The 3 Best Dishwashers of 2023
HomeHome > Blog > The 3 Best Dishwashers of 2023

The 3 Best Dishwashers of 2023

Sep 22, 2023

After a fresh round of testing, we have new picks coming soon: The Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N remains our favorite.

The Maytag MDB8959SKZ is our new runner-up pick, and the Miele G7106 will be our upgrade pick. Check back soon for our fully updated guide.

Any dishwasher—even a cheap one—can clean your breakfast bowls and dinner plates, as long as you use a decent detergent. But the best dishwashers can handle the tough jobs and are also quiet, reliable, and easy to load. After digging through thousands of customer reviews and stress-testing 17 models with seriously crusty dishes, we’ve concluded that the Bosch 300 Series is the first one you should consider.

With a third rack and quiet performance, the reliable, efficient, and effective Bosch 300 Series is a fantastic dishwasher that will make most people happy. Dozens of variants are available across a wide range of prices.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $950.

The Bosch 300 Series has the most versatile and accommodating racks you’ll find in a dishwasher at this price, including a V-shaped third rack and an adjustable middle rack. The extra capacity and flexibility allow it to hold more items (including hard-to-fit things likes trays, pots, and cooking tools) per cycle than its competitors, all loaded properly so that they should get totally clean. At 44 decibels, the 300 Series is also quieter than other dishwashers at this price, and it's hushed enough that most people won't even hear it unless they’re standing next to it. (We’re linking to one popular handle style and finish here, but you can get the 300 Series—like most dishwashers—with other handles and finishes if you prefer.)

Really, any Bosch model that fits your budget—from the basic 100 Series to the whisper-quiet, super-adjustable 800 Series—can be a solid choice. (More on all the variants below—there are dozens, when you account for the different handle styles and finishes.) They all use the same cleaning system, and in our cleaning tests, three different models achieved equally excellent results. Out of all the dishwashers we tested, Bosch dishwashers came the closest to fully washing away the toughest types of stuck-on soils—even when we used the shortest (one-hour wash) cycle or a cheap detergent. Like most dishwashers, they’re all efficient enough to earn the Energy Star badge. Bosch is also one of the better brands in terms of reliability and customer service, and its machines offer better leak protection than most. (In the past, we’ve also ranked Bosch high for customer service. Recent reader complaints, however, have given us pause. We will continue to investigate and update this guide accordingly.)

On the downside, the Bosch 300 Series always leaves plastic dishes at least a little wet at the end of a cycle (nearly all dishwashers struggle to dry plastic completely). Though the pricier 500 Series does better in that regard, and the even more expensive 800 Series dries as well as any dishwasher we’ve tested. Some people also find the layout of Bosch's bottom rack to be inconvenient or inflexible. Those are good reasons to pick a dishwasher from a different brand, but Bosch's design is the standard by which other dishwashers should be measured, and its lines are a great starting point for anybody's research.


Better at drying plastic dishes than the Bosch 300 Series, and offering a more flexible layout on the bottom rack, this Maytag is another great cleaner with a respectable reputation for reliability. But it has no third rack, it's kind of loud, and the cycles can be quite long.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $739.

The Maytag MDB7959SKZ is another great cleaner from a company with a solid reputation for reliability (though not quite as strong as Bosch on either count). It has a few important differences from the Bosch dishwasher that some people will find appealing. Its heated-dry system is much better at drying plastic items than the passive system in the (similarly priced) Bosch 300 Series. The bottom rack is laid out differently, with a grid of vertical tines that some people find to be more accommodating than Bosch's prescriptive "zoned" approach, especially for bigger items like pots and pans. One drawback is that this Maytag model is noticeably louder (50 decibels on average) than the Bosch 300 Series—you’ll know it's running even if you’re a room away—but the sound is easily tolerated. The Maytag also has no third rack, so it can't hold as many dishes and will be more cluttered. And with especially dirty loads of dishes, cycle times are significantly longer than on a lot of other brands’ machines. Maytag is a sub-brand of Whirlpool, and dishwashers from these two brands have a lot in common with each other. So if you mostly like this Maytag model but it's out of stock, or if you want slightly different features (not counting the finish or handle, which again, you have a choice of with this model), you could consider a variant instead.

Miele dishwashers are known to last about twice as long as machines from most other brands. This is one of the company's most affordable models, and it has most of the same features as the Bosch 300 Series.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,099.

Miele dishwashers are built to last for 20 years of regular use, which is about twice as long as a typical dishwasher (such as a Bosch or Maytag) is capable of. So despite the higher purchase price relative to machines from other brands, Miele dishwashers can actually be a great value in the long term. They’re great dishwashers in the other important ways, too: The cleaning performance is strong (though a step below that of Bosch), they’re very quiet, and the racks are versatile and capacious. The unheated drying system does tend to leave plastic damp, though. The Miele G5006SCUSS is usually the most affordable model in the lineup, and it has many of the same features as the Bosch 300 Series does, including a third rack (though that component is actually a flat utensil tray in this model). All Miele models have an excellent quick-wash cycle, as well as some standout racking features (more on the variants below). One caveat: Qualified Miele service technicians are available in most, but not all, areas of the US, so check the service network before you buy. If you have your Miele serviced by a technician who is not certified by Miele before your warranty expires, you risk losing the warranty.

We also have guidance on lower-cost dishwashers, smaller models, and most other brands.

With a third rack and quiet performance, the reliable, efficient, and effective Bosch 300 Series is a fantastic dishwasher that will make most people happy. Dozens of variants are available across a wide range of prices.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $950.

Better at drying plastic dishes than the Bosch 300 Series, and offering a more flexible layout on the bottom rack, this Maytag is another great cleaner with a respectable reputation for reliability. But it has no third rack, it's kind of loud, and the cycles can be quite long.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $739.

Miele dishwashers are known to last about twice as long as machines from most other brands. This is one of the company's most affordable models, and it has most of the same features as the Bosch 300 Series.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,099.

Writer Liam McCabe has covered home appliances since 2011, including a stint at Reviewed, and has written about washing machines, robot vacuums, microwaves, and refrigerators for Wirecutter.

Writer Sarah Bogdan did all of the hands-on testing for this guide. She previously spent three years testing appliances and home goods (including detergents) at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

Here's the breakdown of our efforts:

Dishwashers work better than hand washing because they don't get bored or uncomfortable. They also use detergents with a higher pH (around 10) and hotter water (from 115 °F to 160 °F) than human hands can typically tolerate (skin is usually pH 4 to 7 and tends to hurt around 106 °F). Of course, they save time and effort (especially if you skip pre-rinsing—seriously, try it), but they also save loads of energy and water (hundreds of kilowatt-hours and thousands of gallons per year) and probably some relationships, too.

It's true that today's dishwashers don't last as long as they used to. Cycle times have gotten longer—they’re usually more than two hours now by default. The machines can also be lousy at drying plastic. And if you have hard water, as roughly one-third of American households do, you might need to jump through a few hoops to get clean dishes.

On the plus side, modern dishwashers are cheaper, quieter, and much more efficient than they used to be. It's now common to have three racks, which opens up tons of extra space for more dishes. Some brands’ machines have powerful one-hour wash-and-dry cycles, just like the old days (sort of). And for most people, even a cheap dishwasher should be pretty good at cleaning and drying your dishes, as long as you use a decent enzyme-based detergent and a rinse aid.

What a phenomenal appliance. Progress!

There is no perfect dishwasher that will make everyone completely happy. But the best-loved models are great in most of the following ways:

Racks: After reading through thousands of customer reviews and talking to a few appliance dealers, we noticed a handful of racking-related features most owners seem happy to have and are often willing to pay extra for. Nylon-coated racks are a must-have because they’re better at cradling dishes and less likely to crack over time than the vinyl-coated racks on cheaper models. Rows of fold-down tines are useful for accommodating big or unusually shaped items. Most dishwashers have at least one folding row, while pricier models have more.

A height-adjustable upper (or middle) rack helps make space for tall items like long-stem wine glasses or large cookware. This is a common feature and is always useful. But the best systems have three height settings, let you adjust each side independently, and can smoothly shift up and down with a button or lever press and minimal wiggling and wrangling, even if the racks are full.

A third rack isn't quite a must-have but comes with plenty of reasonably priced dishwashers. The extra rack frees up space on the lower racks and also helps control clutter from random lids and tools. The most basic third-rack designs are so shallow that they hold only utensils, but most can fit at least some small kitchen tools and cup lids, and some are deep enough to hold small cereal bowls or short cups. They’re all useful. A third rack can sometimes crowd tall items on the rack below, but there's usually a way to make adjustments so that everything can fit. And you can always remove the third rack if it's actually getting in the way.

With a bigger budget, you can find a few step-up racking features that can make the dishwasher especially comfortable to use, even if they don't make a huge functional difference. Ball bearings, for example, help the upper rack roll more smoothly and steadily than wheels alone. Cushioned or clip-in wine-glass holders can give you some peace of mind knowing that it's extra-safe to wash your delicate stemware in the dishwasher. And although interior lights aren't really a racking feature, they are a great touch—included only in very expensive dishwashers—that can make it easier for you to load and unload the racks.

Now for the polarizing part: the way that the tines are laid out on the bottom rack. Some brands (such as Whirlpool and Maytag) build bottom racks with a grid of evenly spaced vertical tines. That style gives you a lot of loading flexibility, especially for big stuff like pots and pans. One downside is that the design tends to fit fewer dishes overall. Another drawback is that, since the gaps are so big, some dishes can flop over or wiggle out of place, and as a result, they don't get completely cleaned.

Other brands (like Bosch and Miele) design their racks with discrete zones, each suited for certain types of dishes. The racks have a row of narrowly spaced, slightly angled tines for plates, and then another row with wider spacing and greater tilt for bowls, and so on. These layouts can fit a ton of dishes, but sometimes oddly shaped pieces (such as bowls with wide lips) can't really fit anywhere. (And to be clear, even the models with straight tines on the bottom do have some zones on their upper racks.)

Drying: Every dishwasher will struggle to dry plastic cups and containers, unless you use a rinse aid. And even with a rinse aid, some dishwashers still can't get plastic completely dry. If you can tolerate some leftover moisture, or if you just don't wash plastic stuff in your dishwasher at all, you don't have to think about your dishwasher's drying system—any dishwasher will work fine. But if you demand bone-dry dishes, you have to choose more carefully (though there are plenty of good options). Since attitudes are split on this topic, we don't favor one type or the other—but we do try to clearly highlight what kind of drying performance you can expect from all of our picks throughout this guide. And if you want to understand the differences in greater detail, we cover drying systems below. (No joke, some dishwashers use self-heating volcanic crystals—it's pretty rad.)

