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Dishwasher Styles: Plastic vs Stainless Steel Tub

by Lucille Watson

Placing dishes in dishwasher

Did you know that the average American household runs their dishwasher 215 times per year? That depends on how many kids you have in the house, how often you cook, and your daily routines. But it’s safe to say dishwashers do a lot of the grunt work in the kitchen. When it comes to buying a dishwasher, you don’t want to deal with constant maintenance, grimy dishes, or heavy watermarks. So, what’s the difference between a plastic vs stainless steel tub? And why choose one over the other? Let’s dive in.

At a Glance:

Plastic vs Stainless Steel Tubs

Benefits of Stainless Steels Dishwasher Tubs

Benefits of Plastic Dishwasher Tubs

5 Dishwasher Cleaning Tips

Which is Better?


Why Trust Us?

Plastic vs Stainless Steel Tubs

There are differences between plastic and stainless steel dishwasher tubs that can benefit your home and lifestyle.

What are the Differences?

Stainless steel dishwasher tubs are typically quieter than plastic ones and are more energy-efficient. They also run at higher temperatures which generally means your dishes will experience a deeper wash. But with certain conveniences comes a price tag and a few disadvantages. Although they will save you money over time via their energy usage, you may find rust to be more prevalent than with plastic dishwasher tubs. Also, stainless steel tubs can be a headache when it comes to tough watermarks and calcium buildups.

Plastic dishwasher tubs are budget-friendly and won’t experience rust due to their material. But you will find that they aren’t as energy-efficient and typically don’t compare in features. The differences between these two materials mainly lie in their price tags and how they effectively wash dishes. That being said, there is the possibility of finding a plastic tub dishwasher that features more cycles than a stainless steel one; it all depends on your needs.

Recommended Read: 5 Dishwashers Under $600

Benefits of Stainless Steel Dishwasher Tubs

A stainless steel tub will last your years and give you fresh dishes for every wash. Stainless steel dishwasher tubs are more durable and, as we said, can withstand higher heat temperatures. On top of a better clean, the energy-efficient ratings are better than that of a plastic tub since stainless steel ones retain heat better. You also won’t hear rattling noises as loudly or as often throughout your day as you would with a plastic tub.

Man unloading dishwasher

Featured: KitchenAid Stainless Steel Tub Dishwashers

KitchenAid dishwashers all feature condensation drying options which means you won’t have puddles of water built up on your dishes, resulting in fewer watermarks. KitchenAid dishwashers also feature cycles like ProWash (for optimal soil levels), a Triple Filter System (a screen filter, coarse particles filter, and a microfilter), and Dynamic Wash Arms that help effectively distribute water through the appliance.

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The average price of a stainless steel dishwasher tub: $1,000

Pros of Stainless Steel Dishwasher Tubs

  • Noise Reduction
  • Durable
  • Longer-Lasting Life Span
  • Energy Efficient
  • More Cycle Options

Cons of Stainless Steel Dishwasher Tubs

  • Higher Price Points
  • Harsher Water Marks
  • Can Rust

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Benefits of Plastic Dishwasher Tubs

The highest valued benefit of a plastic dishwasher tub over a stainless steel one is the price. If you’re on a budget or now have an unexpected expense to pay due to a rundown appliance, a plastic dishwasher is an excellent choice. They also don’t rust, and harsh watermarks are something you won’t see as often. Lastly, if you are remodeling your kitchen but need to find a place to cut a few corners on budget, investing in a plastic tub dishwasher is a great option.

Placing plate in dishwasher

Featured: GE Plastic Tub Dishwashers

GE is one of our favorite dishwasher brands for plastic tubs. GE dishwashers are known for their reliability and effective cleaning cycles. As a buyer, you have the option for your dishwasher to feature cycles like Dry Boost (for faster drying times), Piranha Hard Food Dispenser (to disintegrate food particles quicker), and the Steam + Sani option that eliminates 99.99 percent of bacteria on every dish.

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The average price of a plastic dishwasher tub: $600

Pros of Plastic Dishwasher Tubs

  • Budget-Friendly
  • Doesn’t Rust
  • Fewer Harsh Water Marks
  • Sleek Designs

Cons of Plastic Dishwasher Tubs

  • Typically, Louder
  • Less Energy-Efficient
  • Won’t Last as Long

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5 Tips on How to Effectively Clean Dishes

Richard Tarrant, the category director of Bosch dishwashers, stated from a consumer study that 61% of American adults argue over how to properly do the dishes. That’s a lot of quarrels over a few dishes, maybe we can help with the debate.

