Whether you want to buy your first dishwasher or a replacement for one that has washed its last glass, it seems like there are so many options available, choosing one can be overwhelming.  We’ve done our research and list the best pieces of advice, to arm you with the information you need to make a better decision about buying a new dishwasher.

  1. Performance: Not surprisingly, the number one thing people look for in a dishwasher is whether it can clean the way it’s supposed to. For the most part, all dishwashers should be expected to do the work they were designed for. Consumer Reports (subscription required) notes that all of the dishwashers they’ve tested all performed well, so in general, cleaning isn’t an issue. That being said, there are some things that will affect the performance of your dishwasher from the correct installation, proper preparation and loading, how hard your water is, or how often you clean your dishwasher. Two other issues that seem to be highlighted amongst reviews are the ability of dishwashers to dry plastic and their cycle length. Some dishwasher models will take up to 3 hours to clean dishes.
  2. Noise: Are you familiar with the decibel rating of dishwashers?  Noise ratings can range from the mid-30s up to the 80s. Generally (but not always), more expensive dishwashers are quieter. In the last ten years, the food pulverizers have been taken out of most dishwashers – which helps keep them quiet — the drawback is that it does mean you have to clean the filter out yourself every once in a while. Another issue is the interior material – stainless steel provides a much quieter dishwasher than plastic or ceramic according to reviewed.com. You should also take a look at how much insulation is provided around the dishwasher itself. The thicker the insulation, the better the noise reduction will be.   You might want to check reviews for noise levels before you buy. According to Consumer Reports, although a dishwasher manufacturer may rate its dishwasher to a 42 dBs – they are allowed to rate the average noise level – which includes the non-noisy drying time of the cycle. While not every dishwasher brand does this, it’s important to keep in mind if you run your dishwasher while people are around or have an open-concept home. Most dishwashers manufactured in the last 10 years range between 45 and 50 dBs but there are dishwashers rated 37 dBs, while older dishwashers can be as loud as 75-80 dBs.
  3. EnergyStar: The vast majority of dishwashers sold are EnergyStar certified – saving you money for both electricity and water (if your water is metered). Look for EnergyStar rated dishwashers which are better for your wallet and the planet over the long-term.
  4. Reliability: It’s important to choose a dishwasher that will last its intended lifespan – that includes its interior fittings such as racks and cutlery holders, in addition to its motor and pump. Retailers say that today’s appliances last 6-10 years while the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) says that dishwashers should last 13 years. How long your dishwasher will last also depends on use frequency. Dishwasher lives are rated on their being used 4 times per week so if you use yours every day, it may only last half of its expected life. Look up reviews online, especially with Consumer Reports, Reddit and other forums where you’ll find plenty of comments as to which dishwashers are more reliable than others.
  5. Repairability: As electronics become increasingly integrated into our kitchen appliances, they have a tendency to break down more. Look for dishwashers that are easy to fix or brands that have a history of reliability. Buy from a vendor who has a team in place to service your dishwasher in the event it needs it. Smaller vendors who don’t have their own in-house service people will often work with service companies – just make sure you ask before you buy about what they do for service. This is especially important if you’re buying a brand that isn’t well-known in your area. Are there service people to fix it?

For more information on how to buy a used or refurbished dishwasher, check out our other articles on our Dishwashers page.

Visit our Resources page to help you start your research.