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The Best Dishwasher

After putting more than 100 hours of research into 210 models over three years, we’ve learned that most dishwashers are good cleaners. But it’s also worth paying a little more for a model that’s quiet, reliable, and easy to load. That’s why we think the new Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N is the best dishwasher for most people right now.

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Last Updated: This month
We’ve changed our heat-dry pick back to the KitchenAid KDTM354ESS because our prior pick was abruptly discontinued. Otherwise, this guide is still up to date.
Expand Most Recent Updates
This month: We changed our heat-dry pick to a lower-priced KitchenAid model, the KDTE254ESS, and added the durable Miele Classic Plus G4976SC as our upgrade pick. We also updated our advice on how to best use your dishwasher. Our other picks are still up to date.
Six months ago: We’ve updated our pick to the new Bosch 300 Series M, essentially a newer, cheaper version of our old top pick. The rest of our picks are still up to date.
Seven months ago: The new Bosch 300 Series dishwasher has appeared at most retailers (such as Best Buy and Lowe’s). We’re confident this model will replace our pick (the old Bosch 500 Series) as the best dishwasher for most people, as it is essentially a newer, cheaper version of our pick. You can read our initial notes on the new model in the What to look forward to section below, and we’ll update this piece soon with more information, including our impressions from early reviews.
Eight months ago: We’ve added a few notes on models to look forward to in 2017, including a replacement for our main pick that is due out soon.
One year ago: Once again, the Bosch 500 Series is the dishwasher we’d recommend to most people. We have a new favorite heat-dry model, the KitchenAid KDTM354ESS, as well as a more-affordable (but still great) budget pick, the Maytag MDB4949SDx, and a new 18-inch pick, the Bosch 800 Series SPE68U55SS. We’ve also updated some of our tips on how to make the most of a new dishwasher. And we’ve given portable dishwashers their own guide this year.
One year ago: We’re writing an update, but we’re ready to share some new picks. The Bosch 500 Series is still the dishwasher we think most people should buy. If you’re on a budget, or if you must have an American-style dishwasher with a food grinder and a heated-dry cycle, the Maytag MDB4949SDH is a strong choice. The KitchenAid KDTM354DSS is a great upgrade model, with a self-cleaning filter, a pan-washing zone, and a heated-dry cycle. Our recs for 18-inch (Bosch) and portable (Danby) machines remain unchanged.
Two years ago: We updated the guide with the 2015 model of the Bosch Ascenta, our cheaper runner-up pick. The newest model is even quieter now (46 decibels), but that’s the only major change as far as we can tell. No one has reviewed anything from the new Ascenta line, but we’re pretty confident that they’ll perform just like their predecessors.
Two years ago: We're still looking for a replacement of our former step-up pick, the KitchenAid KDTE334DSS, which has been discontinued. But in the meantime, Bosch has been busy updating our cheaper runner-up pick, their Ascenta line of dishwashers, making them a few dB quieter than they were before. CNET recently wrote about the updated model, noting not only the quieter sound of the Ascenta but also the inclusion of a new run light, so you know when it's on. We're actively looking into the new line to figure out which specific model packs the most bang for the buck. At first glance, they all seem fine—if you find one you like, go for it. But hold off on buying any of the older Ascenta models (like the one that we currently recommend in this guide and are working to replace), unless you get them at a great sale price.
Two years ago: Our pick for larger families, the KitchenAid KDTE334DSS, has been discontinued, so we've removed it from this guide. We will consider possible replacement picks and update as soon as we can.
Two years ago: Updated to note our main pick's rising user review score on Google Shopping, and that sometimes very deep bowls or very large plates don't fit as efficiently in the Bosch.
Our pick
Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N
With a third rack and quiet performance, the reliable, efficient, effective Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N works like a premium dishwasher, but sells for a midrange price. This stainless, front-control model is the most popular style in the lineup.
Our pick
Bosch 300 Series SHX863WD5N
The 300 Series comes in 17 variants, with different finishes, handles, and minor features. But they all perform the same. This bar-handle variant is our favorite design.

The Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N has the best racks for the money, including a V-shaped third rack and a nine-position middle rack. The extra capacity and flexibility allow it to hold more dishes per cycle (including hard-to-fit items like trays, pots, and cooking tools) than its competitors, all loaded properly so that they should get totally clean. At 44 decibels, the 300 Series is also quieter than others for the price, and most people won’t even hear it unless they’re standing next to it. Bosch dishwashers have one of the lowest repair rates of any brand, and a better warranty and more helpful customer service than most. The 300 Series is also excellent at cleaning stuck-on foods, and is efficient enough to earn the Energy Star badge. On the downside, it leaves plastic dishes a little wet, and doesn’t fit deep cereal bowls as neatly as other models. But overall, we think this is the dishwasher that will make the most people the happiest.

When we talk about the 300 Series, we mean the new models that came out in 2017, with an “M” or an “8” somewhere in the full model number. There are 17 variants of the new 300 Series, and they should all perform identically. The differences boil down to different finishes and door designs, and a few extra features that won’t matter to most people. The two models that we’ve highlighted are the best-selling models, but we’ve made a chart to help you sort through the mess and find the right model for your tastes.

Also great
KitchenAid KDTM354ESS
This KitchenAid is better at drying plastic and holding deep cereal bowls, though it has less capacity for some types of items, and the brand hasn’t been as reliable as our main pick.

The KitchenAid KDTE354ESS is another easy-to-load, quiet dishwasher, with a few key differences from our main pick. Its heat-dry option is better at drying plastic items, and some people find that its racks are better at holding deep cereal bowls. It’s one of the few models with a self-cleaning filter. The power-washing zone may make it easier to properly load casserole trays. Like most dishwashers, it’s also excellent cleaner and qualifies for Energy Star. The drawbacks? KitchenAid dishwashers have been less reliable the past few years, it has no third rack so fits fewer dishes, and it usually costs much more than our main pick.

Budget pick
Maytag MDB4949SD
One of the lowest-cost models with a stainless tub and a sturdier build than some slightly pricier models. It’s louder and less versatile than our main pick, but great for the money.

The Maytag MDB4949SD is usually the cheapest dishwasher that’s actually good. It has a stainless steel tub, which helps it run quieter and dry better than others at this price (which often have plastic tubs). It also feels sturdier, is backed by one of the better warranties in the industry, and has thousands of reviews over many years to suggest that it’s reliable. Cleaning performance is very good (with a few exceptions) and it has a heat-dry option. Compared with our main pick, the MDB4949SD holds fewer dishes, runs louder, takes longer, and uses more energy. But for the money, you can’t beat it.