Cleaning: Most dishwashers can completely clean a big load of greasy, starchy, kind-of-crusty dishes as long as you use a decent detergent and rinse aid. All 17 models we tested did a good job—at worst, we’d find small, stray specks of tough soils like oatmeal or egg yolk or burnt cheese. Along the same lines, Consumer Reports writes, "Almost all of the dishwashers we tested clean well." We even scoured a couple thousand customer reviews on the Home Depot website, and we found that complaints about poor cleaning never made up more than 2% of critical reviews (four stars or less), except for one particularly cheap model with an old design (a model that actually worked pretty well in our tests).

But we still sought out the very best cleaners because they let you get away with using cheaper or gentler detergents, loading extra-crusty dishes, or running the quick cycle even with dishes that are pretty gnarly. The best cleaners might also offset some of the challenges posed by hard water (which makes detergents less effective).

And in case you’re wondering: The kinds of features that make a dishwasher a great cleaner don't really appear on a spec sheet. Great performance comes from hard-to-measure details such as the spray-arm geometry, energy management, cycle programming, soil-sensor algorithms, and filtration quality.

Your dishwasher cleans your dishes, but the machine needs to be cleaned too.

Noise: There's a sweet spot for dishwasher quietness that we aimed for in all of our picks, right around 45 decibels on average, give or take. These dishwashers are practically silent for most of the cycle (unless you’re standing next to them) yet reasonably priced. Such machines tend to have stainless steel tubs, which are better at deadening sound than the plastic tubs that the cheapest dishwashers tend to use. They may also have improved insulation, better water-jet trajectories, and other small optimizations that add up to noticeable sound reductions.

You could save a little money on a dishwasher that's a bit louder (but basically tolerable), and that's a reasonable choice. It's only really at 55 dBA or louder that the noise becomes a nuisance for most people, especially if a bedroom is adjacent to the kitchen.

Some really quiet models (below 40 decibels) are available, but they can be very expensive, and most people would not notice a big difference compared with a machine at 45 decibels. There's also some reason to believe that dishwasher makers game their way into lower decibel ratings, as measured by the industry's standardized noise test. The noise rating is an average of the entire cycle, which alternates between louder periods (when the dishwasher is draining water) and quieter periods (when it's drying dishes). Sachin Sood, a former Bosch product manager, said in an interview that one way to shave a few points off the average decibel rating is to run the test with a longer and preferably gentler cycle. We haven't investigated this matter closely, but it's possible that pricier dishwashers with extra cycles called Eco or ExtraQuiet or the like might be just as loud on their "normal" cycles as cheaper models, even though they have different advertised noise ratings.

Cycle speed: Dishwashers’ "normal" wash cycles usually take about two to two and a half hours, though we’ve tested a couple that take more than three and a half hours when they’re loaded with really dirty dishes. Yes, it's true that this is a lot longer than it used to take, and yes, it's because of stricter efficiency regulations. But plenty of dishwashers have among their cycles one that can wash and mostly dry a load of dishes in about an hour and can still do a great job even with tough soils—we gave special consideration to these speedy cleaners when we made our picks. Dishwasher cycle times have actually been in the news lately due to the "make dishwashers great again" campaign and some tug-of-war at the Department of Energy over efficiency regulations.

Food disposal: All dishwashers have fine filters that do an excellent job of trapping and eventually flushing away foods so that they don't end up back on your dishes or building up around the dishwasher. Some dishwashers have an additional food grinder, which is mostly a harmless gimmick. We recommend both types, though most people will be perfectly happy with simpler, quieter, filter-only models.

Efficiency: This factor barely made a difference in how we picked our favorite dishwashers because every dishwasher is super efficient compared with hand washing, and the most efficient dishwashers save only a few dollars’ worth of water and energy per year compared with the least efficient models. All of our picks do meet current Energy Star standards, which means they’re at least 20% more efficient than the federal minimum standards, but again, all dishwashers are a win for conservation.

Some considerations that did not factor into our picks:

Aesthetics: The consensus among the dealers and brand representatives we talked to is that a dishwasher with integrated controls (aka top controls or hidden controls), a bar handle, and a stainless steel finish is an aspirational yet attainable design choice that a lot of people seem to love. It's an affordable way to elevate your kitchen's appearance for Instagram, say, or a sales listing. It's been the slightly upscale look for at least 15 years, according to Shirley Hood, marketing manager for appliances at Abt, and it seems like a safe design bet for the foreseeable future.

But if you’re not into that style, you still have plenty of choices. Most brands sell dozens of variants of the same basic machines with different control panel placements, handle styles, and finishes. If you want an even more upscale design, go for a round bar handle with a knurled texture. Why is that the trendy look? "Because historically it always has been—and that's the only reason," Hood said.

Wi-Fi connectivity: Most brands have at least a few "smart" dishwashers that can connect to Wi-Fi and a companion app. But we haven't tested any of these features yet (and most owners don't even seem to use them, judging from the reviews we’ve read), so we don't have a sense of how reliable or useful these systems might be (and security is a whole other can of worms). So connectivity did not affect how we picked our favorite dishwashers, though some upscale variants of our picks do connect to Wi-Fi. But the feature could be useful if you want a push notification sent to your phone when a wash cycle is done. Some brands also use the connectivity to help diagnose and troubleshoot errors or even communicate with customer service.

Specialty cycles: Most dishwashers have the same handful of basic cycles and options—"normal," heavy, quick, rinse-only—and most people are satisfied with them. Then there are a handful of extra settings that some people seem happy to have, even if they had to pay extra for them. If you need to be assured of excellent hygiene, a sanitize option can be crucial. (As far as we know, all sanitize modes are certified by the NSF for effectiveness.) A half-load (or top-rack only) option can be handy if you don't churn through many dishes. A delicate (or crystal and china) setting uses less water pressure and is great for loads filled with fragile wine glasses. There are plenty of others, but those three probably make the biggest difference for most people.

We focused on 24-inch-wide, built-in dishwashers because that's the most popular type in the US by an enormous margin. (We do have some guidance on 18-inch models and ADA-compliant models, as well as a separate guide to portable dishwashers.)

Most dishwasher brands sell a dozen or more different dishwasher models. But they’re just variants of the same few basic machines per manufacturer, differentiated by upgrades to the racks, drying systems, operating volume, cycle selections, and other odds and ends. Given how similar the dishwashers in a given brand's lineup tend to be, we decided to test just a few models from all of the major manufacturers, 17 in total, including these:

We tested each model for at least a week at a time—read about our testing process here.

With a third rack and quiet performance, the reliable, efficient, and effective Bosch 300 Series is a fantastic dishwasher that will make most people happy. Dozens of variants are available across a wide range of prices.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $950.

Bosch dishwashers clean better than those of any other brand we tested, and they run quieter than most, too. They have some of the most capacious and versatile racks, and they seem to be just as reliable and long-lasting (maybe more so) as other machines of comparable price. A Bosch offers almost everything you could ask for in a dishwasher—without being particularly expensive.

On the downside, the basic Bosch models can be lousy at drying plastic (though the midrange 500 Series and up are much better at that). Some people also can't get comfortable with the way the tines are laid out on the bottom rack.

A Bosch dishwasher isn't the best choice for everyone, but it's still the best starting point in anybody's search for the right dishwasher. The Bosch 300 Series will work well for a lot of people, though we’re also fond of the 500 Series and 800 Series. Every model in the lineup—from the lower-end Ascenta line and 100 Series, up through the high-end Benchmark series, and on to the luxury models under the Thermador brand name (it's the same parent company, and the same dishwashers on a fundamental level)—has some redeeming qualities. Most of the statements we make in this section about Bosch dishwashers in general apply to every Bosch model, unless otherwise noted. We also have a primer to help you navigate the extensive lineup.

First and foremost, the cleaning performance is excellent across the Bosch lineup. Even the low-end 100 Series cleans as well as the premium 800 Series. (Bosch confirmed with us that all its dishwashers use the same wash system.) And the Bosch machines we tested all cleaned better than any of the 14 non-Bosch dishwashers we tried (though a few competitors came close), even the Miele models installed in Wirecutter's office and test kitchen.

The Bosch dishwashers did well with even the most ridiculous messes, including dried-on refried beans and cheese, plus burnt-on brownie batter in the bottom of a mug, loaded in the farthest corners of the top rack. This was true even when we used the cheapest powdered detergent we could find at the corner store near our office in Long Island City, New York.

Other reviewers have found excellent results, too. Consumer Reports rates all of Bosch's models highly for cleaning performance, and Reviewed writes that "Bosch gets the closest we’ve come to a perfect clean." And among the thousands of owner reviews for Bosch dishwashers we’ve read, less than 1% cite weak cleaning as a problem.

To put it all in context: Most of today's dishwashers are great cleaners when you load them properly and use good detergent. But Bosch's dishwashers are obviously the best, and their superior ability helps them work well with cheap or weak detergents or on their fast-wash mode (more on that shortly) and possibly mitigates the challenges of washing dishes in hard water.

What's behind Bosch's excellent cleaning performance? It's probably a lot of little things that add up. For one thing, Bosch dishwashers all use a passive drying system, which means that they put all of their energy (under DOE and EPA guidelines) into washing the dishes, without holding anything back for the drying segment. (One side effect is that the more basic Bosch models, such as the 300 Series, struggle to get plastic dishes dry, but pricier models in the 500 Series and especially the 800 Series do a better job.) Another advantage is that they all use an efficient heat pump to warm the wash water instead of a standard ceramic heating element, as other brands’ machines do. Yet another advantage: If you use a tab or pod in the detergent dispenser, it falls into a nook on the middle (or upper) rack, where it's dissolved by a targeted spray arm (instead of falling to the floor of the tub, where there's no direct stream of water to make sure it dissolves on schedule). Alona Wells, a senior manager for Bosch, compared the effect to that of an extended-release headache medicine.

Good rack layouts are somewhat subjective, but we’d argue that Bosch's racks are the most versatile and accommodating for the price. All of its models have fully "zoned" racks, which helps them cram a ton of dishes into a small space. This design also arguably makes it easier for you to load dishes and keep them securely in place, with the dirty surfaces getting the full blast from the water jets so that they’re cleaned completely. The Bosch racks glide pretty smoothly and sit securely on their rails, without wiggling or skipping as much as the racks on other affordable dishwashers. The higher-end models (500 Series and up) have even smoother rack movement because they add ball bearings to the rollers.

