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The best dishwashers for 2021

The smart home team at Digital Trends has tested roughly 100 appliances across 50 different brands. Based on our testing and research, our pick for the best dishwasher is the Bosch 300 Series SHSM63W55N. It offers a lot in the way of performance at an affordable price, and it has an unprecedented level of rack control.

The Bosch 300 Series isn’t the only exceptional model we’ve encountered, though. We’ve also included our pick for the best cheap dishwasher, the best drying dishwasher, the best cleaning dishwasher, and the best dishwasher for hard water.

Best dishwashers at a glance

The best dishwasher: Bosch 300 Series

bosch-300-series-SHSM63W55N

Why we picked the Bosch 300 Series SHSM63W55N:

Outside of the attractive profile and stainless steel design, the Bosch 300 Series SHSM63w55N is quieter than a lot of the competition and has adjustable racks that make it easy to fit even the oddest-shaped pots and pans. The dishwasher has three racks with 16 place settings and powerful jets that remove cooked-on food. There’s a filter near the bottom of the machine that can be washed out when the cycle is done, preventing buildup and protecting your dishwasher from that all-too-familiar wet food stink.

There are five different wash options to choose from, including AutoWash and a one-hour wash cycle. At only 44 decibels, the Bosch 300 series can keep your dishes sparkling clean without generating a ton of noise. With the sub-$1,000 price, it offers top-tier performance at a mid-tier price.

The best cheap dishwasher: Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ

Why we picked the Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ:

This sleek Whirlpool model impresses at first glance with its hidden electronic buttons and 13-place-setting capacity — it’s a dishwasher that will look beautiful in any kitchen with plenty of room for taking care of larger loads. There’s also welcome smart tech inside, including two sensors that can judge the temperature, load size, and how dirty the dishes are to pick the best washing settings for you.

Of course, if you prefer to manually choose your settings, you also get a number of options, including a short one-hour wash mode, a heavy cycle for extra dirt, and a high-temp to make sure that glassware and other dishes get the best cleaning possible. When it comes to drying, there are additional modes for extended dry and added heat, too. At 51dBA, it’s also quiet enough to avoid annoyance if you’re running it while at home.

But perhaps the most impressive thing about the Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ is how affordable it is. All these features come with a low price that’s ideal for those who want to save money.

The best drying dishwasher: Bosch SHPM88Z75N

Why we picked the Bosch SHPM88Z75N:

If you hate needing to dry dishes after you take them out of the dishwasher, there are smart dishwashers with features made to help out. This Bosch model is an excellent example: If it’s been a while since you upgraded your dishwasher, you may have never seen a model like this before. The hidden electronic controls allow for a smooth, industrial exterior, and a hidden light shines on the floor to let you know when the dishwasher is active. It also sports a particularly large 16-place-setting interior, with a third rack that’s specifically designed to hold cereal bowls and awkward utensils.

During its cycle, the Bosch SHPM88Z75N uses sensors that check progress to see how well dishes are being cleaned, and you can add cleaning options with modes for sanitizing, washing a half load, and more. But the best part is when the washing cycle is over, and the “CrystalDry” technology uses just the right amount of heat up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit to make sure all those pesky water drops vanish.

The best cleaning dishwasher: LG LDF5678SS

LG Quadwash LDP6797ST

Why we picked the LG LDF5678SS:

LG’s line of Quadwash dishwashers uses multi-motion arms, two additional cleaning jet arms that are made to rotate back and forth during the cleaning cycle for a much more thorough cleaning. Combined with the powerful motor and self-cleaning filtration system, this model is one of the best choices for getting reliable, deep cleans.

It’s also a very smart dishwasher, as you might expect from LG. The auto cycle mode can sense how dirty dishes seem to be and choose a cycle for itself, while the dual-zone technology sets different water pressure at the top and bottom racks so more delicate dishes in the upper rack have a lower risk of damage while full power is used on the dirty dishes at the bottom. The drying system is also designed to work with plastic and wooden items without causing heat damage. You can even monitor everything from SmartThinQ app

Finally, it’s a healthy 15-place-setting size with a third rack that can handle many odds and ends, from flatware to espresso cups.

The best dishwasher for hard water: GE Profile PDT775SYNFS

Why we picked the GE Profile PDT775SYNFS:

If you live in an area with hard water, you probably already know the mineral traces in hard water can precipitate out and bond with the metal in your pipes and tanks, which can eventually cause some problems. When your dishwasher uses hard water, you may be wondering what to do to prevent that kind of buildup inside the washer — or on your own dishes. While hard water additives can help, picking a dishwasher like this GE model may also be a good idea.

The dishwasher includes four dedicated bottle jets, a food disposer for dealing with food particles, options for steam pre-cleaning for especially tough jobs, and extra wash modes. However, it’s the short 60-minute cycle option that can help deal with hard water fast so it causes fewer problems. Combine that with the twin-turbo dry boost for extra-fast drying before the water can stain dishes as much, and you can reduce the problems hard water causes.

If the GE Profile PDT775SYNFS does start encountering problems, it includes a leak sensor to alert you to any potential problems. Full app controls are also available.

Research and buying tips

What are the best dishwasher brands?