Upgrade pick
Miele Classic Plus G4976SC
Miele dishwashers are known to last twice as long as most. This model is the most affordable in the lineup with features to match our main pick’s.

If you’re willing to pay more for a dishwasher that will last longer, check out the Miele Classic Plus G4976SC. Miele dishwashers are known to be the sturdiest in the industry, often lasting 15 years or more—about double the lifespan of a typical dishwasher. The G4976SC in particular is the most affordable model in the Miele lineup with integrated (hidden) controls, a stainless finish, a third rack, and short-cycle option. It’s an excellent cleaner, very efficient, and great at drying. It’s modestly louder than our main pick, and doesn’t have as many flashy aesthetic or fast-wash features as some other models at this price. You can step up to a pricier Miele if you want those extras. (Also, make sure Miele has service technicians in your area.) But this model could be the best overall value for a dishwasher with all the useful features.

Also great
Bosch 300 Series SPE53U55UC
If your kitchen is designed for an 18-inch dishwasher, this compact version of our main pick is one of the quieter, easier-to-load options.

The Bosch 300 Series SPE53U55UC is like a narrower version of our main pick, meant for 18-inch cutouts in smaller kitchens. There aren’t too many 18-inch models to pick from. But this Bosch is quieter than the other compacts we found, and we think it should be reliable just like larger Bosch dishwashers. It does not have a third rack, but it does come with a tray for water-softening salts.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

I started writing about appliances in 2011 for Reviewed.com. Since 2013, I’ve covered appliances for The Sweethome, and have put in more than 100 hours of research into more than 210 dishwashers. I’ve interviewed a handful of experts from around the industry, including:

  • Keith Barry, editor in chief of Reviewed.com’s appliance sites, who has overseen more than 100 dishwasher reviews during his tenure.
  • Julie Warner, marketing manager at Warner Stellian Appliance, an appliance retailer in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota.
  • Chris Zeisler, an expert at RepairClinic.com with a few decades of field experience repairing machines.
  • And formal and semiformal conversations with representatives from all the major dishwasher brands.

I’ve also read most of the dishwasher reviews from the major editorial testing houses in the US, including Consumer Reports (subscription required), Reviewed.com, CNET, and Good Housekeeping, as well as countless emails, comments, tweets, message board posts, and user reviews from our readers and pretty much anyone else who cared enough to weigh in on dishwashers.

We researched the picks in this guide; we did not test them. We did put in some hands-on time with most of the models at appliance showrooms in the Boston metro area to get a feel for each machine’s racking system. But mostly we relied on our reporting to make these picks.

Who should buy a dishwasher

A dishwasher is a phenomenal investment. It saves you time and effort, gets your dishes cleaner, shrinks your utility bill, and conserves energy and water. It’s a win on so many fronts. If you own your home and have the means, buy a dishwasher.

Today’s machines are so, so much more efficient than washing dishes by hand. A normal wash cycle with our main pick uses about 2.9 gallons of water and 1.25 kilowatt-hours of energy. Hand-washing a full load’s worth of dishes will guzzle about 27 gallons and burn the equivalent of 2.7 kilowatt-hours to heat the water. You’ll save about 5,000 gallons of water and the equivalent of 300 kilowatt-hours of energy per year if you run the dishwasher four times per week. That’ll shave $66 off your utility bill, based on national-average prices.

A dishwasher is a phenomenal investment. It saves you time and effort, gets your dishes cleaner, shrinks your utility bill, and conserves energy and water.

Dishwashers are also better at sanitizing your dishes because they use water that’s much hotter than any person could tolerate with hand-washing. Remember, soap doesn’t kill germs—hot water does. Most dishwashers heat up to at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit during a normal cycle, and can reach up to 160 degrees on specialty cycles. The water from your tap usually tops out at 120 degrees, and most people’s pain threshold is around 106 degrees.

Of course, a dishwasher is also superconvenient. Thanks to the new enzymatic detergents that came out earlier this decade, you don’t even need to prewash your dishes anymore. If a dishwasher saves you just one hour per week (and that’s a bare-minimum estimate) you get back two extra days per year to do anything else with your life. Plus, your dry, pruny hands and sore lower back will thank you.

How we picked

We started by making a list of every dishwasher we could find. Dating back to 2014, we’ve tracked 210 distinct models (not counting color variants), and around 170 of them are still sold widely. Here’s how we sorted through them:

Crucial, bare-minimum features
First, we eliminated any models that didn’t meet the basic spec requirements that our experts told us to look for. Those must-have features include:

  • Nylon-coated racks. Nylon is less likely than vinyl or PVC to crack over time and expose the wire frame underneath.
  • A soil sensor. Also known as a turbidity sensor, it tells your dishwasher to extend or end the cycle depending on how much gunk is floating in the wash water.
  • A stainless steel tub. This dampens the noise and speeds up the drying process compared with a plastic tub. In theory, steel tubs also last longer.

Very few models are missing the first two features anymore, but dozens of models still use plastic tubs. We cut them all from contention.

Important, useful features
Then we looked for the features that make dishwashers great, setting the best models apart from the pack.

  • Flexible and intuitive racking. A height-adjustable upper (or middle) rack and a couple sets of folding tines help make space for big and tall items like pots, trays, and large bowls. A third rack for utensils and cooking tools frees up room on lower racks, and keeps them uncluttered. We also paid some attention to the rack layout and tine spacing. Some racks have obvious zones—for example, a row of tines for bowls, to maximize the capacity. Other racks are more free-form. We tend to favor the zone approach, though there are some downsides.
  • Quiet operation. Anything less than 45 decibels is basically inaudible unless you’re standing right next to the machine. That’s as quiet as the background noise in a suburb at night, so if you’re a room away, you almost certainly won’t be able to hear it. Most dishwashers today are very quiet, but it’s easy enough to find one that’s practically silent.
  • A good reputation for reliability and customer service. Consumer Reports (subscription required) publishes decent data about two-year repair rates. Yale Appliance publishes one-year repair rates, based on its in-house service records. User reviews are a good way to find out if there are widespread problems with particular models, and if the brand provides good service under warranty. All of these sources have their limitations, but when they’re combined, they add up to a reasonably accurate picture.

Less-important features
Some features or performance metrics seem important—like capacity or cleaning performance—but are actually so similar from model to model that they’re not worth fussing over. Others are a matter of personal preference. And a few are just bloat, adding no real value. We double checked to make sure that our favorite models weren’t energy hogs or especially crappy cleaners, but for the most part, these criteria didn’t sway our decisions too much one way or the other.

