The average dishwasher lasts about 15 years, so it’s important to do your homework before shopping. The ideal model will fit your home’s space requirements, your lifestyle and your budget.
Unit type. Dishwashers come in three configurations: under-the-counter, under-the-sink, or drawer units. Under-the-counter units are the most common type of dishwasher. They range from budget models with few features to high-end machines that are whisper quiet, with special zones and jets — some even have WI-FI. Under-the-sink dishwashers save space, but they won’t save money. They cost as much as high-end standard dishwashers, without the features to match. The newest option is the drawer dishwasher. Choose from one or two drawers that fit in your bottom cabinets, saving kitchen space and offering a premium aesthetic.
Capacity. Under-the-counter dishwashers come in two widths, standard (24 inches) or compact (18 inches). In general, all of these models are sized to fit beneath standard countertop height. Compact machines can accommodate about eight place settings. Standard models can handle four additional settings and some larger serving pieces. While compact machines cost less, they are not as efficient as standard-size models, and you may need to run them more often. A single dishwasher drawer can wash a dozen plates, provided they aren’t too tall. Double drawers hold more and fit larger items.
Features. Many owners enjoy flexible shelving options such as tines that fold down and adjustable racks, as well as a third rack to accommodate smaller items. Soil sensors ensure an effective and efficient washing. As dishwashers get more water efficient, the cycles have gotten longer — well over two hours in some cases. If your dishwasher will be running for an extended time, you’ll appreciate a quiet cycle. Look for models that offer noise levels between 40-46 decibels. If money is tight, you might want to skip: stainless steel tubs, rinse/hold/sanitize settings, and smart technology.
Style. Most dishwashers come in black, white, or stainless steel. If these won’t work in your kitchen, check out panel-ready models. These dishwashers allow you to add custom fronts that match your cabinetry. They can make your dishwasher practically disappear.
Budget. Basic dishwashers start around $200 but can cost up to $600. Most of them still clean your dishes well, but they may not offer some desirable features such as adjustable racks or lower noise levels. Well-equipped, mid-range dishwashers begin at $700. Compact dishwashers tend to fall in this price range, too. If you’re looking for something high-end with beautiful styling and lots of advanced features, you’ll need a premium model and can end up paying up to $2,000. Dishwasher drawers range in price from about $650 to $1,000-plus based on the number of drawers.
A final tip. Even the best dishwasher won’t get your dishes squeaky clean if you load it incorrectly. Don’t overload, keep large items on the edges, and wash all silverware (except knives) with the handles down.