Once you get to the 300 Series and up, the racks become Bosch's defining feature. (We don't think it's a coincidence that the average owner ratings for the 300 Series models tend to be several tenths of a point higher on Home Depot's website than those of the 100 Series.)

At the 300 Series level, you get a V-shaped third rack instead of a flat rack (or no third rack at all) on some 100 Series models. The V-shaped rack is useful because the small trough in the center is deep enough for spatulas, whisks, measuring cups, sippy-cup lids, baby-bottle nipples, and other not-quite-flat items. It's a home for the stuff that creates clutter on the lower racks and won't quite fit into the flat, third-level "utensil trays" on a lot of other dishwashers in this price range. The 500 Series has a third rack with even more space and adjustability, and certain 800 Series models have a third rack that's deep enough to fit small drink glasses and cereal bowls.

Dishwashers in the 300 Series and up also have the RackMatic system, which lets you adjust the height of the middle rack with an easy button press and a lot less wrangling than in other brands’ machines. Each side of the rack can be adjusted independently, so you can set it at a slant and fit unusually tall items on two different racks at the same time while leaving the third rack in place. We just haven't seen that kind of flexibility on other similarly-priced dishwashers.

As for reliability, no brand is perfect, and we’ve heard the "Bosch is German for ‘sucks’" joke from at least a dozen Wirecutter readers. But according to all the (admittedly imperfect and incomplete) data we’ve seen, Bosch is probably the most reliable midrange dishwasher brand that you can regularly find. Even if it's not the best, we don't see compelling evidence that it's worse than any of its competitors. It earns an Excellent rating for predicted reliability from Consumer Reports, which is the only good source of survey-based, longer-term appliance reliability data. Yale Appliance reported Bosch's one-year service rate at 10.1% in 2021, a figure that made it one of the better brands Yale sold that year. In addition, the 300, 500, and 800 Series all have better average ratings on Home Depot's site than similarly priced models from most other brands.

In terms of warranty, projected longevity, and customer service, Bosch also seems to be equal to or slightly better than the (mediocre) industry average—though we don't have any numbers to back that up. The warranty provides a year of parts and labor coverage for defects, which is standard. Replacement parts (but not labor) for defective racks and motherboards, as well as tub rust, are covered for up to five years. Bosch senior marketing manager Cara Acker confirmed with us that the company aims for at least a 10-year lifespan with average use, which is the (softly spoken) industry standard. Former Bosch product manager Sachin Sood confirmed that, as well. The quality of customer service is hard to pin down. Anecdotally, we’ve traditionally seen more compliments and fewer complaints about Bosch's service than seems typical. Recently, we’ve seen a few more complaints. The pandemic led to long wait times for service appointments. Supply-chain issues may have affected some machines; we’ll continue to look into it.

The leak protection on Bosch dishwashers is also better than that of most brands’ machines. All dishwashers have some leak detection and prevention systems inside their tubs, but Bosch adds a molded base to contain water that finds its way outside of the tub so that your floor doesn't get damaged.

Bosch dishwashers are also very quiet. Hushed performance has been one of the brand's main selling points for a couple of decades; other dishwasher makers have mostly caught up, but Bosch models are still among the quietest dishwashers at any given price. You can clearly hear a 100 Series model if you’re standing near it. But even the affordable 300 Series runs at just 44 decibels, which is quiet enough that you might have to actively listen for it. The dishwashers are hard enough to hear that most models with integrated (hidden) controls project a red dot on the floor to let you know that they’re running.

How are they so quiet? On top of the usual noise-reducing strategies that most dishwashers use, such as a stainless steel tub and water jets aimed away from the walls, Bosch models also have a thick layer of bitumen insulation (which also contributes to the drying performance). And the leak-protection molded base also helps muffle the sound of the motors.

Like all modern dishwashers, a Bosch model takes about two to two and a half hours to wash and dry a load of dishes on its default cleaning cycle (auto, in this case). That's normal. What's notable is that every Bosch dishwasher from the 100 Series and up also has a 60-minute wash-and-dry cycle, called Speed60. We found in our tests that the Speed60 mode cleans almost as well as the auto wash. Bosch recommends Speed60 only for cleaning fresh soils, not dried-on food—but in our tests it worked great on most of the crusty stuff. (The drying was, eh, incomplete, but most of the glass and ceramic pieces came out dry.) Other brands have fast-wash cycles, and some of them work pretty well, but Speed60 is the best fast cycle we tested, and it's likely the best you’ll find among mid-range models. It's almost as efficient as the auto cycle, too. (Maybe dishwashers didn't need to be made great again after all.)

The most common complaint we’ve heard about Bosch dishwashers is that they can't dry plastic. This is mostly true, though the reality is more nuanced than that.

Lower-end Bosch models, up through the 300 Series, have an entirely passive drying system (we cover the ins and outs of drying later in this guide). It works great with glass, ceramic, and metal but not as well with plastic. Rinse aid is mandatory if you want any plastic to dry, and even then you’ll still find that softer, thinner plastics will be a little dribbly or damp. But most people seem comfortable with this limitation.

If you think that's a dealbreaker, you can opt for a dishwasher with an effective heated-dry cycle, like the Maytag MDB7959SKZ. Heated drying is not always a guarantee that you’ll get dry plastic; in our tests, some of the cheaper models with heated drying cycles performed just as poorly in drying as the Bosch 300 Series (and were usually louder and worse at cleaning, too).

Or, you could step up to a higher-end Bosch model, which can do a better job drying plastics. The 500 Series has a feature called Auto Air, which pops the door open at the end of the cycle, giving the moisture inside a chance to evaporate quickly. It's the same thing as when you manually open the door after a cycle ends, according to Bosch product manager Alona Wells; auto-opening is just a lot more convenient. The dishwasher waits until the temperature inside the tub drops to 118 °F (to reduce the chance that the plume of hot steam might damage your cabinetry) and then opens the door just 4 inches, holding it in place with a latch. We didn't test a 500 Series model, but we have used some Samsung and Miele dishwashers with a similar feature, and we found that they managed to get plastic almost entirely dry.

The 800 Series (and up) has a feature called CrystalDry, which is so, so clever and such an elegant feat of engineering. In our tests, it got all types of plastic completely dry, every time we used it. You can feel good about paying extra for this feature. The CrystalDry system relies on a type of mineral called zeolite, which has the curious property of getting hot when it gets wet. (Zeolites can be found in volcanic rocks, among other sources.) As moisture evaporates off the dishes after the dishwashing cycle's final hot-water rinse, a fan sucks some of the steamy, cooling air from the main tub into a small chamber filled with zeolite crystals. As the zeolite gets damp from the steam, it also heats up. The hot, dry air from the hidden crystal chamber gets vented back into the main tub, where it encourages more evaporation, and the cycle repeats. During the next dishwasher cycle, the machine's heating element dries the crystals so they’re ready to do their job again—no additional energy required. Bosch claims that the zeolite crystals will last the lifetime of the dishwasher.

Zeolites have been in use for decades for an unbelievably wide range of applications, from mining to medicine to cat litter to laundry detergent to radioactive-waste cleanup. Though they’re relatively new to dishwashers in the US, they’ve been in use in machines in Europe for a few years. So far, so good, as far as we know.

Bosch's racks are entirely "zoned," with rows of tines that are arranged to hold specific types of dishes throughout, even on the bottom rack. Some people find this layout too restrictive, especially for big or oddly shaped items. An alternative would be something with a more flexible bottom rack, like the Maytag we recommend. Also, Bosch 800 Series models and up have fold-down tines on the bottom rack, a design that gives you a little more flexibility.

A related complaint is that Bosch dishwashers don't have good places to efficiently load deep cereal bowls or bowls with wide rims, but that's not quite correct; such bowls will usually fit fine somewhere in the dishwasher, even if it's not where you think they’re supposed to go or if it looks a little ugly. But if you think the layout will drive you nuts, just buy a different dishwasher.

Another complaint is that some dishwashers stink like asphalt when they’re running. This problem seems to be very rare, and usually the odor fades after a few cycles. But we’ve heard from some people who say that it has lingered for months. We asked Bosch for comment; Alona Wells, the product manager, insisted that it wasn't a defect and compared it to "a new car smell." But, she said, if the odor persists, you should contact customer service.

We heard far fewer complaints about the freshly paved highway stench in 2020 than we did in 2019, and we don't think it should stop you from buying a Bosch if you want one. Every brand has some kind of terrible but ultimately rare quality-control problem, and any appliance purchase is a bit of a dice roll. There's no reason to think Bosch is worse than any other brand in this regard.

It's not hard to find people who hate their Bosch dishwashers for other reasons. But a lot of the complaints are rooted in a misunderstanding of how all modern dishwashers work. Bosch's two-hour wash cycles aren't unique (if anything, they’re a little quicker than average). Neither is the machines’ lack of a food grinder, nor the need for a rinse aid. If a dishwasher smells like sewage, it's installed incorrectly and is easy to fix—this can happen to any dishwasher.

Yes, Bosch recalled several hundreds of thousands of dishwasher power cords due to a fire hazard a few years ago. But there have also been credible class-action suits regarding fire hazards from Whirlpool and Frigidaire dishwashers recently, as well as class actions against other dishwasher brands for other reasons.

There are plenty of people who have had a legitimately terrible experience with a badly defective Bosch unit—but trust us, the same is true of every mainstream dishwasher brand.

Bosch has had a hard time keeping its dishwashers in stock throughout the pandemic. The company continues to recover from factories operating at a limited capacity, which led to delays of newer model releases and created stock issues. For now, you need to be lucky or patient to get the specific model you want. But Bosch makes dozens of dishwashers, most of which are pretty similar to one another, so you could consider just picking whatever is available.

This Bosch brochure (PDF) is the most comprehensive and easy-to-scan source for figuring out the differences among the dozens of variants (and maybe finding your ideal model). But here's the quick version:

All Bosch models have the same washing system, so there should be no difference in cleaning performance throughout the lineup. (In our tests, at least, this was the case from the 100 Series through the 800 Series.)

The model series gives you an idea of the racks, quietness, drying system, and other subtle upgrades. Ascenta is the most basic series, followed by the 100 Series (which has a semi-random assortment of extra features including the Speed60 fast-wash cycle), the 300 Series (quieter, all-stainless tub, always a third rack), the 500 Series (ball-bearing racks, better drying, deeper third rack), the 800 Series (even better drying, even deeper third rack, fold-down tines on the bottom rack, more cycles), and then the high-end Benchmark series and Thermador brand (interior lights and aesthetic upgrades), which overlap a bit.

