The Best Dishwashers

The best dishwashers come from reputable brands with a track-record of reliability. The more you pay, the quieter and more customizable they become. We interviewed experts, compared brands, and looked at myriad features to help you find the best one for your home.

The 3 Best Dishwashers

The Best Dishwashers: Summed Up

Bosch 500 Series
Bosch Ascenta Series
Thermador Topaz
The Best
Dishwasher for Most People
Budget Dishwasher
Luxury Dishwasher
Wi-Fi enabled
No
No
Yes
Price
$900+
$600+
$1,700+
Noise Level
44 dBa
50 dBa
44 dBa
Number of Racks
3
2
3
Filter Type
Manual cleaning
Manual cleaning
Manual cleaning
Wash Cycles
5
6
6

Bosch 500 Series

Best Dishwasher for Most People

Bosch 500 Series
Bosch 500 Series
With highly adjustable racks and tines, plus a roomy third rack and a lineup of useful wash cycles, a machine from this line should have you covered no matter your dishwashing habits.
Pros
Solid brand reputation
Mid-range price for high-end features
Adjustable tines and upper rack
Roomy third rack
Range of useful cycles and options
Multiple design options
Cons
Filter requires manual cleaning
Fewer color options

Why we chose it

Solid brand reputation

Bosch received glowing reviews from both our experts and J.D. Power’s 2018 survey. J.D. Power ranked Bosch “Among the Best” — in the top three, alongside Maytag and Samsung. In Consumer Reports’ survey of over 42,000 readers, only 10% of people who had purchased a Bosch dishwasher in the last four years experienced repairs or serious problems — the best reliability results for any brand we looked at.

Mid-range price for high-end features

Bosch offers several dishwasher lines: Ascenta, 100, 300, 500, 800, and Benchmark. Machines tend to get quieter, more flexible, and more expensive as you shop through the lines. Benchmark represents the high-end price range ($2,000+) while the 500 series lands squarely in the middle of the spectrum at about $900+. After researching them all, we think the 500 offers the most impressive balance between features and price. Consumer Reports scored the 500 series much higher than the pricier 800 series, and the only categories in which the 500 didn’t receive an “Excellent” were noise and washing, for which it still earned a respectable “Very Good.”

Adjustable tines and upper rack

Most of the dishwashers we looked at had tines that fold down and upper racks that raise and lower, but the 500 series' design felt unusually functional. The top rack features two rows of folding tines, and the glasses fit nicely at an angle, so water is less likely to pool on the tops. The upper rack also adjusts vertically by either one or two inches to make space for large vessels like stock pots on the bottom rack. (We found it’s best to adjust the racks when they’re empty. When we tried it loaded with dishes, the glasses all clanked as the rack dropped to the lowest setting.)

As for the bottom level: The silverware basket separates into two halves, so you can arrange the baskets in whatever way is most conducive to packing the rack full. And there are two rows of foldable tines here as well, making the adjustment from dinner plate to cereal bowl spacing easy.

Roomy third rack

The 500 has the capacity to hold up to 16 place settings, on the high end of what we encountered. Some of this roominess is likely thanks to a three-inch third rack that can hold lots of silverware, freeing up more space below. The slots on that shelf hold silverware on its side so spoons can spoon, but not so closely that it blocks the jets from cleaning them. Note: We couldn’t fit a big spatula or ladle in the upper rack, so don’t expect it to hold every piece of serving ware in your home. Still, this feature adds an estimated 30 percent more loading capacity, according to Bosch, and you can choose to take the rack out if you need more overhead clearance.

Range of useful cycles and options

The Bosch 500 series' five cycles run the gamut for soil levels — including a soil-sensing Auto cycle. Freedman told us that roughly 75-80 percent of people will probably just use the “Auto” or “Normal” (he recommends “Auto”) setting most of the time, but the Bosch 500 series does give you options for heavy-duty scrubbing, if the need arises.

