Dishwasher Buying Guide

May 7, 2019 by Waverly Wilde

A good dishwasher is a vital tool in any home. Hand-washing dishes is the last thing anyone wants to do after a meal, and it cuts into precious time that could be spent with family or unwinding after a long day. A reliable dishwasher saves time and energy, and lets you focus on the important things after your evening meal, rather than adding an extra chore to your plate. But finding a dishwasher that makes your life simple isn’t always, well, simple! Follow this guide to learn all you need to know about shopping for that perfect dishwasher.


Have a budget in mind from the get-go when you start the search for a new dishwasher. A standard-sized, built-in dishwasher can go for as low as $300 or as high as $2,500, depending on style, noise level, and whether or not it has all the latest state-ofthe-art features. Think about what kind of features you want in a new dishwasher when setting your budget, and check out our selection at Howard’s to find great dishwashers at the right price.

Space and Capacity

Not all dishwashers are created equal when it comes to tackling mealtime messes. Even though most dishwashers have a standardized width, the amount of dishes they can hold varies from model to model. Measure your space and know what size dishwasher fits best in your kitchen when you start shopping, and be sure to ask questions about a dishwasher’s capacity too. Models with the latest space-saving features can fit tons of extra dishes without adding any extra bulk!

• Standard

Most standard dishwashers are made to be built right into your kitchen. They’ll typically measure about 24 inches across, so be sure you have enough space under your counter before you head to the store. Dishwasher capacity is generally gauged by how many complete, five-piece table settings can fit inside during a normal wash. Your average built-in dishwasher can usually hold about 12 place settings, but larger capacity models can hold 14 or even more.

• Compact

Compact dishwashers are also typically built-in, but they come in smaller sizes than the traditional dishwasher. At about 18 inches across, these dishwashers are great if you’re shopping for a smaller space, though they do have proportionately less washing capacity. Expect to fit about eight five-piece place settings in one of these at a time.

• Portable

Portable dishwashers come in a number of shapes and sizes, but they’re almost always smaller than a standard dishwasher. Some are about the size and shape of a normal compact washer, but with wheels, so it can be easily moved. Others are closer to the size of a bread box, and can sit right on your countertop. These don’t require installation and can be taken with you when you move. They can also be stored easily when not in use, making them ideal for small apartments, dorms, or anyone who moves frequently.

• Drawer

Drawer dishwashers are just what they sound like—small dishwashers that fit in with the rest of your cabinetry and roll out like a drawer. They’re typically about the same width as a standard dishwasher, but half the vertical size. These models have the benefits of blending right in with your cabinetry and being slightly easier to unload, though this usually comes at the cost of capacity.


When you’re shopping for a new dishwasher, it’s important to know what features are out there. From simple spray jets, to extra space, to smart sensors, dishwasher features offer a world of possibilities. A machine with all the latest innovations might cost more, but ultimately, it can revolutionize the way you eat, clean, and live. Read up on some of the latest features before you start shopping, so you know which ones you absolutely need.

• Silent Performance

Depending on how your kitchen and living space are arranged, a loud dishwasher can put a serious damper on family time or evening entertainment. Appliance companies have been racing to make the quietest possible dishwasher for years now, and now there are plenty of ultra-quiet models on the market. Ironically, these quiet models aren’t necessarily easier to use: the fact that they’re quiet means they don’t have a built-in food processor, so you’ll have to clean out the filter by hand every now and again. It’s up to you whether silence or ease of use will serve you best in your house.

• Third Rack

Historically, two-rack models have been the dishwasher standard across makes, models, and companies, but some brands are starting to change that with the introduction of a third storage rack. These additional racks are typically wide, flat drawers at the top of the machine, which can be used for silverware, serving utensils, and other long items that can be difficult to put elsewhere. This makes more room for bulky dishes in the racks below.

• Adjustable Racks

Rearrangeable storage racks are another way to maximize washing space. Many dishwasher models let you move and adjust your racks, or even fold down the tines that separate dishes to better accommodate large items, allowing you to pack in more dishes per wash and make your cycles more efficient.

• Soil Sensor

Save money and energy with specialized sensors that can identify how dirty your dishes are, and even what kind of food is on them. A high-end dishwasher can customize things like temperature, speed, and spray strength for each load, maximizing your clean without running up water use and energy bills.

• Speed

Wash time is another factor that can bump a dishwasher up in price, quality, and convenience. No one wants to wait hours for fresh dishes, and dishwashers with speedy cycles can be a lifesaver during dinner parties or holiday gatherings. Most wash cycles run anywhere from 90 minutes to three hours, but washers with speed cycles have crunched that time down to an hour or less.

Quick Picks

Still struggling to decide exactly what you need in a new dishwasher? Let us take the stress out of shopping with these bestselling dishwashers, picked just for your home’s needs. The best part is you can find all of these great dishwashers right here at Howard’s!

• Shoppers Looking for Peace and Quiet

Bosch SHPM98W75N

If you’re looking for the quietest dishwashers on the market, look no further than Bosch! Several of their latest dishwashers boast whisper-quiet performance, but this particular model isn’t just totally silent, it’s got powerful washing ability too. At 39 decibels, this dishwasher is quiet enough to bring to a library (though we recommend putting it in your kitchen instead).

• Shoppers on a Budget

Whirlpool WDF520PADM

This Whirlpool is a powerhouse dishwasher at a bargain bin price. This model might not pack in all the latest features, but it’s got great cleaning power and an efficient one-hour wash cycle that works like a charm. With high-temperature wash, a soil sensor, and heated dry, this dishwasher has all the basics at a great price.

• Small Space Dwellers

Frigidaire FFPD1821MB

This Frigidaire offers all the flexibility you need for a small space. Both compact and portable, this 18-inch model can be wheeled around the kitchen and right out of sight when you’re done using it. It has plenty of features, so you won’t be missing much by skipping out on a built-in model. With delay wash options, energy saving functions, and several different wash cycles, you can care for your dishes your way without sacrificing any precious space.

• Techies

GE Profile PDT855SIJII

In addition to being panel-ready and able to blend right in with the rest of your cabinetry, this GE Profile dishwasher has tons of high-tech features that make it an absolute must-buy for tech-heads. It’s Wi-Fi compatible, so you can get alerted of filter blockages, leaks, and any other conditions that might make for a less-than-optimal wash right on your smart phone. Through the GE Kitchen app, you can even track how much dishwashing soap you have left, so you’re never left reaching for an empty box of pods.

• Eco Enthusiasts

Samsung DW80K7050US

At just 3.2 gallons per cycle, this Samsung is a big water-saver, and it ranks comfortably on Energy Star’s list of most efficient dishwashers of 2018. It busts dirt and grime effectively, all while saving you money on energy costs. This eco-friendly option even has top-of-the-line convenience features, like a third rack for cutlery, silent washing, and hidden touch controls. It’s great for the eco-conscious, and is a sleek addition to any kitchen.

• Big Families

Whirlpool WDT970SAHZ

With a spacious third-level rack and tons of cycles, sensors, and features, this Whirlpool can handle families (and messes) of any size. It’s got tons of space inside and a moveable silverware basket, so you can really max out your dishwashing capacity. Dual jets and sanitizing cycles can scrub clean even the stickiest of spills and the finish is fingerprint-proof too, so kids can help out around the kitchen without smudging its natural stainless-steel sparkle.
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