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The best dishwashers for 2020

The smart home team at Digital Trends has formally 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 SHSM63W55N

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: Frigidaire FGID2466QF

frigidaire-FGID2466QF

Why we picked the Frigidaire FGID2466QF dishwasher:

The Frigidaire FGID2466QF may lack a lot of bells and whistles, but it makes up for it with solid performance and a low price. The control buttons are hidden, which gives the dishwasher a cleaner look and helps prevent any accidental activations. The Frigidaire FGID2466QF has 12 places settings and an adjustable upper rack that helps accommodate even longer glassware. One feature the Frigidaire FGID2466QF has that other budget-level dishwashers do not is the high-temperature sanitation cycle, as well as DishSense and AquaSurge systems. These two systems work in conjunction with one another to adjust the force and amount of water to ensure your dishes come out clean each time.

There are eight different cycles to choose from, as well as a heated dry option. Unfortunately, the only smart feature is the ability to delay the start of a wash cycle for up to 24 hours. For $430, though, the Frigidaire FGID2466QF is one of the best affordable dishwashers we’ve seen.

The best drying dishwasher: Thermador DHDW870WFM

Thermador DHDW870WFM review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Why we picked the Thermador DHDW870WFM:

Even if your dishwasher cleans your dishes well, you probably won’t be happy with your machine if it produces clean dishes that are still soaking wet when the cycle finishes. This Thermador machine might be expensive, but it is a monster at drying dishes. Your cups and plates come out without a single drop of water on them. How does it dry so well? Thermador’s StarDry with Zeolite technology adds an additional step after the drying cycle. Zeolite produces heat when it comes into contact with moisture, and dishes come out bone dry.

In addition to being an excellent drying dishwasher, the Thermador Star Sapphire also boasts Star Speed, which means you can wash your dishes in 20 minutes. On top of that, the dishwasher has an attractive interior glow of your color choice when paired with Home Connect — the feature is called Star Glow.

 Check out our full review of the Thermador DHDW870WFM.

The best cleaning dishwasher: LG QuadWash LDP6797ST

LG Quadwash LDP6797ST

Why we picked the LG QuadWash LDP6797ST:

With four cleaning “arms” instead of two, this dishwasher is an impressive performer that is quiet and features adjustable racks.

When we read in the LG guide that we should put dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher without rinsing, we said, “Oh, it’s on!” We smeared plates with condiments and let them dry, then put them all in the Quadwash. To our surprise, the dishes came out sparkling clean — even when we ran them in the turbo cycle.

The LG QuadWash LDP6797ST is quiet, too. So quiet, in fact, that we could barely tell it was running. Tiny indicator lights just below the handle gave us an inkling, but we still accidentally opened it a couple of times. This dishwasher features three racks — one small one for cooking utensils and knives on the top, a middle rack for bowls and glasses, and a bottom rack for larger items. All three racks are adjustable in case your glasses are taller, or you want to wash a large pot on the bottom rack and need more room.

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 that the mineral traces in that 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?

Compared to other major appliances, it’s simple to know when a dishwasher is not doing its job. Dishes encrusted with food or soaking wet dishes are two obvious signs that something’s not working as it should. Then again, the way you load your dishwasher could affect whether or not you have crusty plates. 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.Modern detergent can react to the enzymes in food, which is another obstacle to fully cleaned dishes. If you pre-rinse every plate and pot, the detergent won’t properly activate. Ultimately, if you’ve done the necessary troubleshooting and your machine still isn’t cleaning or drying, it’s probably 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 tests based on AHAM’s standards to ensure our results are repeatable and comparable. That said, when our office staff rates a unit highly, you can bet it will rank on our list of the best dishwasher recommendations.

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