  • Cleaning ability. Most of today’s dishwashers are fantastic cleaners when you use them correctly. At Reviewed.com, most models pass cleaning tests with flying colors. “We load the dishwashers properly, and we load them with filthy, filthy dishes—filthier than you would ever see in your own home. And 90 percent of the dishes come out 100 percent clean, probably even more than that,” editor in chief Keith Barry told us a few years ago. At Consumer Reports, all but two of the 187 dishwashers in its rankings earned an Excellent or Very Good for cleaning performance. Some wash-arm designs might work slightly better than others, and targeted spraying jets may help in some edge cases. But the basic designs work very well already, so we didn’t favor any extras.
  • Drying style. About half of modern dishwashers have a heat-dry option, which essentially bakes any moisture off the dishes. The other half are designed to rely on condensation, without adding extra heat after the final rinse. Heat drying works better on plastic but uses noticeably more energy. As long as you use rinse aid (which you really should now), condensation drying is totally effective for metal and ceramic, and uses very little additional energy. We do not favor either style, but make recommendations for both types, depending on your preferences.
  • Cycles and options. Most people only ever use the normal/auto, heavy, and rinse cycles. Most dishwashers have more settings than that, and we slightly favored models with an option to run a faster, normal-powered cycle (at the expense of using more water and energy), but otherwise we didn’t pay much attention to these.
  • Advertised capacity. This is measured in place settings.1 It’s an antiquated concept that doesn’t represent modern habit, like washing pots, trays, and cooking tools alongside bowls, plates, glasses, and utensils. So we didn’t pay much attention to this number. Most dishwashers hold somewhere between 14 and 16 place settings anyway.
  • Efficiency. We didn’t prioritize this, because they’re all very efficient. Our only criteria was an Energy Star badge, and the vast majority of dishwashers qualify for it. To give you an idea of how marginal the efficiency advantages have become: The most efficient dishwasher out there (which is also one of the most expensive) will save maybe $10 of electricity per year compared with a typical Energy Star model, and less than 1 gallon of water per normal cycle.
  • Waste disposal. Most dishwashers now use a filter to catch food particles. Filters almost never break, need to be cleaned only a couple times per year, and help prevent food from redepositing onto dishes mid-cycle. Some people prefer dishwashers with a masticator (or grinder) to pulverize the food waste, but only a handful of models still have them anyway. This feature did not sway our picks one way or the other.

The sweet spot with all the crucial and useful features but minimal bloat is between $650 and $850. The best models in this range are reliable, with plenty of flexible and easy-to-load rack space, and are functionally silent if you’re a room away.

You can get a perfectly good dishwasher for less money. They just tend to be a bit louder, or have fewer racking features. But below $450, it’s hard to find anything decent—they’re mostly plastic-tub models, and some of them don’t even have soil sensors.

Spending more can get you a few extra handy racking features, super-fast wash cycles, aesthetic improvements, and in a few cases, better reliability and longevity.

Our pick: Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N

Photo: Bosch

Our pick
Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N
With a third rack and quiet performance, the reliable, efficient, effective Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N works like a premium dishwasher, but sells for a midrange price. This stainless, front-control model is the most popular style in the lineup.

We think the new Bosch 300 Series SHEM63W55N is the best dishwasher for most people. Its racks are more spacious and easier to load with all shapes and sizes of dishes than other models at this price. Bosch makes some of the most reliable dishwashers, and the customer service is more helpful than average. It’s so quiet that most people will barely be able to hear it running. The one-hour wash-and-dry option is unique at this price. And it cleans as well as any top-tier dishwasher, using less water and energy than most. Though it’s not great at drying plastic, and deep cereal bowls may not fit neatly, we think that the 300 Series is the dishwasher that will make the most people the happiest.

The racks are the 300 Series’s biggest advantage over its competitors. They’re larger, more adjustable, and easier to load than the others. That’s useful if you have a big family or host a lot of get-togethers and want to be able to clean a huge pile of dishes in one go. But even if you have fewer dishes to clean, the extra rack space gives you some wiggle room to load large or odd-shaped items properly, so that they can get totally clean.

Most of the extra capacity and loading flexibility comes from the V-shaped third rack tucked at the top of the tub. We’ve read dozens of owner reviews that cite the third rack as the best feature in the 300 Series and other dishwashers. People find all kinds of different uses for them. Third racks are usually shallow trays meant for utensils, and that’s certainly one way to use this rack. That’ll let you take out the regular cutlery basket on the bottom rack to free up space for plates and pots. But the third rack in the 300 Series has a dip in the center that opens up extra space for spatulas, whisks, measuring cups, sippy-cup lids, and so on—slightly taller items that don’t have an obvious spot in the lower racks, where extra bowls and cups could make better use of the space. Most other third racks at this price are totally flat, which is fine for utensils but can’t always fit the cooking tools.

grey plastic tray with three sections

The third rack adds a few place settings’ worth of capacity to the dishwasher by providing a dedicated space for small tools and utensils. Photo: Bosch

Because the 300 Series models can be so hard to hear, some of them project a red dot on the floor nearby to let you know that they’re running.

The 300 Series also has a handy height-adjustment feature on the middle rack (called RackMatic) that can open space for tall items, even in a tightly packed load. It has three height settings that you can adjust independently on either side, for a total of nine possible positions. So if you have a big pot and long-stem glass that you need to fit into the same load, you can set the middle rack at a slant so that there’s enough clearance for both, even with the third rack in place. Most dishwashers at this price have adjustable middle racks, but they have only two settings: up or down, both sides fixed at the same height. We also find that the RackMatic feature adjusts more smoothly than other height-changing racks at this price.

Bosch makes some of the most reliable dishwashers in the industry. Currently Consumer Reports (subscription required) ranks Bosch as the one of the most reliable dishwasher brands based on its reader survey, estimating that only 10 percent will need service in the first two years of ownership. Yale Appliance found a similar one-year service rate, at 9.6 percent. The 300 Series in particular has a very high average user rating so far, at 4.75 stars out of five across 279 reviews across a few retailers. That’s a good sign that new owners are having a smooth experience. The ratings for the previous-generation Bosch models were also quite good, and have stayed high over many years, suggesting that the medium-term reliability is great, too. The most-popular variant of the older 500 Series, for example, has an average score of 4.6 stars based on more than 10,000 reviews across several retailers. We can’t find such consistently strong reliability rates or user ratings for any other dishwasher brands at this price.