Multiple design options

If you search for “500 series dishwashers” on Bosch’s site, you’ll see about 25 options to choose from, with multiple color and handle-style variants — the two main handles available are bar and pocket. The newest additions to the 500 series all feature a control panel on top — a feature that’s handy if you have young children who like to play with buttons. But you can find a couple of options with control panels on the front. Models in the 500 series do vary in terms of specific wash cycles, but all have the same core features.

Points to consider

Filter requires manual cleaning

The food a dishwasher cleans from cookware doesn’t disintegrate into thin air — it’s captured by a filter on the bottom of the machine. Some dishwashers have self-cleaning filters, which use a disposal (this can get loud) or fine mesh to break apart food and wash it away. But Bosch machines use a quieter, manual filter. You’ll have to take it out — which requires a quick twist-and-pull, we tried it — and rinse it in the sink every so often to avoid funky smells. The Bosch 500 owner’s manual recommends cleaning the filter three to 12 times per year, depending on your pre-rinsing habits and whether you have hard water (which can cause mineral buildup on the filter).

Fewer color options

Freedman told us that some companies are trending toward color options outside of the traditional white, black, and stainless steel, adding rose gold coppers, retro pastels, and black stainless steel to their lineups. While Bosch does currently offer a black stainless option, its color schemes are somewhat limited in comparison.

Bosch Ascenta Series

Best Budget Dishwasher

Bosch Ascenta Series
Bosch Ascenta Series
A machine from the Ascenta series runs $200 to $400 less than a 500-series dishwasher, while maintaining the strong Bosch brand reputation. You’ll just make a few sacrifices: It’s louder, less adjustable, and doesn’t have a third rack for added capacity.
Pros
Good value
Solid brand reputation
Impressive performance
Cons
Minimal adjustability
Filter requires manual cleaning

Why we chose it

Good value

Of all the dishwashers that met our criteria for brand and model reputation, machines from the Bosch Ascenta line are the most affordable. For $200 to $400 less than Bosch's 500 series, you get impressive customizability and capacity. Ascentas offer six cycles, letting you choose the most efficient way to get heavily soiled or barely-dirty dishes clean. Plus, the machines come equipped with soil sensors for “Auto” and “Auto Half Load” cycles if you don’t want to make the call yourself.

Most dishwashers fit between 13 and 16 place settings; the Ascenta line hits the middle of this range with a 14-setting capacity. The Ascenta's lower price point means it does lack the third rack that comes with Bosch’s other series — but you still have the ability to adjust the upper rack to create more room for tall items on the bottom.

Solid brand reputation

Unlike past studies, J.D. Power did not rate the Ascenta line separately from the rest of the Bosch brand. That means that the stellar reputation the overall Bosch brand received reflects on the Ascenta, as well. In Consumer Reports’ survey of over 42,000 readers, Bosch continued to be the most reliable brand, with the fewest dishwasher owners experiencing repairs or serious issues over four years.

Impressive performance

In Consumer Reports testing, two Ascenta models received particularly standout scores: SHX3AR75UC (with a bar handle) and SHE3AR75UC (with a recessed handle). Priced at $700 and $600, respectively, the two machines earned “best buy” designations in testing and “Excellent” ratings in washing and energy use. They do lag behind other Bosch models in noise and drying ratings — a tradeoff that's typical for lower-priced machines. But at 50 decibels, the Ascenta's sound score is about the same as rainfall, so it's unlikely to be disruptive if it's running in the next room.

Points to consider

Minimal adjustability

Compared to its higher-priced brethren, the Ascenta’s adjustability is more limited. It has a row of tines that fold down on the bottom rack, but the non-folding tines are spaced tightly, which can be frustrating if you have bulkier place settings. Plus, the Ascenta doesn’t have the third rack of other Bosch models. If you’re looking to max out ease-of-use, the 500 line will be worth the extra money. But if those features aren't a priority, the Ascenta delivers a satisfactory clean and is backed by a solid reputation.

Filter requires manual cleaning

Like all of Bosch’s dishwashers, the Ascenta’s filter requires regular rinsing to stave off bad odors. You can refer to your owner’s manual for a specific schedule, but expect to clean the filter at least every three or four months.

