A buying guide for the best inexpensive dishwashers on the market.
The Maytag MDB4949SD boasts many features found in mid-range dishwashers despite its budget price tag. There’s no need for pre-rinsing with this machine, users crow, and dishes come out spanking clean.
Stainless steel tub; tiered upper rack.
Three wash arms.
Very quiet at 50 dBA.
High-temperature/high-pressure wash cycle, heated/high-temperature dry, and sanitizing option.
Full-length silverware basket.
10-year limited warranty on parts.
Rack tines don’t adjust.
Several reports about problems with electronic controls.
Whirlpool WDT720PAD Review
The flexible design of the Whirlpool WDT720PAD is its main selling point. Users wax on about the adjustable upper rack and the option of placing the silverware basket in the door or bottom rack. For the price, this model is feature-rich and quiet.
Very quiet at 51 dBA.
Adjustable upper rack with folding tines.
Special spray directed at the silverware basket.
Three wash arms.
Heated-dry and sanitizing options.
Minor griping by users about ineffective drying.
Filter must be cleaned by hand.
Some reports about limited durability.
Lots of loading flexibility endears the Samsung DW80J3020U to users, and thorough cleaning seals the deal. This model also offers other appreciated features, including a hard-food chopper and a half-load option.
Stainless steel tub; three spray arms.
Very quiet at 50 dBA.
Adjustable top rack and tines; removable plate support in bottom rack.
Two-piece silverware basket.
Leak sensor; hard-food disposer.
Half-load option and sanitizing options.
Tines for glassware are too short, some users say.
Tall plates can block the soap dispenser, according to some owners.
Other Products We Reviewed
Whirlpool Gold Top Control WDT710PAY Review
The combination of strong performance and features often associated with higher-end dishwashers win over consumers, according to Whirlpool Gold Top Control WDT710PAY reviews. At Appliance Connection users express pleasant surprise at its quiet operation, saying you can barely hear it running. Reviews are effusive about the end results, as well. Posts at Home Depot, for example, report thorough cleaning even without prerinsing and no spotting even with hard water. The spacious and flexible interior, with fold-down tines on both racks, an adjustable upper rack, and a silverware basket that fits in any of several locations garner heaps of praise in reviews, with users happily noting they can load in more items than was possible with older models.
Behind all the applause, however, we also detected bit of sniping. Placing the basket in the door or clipping it on the front of the lower rack may open up space for dishware, but doing so has its downsides. Some users assert the basket is hard to load when in the door and silverware doesn't get a complete cleaning. Additionally, some Whirlpool Gold Top Control WDT710PAY reviews at the company site and at Sears say the basket can't accommodate larger utensils, larger flatware patterns don't fit the slots in the basket covers, and small pieces of flatware fall through the bottom holes. We also found a handful of reports about inadequate cleaning (mostly of baked-on food stuffs) and operational breakdowns. As is common with energy-efficient dishwashers in the budget segment, insufficient drying is a frequent but not deal-breaking critique.
The Whirlpool Gold Top Control WDT710PAY (starting at $445) is richly appointed. The tall tub can hold up to 15 full place settings, the top rack slides out completely and can be moved up or down and it has an extra minishelf for a second row of mugs. There are six wash cycles, including a sensor cycle that adjusts the settings based on soil level and load size and an energy-efficient overnight cycle for heavily soiled loads, as well as a half (top rack) wash and a sanitizing rinse. Users can choose between a heated or non-heated drying cycle and delay the start for four hours. The electronic controls are mounted along the top edge of the door. This model comes with an Energy Star and noise level is rated at 55 dBA. It's available in white, white ice (with a stainless-steel handle), black, black ice, and stainless steel; prices vary by finish.
Despite a malfunction here and there and low-level grousing about the utensil basket, the array of features and solid performance make the Whirlpool Gold Top Control WDT710PAY a true value buy.
Maytag Jetclean Plus MDB4709PA Review
Given the price point, this budget model deserves praise for its cleaning ability, say Maytag Jetclean Plus MDB4709PA reviews. At the company site users write that dishes, glasses, and flatware shine after the cycle is finished regardless how soiled they were at the outset, an assessment confirmed by comments posted elsewhere. Users also commend its quiet operation despite a rated decibel level that's slightly higher than others we researched. Several also rave about the effectiveness of the steam-sanitize option.
