The best dishwashers for 2020

Kim Wetzel

The smart home team at Digital Trends has formally tested roughly 100 appliances across 50 different brands. Based on our testing and research, our pick for the best dishwasher is the

Bosch 300 Series SHSM63W55N

. It offers a lot of performance without the high price, as well as an unprecedented level of rack control.

The Bosch 300 Series isn’t the only exceptional model we’ve encountered. We’ve also included our pick for the best cheap dishwasher, the best drying dishwasher, the best cleaning dishwasher, and the best dishwasher for hard water.

Best dishwashers at a glance:

The best dishwasher: Bosh 300 Series SHSM63W55N

bosch-300-series-SHSM63W55N

Why we picked the Bosch 300 Series SHSM63W55N:

$759 from Amazon

Outside of the attractive profile and stainless steel design, the Bosch 300 Series SHSM63w55N is quieter than a lot of the competition and has adjustable racks that make it easy to fit even the oddest-shaped pots and pans. The dishwasher has three racks with 16 place settings and powerful jets that remove cooked-on food. There’s a filter near the bottom of the machine that can be washed out when the cycle is done, preventing buildup and protecting your dishwasher from that all-too-familiar wet food stink.

There are five different wash options to choose from including AutoWash and a One-Hour wash cycle. At only 44 decibels, the Bosch 300 series can keep your dishes sparkling clean without generating a ton of noise. With the sub-$1,000 price point, it offers top-tier performance at a mid-tier price.

The best cheap dishwasher: Frigidaire FGID2466QF

frigidaire-FGID2466QF

Why we picked the Frigidaire FGID2466QF dishwasher:

$759 from Amazon

The Frigidaire FGID2466QF may lack a lot of bells and whistles, but it makes up for it with solid performance and a low price point. The control buttons are hidden, which gives the dishwasher a cleaner look and helps prevent any accidental activations. The Frigidaire FGID2466QF has 12 places settings and an adjustable upper rack that helps accommodate even longer glassware. One feature the Frigidaire FGID2466QF has that other budget-level dishwashers do not is the high-temperature sanitation cycle, as well as the DishSense and AquaSurge systems. These two systems work in conjunction with one another to adjust the force and amount of water to ensure your dishes come out clean each time.

There are eight different cycles to choose from as well as a heated dry option. Unfortunately, the only smart feature is limited to the ability to delay the start of a wash cycle for up to 24 hours. With a $430 price point, the Frigidaire is one of the most affordable dishwashers we’ve seen.

The best drying dishwasher: Thermador DHDW870WFM

Thermador DHDW870WFM review

Why we picked the Thermador DHDW870WFM:

$759 from Amazon

Even if your dishwasher cleans your dishes well, you probably won’t be happy with your machine if it produces clean dishes that are still soaking wet when the cycle finishes. This Thermador machine might be expensive, but it is a monster at drying dishes. Your cups and plates come out without a single drop of water on them. How does it dry so well? Thermador’s StarDry with Zeolite technology adds an additional step after the drying cycle. Zeolite produces heat when it comes into contact with moisture, and the dishes come out bone dry.

In addition to being an excellent drying dishwasher, the Thermador Star Sapphire also boasts Star Speed, which means you can wash your dishes in 20 minutes. On top of that, the dishwasher has an attractive interior glow of your color choice when paired with Home Connect. It’s called Star Glow (noticing a trend?).

 Check out our full review of the Thermador DHDW870WFM.

The best cleaning dishwasher: LG QuadWash LDP6797ST

LG Quadwash LDP6797ST

Why we picked the LG QuadWash LDP6797ST:

$759 from Amazon

With four cleaning “arms” instead of two, this dishwasher is an impressive performer that is quiet and features adjustable racks.

When we read in the LG guide that we should put dirty dishes directly into the dishwasher without rinsing, we said, “Oh, it’s on!” We smeared plates with condiments and let them dry, then put them all in the Quadwash. To our surprise, the dishes came out sparkling clean — even when we ran them in the turbo cycle.

The dishwasher is quiet. So quiet, in fact, that we could barely tell it was running. Tiny indicator lights just below the handle gave us an inkling, but we still accidentally opened it a couple of times. This dishwasher features three racks — one small one for cooking utensils and knives on the top, a middle rack for bowls and glasses, and a bottom rack for larger items. All three racks are adjustable in case your glasses are taller, or you want to wash a large pot on the bottom rack and need more room.

Our LG QuadWash LDP679ST review

The best dishwasher for hard water: Whirlpool WDTA50SAHZ

Why we picked the Whirlpool WDTA50SAHZ:

$759 from Amazon

Hard water doesn’t just make it tougher to clean your dishes, it also puts a beating on your dishwasher. Regardless of which dishwasher you choose, if you have hard water, you should still use a water softener to help get your dishes cleaner and to help prevent buildup. But if you opt for a reliable dishwasher, this can extend the machine’s longevity. Whirlpool dishwashers are known for being tough, and this model is one of our favorites.

