Until recently, a third rack was a premium feature only available on high-end dishwashers. But now, the rack is finding a place in more affordable dishwashers. GE Appliances has introduced a third rack for dishwashers with plastic interiors, and the Bosch 100 series models that replaced the company’s old Ascenta line all rock the rack. Currently, our favorite third-rack dishwasher is the Bosch 800 Series SHPM88Z75N(available at AppliancesConnection for $1,399.00).
Not familiar with the third rack? It’s a sliding tray that makes better use of the limited real estate inside your dishwasher. You might want the third rack because it accommodates those “where do I put this?” items like long-serving utensils or small shallow bowls. Plus, it provides an alternative to the bulky silverware basket that can take up a ton of space on the bottom rack.
After years of testing dishwashers, we’ve discovered that those with a third rack, at a variety of price points, can vastly improve the dishwashing experience.
Here are the best third-rack dishwashers we tested, ranked in order:
Bosch 800 Series SHPM88Z75N (2019)
Bosch Benchmark Series SH89PW55N
Bosch 500 Series SHPM65Z55N (2019)
Bosch 300 Series SHSM63W55N (2017)
Miele Crystal EcoFlex G6665SCVIAM
Vinotemp Brama BR-DWSH01-S
We also reviewed these budget third-rack dishwashers:
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The Bosch 800 Series SHPM88Z75N (2019) is everything we've come to expect from Bosch—quiet, efficient, and stylish. With a sound rating of 40 dBA, it's one of the quietest dishwashers that's ever come through our labs. This dishwasher did an amazing job removing some of our more difficult stains, like burnt-on cheese and spinach; however, as is the case with most dishwashers, the spinach that got blasted off of our test dishes was occasionally redeposited onto other dishes.
The major selling point of the SHPM88Z75N is its CrystalDry feature. Using zeolite crystals, this dishwasher completely dries all of your dishes, even the plastic tupperware that always seems to need a couple of passes with a dish towel before you can put it away. If your primary method of storing food is with plastic food storage containers, the SHPM88Z75N will save you a lot of extra time and effort when it comes to getting your dishes clean and dry.
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 Cycle, Heavy Cycle, and Normal Cycle) to the test by baking food and beverage stains onto 15-20 dishes that are then loaded into the dishwasher per the manufacturer's loading directions. The stains include milk, spinach, egg, oatmeal, meat, and more. 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 a) how useful the features are, and b) how easy it is to actually use those features.
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.
Why Buy a Third-Rack Dishwasher?
The third rack—a smaller, shallower rack that sits above the top rack and is primarily meant to hold cutlery—is a relatively new feature that some manufacturers are adding to their dishwashers. So what's so appealing about another rack in your dishwasher? Having a third rack is beneficial to your dishwasher experience in two ways: convenience and versatility.
Because most dishwashers still come with cutlery baskets, you might be wondering why your dishwasher needs a second place to store cutlery. The major way a third rack can make your life easier is that the third rack typically resides at waist height, meaning that you can get your cutlery in and out of the dishwasher without bending over. While that may seem minor, if you're doing one to two loads of dishes a day, having a cutlery receptacle at waist height will be doing your back a huge favor.
Also, if you ever need room in the bottom rack for large or unusually-shaped dishes, you can just move the contents of your cutlery basket into the third rack with no muss and no fuss.
Additionally, some third racks come with small tines that allow you to place each piece of silverware in a specific place; because each fork, knife, and spoon are physically separated from one another, this makes it more likely that each piece of cutlery will get blasted with water, as opposed to being blocked by large items in the bottom rack or other silverware in the cutlery basket.
While third racks are mostly meant to accommodate silverware, some third racks have deeper sections that can fit items that are taller than a fork, but too small to be thrown into the larger top and bottom racks. The third rack is a great place for items that don't have an obvious place in the dishwasher, such as water bottle tops, chopsticks, ramekins, baby bottle tops, pacifiers, ladles, and more.
Because some of these objects might be harder to clean than cutlery, be sure to look inside at either the top of the dishwasher or beneath the third rack to see if there's an additional spray arm that focuses directly on the items in the third rack. Without an additional spray arm, it can be difficult for normal spray arms at the bottom of the dishwasher to get the dishes in the third rack completely clean.
If you're constantly running the dishwasher, a third rack can definitely make a difference in your dishwasher experience. Because a third rack is still something of a luxury feature, expect to pay more for dishwashers that include a third rack. However, third racks are making their way down-market, and are starting to be included in more affordable dishwashers. If you want the convenience of a third rack, but don't want to buy a new dishwasher, some manufacturers, like GE, are offering a third rack kit that allows you to retroactively install a third rack into any relatively new GE dishwasher. In the near future, we anticipate that anyone will be able to buy a dishwasher with a third rack at any price point.
Other Third-Rack Dishwashers We Tested
The Samsung DW80R9950UT dishwasher has it all. With a third rack deep enough to hold ladles and whisks (in addition to all of your silverware), adjustable tines that will make fitting even the most awkwardly-shaped dishes a breeze, a futuristic-looking control panel, and a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish, this dishwasher has enough features to please even the pickiest of dishwasher users.