On the downside, a few Maytag Jetclean Plus MDB4709PA reviews at sites such as AJ Madison contend that tea and coffee stains and dry or sticky food remains don't get washed away completely. Some users also balk at the long cycle -- upwards of three hours with the sanitize and heated dry options -- and contend that the rack layout isn't particularly efficient. A sample of grievances: stemware doesn't fit in the upper rack, not enough space on the bottom rack for two rows of dinner plates, the silverware basket is a space hog. Still, users favorably compare this model to whatever it replaced.
The Maytag Jetclean Plus MDB4709PA (starting at $404) is equipped with several appealing features. The top rack is tiered, with the middle section raised, to open up space for taller items in the bottom rack. (Some users point out this setup has the effect of limiting clearance on the top rack.) There are five wash cycles, including china/crystal and heavy-duty; a sanitizing rinse; heat and no-heat dry options; and a hard-food chopper that minimizes the need to prerinse. Delay-start options include 2, 4, and 8 hours. The tall tub holds up to 12 place settings and when running, the decibel level hits 57dBA. This model earns Energy Star certification and comes in white, bisque, black, and stainless steel.
Although a few reviews mention service calls were needed within the first year, users don't seem concerned about durability. They do seem pleased to have chosen a dishwasher whose performance meets expectations.
Bosch Ascenta SHE3AR56UC Review
If quiet efficiency is what you seek in a dishwasher, Bosch Ascenta SHE3AR56UC reviews proclaim this is the model for you. Reviews posted at several sites crow about the near silent operation of this budget-priced appliance while marketing materials stress its energy-saving technology. The Ascenta SHE3AR56UC (starting at $490, Amazon) is no slouch when it comes to cleaning performance, either -- most users say it cleans well, even with hard water, but recommend a good prerinsing (there is no hard-food disposer). Predictably, a few find residue to grumble about.
What's notable, however, is that Bosch Ascenta SHE3AR56UC reviews at sites such as Lowe's and Home Depot discuss cleaning and energy efficiency almost as an aside; they're far chattier about the rack layout. Quite a few reviews rail against the slanted tines that they insist accommodate only flat plates -- one suggests this is because Europeans don't eat cereal -- and in a very restricted arrangement, adding that tall stemware doesn't fit in the top rack. A good number of reviewers also grumble that the drying cycle (no-heat is the only option) leaves the contents far too wet and the long cycle time (in the three-hour range) is far too long.
The 50 dBA decibel rating is the Bosch Ascenta's standout feature, but other elements also hold appeal. In addition to the usual wash cycles, this model can run a half load (on the upper rack) and an auto cycle with so-called EcoSense, which measures how soiled the dishes are and uses only as much energy and water as necessary, increasing energy efficiency. There is also a high-temperature sanitize options. Specifications say the tall stainless-steel tub can accommodate up to 14 place settings but some users say it seems less roomy than comparable American-brand dishwashers. One reviewer appreciatively highlights a detergent dispenser that slides rather than the usual latch arrangement and others point to the fold-down tines on the top rack. Users can also move or remove the silverware basket. Start time can be delayed 3, 6, or 9 hours. This model is available in black, white, and stainless steel, but the latter is priced above the Cheapism cutoff.
Quirks aside -- including a price at the very top of the budget range -- the Bosch Ascenta SHE3AR56UC claims a second-tier finish on the strength of near silent and energy-saving performance.
GE GDF520PGD Review
GE GDF520PGD reviews are generally upbeat about this inexpensive dishwasher. Users mostly approve of the cleaning action, noting that it quietly and efficiently washes away food residues. The steam prewash, which keeps prerinsing at the sink to a bare minimum, is a particularly welcome feature, according to reviews at Sears. Many like the capacious interior and the option of placing the silverware basket in the door or the lower rack.
That said, the positive commentary is slightly offset by a variety of critiques. Some GE GDF520PGD reviews at Home Depot, for example, grumble about a very long start-to-finish cycle and dishes and glassware that are still wet even after the heated-dry. Some reviewers also say the rack layout is inefficient, making it hard to load bowls and pots. Mounting the silverware basket on the rack interferes with the soap dispenser, the critics continue, and when placed in the door, the silverware isn't exposed to enough water for thorough cleaning.
Unlike other dishwashers in its class, the GE GDF520PGD (starting at $359) boasts three spray/wash arms (the third is located above the upper rack) and dedicated silverware jets. There are four wash cycles in addition to a steam prewash, sanitize, and temperature-boost options; users can also choose heated or no-heat dry. A sensor monitors the goings-on and adjusts water and temperature levels accordingly. It features a hard-food disposer and a 2/4/8-hour delay start. Maximum capacity in this tall tub dishwasher is 16 place settings. It earns an Energy Star and a noise rating of 54 dBA. Available finishes are white, bisque, black, and stainless steel.