The silverware basket is on the dishwasher door, so you have more space for your plates, cups, pots, and pans. And, because it has a TotalCoverage spray arm feature, the spray arms provide excellent coverage and increased water pressure. This dishwasher also works fast, cleaning dishes in one hour. It even has a sensor cycle that can automatically adjust the cycle based on your load and get your dishes as clean as possible.

Research and buying tips

What are the best dishwasher brands?

Consumer Reports data points to Bosch, Miele, Thermador, and Whirlpool as some of the most reliable dishwasher brands.

How does a dishwasher work?

A dishwasher works by heating up water, opening up the detergent dispenser so the detergent can disperse onto the dishes, shooting hot water through spray arms to clean the dishes, draining out the dirty water, spraying more hot water through the spray arms to rinse the dishes, draining out the water again, and then heating the chamber to dry the dishes.

How long do dishwashers last?

A dishwasher should last between 6 and 12 years, provided you maintain it properly. Most dishwashers last at least 8 to 10 years on average.

How wide is a dishwasher?

A standard residential dishwasher is 24 inches wide.

When is the best time to buy a dishwasher?

There are a few times of year when you can find a really good deal on a dishwasher, such as holiday sales (Memorial Day, Black Friday, etc.). You can also get a good deal when manufacturers come out with new models, or at the end of the month. If you’re buying online, research indicates you can sometimes get better deals on Thursdays, and in the afternoon (around 3 p.m.). You can find out more information on the best times to buy appliances here.

What’s the difference between using a dishwasher and hand washing?

Hand washing does not sanitize your dishes as well as using a dishwasher. The heat of the dishwasher, the dishwasher’s detergent, and the cycles (clean, rinse, and dry cycles) sanitize your dishes better than hand washing your dishes with dish soap, a sponge, and water.

Should I pre-rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher?

Not necessarily. Pre-rinsing dishes typically isn’t necessary since modern dishwashers are designed to sense food particles, and dishwashing detergents are designed to attach to food particles. Pre-rinsing also wastes water. As long as you have a modern dishwasher and you keep your dishwasher clean, you don’t need to pre-clean your dishes. This doesn’t mean you should place casserole dishes in your dishwasher that still have half of a meal left in them, but you don’t have to clean your dishes entirely before placing them in the dishwasher either.

How do you properly load a dishwasher?

First off, never overload your dishwasher. This can cause performance issues over time, and this will also result in dishes that aren’t clean. Avoid placing more than one plate in a slot, and never place items on top of each other. Load cups, glasses, mugs, small bowls, and dishwasher-safe plastic on the top rack. Load plates and large items on the bottom rack. If you have an excess amount of dishes, run the cups and plates in one cycles. Then, do a separate cycle of pots and pans on the bottom rack, and place your large service utensils (spatulas and serving spoons that are too large to fit in the silverware bin) on the top rack. Don’t place a stockpot on top of a bowl to save time, as you’ll regret it later when your dishes are still dirty and your dishwasher stops draining properly. Check out our guide on how to load your dishwasher.

Should the silverware handles go up or down in the dishwasher?

You should put the knife blades down so you don’t cut yourself, but to promote the cleanest silverware, you should put some silverware handles facing up and some facing down so the silverware doesn’t clump together. This will get your silverware as clean and sanitary as possible. Here is a guide on how to properly load silverware.

How hot does a dishwasher get?

Dishwashers should reach temperatures of between 130 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the brand, model, and the specific cycle.

How long does a dishwasher cycle take?

It depends on the cycle and the individual dishwasher. Some dishwashers work in as little as 20 minutes, while others take longer than 90 minutes.

How do I know if my dishwasher needs replaced?

Of all major appliances, dishwashers are among the easiest to tell when they’re not doing their job. Sopping or food-encrusted dishes mean something’s not right, but it might just be your loading technique. Some dishwashers need rinse aid or they’ll leave everything wet, thanks to their condenser drying mechanisms. Modern detergent actually reacts to the enzymes in food, so if you pre-rinse your dishes, it won’t properly activate. Your owner’s manual has diagrams of how you should position your dishes so that the spray arm can reach everything and keep your dishes and your dishwasher clean. If you’ve done the necessary troubleshooting and your machine still isn’t cleaning or drying, it’s probably time for a new dishwasher.

How does Digital Trends test dishwashers?

When we test dishwashers, we use both benchmarks and less objective metrics like design. Of all the appliances we test, dishwashers get the most feedback from the Digital Trends office staff. They get used several times a day by everyone in the office, and they let us know when things aren’t getting clean, when the near-silent operation and small status light have led to them pulling the door open mid-cycle, and so on.

We also use more rigorous tests, based on AHAM’s standards, to ensure our results are repeatable and comparable.