Let’s face it: Washing dishes by hand is the absolute worst. First off, the mildewed puck which passes as your kitchen sponge always seems a few days away from sprouting legs; it’s not exactly something you want to scrub any dinner plates with. If that’s not enough, the running water you use typically fluctuates between boiling lava hot and just lukewarm enough to foster the convenient spread of bacteria. Perhaps even more annoying than these very manageable set of variables is the sheer act of having to expend elbow grease (and precious Netflix time) to clean plates manually.
A dishwasher will help keep your kitchen sink spick-and-span. But like most things on the open market, sifting through the sea of available dishwasher options is frustrating and exhausting. To help you get a better grasp on the latest and greatest dishwashing options, and narrow down your choices, we’ve taken to the task of finding the finest dishwashers worthy of any kitchen. So say goodbye to scalding water and that petri dish of a sponge; here are the four best dishwashers currently available.
Why you should buy this: With so many features and a great price, this dishwasher has it all.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for a good clean with a few special features
How much will it cost: $800
Why we picked the GE GDT655SMJES:
One of the best features on the GE GDT655SMJES dishwasher is the bottle jets in the top rack. Instead of the usual tines, there are two jets made for bottles and other tall items; water sloshes around to help get out whatever’s inside. But there are other great features on this dishwasher that put it at the top of our list: It has separate wash zones, so can clean just the top or bottom rack when you don’t have a full load. There’s also a 32-minute express cycle, a steam prewash option, and an NSF-certified, germ-killing sanitization setting.
Its stainless steel interior holds 16 place settings, and the dishwasher runs at an impressive 46 decibels. It’s not the quietest dishwasher on the list, but you still might be glad that there’s an indicator light, so you’ll know it’s running.
The dishwasher is Energy Star certified and should cost around $32 a year to operate, depending on your utility rates. With a range of unique features, including several ways to boost its cleaning and drying power, this is both a powerful and affordable dishwasher, especially when you can find it on sale for around $700.
The best environmentally friendly dishwasher
Bosch 500 Series SHP65T55UC
Why you should buy this: Though it uses less water than many others, it delivers clean dishes.
Who’s it for: Anyone looking for energy and water savings
How much will it cost: $900
Why we picked the Bosch 500 Series SHP65T55UC:
There’s a lot to love about the Bosch 500 Series and some things that take a bit of getting used to. It’s a European-style dishwasher, so it has a filter instead of a hard food disposer, like many American dishwashers. It also dries far better when you use a rinse aid to help the water evaporate. Energy Star-certified dishwashers use 4 gallons of water or less per cycle, and this Bosch has it down to 2.9 gallons. Its yearly energy use will cost you about $27, and it’s one of the quietest dishwasher on the list at 44 decibels.
Like the GE dishwasher, it has an NSF-certified sanitization cycle and can hold 16 place settings in its stainless steel tub. It also boasts a few high-end touches, like an info light that beams onto the floor and a third rack for more flexibility when it comes to utensils.
The best luxury dishwasher
Why you should buy this: It fits in nicely will gourmet kitchens.
Who’s it for: Someone who values clean dishes enough to spend more than a grand
How much will it cost: $1,200
Why we picked the Gaggenau DF281760:
As dishwashers increase in price, they gain some upgrades, like stainless steel tubs and better energy efficiency, but eventually they hit a wall where you’re pretty much just paying for a literal window into the appliance.
So, what does the Gaggenau DF281760 offer that the less-expensive models don’t? It has the most wash programs on this list: eight. Many let you set a specific temperature range — up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit — but there’s also a 29-minute quick wash and a cycle just for glassware. At 40 decibels, it’s practically silent. It only holds 13 place settings, but it also holds 23 wine glasses for your fancy parties.
The real standout is that there’s no handle on the front: You push it to open it up.
We’re not sure the Gaggenau DF281760’s luxurious features warrant all the extra cash, but hey, it’s your money.
The best cheap dishwasher
Why you should buy this: Quiet and efficient, this dishwasher can go toe-to-toe with some more expensive options.
Who’s it for: Anyone who doesn’t want to sacrifice clean but is looking for a bargain
How much will it cost: $630
Why we picked the Whirlpool WDT780SAEM:
Energy Star-certified, with a 48-decibel sound rating, and equipped with a sanitization cycle, this Whirlpool dishwasher has a lot going for it. It has a stainless steel tub and holds 14 place settings. It’s “quick” cycle takes an hour, which isn’t the fastest but does save some time.
The in-door silverware holder offers some flexibility for adding more dishes to the bottom rack, and there’s also a sprayer dedicated to the silverware for getting spoons, forks, and knives cleaner. A sensor cycle adjusts itself based on the amount of dishes and level of gunk it detects.
While this isn’t the cheapest dishwasher in the world, we have seen it listed for closer to $600, and it comes with tons of features that you find in appliances that cost a couple hundred more.
Some things to keep in mind
Of all major appliances, dishwashers are among the easiest to tell when they’re not doing their job. Sopping or food-encrusted dishes mean something’s not right, but it might just be your loading technique. Some dishwashers need rinse aid or they’ll leave everything wet, thanks to their condenser drying mechanisms. Modern detergent actually reacts to the enzymes in food, so if you pre-rinse your dishes, it won’t properly activate. Your owner’s manual has diagrams of how you should position your dishes so that the spray arm can reach everything.
How we test
When we test dishwashers, we use both benchmarks and less objective metrics like design. Of all the appliances we test, dishwashers get the most feedback from the Digital Trends office staff. They get used several times a day by everyone in the office, and they let us know when things aren’t getting clean, when the near-silent operation and small status light have led to them pulling the door open mid-cycle, and so on.
We also use more rigorous tests, based on AHAM’s standards, to ensure our results are repeatable and comparable.