Not awesome, perhaps, but definitely worth the price. The GE GDF520PGD does what it's meant to do.
A good basic dishwasher, the Amana ADB1500AD comes with all the necessary features and delivers on performance. This model is best suited for smaller households, although the tall tub design partially compensates for the smaller size.(maximum 12 full place settings).
Three wash arms; triple filtration system to help remove food particles.
Heated-dry and sanitizing options.
Integrated top controls add sleekness and give this budget model a more "expensive" look.
Oversize mugs don’t fit in the top rack.
Holds smaller loads than the competition.
A bit louder than the competition.
Filter must be manually cleaned.
GE GDT545PGJ Review
The GE GDT545PGJ cleans well, reviewers say. Practical features, plus a large load capacity (up to 16 full place settings) are worth a few extra points. Still, some reviewers who have replaced older GE models with this one say the quality has slipped a bit.
Three wash arms plus silverware jets.
Customizable racks; the silverware basket sits in the rack or on the door.
Very quiet at 51 dBA.
Steam pre-wash; hard-food disposer.
Heated-dry, sanitizing, and half-load options.
No short or quick wash.
Soap dispenser stops opening, some users report.
Some grousing about durability.
A wide variety of wash cycles, including china/crystal and rinse only, and adjustable racks are welcome features on the Frigidaire Gallery FGID2466Q. Users are satisfied with the results, but the need for service calls dims some of the enthusiasm.
Proprietary spray arm disburses water widely.
Adjustable upper rack; fold-down tines on both racks.
Heated dry option; super-fast 34-minute cycle.
In addition to the standard white, black, and stainless steel options, a black stainless exterior adds flair (and some extra cost).
Durability problems with the motherboard, miscellaneous parts, and leaks, some reviewers report.
The Frigidaire FBD2400K is a very basic dishwasher, with a knob control rather than electronic panel, and none of the features found on the best models in the budget segment. The very low price may ease the sting of product weaknesses, including noise and concerns about reliability.
Simple knob controls.
Right-sized for small family.
Limited choice of cycles and wash options.
Comparatively loud at 62 dBA.
Cycles are extremely long if water isn’t hot enough.
Some durability problems, according to users.
Many reviewers say the center wash tower on the GE GSD3301K constrains loading options, as do tines on the upper rack. Many also complain about the noise level; at 62 dBA, it’s louder than comparable budget models. Some also are disappointed with the end results.
Heated-dry and hot-start options.
Plate-warmer and rinse-only cycles.
Dial and touch-pad controls.
Rack tines are very thin; arrangement makes loading a challenge.
Square silverware basket hogs space.
Heavily soiled dishes need pre-rinsing, users report.
This particular model may sit at the lower end of the Bosch lineup, but the Ascenta SHX5AV5 is as quiet and energy-efficient as they come. Experts commend the washing ability, as do consumers, who note that it removes even caked-on food.
Extremely quiet at 46 dBA.
Stainless steel tub; three wash arms.
Adjustable racks and tines; cup and utensil shelves; versatile silverware basket.
Sanitizing and half-load options.
Sprinkler for extra-tall items.
Overflow protection system.
Tines on the lower rack are too close together for thick plates, some users report.
Doesn’t dry as well as expected.
Drawer dishwashers may be the next hot trend. Space-efficient and ADA compliant, the Fisher & Paykel DD24SCT is a worthy example of innovative designs that also are practical and get the job done with ease.
Compact size designed for half-load washes.
Easy to open and close.
Fold-down tines; adjustable rack for cups and wine glasses; flexible silverware basket.
Super quiet at 44 dBA.
Boasts a whopping 15 wash programs, including eco, rinse, delicate and sanitizing options.
Larger detergent tablets might not dissolve completely.
Some durability issues after a few years, reviewers report.
No cabinet space for a built-in unit? The SPT SD-9241 is a neat solution. This 18-inch model wheels around, holds up to eight place settings, and is as effective and energy-efficient as the best standard-size dishwashers.
Adjustable upper rack.
Stainless steel tub.
Quieter than some standard dishwashers at 55 dBA.
Cycles equivalent to full-size dishwasher.
Sink attachment may leak without some fiddling around, users report.
No heated dry.