Nearly every Bosch model is available in a stainless steel finish. Many are available in glossy white or glossy black. Some models come in black stainless. A few are panel-ready, which means you attach your own panel to match your cabinets.

Like most brands, Bosch makes models with both front-facing control panels and integrated (hidden, top-mount) control panels. The integrated models come in a few different handle styles: scoop, pocket, and bar. Scoop handles are on the lower-end series, while pocket handles are more upscale. Bar handles are found throughout the lineup, but those machines tend to cost a little more than other models in the series.

Some variants, at several price points, come with a tray for water-softening salts, which can be a game changer if you have hard water.

Bosch also sells some 18-inch-wide built-in dishwashers in the 300 Series and 800 Series that have many of the same features as the 24-inch models. We didn't test any of them, but they have good owner ratings (by the somewhat lower standards of 18-inch models).

And Bosch sells a bunch of ADA-compliant dishwashers, too; the company had sold more than a half-dozen models when we started working on this project, but now the lineup is limited to the 18-inch models we mentioned above.

Better at drying plastic dishes than the Bosch 300 Series, and offering a more flexible layout on the bottom rack, this Maytag is another great cleaner with a respectable reputation for reliability. But it has no third rack, it's kind of loud, and the cycles can be quite long.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $739.

If there's something you don't like about Bosch—non-heated drying, rack layout, some feud with the brand over a bad experience that you cannot forgive—we suggest looking at a midrange model made by the Whirlpool Corporation, the parent company of the Whirlpool, Maytag, and KitchenAid brands (among a few others).

Think of it this way: Many people love Bosch dishwashers, some people hate Bosch dishwashers. But Whirlpool's midrange dishwashers rarely evoke such a strong reaction one way or the other. They’re good enough in every important way, and that's totally fine.

The Maytag MDB7959SKZ was, in our opinion, the most notable model in the lineup. (We are currently testing the Maytag MDB8959SKZ, a model largely similar to the MDB7959SKZ, but it features a third rack and is reportedly quieter.) We’re highlighting it here partly because it works a little better than other Whirlpool Corporation models at this price, but also because it's the most different from Bosch models, with a powerful heated-dry system and a food chopper (rather than a passive-dry, filter-only setup).

This Maytag model (which from here on out we’ll also refer to as the 7959) has a long heated-dry cycle that worked really well on plastics in our tests. If you demand bone-dry dishes every time you run your dishwasher, the 7959 works as well as anything out there.

Like all Maytag dishwashers (and not many others), the 7959 also has a food chopper. It's mostly useful for the peace of mind you get from knowing that your dishwasher will absolutely annihilate any leftover food that might slip past the filter—which is an unlikely event. Whirlpool actually produced an ad where they loaded a pizza, a cake, and three sandwiches right on a Maytag's racks, and it appears as though they all completely washed out of the machine. But most people, most of the time, would never notice the difference between a filter-only dishwasher and one with a chopper.

Like a lot of dishwashers, the Maytag 7959 has only two racks; not everyone needs the extra capacity of a third rack. The racks don't glide as smoothly and sturdily as Bosch's, but they’re nice enough and far from the worst we’ve used. The bottom level is laid out in a grid of evenly spaced, vertical tines, a flexible setup that some people prefer over the prescriptive "zoned" layout of Bosch's (and some other brands’) racks.

At 50 dBA, the Maytag 7959 is also much louder than a similarly priced Bosch at 44 dBA—it's a noticeable difference, and the Maytag's noise is likely to register in your consciousness as a minor nuisance if you hang out nearby while it's running. (The step-up Maytag 8959 is a few decibels quieter and also has a third rack.)

In our cleaning tests, the Maytag 7959 performed nearly as well as the Bosch models we tested on its default wash cycle (as did the other midrange Whirlpool models we tested). The Maytag and Whirlpool machines washed away almost every tough mess, including crusty oatmeal and burnt brownies, even when we used mediocre detergent. Other reviewers have found similar results, with Consumer Reports rating similar Whirlpool Corporation models as Very Good for cleaning.

One big caveat tied to the cleaning performance: The 7959 can easily take more than three hours to finish a load. Whirlpool- and Maytag-branded dishwashers in general were the slowest models we tested, and sometimes they took an hour longer to complete a "normal" cycle than the next-slowest competitors of other brands. To be fair, this wasn't a widespread complaint in owner reviews we saw during our research, though it did come up often enough that we noticed a pattern. Our test load was also filthy to the point that it did not resemble any real load of dishes and probably triggered the soil sensor to keep the cycle going, going, going longer than it would have with a normal stack of dinner plates and breakfast bowls. But no other brand's machines had this problem.

We also found that the Whirlpool and Maytag fast-wash cycles (usually one-hour, wash-only) weren't as effective as Bosch's one-hour wash-and-dry option. They were much more likely to leave behind globs of tough soils like oatmeal and egg.

Whirlpool Corporation dishwashers seem to be pretty reliable. Consumer Reports rates Whirlpool's expected reliability as Very Good, just a step behind Bosch and ahead of other major brands like GE, LG, Samsung, and Frigidaire. Maytag dishwashers earn just a Good rating, though that could be a holdover from historical data collected a few years ago, before Whirlpool and Maytag models became so similar to one another. Whirlpool models also have one of the lowest one-year service rate in Yale Appliance's records, though the company qualifies that by noting that it sells Whirlpool washers "primarily to large construction jobs," so "it's hard to know when people move in and use the appliance."

The Maytag 7959 hasn't collected many ratings on retailer websites yet, so we don't really have a sense of what people love or loathe about this thing.

Whirlpool Corporation sells a few dozen dishwasher models under the Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Amana, and JennAir brands. It also makes all the dishwashers for IKEA and at least some for the Kenmore brand.

Jason Mathew, global director of laundry at Whirlpool Corporation, told us that there are actually some significant differences throughout the company's lineup, even if they have product names and numbers that seem similar.

To put that in context: Bosch models are all built around the same basic machine, with steady and obvious improvements as the price increases. Whirlpool Corporation models, on the other hand, are not all built around the same basic machine, so you can't expect each Whirlpool to clean like every other Whirlpool and Maytag and KitchenAid. (The results are often pretty similar, though.) If you’d like to try to figure out how to decode the differences among all the Whirlpool Corporation dishwashers for yourself, the PDF brochures for Whirlpool, Maytag, and KitchenAid are a good start.

If the Maytag 7959 is unavailable or not quite what you’re looking for, here are some similar models you could consider (some of which we’ve used, some of which we haven't):

We didn't test any higher-end Whirlpool models, but we’d expect them to work a lot like the midrange models. The biggest difference is that they look trendier, though they don't have many extra performance-related features.

KitchenAid models look great and have some interesting features, but they were a bit of a disappointment in our tests, especially for the price.

The cheaper Whirlpool dishwashers are bad in several important ways.

Kenmore dishwashers are also made by Whirlpool, and they should work fine. We didn't look at them closely.

Whirlpool also makes one full-width, ADA-compliant model, the WDF550SAH, and one 18-inch model, the WDF518SAH. We haven't tested either one.

Miele dishwashers are known to last about twice as long as machines from most other brands. This is one of the company's most affordable models, and it has most of the same features as the Bosch 300 Series.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $1,099.

Miele dishwashers are known to last about twice as long as those from other brands, including Bosch. That's reason enough to consider one, but they’re great in all the other important ways, too, with strong cleaning, very quiet performance, versatile racks, and speed when you want them to have it. (Like a lot of modern machines, not all Miele models are great at drying plastic, though.)

The most basic Miele G5000 dishwashers are an excellent value for the money: They’re about $1,300, at the time of writing, and they have most of the same features as a $950 Bosch 300 Series—but they should last 20 years instead of 10. (We’ve actually seen these Miele models sell for as little as $700, though that's rare.) As you step up into the G7000 series, Miele adds more and more wash cycles and comfort features. They get pretty expensive, but when you amortize the up-front cost over the longer expected lifespan, the prices don't seem so crazy compared with those of other dishwashers with similar features. (We primarily talk about the G4000 models in this section, though we point out when we’re talking about features unique to the G7000 series.)

How can we know that Miele dishwashers last so long? To some degree, we are taking Miele's word for it. Nobody has good data on appliance longevity by brand, so our best sources of info are anecdotes and brand promises. Miele claims that it designs and tests its dishwashers to last for 20 years with average use, while most brands aim for about 10 years (and some make no promises at all). Judging from our own experiences, and the word of mouth we’ve heard around the appliance industry, we’re pretty confident that Miele's stuff really does last a lot longer than most other brands’. That applies to nearly all of its appliances, not just dishwashers—we’ve recommended some of its vacuum cleaners and laundry machines for several years, as well. And the folks at Miele have been making these longevity claims for so long (decades) that it seems likely somebody would have caught on by now if they were full of it.

Consumer Reports also rates Miele dishwashers’ reliability as Excellent, at least over a five-year span. Yale Appliance's one-year service data has had some blips recently: The Miele service rate in 2019 was about 20% on 900 units sold. (Buzzing solenoid valves were apparently the most common problem by far—a nuisance, but not a critical failure.) But in 2017, the service rate was under 6%, and in 2020 and 2021 it was back down to about 8% and 8.9%, respectively—among the best in Yale's records for those years.

Of course, some people have had a bad experience with a faulty Miele and less-than-ideal product service. It can happen with any appliance. But it stings more when it's a Miele, because you’ve paid extra to try to avoid that kind of problem. This seems really uncommon, though.

Miele's cleaning performance is strong, but not quite the best we’ve found. We tested two different G400 units (both installed in our office in Long Island City, New York), and they struggled a bit with the stubbornest foods, including a cheese-and-bean plate, egg, oatmeal, and burnt brownie. Miele's model was a step behind the Bosch, Whirlpool, Maytag, and even GE dishwashers we tested. Consumer Reports ("Quick Guide: Dishwashers," Consumer Reports Buying Guide 2021, pp. 23–25) also rates Miele just a tick below the best performers. But with most loads, most of the time, a Miele should still get everything totally clean. Wirecutter staff writer Andrea Barnes owns the Miele G5006, and she has few complaints, other than that she finds she needs to be conscientious of how she loads the dishwasher: If any surface is slightly covered (say, a plate leaning on another plate), it might not get totally cleaned.