If the 300 Series does need a repair, it’s covered by one of the better warranties and more-agreeable customer service departments in the industry. Bosch covers parts and labor for a year, which is standard among most brands. It takes the less-common step of covering the microprocessor (or printed circuit board) and racks for up to five years, and the tub for the lifetime of the unit, though not the cost of labor. That’s similar to KitchenAid’s warranty plan (though actually a step behind Maytag’s). The quality of customer service is harder to pin down, but from what we can tell by reading through thousands of user reviews over the years, Bosch customer service seems to get more compliments and fewer complaints than some competing brands. It’s certainly not perfect, but the company seems to send technicians and offer to cover repairs more readily than some other brands do.

Running at a volume of just 44 decibels, the 300 Series is as quiet as a dishwasher really needs to be. Most people will barely be able to hear it even while they’re standing in the same room, and almost nobody will be able to hear it from a room away. It’s quieter than the typical background noise in a quiet suburb at night. Some owners have written that their Bosch dishwashers are so quiet, they at first they couldn’t tell if they’d actually turned them on. Because the 300 Series models can be so hard to hear, most of the models with integrated (hidden) controls project a red dot on the floor to let you know that they’re running. Plenty of dishwashers are whisper-quiet now, but the 300 Series is still quieter than most of its competitors by a few decibels.

bosch series m partly opened to show control panel on top of door

The front-control model is the most popular version of the 300 Series, but some configurations have a hidden (or “integrated”) control panel on the top of the door. Photo: Bosch

Beyond the usual normal/auto, heavy, and rinse settings, most dishwashers’ extra wash cycles or options aren’t usually useful (or used). But the 300 Series has a couple that some people might actually find worthwhile. The Speed60 cycle can wash and dry dishes in about an hour, with about the same strength as a normal wash cycle. That’s less than half the time of a typical normal cycle (though it uses a bunch more water and energy). We’re not aware of other dishwashers at this price that can pull that off. It also has an extra-dry option, which is supposed to help dry plastic (more on that in the next section). We haven’t been able to test it ourselves, and none of the reviews we’ve read so far mention anything about it.

All new dishwashers are good cleaners when you load them properly and use the right detergent. The 300 Series is no exception, and testing organizations actually found that it’s stronger than most. In its review of the 300 Series, Reviewed.com writes that “once again, Bosch gets the closest we’ve come to a perfect clean.” Consumer Reports (subscription required) also rates its cleaning performance as Excellent.

All dishwashers are very efficient, and the 300 Series slides right into the middle of that efficient pack. It uses about 2.9 gallons of water per load in a normal cycle, beating the Energy Star standard of 3.5 gallons per load. And it’s estimated to use about 269 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is typical for midrange dishwashers, and slips in under the 270–kilowatt-hour limit for Energy Star certification. (That’s actually slightly more energy than the older Bosch models used, we’re not positive why.) A few midrange machines and several very high-end washers use even less energy, but very few use less water.

mesh filter and mesh tray around it at bottom of dishwasher

The 300 Series (and most other dishwashers today) capture food waste in a mesh filter. You should rinse it once a month to clear away any built-up gunk. Photo: Liam McCabe

Flaws not dealbreakers

The most common complaint about Bosch dishwashers (and condenser-dry dishwashers in general) is that they aren’t very good at drying plastics. Plastic cools off too fast for the moisture to get a chance to evaporate on its own at the end of a cycle.

If wet plastic bothers you but you like everything else about the 300 Series, you have some options. Finish Jet-Dry Turbo is a souped-up rinse aid that’s meant to help dry plastic items in condenser-dry dishwashers. You need to use rinse aid anyway, so you might as well try this formula. You could also try the extra-dry option. It heats the rinse water to a higher temperature than normal, which could help plastic dishes stay hot enough for long enough to force most moisture to evaporate. (We don’t know if the extra-dry option works all that well, though.) Or, if you don’t immediately need to unload your dishes, you could just leave them in the dishwasher for about an hour after the cycle ends so that they can drip dry. It’ll work even faster if you open the dishwasher door to let some moisture escape.

Most people who have condenser-drying dishwashers are perfectly happy with them. But if it’s going to drive you nuts, get a dishwasher with a heat-dry option, like our “Also great” and budget picks. That’ll pretty much guarantee bone-dry dishes at the end of a cycle.

Some owners have pointed out that Bosch racks make it tough to efficiently load deep cereal bowls. It isn’t that Bosch dishwashers have less space, it’s just that the tines are laid out for thinner bowls. At home, I deal with this by just skipping tines. It cuts the usable capacity a bit but my cereal bowls always load fine and come out clean. It’s annoying about once a month when I have a really full load, but the rest of the time I don’t even think about it. Some people find it hard to get comfortable with the design though, so if it’ll be a dealbreaker for you, check out our “Also great” pick.

As handy as we think the third rack on the 300 Series can be, some people don’t like it. It does take longer to individually notch utensils into the third rack than to just dump them into the regular lower-rack cutlery basket. Some people wash only a traditional mix of plates, cups, and utensils, so the room on the third rack for odd-shaped tools doesn’t mean much to them. And the third rack can also get in the way of tall items on the middle rack, though we think that’ll be pretty uncommon with the 300 Series’s adjustable rack.

Our feeling is that if you won’t need the third rack very often, you can always just take it out, and slide it back in as needed. There’s no two-rack dishwasher for the price that we’d recommend over the 300 Series, so look at the third rack like a toss-in feature, if that makes you more comfortable.

Like the vast majority of new dishwashers sold today, the Bosch 300 Series has a mesh filter to catch big chunks of food so that they don’t redeposit on your dishes or clog up the pumps or jets in your dishwasher. Bosch recommends washing off the filter in your kitchen sink for about one minute once per month, but you can usually stretch it out to a few months between cleanings (I do) and still maintain top performance. If you can’t stand the idea of cleaning a filter, a couple of decent alternatives are available, but we promise that maintaining your filter is not a big deal.

The 300 Series, released in March 2017, is still a relatively new model at the time of this writing. As confident as we are that Bosch probably makes the most reliable dishwashers, it’s always a bit of a risk to buy a model that just came out. We don’t have enough data yet to tell if there are any common manufacturing defects with the 300 Series. Yes, we’ve heard about some problems over the years with Bosch dishwashers in general, most commonly faulty logic boards and wiring. But based on the statistics, other brands are more prone to defects or early breakdowns, particularly when it comes to leaks, worsening cleaning performance, and premature mechanical failures. If you buy this (or any) model based on our recommendation, and it gives you trouble, we are sorry. We’re doing the best that we can with limited information. Please let us know about it so that we can keep track of any common issues.

