Last week, my dishwasher of 10 years decided that it just didn’t feel like doing its job. It was done. And after scrubbing dirty dishes in the sink by hand, I was done, too. So I went to Sears to find a new dishwasher. Aside from the sticker shock, here’s what I found.
Shopping for a dishwasher? Here’s what you can expect to get and pay for low-, mid-, and high-end dishwashers.
What do you want from a dishwasher?
Are you a single person who runs a load only once a week? Or are you feeding – and cleaning up after – a small army everyday? Do you use your dishwasher for other things like washing kids’ toys or baseball hats? Some people even cook their Thanksgiving turkey in the dishwasher…but that’s another story. Anyway, this is what I found.
The absolute cheapest dishwashers at Sears start at $279.99 which does not include tax and the $250+ “delivery and set-up fee.” I know a lot about these kinds of basic dishwashers because I had one for the last ten years. This is what you can expect from a low-end dishwasher:
- Lots of noise. As in kids calling for you in the other room and you constantly having to scream, “I can’t hear you, the dishwasher’s too loud!”
- Not quite as efficient. Before you put the dishes in the dishwasher, you better rinse every last crumb off of them or you’ll find them baked on after the load is finished. When my sister came to visit, she was shocked because she doesn’t have to do that with her dishes.
- Different settings. From the heavy duty “Pots and Pans” setting to “Light Wash.”
Now we jump up to the $500-600+ range and higher. What makes them better than their lower-priced counterparts?
- Quiet. As in a soft hum. I never thought this mattered to me, but when you hear this dishwasher – or rather, DON’T hear it – it’s just so much more peaceful. Especially if you already live in a household that has a lot of kid noise. The lack of noise is achieved by a stainless steel interior, which contains the noise. If your interior is not stainless steel, you’ll hear swish swash clang clank! The salesman put music on his iPhone, then put it inside in the dishwasher and shut it – and I couldn’t hear the music anymore. I was impressed.
- More efficient. You still need to rinse the food off of them – which is recommended for any dishwasher – but not scrub off every last crumb.
- Different settings. Similar to the low-end dishwashers.
Then the salesman showed me to the Holy Grail of dishwashers. They start at over $1,000 and go way, way up. And this is just at Sears, mind you – the dishwashers sold to restaurants are in a price range all their own.
- So quiet you won’t even know it’s running. Which means you’ll take a shower, not realizing the dishwasher is on, and the shower water will alternate between freezing and scalding.
- Beyond efficient. These babies have so many spray jets coming from every area, at every angle, and a super-cleaning scrubby thing in the back that reminded me of a car wash. There’s even a couple of places to put your dirty coffee cups where they’ll be sprayed with intense jet streams that are sure to get rid of those stains (if only they worked on teeth)!
- Wine glass racks. I’m not usually having dinner parties with a dozen or more guests drinking wine, so this is no use to me, but for those that do, it’s probably a pretty handy feature.
So, what did I choose?
After careful consideration, I went with a mid-range dishwasher. In the past, I would’ve just gone with the cheapest. But having lived with a low-end model for ten years, I was ready to step it up a bit, to make my life easier. The high-end dishwashers were very impressive, but I’m not running a restaurant and don’t have particularly greasy pots and pans (that’s for someone for actually COOKS!) and I don’t entertain. So the significant price jump hardly seemed worth it to me.
All in all, my new mid-range dishwasher still cost a small fortune (even with a COUPON!) but washing a dishwasher-sized load of dirty dishes every day by hand is a heftier price to pay.