Which built-in dishwasher is best?

Built-in dishwashers function about the same as freestanding dishwashers. However, the main difference is that freestanding dishwashers can be installed anywhere in your kitchen and can be moved, while built-in dishwashers are permanently installed underneath your counter.

The best built-in dishwasher is the KitchenAid 24-Inch PrintShield Built-In Tall Tub Dishwasher. It has a large capacity, thanks to a third upper rack, and is among the quietest at only 44 decibels.

What to know before you buy a built-in dishwasher

Standard vs. drawer built-in dishwashers

Standard built-in dishwashers look and operate like any freestanding model, but the drawers operate differently.

  • Size: Drawer dishwashers are smaller than standard models.
  • Capacity: Standard models have a much higher washing capacity than drawers as they use two to three racks, while drawers only have one large tub. Some drawer models have two individual drawers to double their capacity, but the bins always have less space than even a small standard model with two small racks.
  • Energy usage: Drawers are far more energy-efficient than standard models. Standard models have to heat and pull enough water to clean the entire appliance, no matter how full or empty it is. Drawers have smaller spaces to clean and use less water to clean those spaces. Additionally, two-drawer models can wash only one drawer at a time, leaving the second drawer alone until it fills up.

Front vs. top control

Front and top controls each have their pros and cons.

  • Front controls place the buttons on the outside of the handle where they can be accessed whether the dishwasher is closed or open. Some consumers dislike the non-sleek look that front controls have. The controls are also easy to press accidentally. Many low-cost models use front controls.
  • Top controls place the buttons on top of the handle where they cannot be accessed unless the dishwasher is open. This makes the dishwasher appear sleeker and more modern, plus they can’t be pressed to alter the cycle accidentally. Most high-cost models use top controls.

What to look for in a quality built-in dishwasher

Tub material

The tub — the area that holds the water — is made of either plastic or stainless steel.

  • Plastic tubs are more affordable and easier to clean. Additionally, they don’t need to be cleaned as often. However, they are noisier and less energy-efficient.
  • Stainless steel tubs are much quieter, more energy-efficient and more durable. However, they need to be cleaned regularly and are expensive. 

Filter

The dishwasher filter catches food remnants and prevents them from making their way back onto your dishes. They can be self-cleaning or require manual cleaning.

  • Self-cleaning filters require no regular maintenance other than checking to ensure it hasn’t become damaged. However, they increase the noise generated.
  • Manual-clean filters need to be checked at least twice a month, depending on how often you use your dishwasher. Most can simply be rinsed out in your sink and then replaced.

How much you can expect to spend on a built-in dishwasher

Built-in dishwashers typically cost $300-$1,500. Most models cost less than $700 with the best models starting at $800.

Built-in dishwasher FAQ

Can I put anything into a built-in dishwasher?

A. Anything you put into a freestanding dishwasher can also go into a built-in dishwasher; it just needs to be dishwasher safe. That means no wood, china, insulated mugs and fragile glass, among others.

How do I clean the interior of a built-in dishwasher?

A. First, check the drain and empty it of anything nasty that may be trapped in it. Then, place a dishwasher-safe bowl with some distilled white vinegar on the top rack, and sprinkle a cup of baking soda all over the bottom of the dishwasher. Then, just run a full hot-water cycle. If it still has nasty residues, you’ll need to scrub it by hand. If it still has a nasty smell, you’ll need to have a plumber inspect it.

What’s the best built-in dishwasher to buy?

Top built-in dishwasher

KitchenAid 24-inch PrintShield Built-in Tall Tub Dishwasher

KitchenAid 24-inch PrintShield Built-in Tall Tub Dishwasher

What you need to know: It’s packed with features you’ll love.

What you’ll love: Its best feature is the FreeFlex third rack, which is big enough for cups and bowls. The FreeFlex third rack cleans dishes with rotating wash jets and dries them with a special bar with tabs. It generates a maximum of 44 decibels, which is roughly the noise level of a library.

What you should consider: It’s among the pricier models. Installation requires a new dishwasher connection kit that needs to be purchased separately. Some consumers noted that items on the third rack don’t get as clean.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Top built-in dishwasher for the money

Samsung 24-inch Top Control Tall Tub Dishwasher

Samsung 24-inch Top Control Tall Tub Dishwasher

What you need to know: It’s a capable machine that’s perfect for those on a budget.

What you’ll love: It uses a touch control panel on the top of the door, so the dishwasher blends seamlessly into your kitchen, and you don’t have to bend over to see your options. It can fit up to 14 place settings’ worth of dishes.

What you should consider: A few customers have had rare issues with leaking or soap residue left on their dishes. The stainless steel finishes aren’t fingerprint-resistant.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

Worth checking out

GE 24-inch Built-in Tall Tub Dishwasher

GE 24-inch Built-in Tall Tub Dishwasher

What you need to know: This machine is perfectly intersected between function and cost.

What you’ll love: The steam-and-sanitize function steams before the wash to loosen grime and sanitizes afterward to kill any bacteria that may remain. It has several wash cycles, such as heavy or quick wash, and it generates no more than 52 decibels on its most aggressive settings.

What you should consider: Some of the protective stickers can leave residue behind when removed. Trying to eliminate the residue led to damage for some purchasers.

Where to buy: Sold by Home Depot

 

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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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