Variants

The 300 Series (our main pick) comes in 17 variants. The differences are mostly aesthetic, and they all perform identically. The best-selling variant has visible controls and a recessed handle with a stainless finish. (That’s the one we’ve linked to most often in this guide.) But they also come in black, white, or panel-ready finishes, and with scoop handles or bar handles.

Some retailer-specific models come with extra features, but most of them aren’t very important. Young children might mess with the buttons on front-control models, or hang from the bar handle like a jungle gym. But apart from those practical considerations, your choice should mostly boil down to personal taste, so you should pick whatever you’re comfortable with. Here’s a chart to help you sort through all the options.

Stainless Custom White Black
Bar handle SHXM63W55N SHX863WD5N 🍴 SHXM63WS5N🚰 SHVM63W53N SHV863WD3N 🍴
Scoop handle SHSM63W55N SHS863WD5N 🍴 SHSM63W52N SHS863WD2N 🍴 SHSM63W56N SHS863WD6N 🍴
Front controls SHEM63W55N SHE863WF5N ⏰ SHEM63W52N SHE863WF2N ⏰ SHEM63W56N SHE863WF6N ⏰
🍴 = Two-piece cutlery basket, high-pressure wash option ⏰ = Two-piece cutlery basket, 30-minute wash option 🚰 = Water-softener dispenser

Also great

Photo: KitchenAid

Also great
KitchenAid KDTM354ESS
This KitchenAid is better at drying plastic and holding deep cereal bowls, though it has less capacity for some types of items, and the brand hasn’t been as reliable as our main pick.

The KitchenAid KDTM354ESS is another great dishwasher that’s better at drying plastic than our main pick. Some people also think it’s better at neatly holding cereal bowls. However, it might be less reliable than our main pick, and its racks aren’t quite as versatile overall.

The KDTM354ESS has a heat-dry option, which is its most obvious difference from our main pick. If you have a lot of plastic dishes and want them to be bone-dry right at the end of a cycle, the heat-dry option (labeled as ProDry on the control panel) can do that. It’s also useful for sanitizing bottles and cans for DIY projects. On the downside, it uses more energy than just letting moisture evaporate and drip off the dishes, though you don’t need to use the heat-dry option with every load. If most of your dishes are ceramic and metal, heat drying isn’t much of an advantage over condenser drying (like our main pick). But if you strongly prefer a heat-dry option, the KDTM354ESS is the best value of the bunch.
It’s also easier to load deep cereal bowls into the KDTM354ESS. The tines are just arranged better for this purpose than our main pick’s. For some people, it’s an important-enough reason to pick KitchenAid over Bosch.

The KDTM354ESS also has a slightly deeper tub than our main pick, and an array of targeted jets on the back of the tub (called ProScrub), which can make it a little bit easier to fit and thoroughly clean big casserole dishes or similar wares.

Rather than a removable mesh filter or grinder, the KDTM354ESS uses a self-cleaning microfilter to capture and flush out bits of food. KitchenAid

Another cool feature in the KDTM354ESS, at least from our dorky perspective, is the self-cleaning filtration system. KitchenAid calls it Clean Water Wash. The obvious practical advantage is that you don’t have to wash the filter by hand every few months. It’s won’t really save you much time or effort—maybe a few minutes per year—but if you’re getting this dishwasher anyway, it’s a nice toss-in feature. Another upside is that it does a great job of preventing redeposit, which is when debris gets cleaned away from its original surface but ends up stuck on another dish. In a 2014 review, Reviewed.com praises the older (and very similar) KDTM354DSS for its anti-redeposit performance, and the findings apply to this model as well. Most dishwashers don’t really struggle with this problem during an average wash anyway. But if you eat a lot of sticky, starchy foods like oatmeal, rice, or mashed potato, the KDTM354ESS may have an edge on other dishwashers.

According to the evidence we’ve seen, KitchenAid dishwashers are less reliable than Bosch dishwashers. KitchenAid is in the middle of the pack of Consumer Reports’s reliability survey (subscription required), with a 15 percent service rate over two years. Yale Appliance found a similar one-year repair rate of 14.4 percent. Both figures are about 5 percent higher than we’ve seen for Bosch. That said, the user reviews for the KDTM354ESS itself are excellent, with an average rating of 4.5 stars out of five based on more than 1,700 across a handful of major retailers since 2015 when it was released. That’s a sign that it should be a reliable machine.

The KDTM354ESS has a bar handle and hidden controls, with tons of cycles and wash options. KitchenAid

For most people, the KDTM354ESS probably won’t hold as many dishes as our main pick, and might be trickier to load neatly. It has no third rack, so you’ll need to find space for utensils, cooking tools, and other small items on the other racks. The middle rack adjusts to only two positions total, up or down. Though we’re skeptical of advertised capacities, it’s worth pointing out that our main pick (the Bosch) can apparently hold 16 place settings, whereas the KDTM354ESS holds 15. More people, more of the time, will be able to fit more items into the Bosch.

At 44 decibels, the KDTM354ESS is the same volume as our main pick, and should also be practically silent from one room away.

Like our main pick, the KDTM354ESS meets Energy Star water- and energy-efficiency standards (though it uses more than a half-gallon of extra water per cycle). Consumer Reports rates its cleaning performance as Excellent, also like our main pick. Both models have similar cleaning cycles and options, too. However, the KitchenAid usually costs a couple hundred more than the basic Bosch model.

This dishwasher is available in stainless steel (KDTM354ESS), which is the more popular option, and in black stainless (KDTM354EBS), which usually costs extra. The slightly older KDTM354DSS is also still widely available, and is essentially the same dishwasher.

Budget pick: Maytag MDB4949SD

Photo: Maytag

Budget pick
Maytag MDB4949SD
One of the lowest-cost models with a stainless tub and a sturdier build than some slightly pricier models. It’s louder and less versatile than our main pick, but great for the money.

The Maytag MDB4949SD is a basic but effective dishwasher that costs a lot less than our other picks. It has no third rack, runs noticeably louder, and may leave more leafy debris on your dishes than our other picks. But it’s usually the cheapest dishwasher that’s actually good, so give it a look if you can live with those downsides.