The passive-drying system works well for most dishes but can leave some moisture on soft plastic items (just like the Bosch 300 Series and other dishwashers without a heated-dry system). Some step-up variants have an auto-open feature, which cracks the door open after the final rinse to help moisture evaporate quickly (similar to the Bosch 500 Series and a few other models). We didn't formally test any of these auto-open Miele models, but our editor owns one and finds that it's very good, if not quite perfect, at drying plastics.

The Miele rack style has discrete zones for different types of dishes, which helps the racks fit a lot of items but isn't as flexible as the more open layout of some other brands (such as Whirlpool or Maytag). As with Bosch and some other brands, paying for a higher-end dishwasher gets you more flexibility, with more rows of fold-down tines and deeper third racks. Miele's clips to hold wine glasses are great, and some models have silicone fins to give delicate stems a little extra protection. Some of the lowest-cost models have just two racks, but most have a third rack of some sort—some that hold only cutlery, others that are deep enough to fit spatulas or ramekins, a few with segments that you can slide around to make space for deeper bowls or open up some clearance for tall items on the rack below.

Miele also does a better job than other dishwasher makers of indicating where you can adjust the racks, with tabs, sliders, and levers that are helpfully colored in yellow. Some even have illustrations to show how you can use them. Miele's racks feel as steady and smooth-gliding as any that we’ve used.

As for noise, the G5000 models are rated at 44 dBA, the same as the Bosch 300 series, and virtually inaudible from across the room. Miele G7000 machines get as quiet as 42 dBA, which is functionally silent.

All Miele models also have the QuickIntenseWash cycle (it's so quick they couldn't put spaces between the words), which can wash and dry a load typically in a little less than an hour or sometimes just 45 minutes. This is another feature that we unfortunately were not able to test, though our editor says that it works great in her Miele.

Some higher-end models add features that you can find in other brands’ higher-end machines, such as water softeners, interior lights, and Wi-Fi connectivity for basic remote control and monitoring.

Miele does have a couple of unique, top-of-the-line features, which unfortunately we weren't able to test. There's the Knock2Open system, which is exactly what it sounds like and does away with the need for a handle.

And then there's the AutoDos automatic detergent dispenser, which is also exactly what it sounds like—and it could be not only convenient but also protective. One plausible theory is that the prepackaged detergent tabs and pods that are so popular now are actually an overdose for many loads of dishes. So an automated dose-management system could prevent waste, keep some money in your pocket, protect your dishes from etching, and save you the hassle of loading the tray before every load. For now, though, AutoDos is available only on the priciest Miele models, and you’re also forced to use Miele's own PowerDisk detergent with it.

One thing to note about Miele appliances (not just its dishwashers) is that Miele sells them only through certified dealers and will send only a certified technician for installation and service. If you live far from a major mainland metro area, you may not even be able to buy a Miele dishwasher, let alone get it repaired by a qualified tech under warranty. The upside of Miele's relatively strict partnerships is that the dealers and techs really know what they’re talking about, and they can offer guidance on how to make the most of the machines.

Miele's model-naming scheme is especially confusing, so the simplest way to get a handle on which models include which features is to scope out this brochure (PDF). Miele does make a few 18-inch models, including the Slimline G5482SCVi, as well as a handful of ADA-compliant models, including the G5051SCVi.

If you want to spend less on a dishwasher, we recommend a cheaper variant of the Bosch or Whirlpool Corporation models we’ve written about. Keep an eye out for the Bosch 100 Series or the Whirlpool WDT730PAH in particular. They clean just about as well as their pricier siblings and should be just as reliable. On the downside, the cheaper models are noisier and worse at drying, and the racks aren't as adjustable or capacious.

You can find even cheaper options out there from various brands ($300 is the lowest price we’ve ever seen). Most of these models that we’ve tested have been good at cleaning dishes, and there's no indication that they’re less reliable than pricier models (though they could be). But they tend to be loud, the racks are rickety, and their food filtration is not always great. We think it's worth spending a little extra for a nicer machine if you can swing it. But if you want or need to spend as little as possible, a super-cheap model can be okay—you won't be throwing your money away, in other words.

We nearly recommended GE dishwashers as our runner-up instead of the Maytag 7959. Machines from the two brands are similar in a lot of ways, with heated drying, a food grinder, great cleaning performance (actually beating out Miele), decent racks, and quiet-enough performance. We tested a couple of GE models, and the GE GDP665SYNFS was our favorite. It has a third rack, plus bottle-washing nozzles built into the tines on the middle rack, a feature that we think is pretty cool even as we recognize how gimmicky it is.

In making our picks, we ended up passing over GE because its aggregate reliability data is less favorable, and its prices tend to be higher than Whirlpool and Maytag's on a per-feature basis. But if there's something you like about a GE or GE Profile (a slightly upscale line) dishwasher—maybe you’re getting a great GE stove in one of the finishes that only GE sells, and you want your dishwasher to match—it can be a fine choice.

We’d steer clear of the really low-end GE models (anything below the 600 series) because they have lousy owner ratings.

KitchenAid is an upscale brand from Whirlpool, and we’ve recommended some of its dishwashers in the past (the KDTM354E is a modern classic). But its current lineup is a mixed bag. We tested the KitchenAid KDTM404KPS, and it was not one of the better cleaners we used; other reviewers seem to have found better performance in their testing, so maybe we got weird results (though we tested it more than a half-dozen times, with different detergents and settings). The racks aren't especially versatile or smooth-gliding, either, which is especially disappointing since this model often costs as much as the Bosch 800 Series.

The lower-end KitchenAid models are like Whirlpools with a nicer finish, and they don't offer a lot of bang for the buck in terms of features.

The higher-end KitchenAid models have upgraded racks (including a deep third rack with built-in cleaning jets), but they can be awfully expensive. Consumer Reports gives the brand a middling reliability rating. Yale Appliance also found not-so-great reliability for several years—though according to Yale, the quality actually began to improve in 2020. Hopefully KitchenAid continues its upward trajectory, but there are still a few things stopping us from recommending KitchenAid for now.

As solid as Whirlpool's midrange dishwashers are, its cheaper models cut some corners that we think ought not to be cut. We tested the Whirlpool WDF520PADM, which has been one of the best-selling dishwashers in the country for at least a half decade—and that's too bad, because it sucks. It performed okay in our cleaning tests, but it has by far the highest rate of complaints from real-life owners about poor cleaning ability and long cycle times of any dishwasher we looked at. It wasn't good at drying, either. Its racks felt especially wobbly, and they’re even coated in cheap vinyl, rather than sturdier nylon.

We can't help but wonder if this one popular yet thoroughly mediocre dishwasher created the backlash that led to the "make dishwashers great again" movement. This model is one of the oldest appliances that Whirlpool Corporation still sells, and it's hard to understand why the company keeps cranking these things out when it has shown that it can make really solid machines that don't cost much more than this one does.

Whirlpool also sells a few lower-end models, also with cheap racks and just-okay ratings. We didn't test any of them, but they are built on a newer "platform" than the old 520PAD, so they may at least clean and dry better.

These three brands all make decent dishwashers that should work well for most people most of the time. But in our tests, they didn't work as well as the other machines we’ve covered so far, and they have some red flags you should watch out for.

Frigidaire specializes in affordable plastic-tub dishwashers. We tested the super-basic Frigidaire FFID2426TS, which did a decent but not great job cleaning the toughest soils (forgivable, given how cheap it is), and the upgraded Frigidaire Gallery FGID2468UD, which was one of the better cleaners we tested overall. The Frigidaire line uses a heated-dry system, and both models we tested were great at drying dishes. They also have some of the shortest cycle times we found: The 2468 has a 34-minute wash cycle that performed pretty well, and both machines’ "normal" cycles tended to take less than two hours, which is unusual. But weak owner ratings at retailer sites, Consumer Reports reliability data, and J.D. Power's performance and reliability satisfaction ratings all paint the same picture: Frigidaire dishwashers tend to cause more trouble for their owners than other brands.

LG dishwashers do a lot of things similarly to Bosch models, with an emphasis on quiet performance and capacious, versatile racks. We tested the LG LDF5545SS (now discontinued) and LG LDP6810SS, and they didn't rank among the best cleaners or dryers we used, though they would be fine for most people most of the time (we would expect similar results throughout the lineup). The cycle times tended to be pretty long, though, clocking in at over three hours on the "normal" cycle sometimes, and the quick-wash cycle was one of the least effective that we used. LG's reputation for reliability and satisfaction is mixed; owner ratings on retailer sites are just okay, and Consumer Reports has LG dishwashers in the middle of the pack. But J.D. Power actually ranks LG as one of the better brands. LG's dishwashers tend to be more expensive than other brands’ machines with similar features, but occasionally they go at a deep discount and might be worth taking a flyer on.

We tested one Samsung dishwasher, the DW80R5060US/AA. It was a very good cleaner (which we’d expect to be the case throughout the company's lineup), and its auto-open drying system produced great results on plastic. J.D. Power rates the brand among the best for initial satisfaction with dishwashers. Owner ratings are more middling, though, and Consumer Reports rates the brand poorly. And Yale Appliance reports a high service rate (actually, the worst listed) for Samsung appliances in 2021 at 18.5%. The racks were also our least favorite among all the midrange models we tested. The bottom rack technically glided smoothly, but it felt awfully heavy. And the third rack was the wobbliest we tried and didn't hold very much.

Beko, a mainstream European appliance brand, has been a fringe brand in the US under the Blomberg banner for about a decade. (The parent company, Arçelik, is a major appliance manufacturer that sells worldwide and is especially popular in Europe.) As we’ve understood the situation, the dishwashers work well, but they’ve been easy to buy only in certain regions of the US, so we’ve never recommended them. However, the company looks to be expanding its presence, and we’re currently testing the Beko DDT38532X, which features spray technology that operates in a square pattern instead of a more traditional circular one at a quiet 45 dBA.

We’ve covered all the major, mass-market dishwashers so far, but there are a couple dozen smaller labels that we haven't covered and, unfortunately, don't know much about. Many of them are luxury brands, which we admit is a blind spot in our knowledge. Here's what we do know about them—though it's by no means the final word.

Fisher & Paykel makes a drawer-style dishwasher. (It comes in both single-drawer and double-drawer configurations.) It's a better fit, space-wise, for certain kitchens, and some people just like the design. The double-drawer model also gives you the flexibility of having two small dishwashers—run one while you fill the other. As of a few years ago, these were notorious for being unreliable—the glide rails would jam regularly. Brand reps told us in 2019 that the company had redesigned the rails, but we haven't looked into whether that has made a difference since then. The GE Café line also offers a drawer-style dishwasher (which we are currently testing).

