SHE89PW55N
Miele Lumen EcoFlex G6885SCVIK2O
GE Profile PDT855SMJES
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We love all the Bosch 800 Series dishwashers. While, in some cases you might not be able to fit it into a small kitchen, no matter which one you pick, our tests show you'll get excellent cleaning performance, good drying, sleek looks, and a highly desirable set of features. With easy-gliding racks and an optional "MyWay" third rack that fits soup bowls, you can choose the look you like best and configure the racks to make room for your dishes and pans. Best of all, it runs very quietly, at around 39 dBA, which is akin to the noise level in a library.
As for performance, the Bosch SHPM98W75N is one of the few dishwashers we've tested with a Heavy Cycle that completely removed every stain (including difficult stains like baked on lasagna and burnt sugar) from our test dishes. If you want a quiet dishwasher that can get your dishes sparkling clean and look good doing it, the Bosch SHPM98W75N dishwasher is the one for you.
If your dishwasher just died, chances are that you're in a hurry to replace it. When looking for a new or replacement dishwasher, consider the following topics carefully before buy.
No one wants to spend hundreds of dollars on a dishwasher that can't get your dishes clean. Stain removal is the most important facet of our [dishwasher testing methodology]; we add different food and liquid stains onto a variety of dishes to see how well a dishwasher can clean. If you're out shopping for a dishwasher at a store, be sure to ask the sales associate about the dishwasher's cleaning performance. Additionally, you can look through our dishwasher reviews and our dishwasher roundups to see which dishwashers did the best when it comes to cleaning.
Cycles and Cycle Options
If you're just cooking for one or two people, you may not need a pricey dishwasher with a ton of extra options and features. However, if you have a big family or you often host parties, you might need more customizability in your dishwasher's cycles and cycle options. Extra cycles include China Crystal/Delicate for your more delicate dishes, or Sanitize for sports bottles and baby bottles.
When it comes to cycle options, they mostly relate to the location of the water (i.e. Bottle Jets or Half Load) and the water temperature (i.e. Hi Temp).
If none of these options sound useful to you, then you'd probably be happier with a more basic dishwasher with the three main cycles: Normal, Heavy, and Quick.
As you may have discovered, dishwashers don't always dry your dishes perfectly. If you have a lot of plastic dishes, like tupperware or sports bottles, then you may be really frustrated by the fact that you always have to towel dry these dishes. You can either check out our list of the dishwashers that do a great job of drying your dishes, or you can look for dishwashers that sport extra drying options. Typically, though, dishwashers that have heated drying options (versus just venting the hot air) are more expensive because heated drying requires additional hardware in the dishwasher itself.
Third Rack/Rack Customizability
The third rack is a relatively new development in dishwashers. This narrow tray resides above the top rack, and may or may not have its own wash arm. Depending on the third rack's depth, you can typically fit either just cutlery (that occupy individual tines, and aren't clumped together like they can be in your cutlery basket) or dishes with taller profiles, like ladles, pacifiers, or small bowls. While cleaning results on the third rack might not be as good as they are in the cutlery basket, some people find the convenience of a third rack very enticing.
Another thing to consider is the customizability of the racks themselves. Do all of the tines fold down, or are they rigid? Can you change the height of the racks? Can the cutlery basket be mounted on the door? All of these options give you flexibility when it comes to fitting large or awkwardly-shaped dishes into your dishwasher. If you're mostly washing plates and glasses, though, you might not need to spend the money on this kind of adjustibility.
If you're environmentally- or money-conscious, the prospect of using less water and energy may be appealing to you. Be sure to check out the Energy Star rating for a dishwasher to give you an idea of what you can expect your utility bills to look like. We also talk about energy efficiency in our dishwasher reviews.
If you have an open-concept floorplan, you might want to look for a dishwasher that has a lower sound rating. These days, dishwashers can go as low as 37 dBA, which is akin to the noise you hear in a library. One thing to note with the sound rating: the value reported is an average. So while lower dBA values are definitely better, you might still experience the occasional loud swishing noise during a cycle.
Additionally, generally speaking, dishwashers with stainless steel tubs are typically quieter than those with plastic tubs. There are pros and cons to both types of dishwasher tubs, though, so noise might not be the only consideration.
Do you prefer buttons or a touch panel? While touch panels definitely look sleeker, some dishwasher touch panels are so sensitive that you (or your kids) can accidentally start cycles by brushing against it. Conversely, some touch panels are so insensitive that you have to jab at them a few times before they work correctly. If you're trying one out in the store, be sure to try out the touch panel before-hand so that you can get a feel for how hard you'll have to press down to get a cycle going.