The MDB4949SD is usually the cheapest dishwasher with all the basic, must-have specs, including a stainless steel tub for relatively low noise and faster drying, nylon-coated racks for gentle handling, and a soil sensor to ensure that cycles run until they’re finished. That alone went a long way toward making this our budget pick.

We also think that the MDB4949SD should be very reliable. The average user rating is 4.6 stars out of five across more than 17,000 reviews, which is a strong sign that it holds up well at least in the first few years of ownership. It’s also backed by one of the better warranties in the category, with the standard one-year parts and labor coverage, but 10 years for the racks, tub, and grinder. Maytag is a sub-brand of Whirlpool, whose customer service is OK but not great. Consumer Reports also found that Maytag has a slightly higher two-year repair rate than the very best brands, though we don’t know if that applies to this model, which is built a little different than most models in the Maytag/Whirlpool lineup.

Photo: Maytag

The most obvious downside compared with our main pick is that the Maytag MDB4949SD has no third rack, so you’re giving up some loading capacity. It’s not exactly a problem, but if you crank through huge loads on a regular basis, you might wish you had the extra space.

The MDB4949SD doesn’t have a height-adjustable upper rack, either. We thought that this put it at a disadvantage for loading tall items compared with some similar models, but once we got some hands-on time with a few budget models, we changed our minds. The MDB4949SD has more contours in its upper rack, including some dips where tall glasses can fit easily. The adjustable racks in other budget dishwashers feel cheap and sticky—they seem great on paper but don’t work so well in the real world. The MDB4949SD avoids that problem by using a better fixed-position rack.

At 50 decibels, the MDB4949SD is noticeably louder than our very favorite models (which are practically silent at 44 decibels or quieter). That’s enough to hear from one room away at least some of the time. However, it’s not obnoxious (window air conditioners and vacuums are usually at least 10 decibels louder), and is still one of the quietest dishwashers at this price. But it still might be loud enough to wake up light sleepers if it’s near a bedroom.

The MDB4949SD can sometimes run very long cleaning cycles. Usually it will run for about two and a half hours, which is a little longer than usual for most dishwashers, but we’ve heard that sometimes it will run as long as four hours. We think that this is a side effect of using a grinder instead of a filter. Testing at Reviewed.com suggests that the MDB4949SD can sometimes struggle with redeposited soils—food that’s been washed off one dish, but then sticks back onto another dish before before a filter catches it, or in this case, before it gets flushed out of the tub. If it doesn’t redeposit and just keeps floating around, it might signal the soil sensor to keep the cycle going for longer than it really needs to. Leafy, fibrous foods like spinach might trigger this issue more than other easily dissolvable foods. Though Reviewed.com said this dishwasher is “truly a disappointment” based on that result, we think that’s an exaggeration. It will not be a problem most of the time for most people. The MDB4949SD does not have an option for a shorter wash cycle either.

The MDB4949SD comes in three finishes. The MDB4949SDE is black, MDB4949SDH is white, and the MDB4949SDZ is stainless and usually costs more than the other finishes.

Upgrade pick: Miele Classic Plus G4976SC

Photo: MIele

Upgrade pick
Miele Classic Plus G4976SC
Miele dishwashers are known to last twice as long as most. This model is the most affordable in the lineup with features to match our main pick’s.

If you’re willing to pay more for an extra-durable dishwasher from a premium brand, check out the Miele Classic Plus G4976SC. Miele dishwashers are known to last about twice as long as typical dishwashers. The G4976SC in particular is the most affordable Miele model with a stainless finish, a third rack, and a short-cycle option. It’s expensive, and some people find that the racks struggle with some American-style dishes. Even so, it’s the most value-oriented choice for an upscale dishwasher.

As far as we can tell, Miele dishwashers are the longest-lasting dishwashers you can buy. No independent sources publish any data about long-term reliability. But word-of-mouth from around the industry suggests that Miele makes the sturdiest machines. The Miele dishwasher in The Sweethome’s test kitchen is about 13 years old, and it just keeps running. A few Sweethome staff members (or their families) own Miele dishwashers; one machine is also 13 years old (and has never needed repairs) and another is 16 years old (some repairs needed). Chris Zeisler of Repair Clinic, a resource for spare appliance parts and DIY repair instructions, told us that today’s typical dishwashers, like the other picks in this guide, will last eight to 10 years with proper upkeep. Miele claims that it builds its products to last for 20 years of average use, and we think that’s accurate. The company has made that claim for long enough that it would’ve been exposed by now if it were false.

So by the numbers, you’d buy two dishwashers in the same amount of time as you’d own one Miele. Depending on any repairs, you may or may not save money with a Miele in the long term. But it’s actually a strong possibility.

In the short term, Miele dishwashers are just about as reliable as the other top brands. According to Yale Appliance, Miele dishwashers have a one-year service rate of just 8.9 percent. Consumer Reports (subscription required) estimates that they have a 12 percent repair rate within the first two years of ownership. Both numbers are excellent.

Miele’s customer support is also better than most companies’. As a quality-control measure, the company sells only through select retailers, and sends only approved technicians to service and install the machines. Phone support is courteous and responsive, and the representatives walk you through some diagnostic tests to see if there are any simple, DIY fixes before they send someone out for repairs.

The Classic Plus G4976SC has a feature set that’s pretty similar to our Bosch and KitchenAid picks’, including a third rack, an adjustable middle rack, a few sets of folding tines, a short-cycle option that cuts the run time to about 100 minutes. It runs at 46 decibels, which is a little louder than our main pick but still quiet enough that it’ll be hard to hear from one room away. It is a condenser-dry model, though it actually draws in cold air from outside the dishwasher to speed up the process, so it might be more effective at drying plastic than our main pick. Like most dishwashers, it uses a filter to capture food particles. It also has a tray where you can (optionally) add water-softening salts, which can really improve performance and longevity if your water supply is mineral-rich.

Some people find that, like Bosch dishwashers, the Miele’s racks aren’t so well-suited to certain kinds of American-style dishes, like deep cereal bowls and large plates. The third rack in the G4976SC is also totally flat, and is really meant only for utensils and cutlery.

If a Miele dishwasher does need repairs at some point outside of the one-year warranty, which is likely, it might cost more than service for other brands. It’s sort of like owning a German car: You need to go to the specialty technician, where the time and parts cost extra. Miele’s service network is also a little narrower than other brands, so before you buy, you should check to see if you live somewhere Miele has a presence. And as reliable as Miele dishwashers are, there is always a chance (as with any appliance from any brand) that your particular unit will give you trouble, so brace yourself for that possibility.