Even better, the Samsung DW80R9950UT talks and talk and walks the walk: Its cleaning performance is top-notch. The Normal, Quick, and Heavy cycles were all able to remove more than 97% of our test food stains. The Heavy cycle clocks in at about 2.5 hours, so you won't have to do too much waiting around; some Heavy cycles on other dishwashers take as long as four hours to finish. This dishwasher also has minimal spinach redeposit and near-perfect dish drying. For a user-friendly dishwasher with an outstanding cleaning performance, you can't go wrong with the Samsung DW80R9950UT.
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. For everyday messes or special dish-cleaning needs, be sure to check out the LG LDP6797ST.
Eye-catching modern design
Third rack with adjustable height
Normal and turbo cycles left stains behind
Bosch Benchmark SHE89PW55N
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.
Amazing cleaning—one of the best we’ve tested
Clean, modern design
Runs at a virtually inaudible 39 dBA.
Lackluster price-to-performance ratio
Its many configurations can be confusing
Based on our reviews of other Bosch dishwashers, it’s not surprising that we also love the Bosch 500 series SHPM65Z55N dishwasher. While it’s still on the pricier end of what you might want to pay for a dishwasher, you’re getting a lot of bang for your bucket. With Its quiet operation (44 dBA), adjustable tines, and third rack, you’ll be able to wash many different sizes and types of dishes without worrying about loud noises disrupting your conversation during a dishwasher cycle.
The dishwasher cycles are a bit on the longer side (the Quick cycle clocks in at about an hour), but the cleaning results are worth it. This dishwasher removed nearly all of the stains from our test dishes during the Heavy cycle, which is a rare feat. Additionally, the Auto Air function, which opens the dishwasher door after a cycle has ended to expedite dish drying, is pretty effective; almost every test dish in the Normal and Quick cycles came out bone dry. If you want a Bosch dishwasher but don’t have the budget for a dishwasher in the Bosch 800 series, the Bosch 500 series SHPM65Z55N is a great option.
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 SHSM63W55N and the Bosch SHXM63WS5N, both of which removed nearly 100 percent of the stains on the Heavy cycle, 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 KitchenAid KDTM404KPS is a dishwasher that is tailor-made for big families. It can hold up to 16 place settings, about two more than average. Part of the reason it can hold so many plates is because of the unique third rack, which has a deep divot that can hold small bowls, cups, and mugs. The third rack even has rotating spray jets to ensure everything gets clean up there.
Good stain removal is not just limited to the third rack. Our testing showed that the Normal and Tough cycle did an excellent job removing stains. The only major downsides we found were that the Express cycle is slow compared to the competition.
Like the Futura Lumen, the Miele Futura Crystal features the one-hour QuickIntenseWash cycle. Our tests show that the QuickIntenseWash cycle cleans just as well as the Normal cycle does, and with a cycle time of about one hour, it will give you an amazingly fast turnaround on your dirty dishes.
While it lacks the Lumen’s Knock2Open and heat exchanger, the Crystal does come with the same auto open feature and third rack as the Lumen. It also has the same glassware cycles, designed to clean delicate stemware and crystal. If the Futura Lumen is a bit too futuristic for you, the EcoFlex Futura Crystal is a great alternative that costs less and still maintains the high standard of cleaning for which Miele is well-known.
Amazing cleaning performance
Very energy efficient
None that we could find
Vinotemp Brama BR-DWSH01-S
The Brama BR-DWSH01-S is the first dishwasher released by Vinotemp, a company much beloved by wine aficionados for its wine storage and cooling solutions. This dishwasher is packed with high-end features, including a sturdy third rack, adjustable tines on every rack, an additional high-powered wash jet for tough stains, and an air exchange system that helps to combat bacteria growth.
The Brama did a great job of removing most stains, but, like most dishwashers we test, stumbled when it came to our most difficult stain, pureed spinach. Spinach redeposit ended up on many of our test dishes. However, for most dirty dishes, this dishwasher should be up to the task of getting them clean. For a high-end dishwasher that doesn’t have a high-end price tag, look no further than the Vinotemp Brama BR-DWSH01-S dishwasher.
The GE GDT605PSMSS doesn't come with a third rack. However, if you lay down some extra cash, you can buy GE's third-rack dishwasher kit, which allows some GE dishwashers to be retrofit with a third rack. We actually tried the third rack accessory kit out on the GDT605PSMSS, and found that it was a breeze to install; if you have a relatively new GE dishwasher with a plastic tub, this kit is a quick and easy way to instantly add extra storage and versatility.
As for its performance, we found that the GDT605PSMSS performs similarly to the GE GDF630PGMWW. All three major cycles had issues with our dirty test dishes. The Heavy cycle did the best cleaning job, but even that cycle really struggled with one of our hardest stains, the baked-on spinach. If you're shopping on a budget, and want the flexibility of being able to add a third-rack dishwasher (or not), take a look at the GE GDT605PSMSS.
If you assume that affordable dishwashers are under-served with features, the GE GDF630PGMWW gives you a chance to reconsider. Between the height-adjustable upper rack, included third rack, and the bottle jets on the upper rack, we give this GE dishwasher two big thumbs-up when it comes to features that add value. If the white plastic finish isn't your favorite, you can spend a few extra bucks to get the same model with a slate, black slate, or stainless steel finish.
Like the GE GDT605PSMSS, though, the cleaning performance isn't perfect. With long cycle times and difficulty removing baked-on stains, we think the GDF630PGMWW is best for a family that isn't doing a lot of intense cooking or baking.
A third rack, bottle jets, and many other features
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager 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.
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