How to Choose a Dishwasher

Hmmm ... how to choose a dishwasher from all the makes and models available? 

Its not easy, we know.  So, on this page of our buying guide, we've put together a few different approaches you can take to choosing a dishwasher. 


The good news is that it is practically impossible to choose a bad dishwasher. Most perform the basic task of getting dishes clean without a problem. 

The primary choices come down to personal preferences and budget.

In fact, how to choose a dishwasher depends a little on the type of person you are. 


It can be a good idea to do a little self-reflection first.  Are you:

  • time poor?
  • analytical? detail oriented?
  • someone who likes to make quick decisions?
  • fussy or a perfectionist?

If you think about this a little, you'll probably intuitively know which of the approaches below suits you best!

How to Choose a Dishwasher - (1) Quick Search and Online Purchase

The first option that you have when choosing a dishwasher is to do a quick search on the Internet and make your purchase online. Except for the fact that you are not able to touch it or test it with your dishes, shopping for a dishwasher online is quite similar to doing it at a store.

You will have to go through the same process of deciding on the type and features that you want. However, when it comes to deciding which dishwasher to choose, there are clear benefits to buying dishwashers online.

You have the advantage of comparing and contrasting websites from all over the country in just a few minutes. Many online shopping sites have great search tools to help you filter out models you don't want, and make your choice quicker and easier. 

If you want to find a dishwasher quickly and conveniently or you are looking for an inexpensive appliance to meet your short-term needs, here are a few tips to follow:

  • Decide on a few essential features that you must have. See our checklist for things to consider.
  • Visit one or two online kitchen appliance retailers (like AJ Madison.com)
  • Use online search tools to shortlist models that fit your budget and needs
  • Check customer reviews online to reduce the risk of purchasing a lemon
  • (optional) Call a local store to ask if they have the models you are considering and check them out in person
  • Order the model of your choice and have it delivered to your door
  • If required, get your local plumber to do the installation

How to Choose a Dishwasher - (2) Follow the Crowd

Another route that you can take when deciding how to choose a dishwasher is simply to go with the crowd. This means that you can talk to salespeople in the stores and browse online for the most popular makes and models that everyone else is buying and make your choice from that.

If you are not particular about features and you just want a dishwasher that will clean your dishes well, or you are overwhelmed with so many choices, try these tips:

  • Make a few key decisions, such as budget, type, etc.
  • Decide to go with the crowd by choosing a best seller with good customer reviews:
  • Choose a major proven brand
  • Use our reviews of the best dishwashers in different categories to narrow down your choices
  • Do a sanity check of a detailed review or product brochure, just to make sure that you know what you are getting.  Quick decisions can lead to unexpected situations such as "I didn't know the controls weren't visible when the door is shut"

It is true that you may find a good, dependable dishwasher by using this method. However, it is important to point out that no two households are ever just alike. Family sizes, habits and schedules are different and so are their dishwashing needs.

Just because the Jones' are happy with their Whirlpool does not mean that it is exactly what your family needs. Therefore, you may get lucky following the crowd and investing in the most popular models, but it may not be the ideal way to choose the best dishwasher for you.

How to Choose a Dishwasher - (3) Solid Research

If the methods described above suit you... great! 

However, if you're the type of person who likes to be a little more thorough when shopping for a major kitchen appliance, then some solid research is in order. 

Here's how to choose a dishwasher if you are prepared to invest some more time in the process:

  • Gather as much information as possible - take the time to visit appliance stores and search online
  • Select criteria that is of most importance to you - think about your style, budget and household needs.  Once you have decided on the type of dishwasher you want and are familiar with as many features as possible, it's time to decide which of those features you actually need and which are just a waste of your hard-earned money.
  • Compare dishwashers that fit this criteria - focus on the things that are most important to you, while steering clear of the things that really do not matter to you
  • Read product specs, reviews, etc. Shortlist a few models to research in more detail.  Browse brochures, search websites and talk with salespeople about a smaller number of options
  • Read our guide to buying smart - after you've decided on your choice, make sure you think about how to get a good deal on price .

A good tip when following the approach of doing solid research, is to write out a list of the features that you need the dishwasher you purchase to have. Keep this list close to you while you are shopping online and take it with you when you visit retail stores. Use it to make sure that the models you consider have everything that you need before making a final decision.

How to Choose a Dishwasher - (4) Detailed Analysis

The final approach you could adopt when considering how to choose a dishwasher is to do detailed analysis.

This is really an extension of the 'solid research' approach.  It's for those of you who really want to be sure you've made the best possible choice for your needs.  Perhaps because you want your dishwasher to last a long, long time.  Or you're keen on an expensive model....

Whatever the reason, there are two key components to doing detailed analysis:

  1. "Test-drive" the actual dishwasher as much as you can
  2. Review the specifications brochure in detail and research third party reviews and analysis.

Visiting a store where you feel comfortable 'testing' a machine gives you the opportunity to really get in there and find out how the thing works.

  • Actually touch it, see how easily the rack adjusts, how easy it is to flip the tines and move the cutlery basket, etc.
  • Check the control panel to determine if the buttons are easy to read and operate.
  • Bring a box of dishes with you to the store. You do not have to bring in an entire load, but just a few of your normal breakfast or dinner sets. Also, take along a few large or odd shaped items.

Try doing all of these things yourself in addition to listening to the salesperson go on about the features of each model.  See how tricky it is to operate the dishwasher and remember if it is difficult to do in the store, it is not going to be any better when you get it home.

In addition to trying the features and seeing how well your dishes fit, you should also ask the salesperson to demonstrate the quietness of the dishwasher. Some showrooms will not be able to operate the dishwasher, so inquire as to how they will show you just how quiet the model really is before you purchase.

Lastly, you can do more in terms of analysis than what was outlined in the 'solid research' approach:

  • Look at the specifications brochure in detail and ask questions about some of the more technical features like decible rating, auto sensor capabilities etc 
  • Prepare your own spreadsheet to enable you to do detailed comparisons of the features and specifications of the models you are most interested in.
  • Subscribe to independent review sources, such as Consumer Reports, and read lots of reviews to see what others think

This approach may be more effort than some of you are prepared to make!  But it is a viable approach when thinking about how to choose a dishwasher.  And if you do go to this extent, we can almost guarantee you'll end up with a great kitchen appliance that will perfectly suit your needs for years to come!

Ultimately, your budget, lifestyle and the size of your kitchen will determine the dishwasher that you choose. However, knowing what you need when shopping is the best way to ensure that the one you choose it the best. If you can't decide the best method, do a bit of everything. We have the information on this site to help with it all!

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