The G4976SC is also available in a panel-ready version as the G4976SCVI.

An also-great 18-inch dishwasher: Bosch 300 Series SPE53U55UC

Photo: Bosch

Also great
Bosch 300 Series SPE53U55UC
If your kitchen is designed for an 18-inch dishwasher, this compact version of our main pick is one of the quieter, easier-to-load options.

If you need a narrower dishwasher designed for an 18-inch cutout, the Bosch 300 Series SPE53U55UC is a quiet, effective, reasonably priced pick. For anyone with enough space, the full-size dishwasher is the obvious choice—these 18-inch models don’t cost any less, they’re simply smaller.

We scoped out about 20 other compact dishwashers from Arctic King, Asko, Avanti, Blomberg, Beko, Danby, Edgestar, Electrolux, Fagor, Frigidaire, GE, Kenmore, Miele, Smeg, Summit, and Whirlpool. In the end, we think that Bosch is the best bet for a reliable, full-featured compact model that performs like the best standard-size machines without veering into the luxury price range.

The SPE53U55UC is sort of like a narrower version of our main pick, just without the third rack. It does have the great nine-position adjustable upper rack, and some folding tines, which makes it more flexible than most compact dishwashers. Overall, it holds about half as much as a full-size, 24-inch model can, but that’s to be expected based on the size. It’s a condenser-dry model with a filter. It uses a bit less water and energy than full-size models. We expect the cleaning performance to be just as effective. It even has a tray for water-softening salts, which helps smooth out any performance problems caused by mineral-rich water supplies.

Bosch also makes the 800 Series SPE68U55SS 18-inch model, which crams in a third rack for a little extra capacity, and runs a bit quieter. It also costs about $100 more, depending on the finish and control setup. It’s another good choice, but we would recommend upgrading to it only if you’re in the rare situation where an 18-inch dishwasher is your only option and you know you’ll use it heavily. The third rack frees up some critical space in an already cramped machine. However, we think most people using an 18-inch model are in a smaller apartment, and not necessarily cooking for a large family, so for them we’d suggest saving the extra $100 or so and sticking with the 300 series.

The competition

Bosch makes a few other dishwasher models. The 500 Series is mostly like the 300 Series (our pick), except that it usually costs more, the sides of the third rack can click down about an inch to make more room for cooking tools, and it’s available only in pocket-handle and bar-handle designs, with hidden controls. The 800 Series runs quieter, has touch-sensitive controls instead of physical buttons, and the highest-end variants come with a third rack that’s deep enough to hold cereal bowls. If you’re willing to spend a little extra for those features, go for it. Then there’s the budget Ascenta line, but its models aren’t as reliable as those of the 300 Series and up, so we’re not too keen on them.

We’ve seen plenty of older-generation Bosch units floating around in stores. They’re still reliable, quiet dishwashers, but the new models have better features for the money. The old models were also called the 300, 500, and 800 Series, so it’s a little tricky to tell them apart from the new ones. If you find a price that seems too good to be true, it’s probably old. When you look at the full model number, the new models will have either an “M” or an “8” as the fourth character. The newer 300 Series models include a few key features that the older generation lacked, so we strongly recommend finding the newest version.

Thermador is the premium version of Bosch, built on the same base models, with some aesthetic upgrades and fast-wash options thrown in. For example, the top-of-the-line Star Sapphire model has a blue interior light and can run an entire load in 20 minutes. Otherwise, expect similar performance, racking, and reliability as other Bosch models.

Bosch Benchmark models are imported from Germany, and built a bit different from the American-made Bosch and Thermador models. It’s hard to come by reliability figures, but Yale Appliance found that Benchmark models have twice the repair rate of the regular Bosch models.

KitchenAid makes a few models that are similar to the KDTE254ESS. The basic KDTE104ESS runs louder, with no third rack or back-wall jets. We actually planned to recommend the KDTE204ESS because it costs a bit less yet has all the important features, but it was recently discontinued. We briefly recommended the KDTE254ESS because it had better racks and ran quieter, but it was also discontinued. All of those models seem to be built on a similar base as the Whirlpool 900 Series, but with a slicker look, better lower wash arm, and racks that glide and adjust much more smoothly.

Higher-end KitchenAid models (sometimes also sold under the Jenn-Air brand) look great on paper. But they’re essentially the same dishwashers as their cheaper counterparts with very expensive, marginally useful extra features.

We considered recommending the Miele Classic G4227SCSS, which is the most affordable model in the brand’s lineup at a limited-time price of $900 at this writing. It even has a third rack, and Miele extends the warranty period out to an amazing five years. If you don’t mind the visible (non-integrated) control panel, and can live without the short-cycle option, this is another durable upgrade model to consider while it’s still available.

Miele models can cost as much as $2,600, though we think the practical benefits top out around $1,600 with models like the Dimension G6745SCUCLST. That model has a one-hour wash option and a deeper third rack, runs at 40 decibels, and dries better thanks to a dryness sensor and an auto-opening feature. The really high-end models add slick features like smooth-steel control panels, interior lights, a knock-to-open feature, as well as an innovative hot-water reservoir that helps squeeze out a few dollars of extra efficiency.

We looked at a some models from the Whirlpool 500, 700, and 900 series, and came close to recommending the WDT750SAHW as our budget pick. These models have excellent specs for the price, and Whirlpool is one of the most reliable dishwasher brands. But we found that the racks in the lower-end models don’t glide smoothly, and the height-adjustment system is really hard to move.

Kenmore dishwashers are made by Whirlpool Corp. and are similar to the Whirlpool and KitchenAid models we’ve already written about. We’re hesitant to recommend Kenmore products because they’re sold and serviced by Sears, a company with a spotty reputation for customer service and a truly dire financial situation. Kenmore recently began selling its appliances through Amazon, which seems like a positive development. But we want to see if the customer service improves before we start to recommend these products.

IKEA dishwashers are also made by Whirlpool Corp, and are similar to existing Whirlpool models we’ve written about. We don’t know that much about IKEA’s service record, so we don’t have much to say about these models.

We considered the LG LDF5545ST for our budget pick. Though the features were great for the price, and LG’s reputation for dishwashers is improving, we couldn’t find a compelling reason to pick it.

The GE GDT695SSJSS and GDT655SSJSS both have good feature sets for the money and are some of the few dishwashers that still use a grinder instead of a filter. But they are one of the less reliable dishwasher brands these days, and their racks are pretty mediocre compared with those of the best models.