Asko manufactures expensive, high-quality dishwashers, some of which are said to have more steel parts than most brands. They’re not sold widely, and there's not a ton of info about how well they work or how reliable they are.

JennAir is Whirlpool Corporation's highest-end brand, and its dishwashers are functionally identical to KitchenAid models—probably not the best value for the money, from a performance and reliability perspective.

We were under the impression that Electrolux (parent company of Frigidaire) had stopped selling its upscale dishwashers in the US; the machines were unusually unreliable, according to all the sources we checked, though they did clean very well. But apparently two models, the 18-inch-wide EIDW1815US and 24-inch-wide EDSH494AS, are currently available, if you want to roll the dice.

Dacor (Samsung), Café (GE/Haier), LG Signature, and LG Studio are upscale, premium, lite-luxury, whatever-you-call-it variants from the mass-market brands whose lower-priced models we aren't too enthusiastic about.

Monogram (GE/Haier) and Gaggenau (Bosch) are the super-luxury variants from the mass-market brands.

Cove dishwashers are made by the same company as Sub-Zero fridges and Wolf ranges. Those are fantastic, expensive appliances, and the company deserves respect. Cove is unique in that Sub-Zero Wolf actually designed its own dishwasher and manufactured it in-house, rather than slapping its name on an existing design just so it could sell a complete kitchen suite (as other upscale fridge and range brands often do). The company even changed its name to Sub-Zero Wolf Cove to show that it's serious about this new dishwasher. Like the high-end Miele models, the Cove DW2450 has interior lights and a lot of flexibility and adjustability in its racks. Unlike Miele, Sub-Zero Wolf Cove put a heating element in its dishwashers, and the company had to recall tens of thousands of their dishwashers in June 2021 because the heating element can pose a fire hazard.

You might notice some cheap-ish dishwashers from brands that you would typically associate with cheap, small appliances: Danby (a Canadian import company that sells nice mini-fridges, among other undersized appliances), Haier (actually GE's parent company), Midea (which makes most of the world's microwaves, among loads of other goods), and Sharp (known to us mostly as one of those brands that sell Midea microwaves). As we said above, the super-cheap models tend to be noisy, the racks feel especially cheap, and their food filtration is not always great. If you want or need to spend as little as possible, a super-cheap model can be okay, but we think it's worth spending more for a nicer dishwasher.

AGA, Bertazzoni, Forza, Smeg, Verona, and Viking are all noteworthy stove makers that, as best we can tell, have slapped their brand labels onto dishwashers made by some other company so that they can offer a matching dishwasher when you spend $2,000 or more on one of their ranges.

And then there are the great mysteries: Brama, Cosmo, Kucht, Robam, Thor, ZLine, and probably a few others we’re missing. We know very little about these brands, except that there's not a lot of information available about them online.

We’ve highlighted 18-inch versions of our favorite Bosch, Whirlpool Corporation, and Miele dishwashers in each respective section. They’re most commonly seen in small apartments and vacation homes.

We’ve also made sure to point out models that are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and similar to our Bosch, Whirlpool Corporation, and Miele picks. ADA-compliant models are 1 to 2 inches shorter than non-compliant dishwashers, which allows them to fit beneath lowered counters. ADA compliance also stipulates that dishwashers must be able to be operated with one hand, and their controls must be located between 15 inches and 48 inches from the floor.

Unfortunately we did not test any of these models ourselves, but we’d expect them to be pretty similar to the most popular 24-inch, tall-tub versions we did test and recommend.

We also have a separate guide to portable dishwashers. We do not have a recommendation for a countertop dishwasher, though.

To test cleaning performance, we first dirtied a variety of dinnerware, including dinner plates, deep cereal bowls (people often complain that these are difficult to load), coffee mugs, plastic food storage containers, and silverware. Most test loads contained approximately two soiled place settings and an assortment of clean dishes to form a fuller load.

We talked to Procter & Gamble, maker of Cascade detergent, as well as representatives from a few dishwasher brands, to get a sense of the toughest soils that dishwashers might struggle to clean. We also asked actual dishwasher owners about the foods that their dishwashers tended to struggle with.

Egg yolk, oatmeal, yogurt, beans and cheese, and peanut butter emerged as some of the stubbornest soils that are regularly found in a dishwasher, so we designed our cleaning test around them. We microwaved egg yolks onto some plates and spread a gooey mixture of beans and cheese onto others. We coated bowls separately with oatmeal and yogurt. And we dirtied silverware with each of the aforementioned soils.

Burnt-on, starchy soils are very difficult to remove, as well, according to some of the experts we talked to. So we made terrible microwave mug cakes by burning brownie batter onto the inside of coffee mugs (and we didn't use any nonstick spray like the recipe calls for). All of these dishes sat overnight before going into the dishwashers. (We also ran test loads of plates with burnt-on marshmallows, mason jars coated with jelly, and coffee-stained mugs, but we ended up not including these soils in our testing because the dishwashers had no difficulty removing them.)

We ran soiled dishes through the auto, "normal," and quick/express cycles for each dishwasher we tested (some models didn't have all three). When possible, we ran additional modes such as heavy-duty cycles, too.

We learned that detergent makes a huge difference in dishwasher performance, so we repeated our test loads using three different kinds of detergent: Cascade Complete (the best-selling dishwasher detergent on Amazon, costing about 22¢ per load at the time of writing), Finish Quantum (a higher-end competitor to Cascade Complete, about 27¢ per load at the time of writing), and Great Value Automatic Dishwasher Powder (a generic powder formula from the corner grocery near our office, about 5¢ per load at the time of writing). The best dishwashers did a great job with the cheap powder alone, while others struggled until we tried one of the better formulas. We ran each cycle with each of these detergents at least once.

Post-cycle, we inspected each dish and utensil and noted any flecks, spots, streaks, or crusted-on food.

For the dishwashers that performed well in our general cleaning tests, we tested further by placing mugs soiled with stuck-on oatmeal in the corners of the top rack—the hardest-to-clean spot in a dishwasher, according to some of our sources.

To test each model's drying ability, we made sure each load was composed of a combination of plastic and ceramic or glass items. (Plastic dishes have a harder time drying than other materials.) After the cycle was complete, we checked the load for residual moisture, noting whether cups and containers were dry on the inside and outside. We ran cycles with and without rinse aid.

We loaded and unloaded dishes, sheet pans, serving bowls, mixing bowls, pots, pans, and pitchers, as well as an array of utensils, in each model to see how easy (or not) the racks and utensil baskets were to use. We noted how smoothly the racks glided with or without a load and how simple the racks were to adjust, if they were adjustable. And we also tried out any extra rack features such as wine-glass holders.

Although we were unable to accurately measure the noise level of each model due to pandemic-related testing limitations, we were able to identify which models were relatively the loudest among those we tested. We mostly relied on the companies’ self-reported noise ratings, which are based on a standardized test.

To test each dishwasher's filter performance, we also loaded containers with dried-on spinach (as one might with leftover salad). When the cycle completed, we noted where the leaves lay on the filter and whether they were blocking it. We noted the shape of the filter, as well as how easy it was to take out, clean, and put back in place.

We paid attention to the design of the control panels and noted whether food could get stuck in between the crevices of raised buttons, whether it was easy to push buttons by mistake, how responsive the panels were and how easy they were to navigate, and what the sound and light indicators were. And we checked out the rinse aid and detergent dispensers to see how easy they were to open, close, and fill.

We didn't measure each dishwasher's water and energy use because these appliances are highly regulated, and the companies’ self-reported estimates seem to be basically correct, judging by the almost uniform Excellent ratings in that regard in Consumer Reports's rankings ("Quick Guide: Dishwashers," Consumer Reports Buying Guide 2022, pp. 8–9).

Here's how to make the most of your dishwasher.

Don't bother pre-rinsing: Seriously. Most people (anywhere from 65% to 80%, according to our sources’ estimates) still pre-rinse, but modern dishwashers and detergents are designed to clean dishes that are actually dirty. All dishwashers have mesh filters that catch food, so as long as you periodically clean your filter, you don't have to worry about your machine getting clogged or leftover bits of food settling on other items. (It's wise to scrape off leafy greens and big hunks of food, though—they won't dissolve.) Every dishwasher and detergent brand and every independent expert we’ve talked to says that pre-rinsing is unnecessary, and so does the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of our sources said you might even get better results without a pre-rinse because of the way modern enzymatic detergents work. At the very least, you save a bunch of water and energy, keep a little extra cash in your wallet, and get back hours of time.

Use a detergent with enzymes, plus a rinse aid, and prepare to experiment: Enzymes help break up tough soils that cheap detergents can't. They’re also better for the environment than phosphate detergents (which are effectively banned, though it's complicated). Powders, tablets, and pods almost always include enzymes, but many gels do not (you can always Google the ingredient list). Rinse aid is a liquid that goes into the hatch next to the main detergent tray. The dishwasher dispenses a few milliliters of this stuff into the final rinse, and it helps dishes, especially plastic ones, dry more thoroughly and reduces or prevents chalky water spots or hazy films. (More on the roles of detergents and rinse aids for cleaning and drying below.)

Load it properly: It's hard to mess up loading too badly, but in general, aim the dirtiest surfaces down and in toward the wash arms below each rack. Give the dishes just a bit of breathing room—the dishwasher won't wash or dry them well if they’re nested too closely. Try not to load super-crusty dishes in the corners of the upper racks, because that's where the cleaning action is weakest. When you’re loading big casserole dishes or pots on the bottom rack, don't position them such that they prevent the upper spray arm from spinning. When in doubt, read the manual for tips on the best loading schemes (Bosch and Whirlpool Corporation both have some helpful tips on loading).

Look up your water's hardness and soften as needed: Usually you can just Google your water hardness by town; typically you’ll find a measurement in parts per million or grains per gallon. (The United States Geological Survey has a decent primer and reference charts, as does Wikipedia.) Hard water stymies some of the key cleaning agents in detergents and can leave chalky residue on glass. It can also lead to mineral-scale buildup in the dishwasher over time, and in extreme cases it can even shorten the machine's lifespan. If you’re among the one-third of Americans with hard water (that number is according to Jill Franke, an engineer and product research group leader at Procter & Gamble, the maker of Cascade), and you don't have a softening system installed at home, you probably need to use high-quality detergent and rinse aid. Every dishwasher brand recommends using extra detergent if you’re washing in hard water. You could also consider buying a dishwasher with a built-in water softener; a few prominent brands, including Bosch and Miele, sell such models.

