Inside mild-mannered exteriors, many modern dishwashers hide super abilities. Most dishwashers look similar at a glance — they generally have a 24-inch wide stainless steel front adorned with a simple company logo. Even the interiors usually contain two similar racks for dishes with foldable tines as well as spinning water jets beneath the racks. Take a closer look, however, and those interiors of dishwashers can vary wildly in the details.
The website of every major dishwasher brand boasts of tons of available features for their models that will make the chore of cleaning up the kitchen easier than ever. Some of those features are actually up to the task. Here are the best ones you can find when shopping for your new dishwasher.
We’ve linked to models from a variety of brands and retailers that include the features discussed below. Note that we haven’t tested those individual models at this time. We update this list periodically.
Aside from the usual jets at the bottom of the tub, some dishwashers have specialized jets meant for specific dishes. I love these. GE and Electrolux dishwashers have bottle wash jets. You clip a baby’s bottle or a water bottle to them and they’ll spray directly into the bottle to make sure the bottom gets cleaned. Kenmore and Samsung offer jets meant for casserole dishes. Load the dish in the back of the bottom rack, and these jets will hit the corners with a spray.
This is my favorite dishwasher feature because it takes part of the chore of cleaning up off of your plate — instead of having to hand-wash your bottles, the dishwasher can take care of it. I also appreciate this feature because of how specialized it is — if you’re not regularly washing bottles or casserole dishes, you don’t need to bother. If you are, this feature is a godsend.
Better yet, dishwasher manufacturers don’t tend to charge a premium for these options; you can find them as nice add-ons in ordinary mid- to high-end models. If you want to hand-wash fewer dishes, consider a dishwasher with specialized jets.
Most dishwashers offer something to keep your stemware in place and most are passable. Generally, it’s a plastic piece that lowers onto the stem and braces it. Electrolux and Frigidaire have soft-grip racks that actually secure your glass. Press your stem into the blue plastic and it wraps around the step and grips it.
We didn’t encounter much broken stemware from any dishwasher during our testing, but if you want to feel extra secure with your fragile glasses, most Electrolux and Frigidaire dishwashers ship with these well-designed grips so you won’t have to pay a premium.
Yes, internet-connected dishwashers exist. Most let you check on the status of your cycle remotely and can notify you when your dishes are clean. While neat in theory, most people I know run their dishwasher at the end of the day or at night when they don’t urgently need clean forks. On the other hand, one smart feature is consistently useful — Amazon Dash Replenishment.
Smart GE, Whirlpool and LG dishwashers offer this option, which will automatically ship you new detergent pods when you’re close to running out. The dishwashers keep track of the number of pods you ordered and how many times you’ve run the dishwasher so you can take one item off of your list to worry about when you go shopping.
Smart models from all three companies tend to be at the higher end of dishwasher price ranges, but the premium is worth considering if you want your dishwasher to be at the cutting edge of tech.
Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET
If you regularly run out of room in your dishwasher, consider getting one with a third rack. Most manufacturers offer this feature, but models do tend to be a little more pricey than ordinary two-rack options. The smaller third rack sits above the others and is meant for silverware, small cups, serving utensils and the like.
While you can only fit small items in a third rack, putting all of your silverware in a separate place lets you fit larger dishes instead of the silverware basket on the bottom rack. Shift the little pieces to the top and you’ll have more room in the rest of the dishwasher for whatever else you’d like to wash.
Screenshot by Andrew Gebhart/CNET
Several of my family members swear by the practice of opening the dishwasher door at the end of the run. They want to let out the steam so the dishes can dry better and with fewer water marks. More recent models from companies like Bosch and Samsung can now do that task automatically.
Both Bosch and Samsung use fans to keep steam from damaging your counter as it’s released. Samsung’s AutoRelease Dry feature actually opens the door with 5 to 15 minutes left in the cycle. The feature is designed to save time and energy by letting in fresh air to help speed up the drying process.
Silence — Higher-end dishwashers from companies like Bosch have sound ratings as low as 38 decibels. If you were in the same room as that dishwasher while it was running, you wouldn’t be able to hear it. Quiet performance is a priority for a lot of dishwasher manufacturers. You’ll usually pay more for ultra-quiet models, but it can be a nice option to search for if you live in a small place or are sensitive to noise.
Infolight — Some quieter dishwashers also have an that shines on the ground. They work so quietly that the light helps you know when they’re actually running. Bosch and Electrolux models both use these lights, which are a nice convenience and can provide some extra entertainment if you have a cat.
Easy rack — Certain LG dishwashers let you raise and lower the upper rack with a simple lever. While not a fancy feature, it makes shifting the rack particularly easy if you need to fit tall pots and pans on the bottom for one load then tall glasses on top in the next batch.
Comfortlift — The from Electrolux’s parent company AEG excites me. It would probably be featured higher on this list if it was available in the US. You pull out the bottom rack and it pivots and lifts up so you don’t have to bend over to unload and load the dishes. It’s awesome, but for now, all we can do is wait and hope that the feature will be available stateside someday.
With the right feature, a new dishwasher could exceed your expectations when helping out around the house. Check out our to know what else you can expect for your money and you’ll be able to find the perfect machine for your household.