This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which dishwasher is best?

Washing dishes by hand is nasty. Your hands get slimy. Water and food remnants splash all over your clothes. You have to dry the dishes by hand, too, or wait for them to air dry while dripping water on your countertops. Dishwashers do all the work for you and even serve as a storage space. If you don’t have space or cash for a full-sized model you can also grab a countertop version.

The best dishwasher is the Whirlpool Top Control Built-In Tall Tub Dishwasher. It has plenty of space and excellent features.

What to know before you buy a dishwasher

Types of dishwasher

There are three main types of dishwasher: built-in, countertop and portable.

  • Built-in dishwashers are what you think of when you think “dishwasher.” They are installed underneath countertops. They have the largest range of sizes and capacities. They require being installed near the sink or other plumbing connections, which may limit your ability to have one installed.
  • Countertop models are effectively miniature dishwashers. They rarely hold more than three or four persons’ worth of dishes and have limited cycle options and special functions. They are, however, much more affordable. They also typically do not require special connections, being able to connect directly to your sink.
  • Portable dishwashers are frequently as large as built-in models, only on wheels. Like countertop models, they can connect directly to a sink rather than special connections. Portable models are rarely used outside commercial settings.

Size and capacity

Dishwashers have both total sizes and capacities.

  • Size is the dishwasher’s full dimensions, with door both open and closed. When shopping, it is paramount to triple-check your available space against the dimensions of your prospective dishwasher to ensure a good fit.
  • Capacity refers to the internal size, and how many dishes it can clean in one cycle. Size and capacity rarely correlate directly.

What to look for in a quality dishwasher

Energy efficiency

Dishwashers require two resources to operate: water and energy. Some dishwashers are Energy Star compliant, meaning they are certified to use less of these resources. Energy Star compliant models still vary on precisely how much they use, so check to see. You may save some money in the long run.

Cycle options

Outside of a standard cycle or normal wash, dishwashers can feature a number of special cycles. Common additions include quick and heavy cycles for fewer dishes or caked-on messes, respectively. Bacteria-eliminating cycles are also good.


Dishwashers generate noise as they function, but some models are specially designed to reduce the total amount of decibels they generate. Most generate between 40-60 decibels, or between a quiet library and a standard conversation. Sub-45 decibel models are considered quiet.

How much you can expect to spend on a dishwasher

Small and countertop models can be found for $500 or less. Midrange models typically run between $500-$900, while large or top-of-the-line models can cost over $1,000.

Dishwasher FAQ

Do I need to clean my dishwasher?

A. Yes. All the little particles of food that get cleansed during a cycle don’t neatly drain away. They build up on the dishwasher’s interior walls over time. Most brands recommend cleaning your dishwasher every one to two months. You don’t need to do it by hand, just use a dishwasher cleaning tablet and put your — empty — dishwasher on its standard cycle. If your dishwasher is starting to smell or isn’t cleaning your dishes as well as it used to, you’re long overdue and may need to have expensive maintenance performed.

Can I use liquid dish soap in my dishwasher?

A. No. Liquid dish soap is designed to generate lots of soap suds to make cleaning your dishes by hand easier. The way a dishwasher operates uses a large amount of water and air that will generate a huge amount of suds if you use liquid dish soap — enough to cause suds to leak out of it, potentially damaging both your home and your dishwasher. Always use products clearly listed as being for a dishwasher to avoid situations like this.

What’s the best dishwasher to buy?

Top dishwasher

Whirlpool Top Control Built In Tall Tub Dishwasher

Whirlpool Top Control Built-In Tall Tub Dishwasher

What you need to know: It has a huge capacity and plenty of excellent features.

What you’ll love: A third rack up top allows for washing more dishes in each load. It’s Energy Star certified and runs quietly. The stainless steel exterior is fingerprint- and smudge-resistant. A sani-rinse feature kills nearly 100% of bacteria. A sensor adjusts specifics of the normal cycle as needed.

What you should consider: The standard cycle takes longer than normal to complete. The top rack only fits utensils and other small, flat options.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Top dishwasher for the money

Homelabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher

Homelabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher

What you need to know: This is an excellent purchase for those living alone in small apartments.

What you’ll love: It fits comfortably on small countertops with dimensions of 21.6 by 19.6 by 17.2 inches. It’s easy to install and is Energy Star certified. It has six wash options including speed and glass. It’s quiet.

What you should consider: Common issues have cropped up over time, such as dishes failing to be completely cleaned and soap pods not dissolving fully.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Frigidaire 18 Inch Built In Dishwasher

Frigidaire 18-Inch Built-In Dishwasher

What you need to know: This is great for those who need more space than a countertop model provides but not as much as a full-sized dishwasher.

What you’ll love: It’s available in black, white and stainless steel. It uses less than 5 gallons of water per cycle and UltraQuiet technology limits its noise. Drying time is fast thanks to a high temperature setting that also eliminates bacteria.

What you should consider: It’s Energy Star certified but still consumes roughly 280 kilowatt hours each year. The stainless steel model is not smudge-resistant.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.