Clean the machine a few times per year: We cover the details in a how-to guide. But the short version is that whenever you detect a lingering smell, spot some mineral-scale buildup or a black film (it could be mold or fungus), or notice a drop in cleaning performance, you should rinse the filter and run a self-cleaning cycle.

Try to troubleshoot before you call for service: If your dishwasher throws up an error code or starts to suffer from performance problems, we recommend checking out Repair Clinic (or any similar DIY-repair resource) for checklists and video tutorials to help you diagnose the problem. Start with this basic troubleshooting video. There's a good chance you’ll be able to resolve the problem on your own, or at least get an idea of what's wrong before you call for service.

When it comes to cleaning, good detergent is more important than a good dishwasher. Every dishwasher basically works the same way, but detergents can behave very differently. A cheap gel like Palmolive Eco Lemon Splash has far fewer (and more basic) ingredients than a top-of-the-line detergent tab like Finish Quantum.

If leftover food is your main problem, make sure you’re using a detergent with enzymes. Most gels do not contain any enzymes (they have a hard time staying shelf-stable in liquids, especially if the gels also contain bleach), whereas nearly all powders, tabs, and packs do.

The enzymes in dish detergent are typically produced from bacteria (they can be derived from other sources such as plants, animals, or fungi, but bacterial cultures seem to be the method of choice at a commercial scale). Enzymes are also environmentally friendly because they biodegrade quickly in water. The most common kinds of enzyme used in dishwasher detergents are amylases, which break down starch, and proteases, which work on proteins. "It's very similar to what happens in your stomach," said Jill Franke, an engineer and product research group leader at Procter & Gamble, the maker of Cascade. A few of our sources also said that enzymes might actually work better if you skip the pre-rinse, because you leave extra gunk for the enzymes to cling to—they might do a better job dissolving thin, filmy residue this way. (Novozymes, a major producer of cleaning enzymes, has some useful primers on enzymes in detergents and how they affect cleaning performance.)

If cloudy, chalky dishes are the problem, start by adding a rinse aid. This will soften the water used in the final rinse cycle, as well as help it evaporate faster, so your dishes will be less likely to be left with a hazy film or water spots. If the basic rinse aid alone doesn't cut it, you could step up to a rinse aid meant for hard water, or just try adding a small scoop of powdered, food-grade citric acid to the tub or detergent tray, to help soften the water during the main wash. (Citric acid is the main ingredient in all the perfumed "hard-water booster" products, and there's no downside to just using the generic powder, which has a slew of other uses around the house and is delicious.)

And then there's the nuclear option, which we can't endorse but can't ignore, either: phosphates. These were the magic bullet in dishwasher detergents for decades, but they disappeared from shelves in 2010 after several states banned their use in most home-use detergents due to a compelling, well-documented causal connection to algae overgrowth in waterways.

When phosphates disappeared, the drop in performance was obvious to many dishwasher owners and was followed by a years-long struggle to find new formulas that could match phosphates’ cleaning performance. Now, a decade later, the enzymatic detergents mostly work well—for most people. But some people with hard water swear that nothing new has come along that works nearly as well as phosphates did, and they are finding ways to get it back into their dishwashers.

Phosphates are still part of the formula of Cascade Fryer Boil Out, a deep-fryer cleaner for restaurants that is sold in bulk online. Sachin Sood, the former Bosch engineer, told us that he knows some people who buy generic trisodium phosphate (TSP), which is sold as a cleaning product at home improvement stores (where it's still legal, at least). It can be mixed with a regular dishwasher detergent. (This trend has been reported elsewhere, too.) Sood didn't endorse the use of phosphates but did confirm that they’re great at softening water and can dissolve foods more completely than today's commercially available enzyme-based detergents. And tons of amateur YouTube videos demonstrate great results.

Leaving aside the questions about health and environmental effects, ethics, and legal status, is it a good idea to put this stuff in your dishwasher? "In general, it's smart to use dishwasher detergent to wash dishes, and to not use things that are not intended to wash dishes," said Jason Mathew, a senior director at Whirlpool. Alona Wells, a senior manager at BSH (Bosch) said, "We have not tested it, quite honestly. We only recommend using dishwasher detergent."

Back to modern detergents: More is not always better. The prepackaged heavy doses of high-end formulas, such as Cascade Platinum or Finish Quantum, can be overkill. These premium products are formulated to work in the most extreme conditions—hard water, short cycles, crusted-on food. If, like roughly two-thirds of Americans, you live somewhere with not-so-hard water and your loads aren't totally full or are maybe just moderately soiled, you probably don't need the best detergents. If your dishes smell strongly like detergent at the end of a cycle, or there's obvious rainbow-colored residue left on your dishes or inside your dishwasher, or you start to notice etching on your glassware, consider downgrading. You might be better off with a loose powder or enzymatic gel, where you can control the dose better than with a tab or pod. Also look into adjusting the rinse aid dispenser setting—sometimes it's a dial in the tray, other times you need to use the control panel. (Wirecutter is, at least for now, officially agnostic on the best dishwasher detergents. If you have a detergent that works, don't change it! Otherwise, our advice is to start with a low-cost tab or pack plus a rinse aid and then prepare to experiment.)

A couple of other possibilities to consider, if better cleaning products don't do the job on their own:

Consider adding some pre-wash detergent. Most dishwashers spend the first 20 minutes of a cycle just rinsing away the loosest, easiest-to-clean debris without ever opening the detergent tray. But you can add a tiny scoop or splurt of detergent for this pre-wash segment to jump-start the cleaning process. Some models have a small, inconspicuous pre-wash dispenser on the detergent tray, but you can just add the product to the bottom of the tub. Most people don't need to bother with this step, but if the main dose isn't cutting it, this hack might improve your cleaning results. A full tab or a pod for the pre-wash is probably overkill: The dose is too high, and they won't dissolve fast enough to work well during the pre-wash anyway.

Try a different wash cycle. A machine's "normal" cycle is designed to meet the Department of Energy's efficiency regulations (and the optional Energy Star guidelines) but not necessarily to achieve the best performance. (To be clear, most of the time the "normal" setting works very well.) Try a stronger setting if you need to: Lots of dishwashers have cycles with names like Auto or Sensor, and these modes tend to be a little more effective (as well as a little faster) than the "normal" cycle yet still pretty efficient. Heavy-soil settings use notably more water and energy, but they’re still more efficient than hand washing, so they’re worth a shot.

When we mention good or bad drying performance, we’re talking about how well a dishwasher can dry plastic. Metal, glass, and ceramic almost always come out perfectly dry (except for maybe little pools of water on the bottoms of mugs).

Getting plastic dry is a tougher task, especially in dishwashers that have a passive, no-added-heat drying system (more on that in a minute). One article from The New York Times's science section explains the struggle to dry plastic in detail. But the gist of it is that plastic is a poor conductor of heat, and water tends to form droplets on plastic, both of which make it harder for water to evaporate.

Your results will depend on the type of plastic (the thinner, more flexible stuff is the last to dry), whether you use a rinse aid (every dishwasher brand recommends doing so, since rinse aid inhibits water from forming droplets), and your dishwasher's drying system.

Let's dig into those drying systems. The most straightforward, classic type, used by something like half of all current dishwashers, simply bakes the dishes dry after it finishes the washing. These models simply heat up the tub with a ceramic heating element, like a weak oven. This function is commonly called "heated dry."

There's some nuance in heated drying: Jason Mathew, a senior director at Whirlpool Corporation, said that the steam-ventilation strategy varies among Whirlpool, Maytag, and KitchenAid dishwashers and affects the drying performance. Some models also add circulation fans; Mathew said the increased airflow helps achieve more consistent drying performance. We found those claims to be true in our own testing, though the differences weren't dramatic. It stands to reason that the same factors would affect drying performance in other brands’ dishwashers (GE and Frigidaire machines also use heated drying).

Heated dry isn't quite a foolproof way to ensure bone-dry dishes. In our tests, we always found residual moisture unless we used a rinse aid. Even then, the thinnest plastic cups and containers still had a little dribble left over.

We also found in our testing that plastic-tub dishwashers are more likely to leave you with damp plastics than dishwashers with stainless steel tubs. Owner reviews seem to confirm this: The heated-dry dishwashers with the most complaints about poor drying performance are all plastic-tub models. Mathew from Whirlpool confirmed that this is true and chalked it up to plastic's poor ability to conduct heat. (Sound familiar?) Sachin Sood, a former product manager for Bosch, pointed out that condensed water slides across stainless steel much more readily than plastic, where it tends to form droplets. (Sound familiar?) The more smoothly that water flows across a surface, the better the chance that it will slide down the walls to the bottom of the tub instead of beading on the ceiling and slowly dripping back onto the dishes below. Plastic also degrades throughout the life of the dishwasher from exposure to heat and detergent, so the water-beading problem gets worse over time, Sood said.

The other heated-dry downside: If a piece of plastic slips through the racks and onto the heating element, you’re stuck with a hard-to-clean, acrid-smelling mess.

Many dishwashers do not have a heated-dry system at all. There's no accurate catch-all term to describe them, though they might go by "passive dry" or "condenser dry" or "inherent heat." The thing they have in common is that they try to dry all the dishes without using extra energy once the washing and rinsing process is complete. The advantage is that they can put their entire energy allowance toward cleaning dishes, which gives them some leeway to use warmer water throughout the cycle (among other strategies). Bosch, LG, Miele, and Samsung all use these systems.

Here's how the system works, roughly: The final rinse near the end of the wash cycle uses especially hot water (around 155 °F or 160 °F on some popular models). This step helps clean off any lingering soils. The heat also gets absorbed by the dishes, the walls of the stainless steel tub, and—in some models—the bitumen insulation around the tub (which pulls double duty as an effective sound-deadening material). That retained heat in the dishes speeds up the process of evaporation. Water vapor rises off the dishes, recondenses on the tub, and then trickles down to the drainage area. (By the way, it's a myth that these non-heated-dry dishwashers can't heat water; their heating elements are just hidden beneath the bottom panel, since they don't have to heat up the entire tub).

This system is great at drying metal, ceramic, and glass. We’ve found that, with a rinse aid, it can do a good job with hard, thick plastics—likely because they conduct heat a little better than thin plastics. The thin stuff will never get perfectly dry in a basic "condenser dry" dishwasher, though if you open the door within about 20 minutes of the cycle ending, as we found, it gets pretty close, leaving only a few drops of moisture. But if you let the dishwasher sit unopened for more than an hour or so, the soft plastic will usually stay damp.

