The Best Dishwashers for Every Kitchen and Budget

If it's time to buy a new dishwasher, read this 101 guide first.

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March 02, 2021

Here at HGTV, we like to do most things by hand, but not when it comes to chores, especially the dishes. That’s why we maintain the dishwasher as one of the most important kitchen appliances. It deserves just as much hype as a gourmet stove or a French-door fridge. A good dishwasher is truly magical, and some can even make you feel as though you’re living in The Jetsons. However, there's nothing more annoying than a subpar dishwasher. Re-cleaning dishes after an ineffective wash cycle isn’t just a pain, it’s a waste of water that ultimately means higher water bills. Sometimes cheap detergent is the culprit, but there are several passive-aggressive ways your old dishwasher is telling you it’s ready to retire, such as soap spots on glass, rusting inside the washer or, the absolute worst, dishes that look perfectly clean but come out with a faint smell of wet dog. Yuck. If that’s happening, it might be time to upgrade, and we’ve got the ultimate shopping guide for you! We’ve researched and scoured reviews to create a roundup of the best dishwashers you can order online. Take a look at our list and see which dishwasher is right for you.

If you haven’t shopped for a dishwasher in a while, they've gotten smarter. Just like other kitchen appliances these days, dishwashers have evolved with better technology, more sustainable materials and a lot of advanced features such as WiFi and programmable tiny water jets. Like a family SUV, large dishwashers now come with an optional third row. On the other end of the size spectrum, small, portable countertop dishwashers are a thing now, and they don’t even require a hookup.

Stainless steel is still king, but if you’re looking to save money, a white or black finish can be hundreds of dollars cheaper. The type of handle you want — bar vs. pocket — is also important because a bar handle alone can change the price of a dishwasher by up to $100! Another major price factor is the location of the control panel. The terms to know are front panel or front controls vs. top panel or top controls. The latter is hidden when you close the dishwasher door so it creates a more seamless design that blends into cabinetry etc. But, again, that design difference can make the same dishwasher model much more expensive than its front-panel alternative.

Best Stainless-Steel Dishwasher

If you’re looking for a stainless-steel dishwasher that is as practical as it is aesthetically pleasing, look no further than the Bosch Ascenta. This is one of the most customizable models around. You can get the stainless-steel finish with either top or front controls and bar or recessed handle. We should really call it the best overall dishwasher because it’s energy-efficient (exceeds ENERGY STAR requirements), it’s less than $700 and it rates extremely well. Just take a look at the more than 2,000 five-star reviews on The Home Depot’s website.

Best Smart Dishwasher

If you’re willing to creep closer in the budget to the $1,000 tier of dishwashers, you can get some very cool high-tech features such as WiFi. Yep, even your dishwasher can talk to Alexa and Google. This unit from LG is one of the best-rated smart dishwashers, and it features LG’s TrueSteam technology which uses less water and helps prevent spots on glasses. One of the coolest smart features to this washer is that it tells you when a load is finished via your phone! And if you’re running low on dish detergent, it can automatically order some for you via Amazon Dash.

Best Budget Dishwasher

If you’re trying to stay under $500, this Amana front-control dishwasher is a solid buy. It’s not stainless steel — both the interior tub and the handle are plastic. And there are no fancy jets or steam settings, just your straightforward quick wash, high heat and standard modes, but it gets the job done for less than $400 and free delivery.

Best Large-Load Dishwasher

If you have a big family, just the sheer amount of dishes after one dinner can seem overwhelming. You need an extra-large tub with the coveted third rack. This stainless steel dishwasher from GE has a third-tier that makes squeezing in all those extra cereal spoons and cooking utensils easy. The unit is pricey, but, not only are you paying for extra space, you’re paying for high-end features such as bottle jets for vases and tall glasses. And with all that extra power, you’d think this appliance would be loud, but it’s not. It’s rated as one of the quietest models on our list.

Best Compact Dishwasher

If you live in a small home or apartment or just have a small kitchen, a traditional 24-inch dishwasher might be too big. Even if you have the square footage, you may not need that much power and water. A couple can easily get by with just an 18-inch unit and you’ll save on your water bill. For a small size, this Frigidaire packs performance and has all the key features you want in a big washer, from a stainless steel finish to an ENERGY STAR-compliant rating to heated drying. The downside is that it’s labeled at 52 decibels, so, despite its size, it’s louder than most models.

Best Dishwasher With Heated Drying

One of the worst things about a subpar washer is opening a clean load only to find racks full of moist dishes. Because if you don’t take out those steamy plates immediately, they get a funky smell or mold can grow in the washer. For multitaskers, busy parents and procrastinators alike, you need a washer with high heat dry. Unlike steam, heated air dry completely dries dishes so there’s no residual moisture left in the washer chamber. This setting is also handy in areas with high humidity as it keeps potential mold at bay. This KitchenAid model is the most expensive in our roundup but that’s because of the fan-enabled ProDry settings. This unit is also great for families with little ones as the front door features a “PrintShield” material to deter fingerprints and smudges.

Best Dishwasher for Plastic

If you have a great collection of souvenir tumblers or have a lot of baby and toddler cups, you don’t want to see those sippers get melted in the dishwasher. Just because the bottom of a cup says it’s dishwasher-safe on the top rack does not mean it will survive any wash especially if you have a dishwasher with turbojets or heat dry. For a unit with a more gentle touch, check out the Bosch 800 series. Reviewers have praised it for its delicate cycle settings.

Best Quiet Dishwasher

Like washing machines, dishwashers can get loud. If you prefer to have a dishwasher that can run while you’re watching a movie, taking Zoom calls for work or just having a conversation, you need a quiet model. The Bosch 300 series dishwasher isn’t silent but it’s pretty close. At 44 decibels adjusted, it’s been praised for its extremely quiet performance. This is also a solid buy for anyone who’s a light sleeper. You can run a load of dishes at night without getting woken up by the sound of churning, crashing water.

Best Smudge-Proof Dishwasher

Stainless steel has come a long way and brands have gotten smarter about creating fingerprint-resistant materials. But in the early days of the stainless craze, a sleek fridge came at a price — especially if you had kids. That shiny door became a polka dot pattern of little fingerprints fast. Now, several brands offer some kind of smudge-free or fingerprint-resistant feature. But not all of them are up to the claim. However, the Samsung Top Control Storm Wash Dishwasher comes with glowing reviews of smudge-free heaven. One review said, "It truly is smudge-proof and resists fingerprints too. This is so important to me, as it keeps the dishwasher looking brand new." Another reviewer wrote "This is the only stainless steel appliance we own that does this right! Hardly a smudge on it!"

Best Retro-Style Dishwasher

If you don't care about black matte stainless steel and would rather have appliances with personality, a funky, retro-style washer is for you. There are several brands recreating the 1950s aesthetic, from Galanz to Daewoo, but SMEG is king. The company makes so many retro appliances in the same style and colors so definitely go SMEG if you're looking to create a kitchen with matching appliances. While the retro line features several great midcentury modern colors, we're partial to the powder blue. This soft pastel would work well in a kitchen with appliances that are white, black or stainless steel, too.

Best Countertop Dishwasher

If you live in a small space or like to travel in an RV, a countertop dishwasher is a great compromise for modern convenience without water hookups. Never heard of a countertop dishwasher? It’s exactly what it sounds like. A small box about the size of a microwave that can wash a small number of dishes. This Farberware model can hold about six place settings at a time, but that’s not the only reason Amazon shoppers have praised it. This handy small appliance is perfect for new parents as it can quickly wash bottles and baby toys.

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