Inside view of a dishwasher tub

Types of Dishwashers: Exploring Your Options

There are plenty of different types of dishwashers available for purchase these days, so finding the right model for your home can seem like a daunting task. If you’re looking for a new dishwasher that consistently results in clean and shiny dishes, this guide will explain the different dishwasher options you can choose from, including their sizes and best features.

View of dishes in dishwasher rack during washing cycle View of dishes in dishwasher rack during washing cycle

4 Different types of dishwashers

While there are many different dishwasher models that vary slightly in terms of design, colors and features, when you get down to the basics, there are essentially four different types of dishwashers:

1. Standard Built-In

The most popular and comes in the most varieties. You’ll find them in top-control or front-control styles and may come with different features, like third racks.

2. Compact Built-In

Similar to a standard built-in but with a narrower footprint for smaller kitchens.

3. Portable

These dishwashers don’t require permanent plumbing, relying instead on a faucet adapter that connects to the sink. You can find countertop portable dishwashers as well as portable dishwashers on wheels that have the benefit of providing additional counter space, since they typically come with a wooden “butcher-style” top. These types of dishwashers are great for RV’s or people who move often.

4. Drawer Style

An alternative to the pull-down door that most dishwashers have, they can be easier to load but may be cost-prohibitive. These dishwasher doors pull out as opposed to down, making them easier to load and unload. They're available in one or two-drawer models that can be run at the same time or separately.

The one that you pick will ultimately depend on your needs and the space available in your kitchen. Below we highlight different models and features.

What to look for in a dishwasher: Features and styles

Even though there are four types of dishwashers to choose from, there are even more dishwasher features and styles available. Below, we cover some of the most common styles and features to look for.

Close up of a top-control dishwasher panel Close up of a top-control dishwasher panel

1. Top control dishwasher

These dishwashers have their control panel located on top of the door, meant to provide a more discrete look. You can find this style of dishwasher in built-in (standard and compact) models as well as drawer style.

Close up of front-control dishwasher buttons Close up of front-control dishwasher buttons

2. Front Control Dishwasher

On front control dishwashers, the control panel and buttons face forward so that everything can be seen at a quick glance—with no need to open the dishwasher door. These can be budget friendly options that are also available in standard and compact built-in and portable dishwashers.

View of Maytag® third rack View of Maytag® third rack

3. Third rack dishwasher

You’ll be able to fit more items with dishwashers that feature a third rack. These additional racks tend to be shallower than the standard racks that most dishwashers come with, so they’re ideal for cutlery and taller serving utensils. Some third rack dishwashers, like some available from Maytag, have a specialized wash zone and enough room for mugs and small bowls, so you can really take advantage of the extra loading space. You can find third rack dishwashers in standard built-in sizes and even compact sizes.

Kitchen with Maytag® dishwasher Kitchen with Maytag® dishwasher

What is a built-in dishwasher? 

A built-in dishwasher is the most common type and the one you’re most likely to find in stores. These dishwashers are installed underneath the kitchen countertop, and they come in standard 24-inch models as well as in compact 18-inch models. 

You can find plenty of variety in terms of colors, finishes and features available with built-in dishwashers. You may also find large-capacity models in this style.

How do I determine the best dishwasher features and options for my kitchen?

When choosing the right dishwasher for your home, consider what’s most important for your household, as well as the space available in your kitchen. If you have a large family that goes through dishes quickly, then a large capacity dishwasher or one with a third rack may be beneficial. 

If you have limited space and items that you cycle through quickly, then a compact dishwasher that has a Quick Cycle may be best for you.

View of dishwasher with unfinished sides View of dishwasher with unfinished sides

WHAT size dishwasher should I consider for my home?

The size of your dishwasher will greatly depend on the size of your kitchen. You should also take into account whether or not your dishwasher requires an air gap and the space that would take up. If you don’t have a ton of space, then you might be better off with a compact dishwasher that has a narrower width than the standard dishwasher.

While you may sacrifice some capacity, you can still find plenty of features in more compact sizes, including specialized wash cycles and stylized finishes. Finding the right dishwasher dimensions for your kitchen is important, so make sure that you know all the necessary steps when it’s time to measure your space for a new dishwasher.

A hand pushing close a washer door A hand pushing close a washer door

Can I Install a Dishwasher Myself?

So long as you have the appropriate plumbing and electrical, you can install a dishwasher yourself. Use the written dishwasher installation instructions that came with your dishwasher for a proper install. And if you are unable to access your desired location for your dishwasher, contact a professional for further consultation.

You don’t always need a professional to install a new dishwasher in place of an old one. As long as you have the appropriate plumbing and electrical, it’s a task you can tackle on your own, but make sure to use the written dishwasher installation instructions that came with your dishwasher. If you don’t have access in your desired location, contact a professional to help get your dishwasher up and running.

Kitchen showcasing Maytag® stainless steel appliances Kitchen showcasing Maytag® stainless steel appliances

What else should I look for in a dishwasher?

Look for features that are important to you—consider things like capacity, wash cycles or heated dry cycles. Make sure you are aware of the basic parts of a dishwasher and their functions. Your dishwasher is one of the most hardworking appliances in the kitchen, so you want to ensure that the one you pick is one that offers you convenience and makes your cleanup process a snap.

The most important thing to consider when choosing a new dishwasher is finding one that you and your family can depend on time and again. If you’re not sure what to look for, reading what’s the Best Maytag® Dishwasher for You is a good place to start.

Two blue pet bowls in a dishwasher

Maytag® Pet pro dishwasher


Shop for Maytag® dishwashers for your home

If you’re ready to upgrade your kitchen with a new dishwasher that offers you dependability and great results every time, Maytag offers a selection of dishwashers with stainless steel tubs, high-pressure water jets and Dual Power Filtration that breaks down even tough messes so your dishes always shine.

Learn more about Maytag® dishwashers


1. See UL Verify for specific organisms