Thermador Topaz

Best Luxury Dishwasher

Thermador Topaz
Thermador Topaz
This workhorse dishwasher is an investment that will dazzle you with upgraded features like a time-remaining PowerBeam®, CrystalProtect® water softness adjustment, and Wi-Fi enabled Home ConnectTM.
Pros
Energy-efficient performance
Lavish tech features
Quiet wash cycles
Excellent reliability
Cons
Price
Manually cleaned filter

Why we chose it

Energy efficient performance

The Thermador Topaz® dishwasher is ENERGY STAR® certified and uses 269kWh a year. During the 6 wash cycles lasting 155 minutes, the Thermador Topaz® only uses 4 gallons of water. According to Consumer Reports, this particular model performs at an “excellent” level when evaluated for the combined amount of water used with the energy needed to wash a fully soiled load of dishes.

Lavish tech features

  • The Thermador Topaz® dishwasher offers a variety of high-end dishwashing and home technology features that set it apart from the Bosch 500 series:
  • PowerBoost® technology increases temperature and pressure in the lower rack for heavy-duty cleaning
  • Crystal Protect® system adjusts the water softness during the cycle
  • Thermador Connected Experience by Home ConnectTM (Wi-Fi enabled so you can control cycles, delay start the wash and get personalized dishwashing recommendations through your smartphone)
  • InfoLight® and PowerBeam® technology project an optical display onto the floor under the appliance door so you can keep tabs on things like the time remaining in the cycle
  • Extra Dry Option to fully dry your dishes and sanitize 99.9% of bacteria
  • Professional series handle and third rack with Chef’s Tool Drawer®

Quiet wash cycles

Gone are the days of noisy dishwashing cycles that forced you to leave the room to have a conversation. This Thermador dishwasher is so exceptionally quiet you’ll have a hard time knowing if it’s on – based on sound alone. The Thermador Topaz® boasts a sound score of 44 dBa, which is one of the lowest ratings among newer dishwashers and is comparable to the noise level of a dove call. According to Consumer Reports, this model scored an “excellent” noise rating by judging its sound level during fill, wash and drain.

Excellent reliability

Of course, reliability is one of the most important things to consider while hunting for your next kitchen appliance. Based on Consumer Reports testing, this luxury dishwasher scored an “excellent” rating for predicted reliability. This score was based on estimated breakage rates for newly purchased dishwashers, not under service contract, within the first five years of ownership. Also notable from Consumer Reports – this model (DWHD660WFP) was rated “excellent” based on owner satisfaction, meaning current owners of this appliance were extremely likely to recommend their dishwashers to their friends and family. Count on this dishwasher to fit a maximum of 16 place settings on its sleek, black-shimmer racks that conveniently adjust in just 3 steps.

Points to consider

Price

The long list of high-end features show their worth in a hefty price tag— at $1799, the Thermador Topaz® DWHD660WFP was one of the most expensive dishwashers we considered. If you’re not ready to commit to a dishwasher in that price range, the Bosch 500 series may be your best bet. However, you’ll lose out on a full third rack with the Chef’s Tool Drawer®, one extra wash cycle, and all of those fancy tech options with Wi-Fi enabled functionality.

Manually cleaned filter

At this price point, we were disappointed to find out that the dishwashing filter on the Thermador Topaz would still need to be cleaned or replaced every few months. While this is still a very common drawback of most dishwashers, it’s something to consider if you’re not looking to add this to your list of kitchen chores. Standard extra maintenance coupled with the luxury price tag may deter some folks, but we think this is still a great pick for upgrading your kitchen with cutting-edge technology.

Guide to Dishwashers

How to find the right dishwasher for you

Assess your needs

Your lifestyle will determine much of what you should look for in a dishwasher. A good question to start with: What cycles will you actually use? If you entertain often, Freedman suggests looking for machines with quick-wash cycles to refresh dishes that have been in storage for awhile as well as a “glasses” cycle, that specifically washes just drinking glasses so you can keep them fresh between drinks.

