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Best Built-in Dishwashers

Updated September 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 58 Models Considered
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 136 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best built-in dishwashers

    Last Updated September 2018

    When you shop for a built-in dishwasher – one that wires under your counter and permanently connects to your plumbing – you are looking for a machine that does a specific set of chores very well. A built-in dishwasher heats water, administers detergent, and sprays your dirty dishes. It then drains the water, rinses the dishes clean, and in many cases, dries them.

    But that’s not all. Many built-in dishwashers have sensors that detect load size and soil amount, then adjust appropriately to save water and energy. Indeed, technology has given us a lot of convenient options! So how do you choose which built-in dishwasher is best for you?

    The shopping guide below outlines key dishwasher features and helps you to understand how those features will (or won't) make your life easier. When you’re ready to make a purchase, we invite you to investigate the dishwashers in the matrix at the top of the page to see what we’re recommending.

    Many newer dishwashers accommodate smart technology. This allows you to operate your machine remotely or simply keep an eye on the dishwashing cycle when you're not in the same room.

    Built-in dishwasher features

    Here are the features – some standard, some optional, and some standard but with options – that help built-in dishwashers get the job done.

    Adjustable rack

    An adjustable rack allows you to reconfigure the internal dishwasher setup to better accommodate different types of loads.

    Tub/basin

    This is the part of the dishwasher that holds the water for washing and rinsing. There are two types of tubs: plastic and stainless steel.

    • Plastic tubs cost less than stainless steel tubs, and they require less cleaning. However, they make for a noisier dishwasher and are also less energy efficient than dishwashers with stainless steel tubs.

    • Stainless steel tubs make for a quieter dishwasher with better heat absorption for energy efficiency. They’re very durable and can withstand high heat well. On the downside, a built-in dishwasher with a stainless steel tub tends to be more expensive and requires more frequent cleaning than a machine with a plastic tub.
       

    Water jets

    A built-in dishwasher pumps water from the tub/basin through little holes to spray and clean your dishes. These holes are located on rotating spray arms at the bottom and top of the machine. Notably, some models have additional water jets that perform specific tasks, like cleaning silverware.

    Filter

    The dishwasher filter is located beneath the spray arms at the bottom of the machine. The filter clears the food particles from the water so they don’t get re-deposited on your dishes during the wash or rinse cycles. There are two types of dishwasher filters: manual-clean filters and self-cleaning filters.

    • Manual-clean filters need to be monitored. When you notice that the manual-clean filter is dirty, you must remove it and rinse it by hand.

    • Self-cleaning filters typically have a grinder that pulverizes food particles. This type of filter is much louder than the manual-clean version. A second type of self-cleaning filter forces water through a fine mesh at high speed to break down particles.

    Wash zones

    Some dishwashers are equipped with a feature that divides the interior into separate wash zones – usually upper and lower – so you can economically run just a half a load of dishes.

    Rinse and hold

    This feature is exactly as it sounds; it rinses the dishes you place in the machine and holds them there until the washer is full and ready to cycle. A built-in dishwasher with this feature uses less water than a regular wash cycle.

    Eco mode

    The eco mode uses lower temperatures and less water to clean your dishes. To compensate, the machine has a longer cleaning cycle.

    Soil sensor

    This energy-saving feature sends a beam of light through the wash water to assess the water's clarity. It then adjusts the amount of water, temperature, and time needed to thoroughly clean the load.

    Smart detergent dispensers

    Most dishwashers simply open the dispenser and dump the full amount of detergent into your load. But a smart dispenser determines and dispenses the precise amount of detergent needed based on variables such as water hardness, soil level, load size, water temperature, and cycle selection.

    Sanitize cycle

    A dishwasher with a sanitizing cycle heats the water to a higher temperature, approximately 155°F, to more effectively kill off bacteria.

    Drying options

    Current dishwasher technology offers four drying options: heated air, heated rinse, fan dry, and air dry.

    Heated air

    The heated air method engages a heating element in the base of the dishwasher to heat the air so the dishes dry more rapidly. This choice is not very energy efficient.

    Heated rinse

    The heated rinse method heats the water instead of the air in the last cycle. The stainless steel tub draws the heat and moisture from your dishes, drying by condensation. This process is more energy efficient, but it does not work as well on plastic containers and dishes.

    Fan dry

    The fan dry method employs a fan without heat to help dry your dishes. Since there is no additional heating involved, this process is also more energy efficient.

    Air dry

    In the air dry method, the dishwasher door automatically vents during the last cycle to allow hot air and humidity to escape. This process uses the least amount of energy.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Are you trying to save money on your energy bill? The drying cycle can be the least energy-efficient cycle a dishwasher runs through. Users often opt to skip this cycle in order to cut their energy consumption.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Dish soap is not the same as dishwashing detergent. Using dish soap in your dishwasher will likely make too many suds. Furthermore, it will take a few extra rinse cycles to get your dishes soap free.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Your dishwasher doesn't need your help with cleaning dishes. Pre-rinsing not only wastes water, it can “fool” your dishwasher soil sensor into not working as hard, thus leaving your dishes with bits of food still on them at the end of the abbreviated washing session.

