Built-in dishwashers create a seamless appearance in the modern kitchen. Today's models do far more than their predecessors: they have third racks, wash zones, and automatic soil sensors, taking the decision-making and work out of your hands.
Our top pick comes from Bosch and provides some of the quietest washing on the market. With ample space for 16 place settings and five wash cycles, it's a great addition to any kitchen. We've created a guide to walk you through the basics (and a few of the extras) that make the biggest difference in your decision.
Considerations when choosing built-in dishwashers
Height and width
Built-in dishwashers are typically about 35 inches high and 24 inches wide, with compact models having a width of 18 inches. While most builders leave at least a 35-inch opening for a built-in dishwasher, the flooring can reduce the available height, so make sure you measure carefully before buying.
Control panel location
There are two types of control panels -- front and top. Front control panels are visible at all times, less expensive, and allow you to check the cycle progress at any time. However, their controls are accessible to children or pets who could hit a button mid-cycle. Models with a control lock during the cycle get around this problem.
Models with the control panel on the top of the door create a clean aesthetic. The controls are hidden during the cycle, hiding them from you and curious children. Some models have a display screen so you can still see cycle information at all times. These models come with a higher price tag, but it might be worth it if you want to streamline your kitchen.
Dishwasher tubs are made of either plastic or stainless steel. Plastic is less expensive, but it's usually noisier. Stainless steel may add a few dollars to the price, but it's incredibly durable and provides a better sound barrier.
Filters remove food from the water as it drains from the dishwasher. They come in two types -- manual and self-cleaning. Manual filters need to be cleaned regularly while self-cleaning don't. However, self-cleaning filters can be noisy, depending on whether they grind the food or force it out of the dishwasher with pressure.
Models with wash zones provide a half load option, allowing you to wash only the upper or lower half of the machine.
Cleaning and drying modes
High-end dishwashers may have sanitize or eco modes, while less expensive models may only have the basics like light, normal, and pots and pans. Some models only have one drying mode and others may have heated air, heated rinse, fan dry, and air dry. The more washing or drying cycles, the more expensive the dishwasher.
Soil sensors detect food particles in the water. They then alter the duration and settings of the wash cycle to accommodate soil level of the dishes.
A few high-end dishwashers have an adjustable third rack. These models maximize the use of space and work well for large families.
Built-in dishwasher prices
Basic built-in dishwashers run between $300 and $700. These models may have a front control panel and several wash and dry options but are usually louder than more expensive models. Premium models run in the $700 to $1,200 range. These models may have a third rack, soil sensor, and extensive wash and dry options.
Q. What can smart dishwashers do that other models can't?
A. Smart dishwashers can keep you updated on the progress of your dishes, including an alert if there are any leaks. They may also have a detergent dispenser that adjusts the release of soap based on water hardness, soil level, load size, water temperature, and the load settings.
Q. I like to run my dishwasher at night. Are there models with noise-reduction technology?
A. There are some dishwashers on the market that are virtually silent. They have stainless steel tubs and noise-reduction technology that absorbs noise. However, for these models to work as intended, the feet of the dishwasher have to be adjusted correctly to reduce vibrations.
Built-in dishwashers we recommend
Best of the best: Bosch 500 Series 24-Inch Dishwasher
Our take: This dishwasher is the complete package: quiet, attractive, and leaves dishes spotless.
What we like: We love the quiet operation, which is made even better by the incredible cleaning power.
What we dislike: The complicated controls give it a bit of a learning curve.
Best bang for your buck: Frigidaire Gallery Series 24-Inch Dishwasher
Our take: Frigidaire is no newcomer to the world of kitchen appliances. This model represents what's kept them in the game -- reliable cleaning power.
What we like: A roomy interior and relatively quiet operation for a model at this price are definitely the highlights. Throw in its attractive appearance and it's a steal.
What we dislike: There are a lot of settings to learn and wade through.
Our take: This dishwasher looks right at home in the custom kitchen. It's beautifully sleek and gets dishes clean.
What we like: You can fit a full 16 place settings. We also love the delayed start cycle that lets you set it and walk away without a worry.
What we dislike: It's expensive, and the drying cycles aren't that impressive.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.