Consider your space

Color scheme is an obvious factor when it comes to your space, but your dishwasher’s handle is an oft-overlooked factor that may be just as important. According to Freedman, “people will usually gravitate toward bar handles if they can.” The main reason people like them? Because you can hang dishrags on them, according to Freedman. But, depending on your kitchen, a bar handle may not make sense. “If your kitchen layout is such that your dishwasher is in a corner and you choose a bar handle, you may not be able to open that side cabinet.” In that case, a pocket handle makes more sense (and is also likely to be cheaper).

Budget for professional installation

“Unless you are a trained licensed professional you should not be installing your own dishwasher,” says Shirley Hood, an Appliance Specialist in the Appliance Department at Abt Electronics. An amateur dealing with water lines in an enclosed space is a recipe for disaster: You may think your dishwasher is working fine, only to find months later that your basement ceiling has water damage, your wood floors are warping near your dishwasher — or perhaps even worse, your downstairs neighbor is knocking on your door because water is leaking from their ceiling. “Keep your peace of mind and hire a trained professional,” Hood said. It may add $150 to $250 to your budget, but will reduce the chance for mistakes.

Dishwashers FAQ

What's the difference between American and European dishwashers?

European dishwashers started hitting the US market about 20 years ago, providing quieter machines that sit flush with your cabinetry and pack a higher price tag. American-style dishwashers, on the other hand, offer an extra inch of depth in the first rack. Both styles are now starting to meet in the middle; but, overall, American-style dishwashers tend to be roomier, louder, and less expensive, while European models are a bit pricier but offer a quieter wash and a sleeker look.

Where they still differ greatly is drying. American dishwashers have heating coils, which heat the moist, hot air and then blow it through a fan to dry the dishes. It’s a method that results in drier dishes, but is less energy efficient. European models use condensation drying. The moist air is released from the dishes when it comes in contact with the cooler stainless steel surface, which draws the water away from the dishes and down the drain. It’s more energy efficient, but doesn’t work so well on plastics and can take longer.

“For some people, drying isn’t that important because they run their dishwashers at night and the dishes are dry in the morning. So, condensation is fine,” says Freedman. “To other people who either want to run a quick 30-minute load, or want to run and unload before going to bed that night, the heated/fan drying is more important because it will get the dishes dry considerably more quickly and completely.”

Is a stainless steel tub dishwasher worth the price?

Stainless steel tub dishwashers are more energy efficient and less susceptible to corrosion. While a plastic tub will only set you back a few hundred dollars, the walls of these models do not hold as much heat. As a result, plastic tubs may not clean your dishes as efficiently as a stainless steel model. Overall, a dishwasher with a stainless steel tub may cost quite a bit more, but they are known for lasting longer, cleaning your dishes better, and saving on energy use.

What’s the best way to load a dishwasher?

Dishwasher manuals actually show diagrams for the ideal arrangement of dishes. Nozzles and racks are all arranged differently depending on your model, so there’s no true one-size-fits-all strategy. But rest assured that there is an answer in your manual.

What shouldn’t I put in the dishwasher?

According to the manuals for our top picks, it’s best to hand wash dishes and utensils made of the following materials:

  • Wood
  • Acrylic
  • Iron
  • Bone (handles)
  • Pewter
  • Brass
  • Bronze
  • Tin
  • Anything joined with adhesive

Most manufacturers also recommend not using your dishwasher to wash anything but “normal, dishwasher-safe dishware and kitchenware,” which means that activities like washing car mats or cooking salmon sous vide are technically frowned upon.

Why do drinking glasses get cloudy after washing?

The hardness of your water is likely the culprit behind cloudy glassware. It may be the victim of mineral deposits, or the glass may have been “etched,” or eroded. The manual for the Bosch line we recommend suggests using a rinse aid in order to prevent streaking, and gives guidance for cleaning residue on the machine, plus how much detergent to use (and how often to replace your filter) based on the hardness of your water. The KitchenAid’s manual lends similar, machine-specific advice.

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