With so many dishwasher brands and models out there, how in the world do you know which one is the best dishwasher to pick? Throughout the last 20 years, I have lived in four different homes. Each home had a different brand of dishwasher, each with its pros and cons.
Recently, I had to replace an old broken-down dishwasher. This was an important decision, as a dishwasher should last approximately 10 years and cost anywhere between $400 – $1500. I wanted to make sure I made the right decision, since I run my dishwasher on a daily basis, sometimes twice a day. My busy family of four goes through a lot of dishes. I cook, bake, and host family parties regularly, all of which produces a lot of dirty dishes.
Two vs. Three Racks
I have decided to rank dishwashers into two categories: those with two racks and those with three racks. My personal preference is a dishwasher with two racks, as my family uses a lot of tall wine glasses, coffee mugs, and multiple cutting boards on a daily basis. I did not want to cut down on the height availability of these items. However, you may decide that a dishwasher with three racks makes more sense for your daily needs. I’ve included top picks for both in this article.
Best Dishwasher with 2 Racks: Maytag
What Does it Look Like?
The Maytag MDB4949SDZ comes in stainless steel, black, or white, so it can match the rest of the appliances in almost any kitchen. The controls are on the front of the dishwasher and include a timed countdown timer so it is easy to know how much longer the cycle will last. These front-facing controls are handy, with users particularly appreciating the countdown timer. However, many dishwashers now feature hidden controls in the top of the door, making the front of the unit sleek and more aesthetically pleasing.
The inside of this dishwasher is made out of stainless steel. This makes the dishwasher easy to clean, without leaving streaks and stains. The stainless steel is resistant to mold and odors. Additionally, the stainless steel interior tub retains heat better than plastic. This means your dishes will get drier using less energy. The leftover water will evaporate quicker inside the warmer unit.
The Maytag MDB4949SDZ has a hard food disposer at the bottom instead of a filter. The disposer is a four blade stainless steel chopper. It grinds up leftover particles of food so they can get washed away. Other dishwashers have either a self-cleaning filter or a removable filter that needs to get manually cleaned.
Because the food gets chopped up and washed away, there is less of a chance for the small particles to get redeposited into the dishwasher as the dishes are being cleaned. Previously clean dishes are less likely to get debris attached to them while the water is flowing throughout the machine.
Runner-Up Dishwasher with 2 Racks: Bosch Ascenta
Bosch is rated as a reliable brand by Consumer Reports, and is known for having great customer service. As with any appliance purchase, there is always the risk of something breaking. It is always good to go with a brand that stands by its products.
Flexibility in Design
This dishwasher has an adjustable upper rack and fold down tines on both the upper and lower rack. This allows for more flexibility in loading tall and unusually shaped items. Some users found the tines on the bottom rack too close together though, making it difficult to fit bowls securely.
Self-Cleaning Filter System
The Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR75UC dishwasher has a self-cleaning filter in the bottom of the unit. There is no need to manually clean the filter. Self-cleaning filters tend to make a dishwasher louder than those with removable filters, but this dishwasher comes in at 50 decibels. That is the same decibel level as the Maytag MDB4949SDZ. For comparison, a 50-decibel level is comparable to listening to rainfall.
End of Cycle Notification
When the washing cycle is finished on the Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR75UC, a long series of loud beeps is triggered. This is not ideal when putting the dishwasher on a delayed setting for an overnight wash since the beeps can be heard throughout the house. It is possible to disable the beeps, although many reviewers pointed out that the instructions are not clear in the manual. Extra online research was necessary to figure out how to turn this feature off. The process for disabling the beeps was a strange sequence of pushing various buttons, making it not intuitive at all.
Honorable Mention Dishwasher with 2 Racks: Frigidaire
Sleek Modern Look
The Frigidaire FGID2466QF comes with the most options for color: black, black stainless steel, stainless steel, or white. The control panel is hidden in the top of the door. When the dishwasher is closed, the controls are not visible. In order to know when the dishwasher’s cycle is complete, a green light shines on the floor since there is no indicator on the front.
I personally prefer the countdown timer on the front of the door, but the hidden control panel without the countdown timer is not a deal breaker for me. Many people prefer the sleek look of the hidden controls, so it comes down to personal preference.
The Frigidaire FGID2466QF has eight pre-programmed wash cycles (the most cycles of any dishwashers reviewed here). The Upper Rack Wash is useful when cleaning a small load, using less water and energy than using a normal setting. One unique cycle setting is The My Favorite mode, allowing the owner to select preferred cycle and options with one touch. Four additional options are available beyond the eight cycles, allowing for different drying options. These drying options can be combined with any of the eight cycles.
Soil Sensor – What Does it Do?
This dishwasher, along with all the other dishwashers reviewed here, has a Soil Sensor feature. This allows the dishwasher to adjust the cycle time and amount of water used based on the level of debris left on the dishes. It may seem counterintuitive, but this means that pre-rinsing dishes may be a bad idea.
When debris are rinsed off prior to placing dishes into the dishwasher, the Soil Sensor will use less water and energy to clean them than they may require. It is recommended to always rinse off bones, shells, or any other large items from dishes. But these modern dishwashers with Soil Sensors do not necessarily need to be scrubbed or rinsed.
The inside of the Frigidaire FGID2466QF is a made of granite grey plastic. Because the inside is made out of plastic rather than stainless steel, there is a risk that odors will get trapped inside. This dishwasher utilizes a removable filter that must be manually cleaned on a regular basis.
The filter is easy to remove and simple requires rinsing it under running water until there is no debris left. Although this type of filter generally results in a quieter dishwasher, the Frigidaire FGID2466QF comes in at 52 decibels, which is only slightly louder than the Maytag or Bosch.
Best Dishwasher with 3 racks: KitchenAid
The KitchenAid KDTE334GPS dishwasher comes in black or stainless steel. The interior tub is also made out of stainless steel. This dishwasher’s decibel level is the quietest of all dishwashers reviewed here at 39 decibels. It has a removable filter that must be manually cleaned, which aids in keeping this dishwasher so quiet.
Since this dishwasher is so quiet and the controls are hidden on the top of the door, the LED indicator on the front of the dishwasher is especially helpful. There are different colored indicators for when the cycle is washing, drying, or is completed. This is a nice indication system, somewhere between the actual countdown timer on some models and the simple one-colored light to indicate when the machine is running. The tri-color system helps give the user a little more information as to when the cycle will be complete.
The KitchenAid KDTE334GPS has a unique bottle wash feature that people really like. There are three stainless steel spray nozzles in the top rack that can be placed inside items like bottles, vases, and glasses. This is especially helpful for slim glasses or vases that are difficult to hand wash but have stuck-on debris inside.
This dishwasher offers flexibility with the height adjustments that can be made on the middle rack. The tines in the upper rack also fold down with three different positions, allowing different sized items to be placed on this rack. There is a silverware basket in the lower rack as well as another basket in the middle rack for additional small items.
Runner-up Dishwasher with 3 Racks: LG
What Does it Look Like?
The LG LDF5545ST dishwasher comes in the full array of 4 color options (just like the Frigidaire model reviewed above): black, black stainless steel, stainless steel, and white. Controls are visible on the front of the machine with an LED displaying a countdown to indicate when the cycle is complete. The inside tub of this dishwasher is made out of stainless steel.
This dishwasher boasts the most versatile options for cleaning. There are eight cycles to choose from – with the ability to download additional cycles! For extra flexibility, the Half Wash mode can be customized to either the top or bottom rack.
The LG LDF5545ST dishwasher plays a musical ringtone when turning on the dishwasher as well as when the dishes are done. Many people prefer this much more pleasant sound than the beeps that other dishwashers make. But, if you prefer the beeps, the ringtones can be turned off.
They are also automatically turned off when using the Night Mode so that they don’t wake anyone up in the middle of the night. The Night Mode also dries the dishes for a longer cycle. You’ll have dry dishes when you unload dishes the next day.
The decibel level on the LG LDF5545ST is 48 decibels. This is lower than any of the three dishwashers with two racks, and right in the middle of the three dishwashers with three racks. Although the decibel level is on the low end, it does include a self-cleaning filter, eliminating the extra step of cleaning the filter on a regular basis.
Honorable Mention Dishwasher with 3 Racks: Samsung
Editor’s Note: This offer is no longer available on our site.
What Does it Look Like?
The Samsung DW80K7050US dishwasher comes in just two color options: black and stainless steel. Controls are hidden in the top of the door for a sleek look. The interior is made of the beneficial stainless steel.
No dishwasher is perfect for drying every dish. Samsung has come up with a unique feature to try to increase its ability to dry dishes while still keeping its Energy Star rating. When the dishwasher has completed its cycle, the door automatically pops open to help circulate air and accelerate the time it takes to dry the dishes inside. Some users of other dishwasher brands manually prop open their dishwasher after the cycle is complete before unloading their dishes to get this same effect.
This dishwasher from Samsung boasts flexibility with fold-down tines in both the upper and lower racks, as well as height adjustments for both racks. The upper rack includes cup clips and the lower rack includes a removable silverware basket. The lower rack has a red square that indicates a special power-washing jet that gets used in the StormWash Cycle. This is great for targeting pots with baked on residue. It also includes the popular Half Load cycle for smaller loads of dishes.
Difference Between How Many Racks
I had a hard time deciding between a dishwasher with two racks or three. When a dishwasher comes with a third rack, that top rack is shallow. It’s meant to be used for lids, small bowls, lying silverware flat, and long-serving utensils. It is especially useful for those who use a mixer or blender often. The blade can be placed flat on top without the risk of getting cut when trying to fit it inside a utensil basket.
The downside to the third rack is that it can limit the height available for both the main middle and lower racks. When using that third rack, the middle rack may need to get adjusted downward in order to accommodate tall wine glasses or coffee mugs. After adjusting the middle rack down, the height of the lower rack may also be diminished for tall plates, serving ware, or cutting boards.
There are a lot of factors that come into play when choosing the best dishwasher for your needs. Is it important to you that the outside design is sleek? If so, you may want to focus on a dishwasher with a hidden control panel. Is the third rack important to you for loading serving utensils and other small items? If the noise level is an important factor for you, you may want to focus on the dishwasher with the lowest decibel rating.
All six of the dishwashers mentioned here were reviewed well for their cleaning and drying capabilities. However, all of these also had some reviewers who complained about wet dishes. There doesn’t seem to be a dishwasher available that can perfectly dry all dishes, especially plastic dishware and cups with deep lips that trap water.
I found the Maytag MDB4949SDZ dishwasher to be the best dishwasher with two racks, and the KitchenAid KDTE334GPS dishwasher to be the best dishwasher with three racks. Deciding between a dishwasher with two racks versus three may depend on what types of dishes you wash most frequently. If you use a blender or mixer on a daily basis, a three-rack dishwasher may be a good choice for you. If you wash a lot of tall glasses, pots, or cutting boards like I do, then the two-rack system might be a better option.
If you find yourself spending a lot of time in the kitchen, you may want to read some of our reviews of other kitchen appliances. See which models we like best for toaster ovens and stand mixers, as well as food dehydrators and electric smokers.
What is Energy Star?
All the dishwashers reviewed here have the Energy Star certification. Energy Star is a certification given to appliances that are energy efficient. The more energy efficient a dishwasher is, the more money the consumer will save in water and electricity. An Energy Star dishwasher should save about $35 a year on utility bills. It will use about ten gallons less of water per cycle versus an older model without the certification. That’s the equivalent of saving about 3,870 gallons of water over the lifetime of the dishwasher.
One factor that contributes to making a dishwasher more efficient is the use of a Soil Sensor so that the machine uses just the right amount of water and energy to clean the dishes. Filtration methods, energy-efficient water jets, and even rack designs have also improved throughout the years to enhance the efficiency of modern dishwashers.
How do the decibel levels of these dishwashers compare?
Of the dishwashers reviewed here, the KitchenAid has the lowest decibel level at 39 Decibels, and the Frigidaire has the highest at 52 Decibels. Most dishwashers have a decibel rating between 45 and 50, so anything under 45 (like the KitchenAid and the Samsung) are extra quiet. If you are replacing an old dishwasher, any of these will seem like an improvement though. Most dishwashers from about 10 years ago averaged about 60 decibels.
Finding the best dishwasher to fit your needs should be fun. There are many options available so knowing what’s important to you will help you make the best choice. Happy shopping!