Frigidaire is another middle-of-the-pack brand. Its models have decent racks and aesthetics for the money, but they run loud. The Gallery FGID2479SF, for example, made it to our list of contenders, but at 49 decibels it’s noticeably louder than competing models. Consumer Reports rates Frigidaire as one of the less reliable brands, too.

Blomberg (and Beko) dishwashers have great feature sets for their price. The DWT 58500SS, for example, competes closely with our main pick and runner-up. But as with other appliance categories, we hesitate to recommend them broadly because the company’s service network is still relatively narrow. It’s one of the biggest appliance brands in Europe, but it doesn’t seem to have totally committed to the US yet, so we’re taking a “wait and see” approach to its machines.

Samsung makes the least reliable dishwashers by a clear margin, according to Consumer Reports (subscription required). Like it does with most of its other appliances, Samsung crams tons of innovative-seeming features into its dishwashers for a surprisingly low price. Unfortunately, the dishwashers don’t seem to hold up very well compared to others.

Electrolux is another relatively unreliable dishwasher brand. It isn’t included in Consumer Reports’s data, but Yale Appliance reports that they had a 35 percent repair rate last year (though the sample size is pretty small, at just 60 units) and the user ratings for its models are mediocre to poor across the board.

Amana makes a few dirt-cheap dishwashers, but they all have plastic tubs, and one of them doesn’t even have a soil sensor. It’s a case of yesterday’s cheap dishwasher trying to work in a new world, and the results probably won’t be so great.

Asko, Gaggenau, and Viking are all premium brands, but they’re relatively obscure in the US (at least for dishwashers) and we can find barely any info about how well they work. We can’t think of a compelling reason to recommend any of them at this time.

How to use your dishwasher the modern way

If your new dishwasher isn’t working well or seems to be giving you trouble, it’s probably not the machine’s fault. “If it isn’t getting the majority of your dishes clean, you’re doing something wrong,“ said Keith Barry of Reviewed.com.

Dishwashers and detergents have changed. They used to blast the hell out of dishes with tons of hot water sprayed at high pressure, using strong detergents. But starting in the 1990s, efficiency regulations forced dishwashers to gradually become thriftier with water and energy. Then in 2010, phosphates disappeared from detergents.2 The industry switched to enzyme-based detergents, which work by breaking down food into smaller molecules (like the enzymes in your gut), and are biodegradable and easy to remove from water. After a few rough years of adjusting to this gentler, more-efficient paradigm, dishwashers and detergents emerged better than before. “Today’s dishwashers are really cleaning better than anything out there and use less water,” Barry said. “The key is that you have to use them properly, you need to load them properly, and use the right detergent.”

If your new dishwasher isn’t meeting your expectations, try these steps:

  • Stop pre-rinsing. Scrape off anything solid, but leave some goop and crusty stuff. If the dishes go in too clean, the soil sensor might cut the cycle short. The more gunk you’ve got floating around in the wash water, the more likely the dishwasher will run a full cycle. Hard to believe that you should quit pre-rinsing? We understand, it seems counterintuitive. But the new enzyme-based detergents are excellent at breaking down stuck-on food, and even a tiny amount of enzyme can work through a really dirty load of dishes. So the extra effort is completely unnecessary. This is good news!
  • Forget about liquid or gel detergents. They don’t have enzymes, so they don’t break down food. Powders, tablets, and gel packs do have enzymes, and lots of other helpful ingredients, so they’re more effective. Make sure to pick a good one (subscription required). I personally use Finish All-in-One Powerball tabs.
  • Use rinse aid. Enzyme-based detergents do have some limitations, and rinse aid helps offset them. It helps water slide off your dishes more easily, which prevents food from redepositing mid-cycle and speeds up the drying process. It also prevents that hazy film from forming on your glassware by softening the tap water (that is, binding with the minerals in it). Rinse aid is particularly important for condenser-dry dishwashers, but it will make any dishwasher work better. Finish Jet-Dry works well, though if your detergent already includes a rinse aid (like many Finish tab formulas), you don’t need to add any additional liquid.
  • Load it properly. Aim the dirty surfaces down and in toward the wash arms, and avoid nesting your silverware and bowls too closely. When you’re loading big casserole dishes or pots, be mindful that they don’t block the water jets from reaching other nearby dishes. When it doubt, read the manual.
  • Soften your tap water. Most metro areas already do this, but if you get your water from a well or anywhere with a mineral-rich water supply, you’ll need to find a workaround. A whole-home softener is foolproof but expensive. A souped-up rinse aid like Finish Jet-Dry Turbo might help. A few dishwashers have a dedicated tray for special water-softening salts. Failing all those options, most manufacturers suggest using extra detergent, and provide guidelines in the manual.

Even after you’ve nailed down your habits for everyday use, you’ll need to do a little bit of upkeep:

  • Clean the filter a few times per year. All you need to do is run it under the sink and lightly scrub it with a soapy sponge. It takes only a minute to do this, and the filter doesn’t get as gross as you might think. Most brands recommend monthly cleanings, but you can get away with cleaning it once every three or four months. If you start to notice a performance drop-off, or your dishwasher starts to smell musty even without dirty dishes in it, that’s a sign you should clean your filter. (If your dishwasher has a grinder, you don’t need to do this.)
  • Run a self-cleaning cycle occasionally. Warner and Zeisler both told us that they recommend running an empty load with a dishwasher-cleaning powder like Affresh every six months. This will dissolve soap scum, grease, and mineral deposits that build up with regular use and may cause odors and restrict water flow if left unchecked for too long. One self-cleaning cycle per year is fine if you have soft tap water, three times per year might help performance and longevity if you have hard tap water. Dishwasher cleaners are essentially just powdered citric acid, so you can also use sugar-free Crystal Light instead.

If your dishwasher starts to suffer from performance problems, we recommend checking out Repair Clinic’s library of how-to videos, starting with this basic troubleshooting clip. 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.

Footnotes:

1. A place setting is a standardized measurement in the appliance industry, representing the number of dishes one person would use during a formal dinner. One place setting, according to this definition, includes a dinner plate, dessert plate, glass tumbler, teacup, saucer, knife, fork, soup spoon, dessert spoon, teaspoon, and bowl. Add a serving bowl and serving spoon for every three or four place settings. Jump back.

2. Phosphate salts are fantastic cleaning agents. But scientists had argued since the 1970s that these salts contribute to algae blooms in lakes and rivers, which can suffocate marine life. Though phosphate-based detergents are still technically legal in some states, the industry has moved on to a new enzyme-based paradigm. Jump back.

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