Water running over dishes in a dishwasher

BUYING A DISHWASHER: HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT MODEL FOR YOU

It can be tough to sort through sizes, styles, cycles and price points to choose the best dishwasher for you. This guide to buying a dishwasher has you covered for all of the above—and beyond. 

Learn how to decode dishwasher configurations, load capacities, sound ratings and more to find a dishwasher that can handle whatever messes you make.

DISHWASHER SIZE AND INSTALLATION STYLE

Most residential dishwashers are 24 inches wide and are installed under kitchen counters. However, there are some other options if you have a small kitchen, extra space or are looking for a more custom design. Here are the three main types of dishwashers to choose from:

BUILT-IN DISHWASHERS

This is the type of dishwasher most people have in their kitchens. They are installed in a cabinet cutout beneath counters. All built-in dishwashers are roughly the same depth and height to match the size of standard cabinets, but vary in width. Most built-in dishwashers are 24 inches wide but you can also find oversized models from 30 to 43 inches wide. If you have a small kitchen, you can save some space with a compact dishwasher at around 18 inches wide. 

Learn more about dishwasher sizes to find the right fit for your kitchen.

PANEL-READY DISHWASHERS

Panel-ready dishwashers are another type of built-in dishwasher and are generally available in similar sizes. The difference is that the dishwasher door can be fitted with your own custom panel and handles to match the surrounding cabinetry. This allows your dishwasher to blend in, making it nearly indistinguishable from just another cabinet door. Custom panels and handles are usually sold separately since they will vary by customer needs.

PORTABLE AND COUNTERTOP DISHWASHERS

If you don’t have an existing dishwasher cutout and can’t renovate, a portable dishwasher or a countertop dishwasher are good options. These portable appliances attach to your kitchen sink with a hose and can be rolled away or tucked into a corner of your countertop when not in use. Since no permanent installation is required, they are a good option for renters.

Maytag Tip icon
MEASURE YOUR DISHWASHER ROUGH OPENING BEFORE YOU BUY

Make sure you get the right fit before you buy a dishwasher. You’ll want to measure your existing cabinet cutout or prepare to renovate for the right size. Read our guide on how to measure a dishwasher rough opening.

Person selecting dishwasher cycle Person selecting dishwasher cycle

DISHWASHER CONTROL CONFIGURATIONS

The placement of dishwasher controls affects not only the look of the dishwasher, but the way you interact with it. When buying a dishwasher, you’ll want to decide if top controls or front controls are better for you.

TOP CONTROL DISHWASHERS

Top control dishwashers feature controls on the top of the door so they are not visible when the door is closed. These models keep settings and cycles hidden away for a sleek exterior. They also usually feature smooth touch controls rather than physical buttons. Some top control dishwashers feature a cycle status light on the front so you can still keep track of cycle progress.

FRONT CONTROL DISHWASHERS

If you prefer to keep controls in sight, you might want to choose a front control dishwasher. With visible, up-front controls, you’ll have easy access to cycles and settings without opening the door. Some models may feature physical buttons, but you can also find front control dishwashers with touch or digital control.

EXTERIOR FEATURES

Both types of dishwashers can feature larger handles that double as towel bars or pocket handles that help keep the exterior more flush. These exterior features won’t affect the cleaning ability of your dishwasher, but they may help you narrow down your search for the best dishwasher based on your personal preference.

Person putting glasses on top rack of dishwasher Person putting glasses on top rack of dishwasher

OTHER DISHWASHER FEATURES AND SPECS TO CONSIDER

DISHWASHER CAPACITY

When deciding how to buy a dishwasher, think about how you cook and what you’ll need to fit inside. Dishwashers of the same size can have different capacities or better accommodate certain types of dishes. This is due to the number of racks, tines and other features inside. If you often use large or tall items like pots, pans and blender jars, look for features like foldable tines and increased upper rack heights for an easier fit. 