Placing detergent in dishwasher

1. Use the Soap Dispenser

Some of us may load the dishes and idly dump in an obscure amount of soap that looks like it will do the job. But there actually is a science as to how much detergent is needed. The soap dispenser for most dishwashers is found on the door and is actually designed to dispense the perfect amount of detergent at the ideal time. If used, you’ll find that you spend less money running to the grocery for detergent, and your dishes will come out sparkling.

2. Don’t Overload

It may be enticing to pack your dishwasher to its fullest capacity, but this actually can do more harm than good. There must be enough space between plates and bowls for the water and detergent to seep between the dishes. You may feel as though you’re getting the job done faster, but in the long run, you’ll discover you have to reload freshly washed dishes due to stuck on grim.

3. Scramble Your Silverware

This tip may feel counter-intuitive, but when you think about it, it makes sense. When you load the forks with the forks, you will eliminate space for the detergent to effectively clean your silverware. This process creates a suction. Even though you may think the unloading process is quicker if you organize your forks, you may find that caked-on egg or pie is left on your silverware.

4. Use the Correct Cycles

Yes, it does matter which button you press when starting your dishwasher. If you find your dishwasher is more packed from plates, make sure to hit the larger cycle option. Or, if you and a few friends had wine the night before, go ahead and choose the stemware button. Your dishwasher is designed to know how to wash your plates differently than your delicate glasses. Also, this will save you money on your energy bill since you won’t just be hitting start and having to reload dishes once the cycle is done.

5. Use Hotter Cycles

If you just hosted a birthday party and your dishwasher is full of grimy plates with dried cake residue on them, go ahead and choose a cycle with a hotter temperature. This feature will help that residue fall off throughout the cycle, and you won’t have to spend as much time scrubbing your time away instead of spending it with friends. We still suggest washing off your plates a bit, but there is no need to do most of the work when you have a capable dishwasher. So, go ahead and turn the heat up for those stubborn plates and let your dishwasher do the work while you hang with your friends.

For More Dishwasher Tips: Why is My Dishwasher Not Cleaning Well? [And 13 Ways to Fix It]

Which Dishwasher Tub is Best?

This answer depends on what your lifestyle and needs are. If you find yourself in a pickle without a dishwasher or you are on a smaller budget, a plastic tub dishwasher will do great. But if you are looking for a new appliance that will be quieter and have more custom features, a stainless steel tub is a perfect option.

Shop Dishwasher Hot Buys


Let’s review a few remaining questions.

Q: Is a plastic tub in a dishwasher bad?

Many economical or budget-friendly dishwashers will use a plastic tub in their interiors. Unfortunately, these tub types are not preferred as they cannot heat up enough to effectively create condensation for evaporative drying. 

Q: What does a tall tub in a dishwasher mean?

A tall tub dishwasher will fit the same space as a standard dishwasher tub model. However, overall, tall tub dishwashers have a larger interior.

Q: Which is better stainless steel or plastic dishwasher tub?

Stainless steel tubs in dishwashers provide a better drying and sterilizing environment. They are also stronger and more resistant to cracking. 

Why Trust Spencer’s TV & Appliance?

Since 1973, Spencer’s TV & Appliance has grown to 10 locations throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. The secret to our longevity is simple: personal service. Customer satisfaction have always been the focus of our business, and throughout the years, we have been able to work hard with our suppliers to bring you the best prices. After all, getting customers the best price and personal attention is how we compete with big-box stores, day in and day out.

Not only do we offer top-rated appliances, name-brand electronics, and the best mattresses on the market but we also provide water treatment solutions and perform kitchen design services. Stop by your nearest Spencer’s and see what you’re missing!

Shop Dishwashers at Spencer’s

At Spencer’s TV & Appliance, we provide high-quality, name-brand products at great prices — check out our catalog to shop dishwashers online today. Your friends in the business are always happy to help you find out whether a plastic or stainless steel tub dishwasher is best for you. Call us, or better yet, stop by at one of our locations in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale regions. Visit us today!

Recommended Read: 6 Best Dishwashers for Arizona Hard Water