Shop for a low-cost dishwasher today, and the model you choose will probably have a filter—the component in the bottom of the tub that catches food bits so they won’t adhere to clean dishes. The filter cleans itself. But pay $700 or more, and you’ll have to periodically clean the filter yourself. Why pay more to do extra maintenance? There’s a very good reason.
Self-cleaning filters don’t need your attention because they have a grinder, often called a macerator, which pulverizes the debris into small bits that easily go down the drain. While you might find this convenient, that chopping adds to the noise. And if you haven't bought a dishwasher in the last 10 years or so, you’ll find even the middle range of models are far quieter than what you had before. And some pricier models are so quiet you might need an indicator light to know they’re running.
Besides being quieter, though, there’s another advantage to today’s manual-clean filters. With their newer, more innovative designs, today’s manual-clean filters don’t need cleaning quite as often. Check the owner's manual to see what’s recommended.
But while the newer filters need less attention, you should still inspect them often. Whenever you pull out the bottom rack to remove items, in fact, a quick spot-check is a good habit. Neglect the filter long enough, and you might notice odors from the grungy buildup. You might also notice diminished performance from reduced water flow.
Shopping for a dishwasher? Check out our buying guide before hitting our Ratings of 228 dishwashers, topped by such models as the Kenmore Elite 12793, $1,350, and the Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7UC, $730. There’s also a short video, below, about our tough dishwasher tests.
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