Fit and Finish
Dishwashers often come in a variety of finishes, from regular white or black to black stainless steel or panel-ready (the ability to install a dishwasher cover that matches your cabinetry). While you should be able to find a dishwasher that matches your kitchen setup and your other appliances, be ready to pay more money for any finish more sophisticated than black/white/stainless steel.
Don't worry: Whether you're on a budget or have a blank check, you can find a dishwasher that gets your dishes clean. While some high-end dishwashers do a really stellar job of removing food stains, more affordable dishwashers won't let you down. Mostly, the price difference between dishwashers is usually down to more or fewer features and options.
We have plenty of experience testing these products in the lab, but we've also used them like normal people would in the course of their daily lives, which means that we have a great sense for what appliances are bargains at their price points, and which appliances have really useful extra features (as opposed to the kitchen-sink approach to features).
With all this in mind, you can feel confident that when we recommend a product, we're giving it our Reviewed stamp of approval, which means two things: firstly, this appliance performs well, and secondly, this appliance is easy to use. We're always reviewing new products, so stay tuned for our reviews and roundups of the latest products in laundry, refrigerators, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners.
Testing dishwashers is a dirty job, and we're happy to do it. We assess each dishwasher on the three major parts of the dishwasher experience— Performance, Features, and Usability.
• Stain removal —We put the three major cycles on a dishwasher (Quick, Heavy, and Normal) to the test by baking food and beverage stains—milk, spinach, egg, oatmeal, meat, and more—onto 15 to 20 dishes that are then loaded into the dishwasher per the manufacturer's loading directions. At the end of each cycle, we determine how much stain has been removed from each dish. Ideally, each dish is 100 percent clean, but that level of cleaning perfection can be harder to achieve in real life.
• Redeposit —Redeposit is the term for when, during the course of a dishwasher cycle, water jets remove bits of food from one dish, only to accidentally get it stuck on a second dish. Any dishwasher that shows little to no evidence of redeposit is a winner in our book.
• Number of dirty dishes —After a dishwasher cycle has finished, we count the number of dishes that are not 100 percent clean; if your dishwasher can't clean most of your dishes the first time, it's not doing its job correctly.
• Cycle time —Dishwasher cycles can run the gamut from 30 minutes to four hours. Shorter cycle times are much more convenient, especially when it comes to large dinner parties, where you may need to reuse dishes from dinner when it's time for dessert.
• Drying —Whether it's accomplished with rinse aid, a built-in heater, or a built-in fan, customers expect their dishes to be dry as well as clean. We penalize the dishwasher every time a dish comes out wet, whether it's sopping wet or just covered in a few water droplets.
While all of the features in the world can't make a bad dishwasher better, they can really add the finishing touch to a dishwasher that does a killer cleaning job. We look at the various cycles, cycle options, and dishwasher specs and assess both how useful the features are, and how easy it is to actually use those features and whether or not their control panel is easy to navigate.
For example, a third rack that primarily holds cutlery can often be a game-changer when it comes to freeing up valuable real estate in the bottom rack. However, if the third rack is rickety, doesn't slide smoothly, or prevents the dishwasher from actually cleaning the cutlery, we would penalize the dishwasher, rather than reward it just for having a third rack. The whole point of a dishwasher is to save you from having to spend time scrubbing every dirty dish by hand; if a particular feature isn't going to make the process of using a dishwasher better or easier, then we don't want it.
The best dishwashers have short cycles, superior stain removal and drying power, and features that make the experience of using a dishwasher a painless one.
What Does dBA Mean?
The dBA abbreviation refers to "A-weighted decibels," which is the unit that dishwasher manufacturers use to measure how loud a dishwasher is during its operation. You've probably heard of decibels as a measure of loudness before, but the "A-weighting" refers to the fact that certain frequencies are more easily perceived by the human ear than others; for instance, a flute solo sounds louder than a bass solo played at the same volume because the human ear is naturally more attuned to mid- and high-range frequencies than it is to bass-range frequencies. As a result, when manufacturers report how loud a dishwasher actually sounds to someone in the same room of the dishwasher while it's turned on, they report that number in terms of A-weighted decibels (dBA), rather than just decibels (dB).
Other Dishwashers We Tested
Bosch 500 Series SHPM65W55N
Bosch's 500 Series dishwashers are popular for their quiet performance—as low as 44 dBA—but our lab tests show they're great at cleaning, too. Available with two handle options and three color options (stainless, black, or white), their hidden controls will fit any kitchen design. Every one features a third rack, an extra drying option, leak prevention, a quick wash cycle, and smooth-gliding racks.
Speaking of the extra drying feature, it may prove unnecessary in some cases, since we found that the Normal cycle dried dishes as well as it cleaned them—almost perfectly. The Bosch SHPM65W55N not only cleans your dishes, but also ensures that they're completely dry, free of water stains, and ready to use again straight out of the dishwasher.