Consumer Reports data points to Bosch, Miele, Thermador, and Whirlpool as some of the most reliable dishwasher brands.

How does a dishwasher work?

A dishwasher works by heating up water, opening up the detergent dispenser so the detergent can disperse onto the dishes, shooting hot water through spray arms to clean the dishes, draining out the dirty water, spraying more hot water through the spray arms to rinse the dishes, draining out the water again, and then heating the chamber to dry the dishes.

How long do dishwashers last?

A dishwasher should last between 6 to 12 years, provided you maintain it properly. Most dishwashers last at least 8 to 10 years on average.

How wide is a dishwasher?

A standard residential dishwasher is 24 inches wide.

When is the best time to buy a dishwasher?

There are a few times of the year when you can find a really good deal on a dishwasher, such as holiday sales (Memorial Day, Black Friday, etc.). You can also get a good deal when manufacturers come out with new models or at the end of the month. If you’re buying online, research indicates you can sometimes get better deals on Thursdays and in the afternoon around 3 p.m. You can find out more information on the best times to buy appliances here.

What’s the difference between using a dishwasher and hand-washing?

Hand-washing does not sanitize your dishes as well as using a dishwasher. The heat of the dishwasher, the dishwasher’s detergent, and the cycles (clean, rinse, and dry) sanitize your dishes better than hand-washing your dishes with dish soap, a sponge, and water.

Should I pre-rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher?

Not necessarily. Pre-rinsing dishes typically isn’t necessary since modern dishwashers are designed to sense food particles and dishwashing detergents are designed to attach to food particles. Pre-rinsing also wastes water. As long as you have a modern dishwasher and you keep your dishwasher clean, you don’t need to pre-clean your dishes. This doesn’t mean you should place casserole dishes in your dishwasher that still have half of a meal left in them, but you don’t have to clean your dishes entirely before placing them in the dishwasher, either.

How do you properly load a dishwasher?

First off, never overload your dishwasher. This can cause performance issues over time, and this will also result in dishes that aren’t clean. Avoid placing more than one plate in a slot, and never place items on top of each other. Load cups, glasses, mugs, small bowls, and dishwasher-safe plastic on the top rack. Load plates and large items on the bottom rack. If you have an excess amount of dishes, run the cups and plates in one cycle. Then, do a separate cycle of pots and pans on the bottom rack, and place your large service utensils (spatulas and serving spoons that are too large to fit in the silverware bin) on the top rack. Don’t place a stockpot on top of a bowl to save time, as you’ll regret it later when your dishes are still dirty and your dishwasher stops draining properly. Check out our guide on how to load your dishwasher.

Should the silverware handles go up or down in the dishwasher?

You should put the knife blades down so you don’t cut yourself, but to promote the cleanest silverware, you should put some silverware handles facing up and some facing down so the silverware doesn’t clump together. This will get your silverware as clean and sanitary as possible. Here is a guide on how to properly load silverware.

How hot does a dishwasher get?

Dishwashers should reach temperatures between 130 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the brand, model, and the specific cycle.

How long does a dishwasher cycle take?

It depends on the cycle and the individual dishwasher. Some dishwashers work in as little as 20 minutes, while others take longer than 90 minutes.

When should I clean my dishwasher filter?

Many dishwashers have internal filters to help catch larger bits of food when draining. These filters can get dirty and clogged over time, which makes it harder for the dishwasher to work. Built-up food particles can also create bad odors no matter how often you clean the rest of the appliance. In general, it’s a good idea to thoroughly inspect and clean the filter every several months to make sure it’s operating properly. Consulting your appliance’s owner’s manual for specific details is also prudent, especially if your unit is still under warranty.

How do I know if my dishwasher needs to be replaced?

It doesn’t take a genius to know when a dishwasher is not doing its job; dishes still soaking wet or encrusted with food are two obvious signs that your dishwasher might not be working optimally. But before blaming the dishwasher, try a few troubleshooting suggestions. The way you load your dishwasher can affect how well it functions. Your owner’s manual has diagrams of how you should position things so that the spray arm can reach all the dishes and get them (and your dishwasher) clean. Keep the spray arm’s location in mind while loading and try a few test cycles to see whether that helps. Some dishwashers also require a rinse aid, or they’ll leave everything wet, thanks to their condenser drying mechanisms. Lastly, some modern detergent reacts to the enzymes in food, so if you pre-rinse every plate and pot, the detergent won’t properly activate, leaving you with unclean dishes. Once you’ve done the necessary troubleshooting and your machine still isn’t cleaning or drying properly, it might be time for a new dishwasher.

How does Digital Trends test dishwashers?

We use a variety of metrics to test dishwashers. Of all the appliances we try, Digital Trends’ office staff is most willing to use (and give feedback on) dishwashers. Team members run the dishwasher multiple times a day. They take note when things aren’t clean or something goes wrong mid-cycle. The user interface is of particular interest since near-silent cycles and odd status lights can mean dirty dishes.

We also use more rigorous testing procedures based on AHAM’s standards to ensure our results are repeatable and comparable. If you see a unit on our dishwasher “best of” list, you can be sure that our team recommends it highly.

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