The Best Dishwashers
How We Found the Best Dishwasher
24 Brands Compared
5 Experts Interviewed
3 Top Picks
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
|Number of Racks|
Bosch 500 Series
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
Why we chose it
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
How We Chose the Best Dishwashers
We only considered dishwashers that met efficiency standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) — dishwashers that are ENERGY STAR certified. On average, certified dishwashers are 12% more energy-efficient and 30% more water-efficient than non-certified models. Furthermore, a certified dishwasher can cost as little as $35 a year to run. In order to make this possible, companies build in technology like ultra-efficient jets and dish rack designs to preserve water while still getting your dishes clean.
“A great feature on newer models is a dishwasher’s ability to ‘sense’ the level of soil on the dishes, and adjust the water and power accordingly,” says Katie M. Corrado of Kieffer’s Appliances. “So, light loads with well-scraped dishes use less water than heavily soiled ones.” According to Consumer Reports, any dishwasher manufactured since 2011 that costs over $500 will have soil sensors. Not only does a soil sensor yield maximum efficiency, but it also gets your dishes satisfactorily clean, no matter how caked on the spaghetti sauce.
Jim Freedman, President and CEO of Metropolitan Appliance, has been in the appliance industry for over 35 years. According to him, the number one thing people are looking for in a dishwasher is a quiet machine. Performance, although very important, tends to be a secondary request. All the models we considered operate at 50 decibels or fewer — about the noise level you can start to hear from another room.
That also means that most of the machines we looked at have stainless steel tubs, which absorb noise better than plastic tubs. There are other benefits to stainless steel, too: they’re more durable, can handle higher maximum water temperatures, and have better drying efficiency.
We turned to J.D. Power’s 2018 Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study, which collected the opinions of over 2,800 dishwasher owners about metrics like ease-of-use, performance, reliability, and overall satisfaction. We only considered dishwashers that received at least an “Average” score for overall satisfaction. Appliance giants like Whirlpool, GE, and Frigidaire were instantly knocked out of the running with below-average ratings on overall satisfaction, reliability, and features.
We dove deeper into the performance of individual models using Consumer Reports’ in-depth testing and ranking process. Unlike J.D Power's survey, which focuses just on brands, Consumer Reports intensely tests individual dishwashers from over 20 brands, evaluating their washing, drying, energy use, noise, and cycle time (with a special emphasis on washing power).
Ease of use
A spec sheet only goes so far in telling you what you might love or hate about your future appliance: You can’t spy wheels that come off-track easily or tines that are too close together to handle the average plate.
We visited Metropolitan Appliance in Seattle and loaded, then unloaded, dishes and pots, adjusted upper racks, attempted to fit a ladle into any possible nook, twisted filters in and out, and imagined ourselves using the machines long-term. The best dishwashers had solid construction, smooth adjustments, and loading setups akin to a perfect game of Tetris.
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.