Most dishwashers come standard with two racks, but some brands now also offer dishwashers with a 3rd rack. This additional rack can vary widely in design and what it can hold. Some dishwasher 3rd racks are slim spaces that help keep utensils out of the way, while others can hold larger items. For example, dishwashers with the Third Level Rack from Maytag brand let you load in more than utensils with room for mugs and bowls as well.

Whichever setup you choose, learn how to load a dishwasher to fit more inside and get maximum cleaning coverage.

Person loading dishwasher Person loading dishwasher

DISHWASHER CYCLES AND SETTINGS

Extra cycles and drying options can come with a higher price tag. These include a range of convenient features that help you manage everything from time to cleaning specific types of loads. 

Though the names of cycles vary from brand to brand, some have similar functions. Heated dry cycles reduce excess moisture inside the dishwasher using heat, while powered drying cycles use heat plus a fan. Other convenient cycles and options can include steam clean, delay start, quick cycle and heavy duty. Learn more about how dishwashers help save water.

You’ll find some dishwashers featuring sanitize settings like the Sani Rinse option from Maytag brand that lets you confidently wash important items with a high-temperature rinse that removes 99.999% of food soil bacteria. You can also find special cycles for tough messes, such as the PowerBlast® Cycle from Maytag brand that scours away stubborn foods like egg yolk, peanut butter and even dried-on oatmeal.

DISHWASHER NOISE AND DECIBEL RATINGS (DBA)

A dishwasher’s dBA rating indicates how noisy it will be while running. The lower the dBA number, the quieter the dishwasher. Most standard-sized dishwashers are between 40 and 60 dBA. Anything over 55 dBA could interrupt kitchen conversations or prove noisy in an open home layout. If this is a concern for you, check out the dBA rating before buying a dishwasher.

Maytag brand offers quiet dishwashers with ratings as low as 47 dBA and 50 dBA great for open home layouts or kitchens that are the center of conversation.

Close-up of dishwasher parts Close-up of dishwasher parts

TYPE OF DISHWASHER FILTER

When you’re buying a dishwasher, you might not think about this feature but it can make a difference in several ways. Most dishwashers come with either a self-cleaning filter or a manual filter. The self-cleaning filter is also known as a hard food disposer because it features a food grinder or chopper to disintegrate food particles. This system does not require regular cleaning, but can sometimes be noisy depending on the model. Manual filter systems feature fine mesh to trap food or break it up as it is pushed through the filter’s mesh walls. These versions tend to be quieter but must be manually cleaned from time to time. 

Many Maytag® dishwasher models feature the industry-exclusive Dual Power Filtration system which combines 100% microfiltration and a 4-blade stainless steel chopper to filter out then disintegrate any food in its path while maintaining quiet operation. Read more about dishwasher filtration systems to find the best fit for you.

DISHWASHER TUB MATERIALS

Dishwashers usually come with either a plastic or stainless steel tub. You’ll pay a little more for a dishwasher with a stainless steel interior, but the investment can pay off in the long run. Stainless steel tubs are considered more durable because they resist staining and cracking. If you’re on a budget, you’ll still get clean dishes with a plastic tub, but you may need to replace your appliance sooner than a stainless steel option.

DISHWASHER FINISH AND COLOR

Most dishwashers are available in white, black and sometimes cream for a traditional look, or stainless steel for a more modern and sleek aesthetic. Select dishwashers feature smudge-resistant finishes to help you maintain a clean dishwasher exterior. For an easy-to-clean finish, shop Maytag® dishwashers featuring fingerprint resistant stainless steel that resists smudges and streaks to keep your dishwasher looking as good on the outside as it works on the inside.

FIND THE RIGHT DISHWASHER FROM MAYTAG BRAND

Whether you value extra space to load your dishes, a quiet clean or a powerful filtration system, Maytag brand has a dishwasher to suit your needs. Explore Maytag® dishwashers in a variety of finishes and styles.

GET MORE WITH A MAYTAG ACCOUNT

Sign in to unlock special savings

More info on dishwashers and dishwasher cycles

WAS THIS ARTICLE HELPFUL? PASS IT ON