The Bosch 300 Series continues to offer the same sleek look, quiet operation, and incredible cleaning prowess that Bosch is known for. We tested the Bosch SHXM63WS5N, which removed nearly 100 percent of the stains on the Quick, Normal, and Heavy cycles, an amazing feat which happens rarely in our test labs.
On top of that, this dishwasher also has a third rack, foldable tines, an adjustable upper rack, solid drying, and an optional water softener. This dishwasher is worth every cent, and even offers more color choices than the pricier 500 Series.
The LG LDF5545ST may look futuristic, but behind its unique integrated handle is a quiet, efficient, stainless steel dishwasher with a plethora of cycles and features. Amazingly, this LG dishwasher has a cleaning performance that is comparable to that of our highest-rated Bosch dishwashers but only costs half as much.
The LDF5545ST has the best Heavy Cycle that's ever come through our labs—it removed 100 percent of the stains on every single dish, and showed no evidence of redeposit. The heavy cycle took about two-and-a-half hours to finish, but we can hardly complain when extremely dirty dishes come out spotlessly clean. With a solid warranty and relatively low price, this dishwasher will give you a lot of bang for your buck.
From design to performance, this all-new dishwasher is all about fluidity and grace. Perhaps most importantly, it's equipped with KitchenAid’s Clean Water Wash technology, which continually removes food particles from the wash water. That means the KitchenAid KDTM354DSS helps clean dishes to actually stay clean by not spraying food removed from one dish onto another dish. Even with this new feature, it's still one of the more efficient dishwashers we've ever tested, with respect to both water and electricity usage.
With a solid cleaning performance, heating drying, and additional spray jets for really tough stains, the KDTM354DSS is a workhorse that can get the job done right the first time.
The LG LDP6797ST dishwasher is all about customization. The racks are adjustable both with respect to their tines and their heights, so you can fit in large or awkwardly shaped dishes with ease. Two spray zones allow you to focus on a particular rack in the dishwasher if you're only doing a partial load of dishes. With the seven cycles and a variety of temperature and drying options, you can select exactly the options you need to get your dishes clean, whether it's just a couple of cereal bowls, or a whole host of dishes at the end of a dinner party.
When it comes to cleaning performance, the LG LDP6797ST does a solid job. The Heavy cycle has a better cleaning performance than the Normal and Quick cycles, but it clocks in at around 3 hours, so it may be best if you run it overnight. The Normal and Quick cycles do a pretty good job with most food stains, but they both struggled to remove the most difficult stain in our testing, the spinach stain stains. For everyday messes or special dish-cleaning needs, be sure to check out the LG LDP6797ST.
The Bosch SHE89PW55N is one of the models in Bosch's flagship Benchmark series. While the Benchmark dishwashers may cost a lot more than other Bosch dishwashers, they do offer some niceties for more discerning customers. In addition to a 39 dBA rating—one of the quietest dishwasher ratings we've seen—the Benchmark series offers panel-ready designs, LCD touchscreens, telescoping racks, a deep third rack, and bright interior lighting.
When it comes to performance, though, the SHE89PW55N is a real marvel. Not only were the Normal, Quick, and Heavy cycles all equally effective at removing more than 99 percent of all stains, but the cycles are also extremely efficient; they all use very little water and electricity. While you'll pay more upfront for this dishwasher, you'll end up saving yourself from dirty dishes and high utility bills.
A state-of-the-art dishwasher meant for a discerning buyer with an elegant kitchen, the Miele Futura Lumen dishwasher is in a class by itself. It cleans well and quickly, is whisper-quiet, and has energy-saving features that make it the most efficient dishwasher that's ever come through our labs.
Tapping on the door opens it, and it opens by itself at the end of the cycle. Not everyone wants or can afford to purchase a dishwasher like this, but with the Lumen G6885SCVIK2O, Miele has put in everything but the kitchen sink.
If you hate sorting silverware, you'll love the GE PDT855SMJES dishwasher. Powerful water jets aimed at the cutlery basket blast off stains, even if you just throw all the spoons, forks, and knives in, without separating them. In addition to other features like Bottle Wash and a 40 dBA sound rating, this GE did a superb job getting dishes both clean and dry. We found the Express Cycle to be particularly notable since it managed to remove more than 95 percent of the food stains in an astounding 32 minutes.
Available in stainless, slate, and panel ready model, this GE does cost a lot—but its convenience is undeniable.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
Cindy Bailen loves writing about major appliances and home design and has spent over 15 years immersed in that. In her spare time, Cindy hosts pledge programs for WGBH-TV in Boston and other public television stations.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.