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A Guide to Modern Dishwashers [What to Look For]

by Pam Silvia

So many choices! When it comes to the best dishwasher features, many of today’s dish care appliances are stocked with premium upgrades—you have probably seen most of these features listed as you have begun your search for the perfect dishwasher... But at the end of the day, what are their benefits? Read our guide to modern dishwashers to learn how you can get sparkly glassware and squeaky-clean dishes to the table quicker than ever.

Decibel Rating

young mother multitasks in kitchen while cradling sleeping infant

Noise comes into play often in consumer buying decisions. 42 dBA is established in the industry as being virtually silent. For those with “above-average hearing,” you can still go lower, but typically not below 39 dBA. Depending on your preferences, you can find noticeably quiet dishwashers as low as 44 dBA. Of course, for some, a low decibel rating may not be a factor at all.

Our Top Pick: KitchenAid 24” PrintShield Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher (KDTM404KPS)

At 44 dBA, this KitchenAid dishwasher provides quiet cleaning without compromising performance, so there is no need to wait to run a wash cycle while entertaining and enjoying meals—even in open-concept kitchens. But most importantly, this efficient appliance allows you to keep up with the tools you use from prep to table, thanks to three racks of versatile loading possibilities and complete wash coverage. The FreeFlex™ Third Rack fits glasses, mugs, bowls, silverware, and cooking tools, freeing up room below for pots, plates, and mixing bowls. Meanwhile, the Advanced Clean Water Wash System circulates clean water to dishes in all three racks.

Check for best price: KitchenAid 24” PrintShield Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher

Condensation Dry

This is a feature that is gentler on your dishes, helps you to experience less water spots, and has better energy efficiency compared to its “exposed drying element” competitor. Without exposed drying elements, there will be no more melted plastic! However, there still may be some residual water on the dishes. Condensation dry units do have internal heaters, so you can rest assured that your dishes will be cleaned well. There are now some innovative condensation dry enhancements, such as fans, to accelerate the drying process in addition to automatic opening doors and even crystals that boil away water as part of a feature called “Crystal Dry,” which can be found in some high-end Bosch units.

Our Top Pick: Bosch 800 Series 24” Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher (SHEM78ZH5N)

Speaking of Bosch, the brand’s SHEM78ZH5N model boasts patented CrystalDry technology that transforms moisture into heat to get dishes, including plastics, 60 percent drier. Not only that, but this Bosch dishwasher also offers perfect drying results with 3D Airflow, PrecisionWash intelligent sensors that continually check the progress of dishes throughout the cycle, and Home Connect so that you can receive notifications once your dishes are done.

Check for best price: Bosch 800 Series 24” Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher

Top Control vs Front Control

slighly ajar Bosch dishwasher reveals digital top control panel

Simply put, it is easier to see and operate the dishwasher with a top control panel that allows you to easily input your preferred settings, press Start, and close the door. This beats the alternative of bending over to see front controls. Also, considering that your hands may be wet from loading the dishwasher, top controls keep the smudges from your fingers hidden on top once you close the door instead of right on the front where everyone will see them. Who doesn’t want the front of their dishwasher looking as clean as the dishes themselves? For some, the upgrade is well worth it.

Our Top Pick: Miele 24” Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher (G 7566 SCVi SF)

If you’re partial to a timeless kitchen design, then this built-in stainless-steel dishwasher from Miele will surely fit the bill—and inside your cabinet opening. In addition to sleek top controls that are easy and intuitive to use, this Miele dishwasher grants you a clear conscience when you run a half-load; in nearly all standard programs, this appliance detects how many dishes are inside the chamber to precisely adapt the water levels accordingly. With automatic load sensing, there is no longer any need to wait until the dishwasher is fully loaded. You can additionally reap the benefits of ultra-quiet operation at 41 dBA, a 3D MultiFlex cutlery tray, FlexLine Baskets, and advanced dishwashing programs like QuickIntenseWash and PerfectGlassCare.

Check for best price: Miele 24” Stainless Steel Built-In Dishwasher

Other Modern Dishwasher Features to Consider

  • Stainless Steel Tub: This durable feature offers better noise reduction, up to a five-degree operating temperature gain, and a much sleeker look. Most dishwashers over $649 will incorporate this premium amenity.
  • Nylon Racks: The coating found on the racks are designed to serve two functions. One is keeping your fragile dishes from directly coming into contact with the metal racks. The second is to keeping water from rusting the metal. Nylon is tougher than vinyl or PVC-coated racks—hands down. This is a must for most dishwasher buyers, as rack replacement can be pricy, so we think it is best to invest in this upgrade.
  • ADA Compliant: ADA stands for “American with Disability Act,” and a compliant dishwasher is specifically designed to sit shorter, for situations where the kitchen countertop is not elevated to the industry standard of 36 inches. This allows easier access for people who may be in a wheelchair. An ADA-compliant dishwasher is also sometimes needed for people who have thick kitchen flooring (like Saltillo tile) installed with preexisting cabinets. In these cases, people find themselves needing a slightly shorter dishwasher to fit their cabinet opening. An ADA-compliant dishwasher might just be the answer to your problem!
  • Panel Ready or Overlay: Deluxe modern dishwashers often offer custom finishes for homeowners who wish to conceal their dishwashers or integrate them into their beautiful cabinetry.

Bosch top-control-dishwasher with custom panel that matches white cabinetry

  • Towel Bar vs Pocket Handle: While everybody can appreciate another place to hang a hand towel from, for the design-oriented buyers, sometimes less is more. Investing in a dishwasher model with a pocket handle allows you to buy from a brand that does not necessarily match up with the other brands in your kitchen without it being obvious to your guests.
  • WiFi: Seriously: WiFi in a dishwasher? You might think this is silly, but deluxe modern dishwashers offer solutions for those into “The Internet of Things.” These units operate in tandem with home automation devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home. You can use voice control and ask your smart dishwasher to send notifications when the rinse aid is low—and wouldn’t it be nice to know how much time is left in the cycle? WiFi connectivity allows you to have your dishwasher communicate with you in ways you might have never considered in the past.
  • Delay Start: This feature allows you to schedule your dishwasher to run at a later time. For some consumers, operating appliances during off-peak electrical hours is particularly important. In Arizona, many of the electrical companies offer discounted rates during certain hours of the day or night. Delay Start lets you load your dishwasher when it is convenient for you and schedule it to start when it is best for your pocketbook!

Shop Dishwashers at Spencer’s TV & Appliance

Hopefully, you can make a more informed decision after reading this guide. Step into a Spencer’s TV & Appliance near you to check out the full range of products from state-of-the-art technology to low-cost alternatives and all points in-between. Sincerely, “YOUR FRIEND IN THE BUSINESS.”