A handful of new dishwashers have finally improved on this basic passive-dry strategy, so the plastic problem is mostly solved if you’re willing to pay a little extra. Some models from Bosch, Miele, and Samsung crack open at the end of the cycle, which helps moisture evaporate—just like when you open the door on your own, except that you don't have to be physically present.

The most fascinating new drying system, found in higher-end Bosch and Thermador models, uses the unique heat-radiating properties of zeolite crystals to dramatically improve the drying performance without adding extra heat energy after the final rinse.

The conventional wisdom that we used to hear from our sources was that heated drying worked better and passive drying saved energy. But this summary was never perfectly accurate, and the distinctions between the types are even less cut-and-dried as of 2021. Heat-drying doesn't always yield totally dry dishes, while some passive systems can. And passive-dry dishwashers can use just as much or even more energy than heated-dry models depending on how you use them. If you turn off a dishwasher's heated-dry option and just let the dishes drip-dry, it’ll use less energy than a passive-dry model.

All dishwashers have filters that trap loose food particles inside the tub. Some dishwashers also have a grinder (also known as a masticator or chopper) behind the filter that can annihilate any chunks of food large enough to clog the drain in the extremely unlikely case that they slip through the filter. Either system works well, and we recommend both types. But a grinder is kind of a gimmick, and most people will be perfectly happy with a simpler, quieter, filter-only dishwasher.

One common concern we’ve heard is that filter-only models don't clean as well as dishwashers with grinders and need much more unpleasant hands-on maintenance.

There's a kernel of truth here: You do need to remove and rinse most filters under running water from time to time to maintain the dishwasher's performance (though there are a few no-clean models, including some by KitchenAid). Starchy, greasy gunk builds up and eventually clogs the filter. (Apparently, filters can even grow mold in extreme cases.) If you put a lot of starchy soils (oatmeal, mashed potatoes, maybe rice) into your machine and use non-enzymatic (or non-phosphated) detergent and have hard water, you might have to rinse the filter as often as every few weeks.

But realistically, most people should be able to get away with rinsing their filters as little as twice a year, because filters tend to stay clean enough on their own. Enzymatic detergents weaken the structure of the toughest types of soils (mainly starch and protein). All of those pre-softened foods that are caught in the filter eventually get shredded in its fine mesh as the wash water circulates through the machine. The remnants eventually get flushed down the drain. (Leafy greens and huge chunks of food don't break down so easily, but you should scrape those off before loading dishes anyway.)

Grinders are simply a backup system for the filter. If a large chunk of food slips past the first filter, the grinder shreds it before it has a chance to clog the drain. And clogging almost never happens; the filter itself would have to be damaged. Primarily, the grinder is for peace of mind.

As far as overall cleaning performance goes, we’ve found no correlation between food-disposal style and dirty dishes, either in our tests or in thousands of dishwasher owner reviews we’ve scanned. A dishwasher with a grinder doesn't even save you from doing maintenance. Former Bosch product manager Sachin Sood also pointed out that the same kind of starchy, greasy gunk that builds up in filter-only models also builds up in the filters of dishwashers with grinders. And you still have to check the pre-filter trap for items like glass or bones or bread ties.

Dishwashers are all very efficient. More than 90% of all current dishwashers (including all of the models we recommend) are Energy Star certified, which means that based on a standardized test, they use significantly less water and energy (3.5 gallons per load, 270 kilowatt-hours per year at most) than the minimum standards allowed by the Department of Energy (which are already very efficient at 5 gallons and 307 kWh).

In the real world, it's common for dishwashers to use more water and energy than indicated in those government estimates. Most dishwashers have soil sensors, which adjust the cycle's length and water use while it's running. If the sensor detects a lot of gunk floating around, the dishwasher adds extra water and extends the wash time.

The standardized test isn't perfectly representative of real-world conditions either. The standard load of dishes is moderately soiled, but any day's worth of dishes and cookware could easily be dirtier. Sood, the former Bosch product manager, said that the most obvious thing that's unrealistic is that the test load does not include any plastic dishes. That was a little silly back in 2003 when the test was adopted, and it seems like a huge oversight today now that plasticware is ubiquitous. "The way things stick to plastic is different," Sood said, so soils might not rinse off as easily, which in turn might affect the soil sensor's behavior.

Finally, the feds use the "normal" cycle to estimate those figures, whereas plenty of people regularly use other dishwasher cycles. The Department of Energy confirmed with us that those other cycles are completely unregulated and can use as much water and energy as the brands choose—though even the heaviest cycles do tend to still be very efficient. "Normal" isn't even the default setting when you turn on some dishwashers: For example, Bosch's machines default to their auto cycle, which uses a little extra water and energy to trim a few minutes off the run time.

All that said, in almost any scenario, automatic dishwashers save significant amounts of water and energy compared with hand washing, which guzzles somewhere between 9 and 27 gallons depending on your wash style and up to double the water-heating energy. So pat yourself on the back for using any dishwasher at all.

A 2020 study from the University of Michigan raised some doubts that machine-washing is actually more efficient than hand-washing. The study found that if you practice the two-basin wash method flawlessly, you’ll use less energy than with a dishwasher.

The atmosphere's average reward for 10 years of constant vigilance and manual labor on your part? We did the math, and it's less than 500 miles’ worth of the carbon dioxide that a typical car would spew from its tailpipe, or roughly one-half of one percent of that car's total emissions in that time frame. If your electricity comes from cleaner-than-average sources, hand-washing has an even smaller benefit.

The two-basin hand-washing method still uses significantly more water than machine-washing, according to the study. And hand-washing with the faucet running is so inefficient that if you do it even just once every few days for a couple of minutes, it probably erases the savings from strict two-basin cleaning. (The same also goes for pre-rinsing before you load your dishwasher—again, pre-rinsing is completely unnecessary; just load the dirty dishes and let the machine do the work.)

The hand-washing study itself (conducted in collaboration with Whirlpool Corp.) actually seems to be very thorough and thoughtful, and includes a lifecycle analysis to account for the impacts of building, shipping, repairing, and eventually trashing all the equipment involved with dishwashing. You could nitpick about some of the details: For example, the authors assume that every part in a dishwasher will need to be replaced within its 10-year lifespan, which seems like an obvious overestimate. But those kinds of discrepancies are so small that they wouldn't affect the outcomes much. And they cut both ways, too: The authors similarly (and probably barely) overestimate the impacts of hand-washing, when they try to account for the impact of all the hand towels you’ll need to launder and replace from drying dishes by hand.

So: If you choose to practice disciplined two-basin hand washing for its environmental benefits, you’ll most likely save a little energy and prevent some related carbon emissions. It's a fine choice. It also is not an especially impactful choice, especially in the context of the extra time and tedium required, and will become even less impactful over time as electricity generation becomes less carbon intensive.

You could also opt for a super-duper efficient dishwasher, if resource conservation is your goal. Models that use even less water and energy than Energy Star requires get a special shout-out on the Energy Star site as the "Most Efficient" models.

Some dishwashers use even less water and energy than Energy Star requires—they get a special shout-out on the Energy Star site as the "Most Efficient" models. They tend to cost hundreds more than regular Energy Star models, and they save something like only $5 to $10 worth of water and energy per year, so they probably wouldn't pay for themselves through reductions in utility bills.

Dishwashers with heated-dry cycles sometimes get a bad rap for being inefficient, but that's not really true. When the DOE and EPA calculate a dishwasher's energy use, they use its strongest possible drying setting. The Maytag MDB7959SKZ, for example, uses 270 kWh per year (right at the Energy Star threshold) with its longest heated-dry option turned on. That's the same amount of energy the Bosch 300 Series is expected to use, even though it has no heated-dry setting. The Maytag might even save energy depending on how you use the machine: It lets you turn off the heated-dry option completely, which saves at least a few dozen kilowatt-hours of energy per year. With the Bosch, you have no heated-drying option to turn off, so you’re locked into its full energy use.

The common retort here is that a two-hour wash cycle must use a lot of electricity, but that's not the case. Pumping water over the short distances inside a dishwasher doesn't require much energy. Heating the water is the most energy-hungry task (and dishwashers don't use much water).

If conservation is your top priority, pick the most efficient cycle your dishwasher offers (it's usually the one called "normal," with the heat-dry feature turned off if possible), skip pre-rinsing your dishes, buy a long-lasting dishwasher (such as our upgrade pick, which also happens to be extra efficient), and buy clean energy if possible.

We are currently testing the Maytag MDB8959SKZ, a similar version of our runner-up pick, the Maytag MDB7959SKZ. The MDB8959SKZ is largely the same machine, but it features a third rack and is reportedly quieter. We are also testing the Beko DDT38532X, which features spray technology that operates in a square pattern instead of a more traditional circular one at a quiet 45 dBA. Additionally, we are evaluating the newest models from GE, Miele, and Samsung, and we plan to investigate the latest drying technologies from GE and Bosch.

Andrea Barnes contributed reporting.

Liam McCabe

Liam McCabe is a former senior staff writer for Wirecutter, and has covered the wild world of appliances since 2011. After testing dozens of robot vacuums, he is neither worried about AI nor holding his breath for self-driving cars. He enjoys visiting factories and learning about regulatory loopholes, and has flooded our testing area only three times.

Sarah Bogdan

Sarah Bogdan is a former staff writer at Wirecutter covering appliances. Previously, she tested cleaning products and appliances at Good Housekeeping. Her degree in mechanical engineering and product design helps her understand how products work and how people interact with them. When she's not tackling messes, she's tackling rivals on the rugby field.

by Christina Williams and Wirecutter Staff

These 100 useful things were the most-purchased Wirecutter picks in March 2022.

by Liam McCabe

A portable dishwasher is a great option when a built-in won't work. We recommend the GE GPT145SSLSS and GPT225SSLSS because of their convenient features.

by Liam McCabe

Bosch dishwashers do it a little differently—and, we’d argue, more elegantly—than other dishwasher brands.

by Liam McCabe

With some know-how and a few tweaks to your routine, you can make the most of your dishwasher.

Racks: Drying: Cleaning: Noise: Cycle speed: Food disposal: Efficiency: Aesthetics: Wi-Fi connectivity: Specialty cycles: Don't bother pre-rinsing: Use a detergent with enzymes, plus a rinse aid, and prepare to experiment: Load it properly: Look up your water's hardness and soften as needed: Clean the machine a few times per year: Try to troubleshoot before you call for service: