ConsumerReports.org (© Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on MSN. Copyright © 2007-2011 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.)
Updated: December 19, 2012 7:16 AM

Dishwashers

When you're shopping for a dishwasher, there are a number of factors to consider. Besides determining how much you're able to spend, you'll need to decide how many and which options you want and really need, check the quietness and energy efficiency of the different dishwashers, and look at other aspects, including cycle time.


Getting started

You can pay $1,500 or more for a fancy dishwasher with hidden controls, digital displays, and special grime-fighting cycles. But when it comes to clean dishes, sparkling performance starts well below $500.

What's more, you needn't settle for a bare-bones dishwasher at that price. Luxury features such as a stainless-steel exterior are migrating to more low-priced models. This dishwasher guide will help you with your purchase.

Size matters

Most conventional dishwashers fit a 24-inch-wide space under a kitchen countertop and attach to a hot-water pipe, drain, and electrical line. Cabinet-matching front panels are available as kits, typically for several hundred dollars. Compact, portable dishwashers come in finished cabinets and can be rolled to the sink and connected to the faucet.

Conserving energy

Dishwashers are using less water as manufacturers strive to meet tougher federal energy standards. But it's taking longer to get dishes clean. Lower operating costs can save you more over a dishwasher's lifetime than the price difference between an efficient and less-efficient model. Don't rely on those familiar yellow Energy Star labels. Our tests are based on much dirtier loads and are a more accurate gauge of energy efficiency, in our judgment. See our Ratings for more information. Learn how to save water when dishwashing on this page.

Types

The greatest differences in dishwashers, beyond results differences in our performance-based tests, are features and costs. There are a few distinct types of dishwashers, however, including traditional models, drawer-type versions, and portable models.

Low-priced dishwashers

They may suit buyers who care more about performance than glitz.

Pros : As a group, they clean dishes as well as premium-priced models.

Cons : They tend to be noisier than the upscale models and less convenient to load.

High-priced dishwashers

Pros : They tend to be quieter and have additional features that improve loading flexibility..

Cons : They don't clean dishes any better than the best low-priced dishwashers.

Dishwasher-drawer models

Pros : You can use them simultaneously or individually, and you don't have to bend to load a single- or, sometimes, a double-drawer model.

Cons : They can be expensive, and three versions of one model we tested had significant problems. What's more, models from Fisher & Paykel, which introduced these products to the U.S. market, have been repair-prone.

Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on MSN. Copyright © 2007-2011 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Scroll upScroll down

Recently recommended stories