How to Choose a Dishwasher

how to choose a dishwasher

You should plan for your dishwasher before you settle on the design of your kitchen cabinetry. This is because the type and location of the dishwasher affect it.  So let’s take a look at how to choose a dishwasher

What are the dishwasher options?

There are three dishwasher types: countertop dishwashers, standard dishwashers, and drawer dishwashers.

The countertop or portable dishwasher sits on the kitchen counter. They are a great and economical option for people who have cramped kitchens or who move frequently.

However, since our focus is on remodeling, we will limit our discussion to

  1. The conventional dishwasher with its drop-down front
  2. The single drawer, stacked drawer, and side-by-side drawer dishwasher.

Conventional dishwashers

Conventional dishwashers come in compact and standard sizes

Compact dishwasher

The compact dishwasher fits a cabinetry gap only 18” wide. It will suit someone who lives alone or with just one other person, or who has a really small kitchen.

Standard dishwasher

The standard dishwasher has a finished front and unfinished sides. It fits into a cabinet space 24” wide, 24” deep and 35” high. Cabinetry is designed to accommodate these dimensions.

The standard dishwasher suits regular kitchens, families, and entertaining. And, if you are remodeling your kitchen, this is the size you will be working with.

Even if you are personally inclined towards a compact dishwasher and you have room for a standard dishwasher, don’t be tempted. You always have to consider resale and the home-buying market will expect to see a standard dishwasher capacity.

bosch 24 inch dishwasher

Standard Dishwasher Options

You can expect to pay anywhere from around $400 to $900 for a standard dishwasher. And within that range, there is a plethora of features to choose from. Your own needs, experience, and budget will be the best judge of that.

However, from the remodeling and value-add point of view, we do have these recommendations:

Stainless steel dishwasher interior

While stainless steel is somewhat more expensive, it is more durable and stain resistant than plastic. Also, it retains heat better than plastic and will cause dishes to dry faster. It is more energy efficient. It is also quieter because it dampens the sound of the water that is sprayed inside the machine.

So get a dishwasher with a stainless steel interior.

Quiet dishwasher operation

You do not want a dishwasher that interrupts a conversation or causes you to turn up the radio or TV.  Quiet operation is especially important because, in the modern home, the kitchen and living areas have merged.

This means that the noise made by the dishwasher is no longer confined to the kitchen.

So look for several things that make for quiet operation:

  1. A good sound attenuation package. This might include layers of insulation and a shock/sound absorbing base and mounting feet..
  2. A dishwasher without a hard food disposer or self-cleaning filter. These are  noisy.
  3. A dishwasher with a low decibel rating

How many decibels is a quiet dishwasher?

While there is no industry-wide standard for measuring decibels, manufacturers do publish a decibel rating for their dishwashers. Models that are rated from 38 to 44 decibels are considered quiet.

Compare this with a whisper, which is about 15 decibels. A normal conversation is about 60 decibels. Thus, the lower the decibel number, the quieter the dishwasher operation.

Dishwasher placement in the kitchen layout

The dishwasher can in theory be placed anywhere there is a water supply, drainage, and electric power. But in practice, it only makes sense to put it immediately to the left or right of the kitchen sink. Here’s why:

It’s the best operational position because we typically scrape a dish or platter into the disposal, rinse it, and then place it into the dishwasher. We want to be able to do this without moving our feet.

The necessary power and water supply are already close by under the sink. Typically there is an existing power supply for the disposal with a separate outlet for the dishwasher. And, of course, there is a water supply to the sink faucets. The dishwasher gets hooked into the cold water supply line.

This is the arrangement dishwasher manufacturers expect. So they supply the appropriate length hoses and power cords with the unit.

Should the dishwasher be on the right or left of the kitchen sink?

This depends if you are left or right-handed. If your right hand is dominant, the dishwasher should be to the left of the sink. Most right-handed people find this makes the action of scraping, rinsing, and then loading the dishwasher easier that way. Vice versa, if you are left-handed.

Coordinate storage with your dishwasher

Pair your cabinetry with the dishwasher.

In laying out the cabinetry for your remodeled kitchen, make sure that the drawers and storage cabinets that will take the clean cutlery and crockery that you remove from the dishwasher are close to hand.

Plan for the drop front of the dishwasher

Be aware of the overall kitchen layout.

Do not place the standard drop front dishwasher where this will interfere with accessing and opening an oven or refrigerator door.

Standard dishwasher installation

A sub-theme of this site is Universal Design and aging in place. Universal Design just means designing and building with the comfort of everyone in mind. And so we include this approach in evaluating dishwashers for a kitchen remodel.

The standard dishwasher comes with the same drawback as the standard cooktop/oven range combo. Stooping to deal with the low-drop front dishwasher door is just plain difficult for the elderly.

So we suggest putting the standard dishwasher on a pedestal or drawer cabinet. This helps reduce the strain of bending and stooping.

However, it also has the knock-on effect of raising a section of 24-inch countertop by around 12 inches. This is not so good for kitchen functionality but it is an option. Also, this otherwise undesirable effect can be mitigated by imaginative cabinetry design.

Can you put a dishwasher next to a refrigerator?

No. Do not do this. Dishwashers produce heat and humidity and these are the two things the refrigerator is trying to expel in order to perform its cooling function.

It only makes sense. The dishwasher wants to be “hot” and the fridge wants to be “cold.” So it’s obvious they should be separated.