    Front control vs. top control

    The controls for a built-in dishwasher may be clearly visible on the front panel or hidden on the top when the door is closed. Each configuration has its pros and cons.

    Front control

    Front controls are generally found on lower-priced dishwashers. If you’re looking for a low-cost option, this may be the right choice for you. Furthermore, you can see exactly what’s going on at a glance with the controls right in front of you. However, you might not like the look of buttons on the front; some people don’t. And when they’re on the front, they could be accidentally pressed by you or a curious child.

    Top control

    The clean, streamlined look of a top-control dishwasher is appealing to the eye. Adults can see the buttons without squatting or bending over, and small children are far less likely to play with a control panel they can’t see. Dishwashers with controls on the top tend to cost a bit more, but many owners find the expense to be worth it.

    Dishwasher size: height and width

    Dishwasher height

    Many built-in dishwashers stand approximately 35 inches tall (with adjustable legs) and are about 24 inches deep. But because of different flooring options, your height allowance might be significantly less than 35 inches. Before you purchase a dishwasher, measure your space and check the minimum and maximum heights as noted by the manufacturer to ensure a proper fit.

    Dishwasher width

    Built-in dishwashers come in two different widths: standard and compact. The standard width for a built-in dishwasher is 24 inches. This size typically accommodates up to twelve five-piece settings along with six serving pieces. The compact width for a built-in dishwasher is 18 inches. This size typically accommodates up to eight five-piece settings along with six serving pieces.

    A note about drawer dishwashers

    Another type of dishwasher exists that doesn’t necessarily conform to the above dimensions: the drawer dishwasher. These units look like file cabinets and have one or two drawers. If you have two drawers, you can wash two different loads at the same time. Having drawers makes these dishwashers easier to load, but they typically only hold about 12 dishes per load, and the dishes must be smaller than 11.5 inches.

    Noise level

    Depending on your tolerance for noise, how loud a dishwasher is could be a huge factor in whether it's right for you or not. There are two factors to consider when looking at decibel ratings.

    First, some manufactures list a decibel rating that is an average over the entire cycle. This can be misleading because it doesn't reveal the true decibel rating (which could be much louder in some cycles).

    Second, decibel ratings do not increase in the way you might think. The volume doubles every 10 decibels. In other words, if one dishwasher runs at 50 decibels and another at 60 decibels, the 60 decibel unit is twice as loud. For a reference point, 77 decibels is a car driving 65 mph that passes just 25 feet away.

    Technology exists to make washing cycles quieter – about as loud as a library. Machines with this technology tend to cost around $1,000.

    Built-in dishwasher prices

    A budget-priced built-in dishwasher of a standard size can start as low as $300 and run into the $700 range. Most compact dishwashers also fall within this price range. If you’re aiming to get a premium built-in dishwasher of standard size, expect to pay roughly between $800 and $1,200.

    If you’re intrigued by the idea of a drawer dishwasher, you may end up paying more for the novelty. Single-drawer dishwashers generally between $650 and $1,100. Double-drawer dishwashers generally cost between $1,000 and $1,400.

    Timing is everything when it comes to being energy wise. In the summer, running your dishwasher at night will give your air conditioner a little break. In the winter, running your dishwasher in the morning will help the heater. The smaller the living space, the greater impact this routine will have.

    FAQ

    Q. How often should I clean my dishwasher filter?

    A. If your dishes aren't as clean as they used to be or feel gritty or grimy after being washed, it’s time to clean your filter. However, symptoms are the result of a problem. Don't wait. Establish a routine of checking your filter every two to three weeks to be proactive.

    Q. My dishwasher smells bad. What do I do?

    A. It probably smells bad due to a buildup of gunk, grease, or grime. There are three things you can do to remedy this problem.

    1. Inspect the drain to make sure nothing is stuck. Remove anything you find.

    2. Place a dishwasher-safe container with a small amount of distilled white vinegar on the upper rack of your dishwasher. Run the dishwasher through a hot-water cycle.

    3. Sprinkle one cup of baking soda around the bottom of your dishwasher. Run the dishwasher through a hot-water cycle.

    Q. What can't I put in my dishwasher?

    A. Wood, delicate glassware or china, plastics not marked "dishwasher safe," and insulated mugs are no-nos. Additionally, you should refrain from washing aluminum, nonstick pans, rubber, cast iron, and sharp knives in the dishwasher.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Allen
      Allen
      Writer
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Katie
      Katie
      Editorial Director
    • Laura
      Laura
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor

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