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Manufacturers continue to add dishwasher features that improve cleaning or convenience. But as you stand at your sink before a stack of dirty dishes, a dishwasher that does a fantastic job cleaning is still the top priority.
We keep that in mind, of course, during our tests. But we also keep an eye on consumer behavior.
"Data we've seen shows that most consumers still pre-rinse their dishes before loading the dishwasher," says Larry Ciufo, who oversees CR's dishwasher tests.
Thing is, pre-rinsing is a waste. The soil sensor determines that the dishes aren't so dirty, and the machine uses less water and runs a shorter cycle, which can leave food stuck on your plates.
"That's why we made our cleaning tests tougher this year by coating plates with baked-on food instead of food that's somewhat easily rinsed off," says Ciufo.
Lab Tested For Your Kitchen
We spend 28 hours evaluating each dishwasher and identifying its features. Our testers load each model with 10 place settings of white ceramic dishes with baked-on food, then run the load on the normal cycle or its equivalent. When the cycle is complete, they use a photo-imaging machine to determine precisely how clean each dish is.
Here are five top-performing dishwashers, at a variety of price points, so you can find the best option for any budget.
The Kenmore 13473 cleaned up in our tests. And while not all budget models have a soil sensor, this one does.
Like most low-priced machines, this dishwasher needs time to do its job—160 minutes. The interior is plastic, which doesn't resist stains as well as a stainless tub, and you have to clean the filter by hand regularly to prevent funky odors. (The process only takes a minute or two). See Why Your Dishwasher Filter Makes a Difference for the details. Shown here in a stainless finish, this $450 model costs $50 less if you buy it in white.
Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7UC
Bosch is among the more reliable dishwasher brands, according to CR's extensive brand reliability survey. The Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7UC delivers top performance too, for hundreds less than the models scoring higher. And it's faster than the competition, by up to 50 minutes.
A stainless interior resists stains better than plastic, and the Bosch's interior is mostly stainless, with a plastic bottom. There's a soil sensor, which improves cleaning and efficiency. But you'll have to clean the filter by hand. See our dishwasher ratings for more choices, and use the price filter to narrow your selection.
Kenmore Elite 14753
The Kenmore 14753 has a stainless finish, stainless tub, soil sensor, and adjustable racks that move up or down to accommodate large and odd-size items. The handle is stylish, and the controls are hidden when the door is closed, giving the dishwasher a sleek look. Even better, this dishwasher aced our tough cleaning tests. This one also requires cleaning the filter regularly.
Understated and stylish, the KitchenAid KDTM404ESS gets the job done faster than most high-scoring models—the KitchenAid's normal cycle takes just 110 minutes.
The interior is stainless, and loaded with features, including a soil sensor, but the filter must be cleaned by hand. The third-level rack allows you to spread out spatulas, whisks, and other hard-to-clean items that you won't have to cram into the utensil baskets. Models in this higher price range aren't always the best performers, so see the dishwasher ratings before swiping your credit card.
Well-known in Europe, Blomberg is gaining appeal in the U.S. You'll see a number of Blomberg models in our dishwasher ratings, along with models from Beko, which Blomberg owns. In our tests, the Blomberg DWT25502SS featured here is the best from these two brands. And the stainless interior, soil sensor, and adjustable upper rack are nice features, especially considering the roughly $500 price.
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