In addition, there is a functional conflict arising out of the refrigerator and dishwasher doors being next to each other. Think about someone trying to get something out of the fridge while another person is loading or unloading the dishwasher.

Is it OK to put a dishwasher next to an oven?

It is best not to do this.

However, if the kitchen layout forces it, you can put a dishwasher side by side with a slide in range but not directly touching it. There needs to be a minimum 2’ clearance between the two units to allow for heat dissipation. And you can further mitigate the situation by inserting a sheet of foam insulation between them

Why do dishwashers need an air gap?

The air gap is a backflow preventer. It is the anti-siphon device whose little decorative cap typically sits next to the faucet on your kitchen sink. It prevents the backflow of contaminated wastewater from the drain system into the dishwasher or into the freshwater supply. This could happen, for example, if the garbage disposal gets clogged.

Many building codes require the installation of an air gap. If yours does not and you do not want to see the air gap by your kitchen faucet for aesthetic reasons, be sure to see that the alternative “high loop” drain hose is installed. This too is a backflow preventer but is not as reliable as the air gap. Your plumber will advise.

Which dishwasher brand is most reliable?

From the dishwasher reviews we have studied, you can’t go far wrong with Miele, Maytag, Kitchenaid, Frigidaire, or Bosch for a standard dishwasher.

Check out these standards dishwashers on Amazon


Dishwasher Description Width

Bosch Dishwasher SHEM63W55N 24″ 300 Series Built In Full Console with 5 Wash Cycles,in Stainless Steel

Bosch Dishwasher SHXM78Z55N 24″ 800 Series Fully Integrated with 16 Place Settings, Flexible 3rd Rack, InfoLight and CrystalDry (Stainless Steel)

Kitchen Aid Dishwasher KDTM404EBS KDTM404EBS 44dB Black Stainless 3rd Rack

Frigidaire Dishwasher FPID2498SF/FPID2498SF/FPID2498SF FPID2498SF Professional Built-In Fully Integrated Stainless Steel

Frigidaire Dishwasher FFCD2418U 24 Inch Built In with 5 Wash Cycles, 14 Place Settings, Hard Food Disposer, Quick Wash, NSF Certified, Energy Star Certified (Stainless Steel)

Bosch Dishwasher SGE68X55UC 800 Series 24 Inch Built In Full Console with 6 Wash Cycles, in Stainless Steel

Drawer dishwashers

Drawer dishwashers come in several sizes and configurations, depending on your need. They are a relatively new technology and are provided by only one manufacturer, Fisher & Paykel. They were launched in 1997, overcame some early technical issues, and are now considered reliable.

Fisher & Paykel is owned by GE Appliances, which is now Haier.

Single drawer dishwasher

As with the standard compact dishwasher, the single dishwasher drawer is good for small kitchens and for people with minimal dishwashing needs.It occupies only 24 or 36 inches of cabinetry in width and 19 inches in height, depending on the height of the drawer. It is placed immediately below the countertop.

This location makes the drawer dishwasher very ergonomically friendly since you do not have to stoop to operate it.

fisher paykel double drawer dishwasher
fisher paykel single drawer dishwasher

Stacked drawer dishwasher

The stacked or double drawer dishwasher occupies the same opening as a standard dishwasher. Each drawer can be operated independently depending on the washing load demand.

However, this arrangement suffers from the same drawback as the standard dishwasher in that you have to stoop to operate the lower drawer. So we do not recommend this configuration.

Side-by-side drawer dishwashers

fisher paykel side by side dishwasher drawers

This is where you install two single Fisher Paykel dishwasher drawers. We prefer the arrangement where one is on each side of the kitchen sink just below the counter. One would be the 18” high version and the other a Fisher Paykel tall dishwasher. This will accommodate larger items.

Here are the reasons for doing this:

  1. Together they have the same capacity or better as a standard single dishwasher but offer better flexibility of use.
  2. Being installed just below the counter makes side-by-side dishwasher drawers much easier to use because they are more accessible than the standard dishwasher that requires an awkward bend or stoop to load and unload. And for people in wheelchairs, they are much easier to maneuver around than the standard pull-down front dishwasher.
  3. Water consumption per drawer is less than the standard dishwasher and there is an opportunity for energy savings since depending on the load you have to wash, you may only need to use one of the drawers.

So, overall, the side-by-side Fisher Paykel dishwasher drawer has our vote for the best dishwasher for your remodel project. Granted, they are relatively expensive compared to the standard dishwasher. But for overall long-term utility and enjoyment, this dishwasher drawer arrangement beats everything else hands down.

By the way, remember that two dishwasher drawers will require a dual inlet air gap.

Check out the Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawers on Amazon

Dishwasher Description Width
Fisher Paykel Single Drawer Dishwasher DD24SCTX9N Full Console 24″

Fisher Paykel Single Drawer Dishwasher DD24SAX9N 24 Inch Drawers Full Console with 6 Wash Cycles, in Stainless Steel
by Fisher & Paykel

Fisher Paykel Double Drawer Dishwasher DD24DCHTX9 24″ Dishwasher with 14 Place Settings SmartDrive TM Technology 2 Cutlery Baskets and Built-In Water Softener in Stainless

Fisher Paykel Double Drawer Dishwasher DD24DV2T9N Professional Series 24 Inch Built In Fully Integrated
dishwashers and remodeling
dishwashers and remodeling
dishwashers and remodeling
dishwashers and remodeling

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