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33 Different Types of Dishwashers

This is the ultimate dishwasher guide which classifies, describes and breaks down the 33 different types of dishwashers by design, features, styles and finishes.

Open dishwasher with clean plates and utensils

For the cost, there are few appliances that offer as much benefit as a dishwasher. You can buy many high-quality dishwashers for less than $500.

Can you believe the first dishwasher was invented in 1886? I thought it was mid-20th century invention, but I guess the desire for making washing dishes inspired dishwasher inventions much before that.

Another surprising fact is my wife and I actually lived in two places early in our marriage that did not have a dishwasher. They were rental units and it’s beyond my comprehension that the landlords did not offer a dishwasher. That’s a deal breaker for many tenants. We broke down in the second unit and purchased a small portable unit that hooked up the sink. We loved that little machine; it was so nice after living without a dishwasher for several years.

The next place we moved into had one of the best dishwashers on the market. Talk about an upgrade. Our current home has an okay unit; it does the job, but it certainly isn’t one of the best dishwashers. We’re due for a new one pretty soon since it’s quite old.

If you’re looking for a new dishwasher, you have many options. This detailed article classifies, lists and describes all the different types of dishwashers on the market.

Related: Related:Selecting the Right Type of Dishwasher for Your Home – Secrets Revealed | 10 Dishwasher Dimensions (Buying Guide) | 13 Excellent Dishwashers Under $500 | The History of the Dishwasher

I. Type

A. Built-in Dishwashers

Source: Home Depot

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Arguably the most popular of all dishwashers, built-in dishwashers are widely available for purchase and come with a number of different benefits and features that you can choose from. There are many benefits to choosing this kind of dishwasher, including that they are very quiet due to the fact that they are surrounded by the cabinets in your kitchen. This is great if you are worried about running your dishwasher at night and having it wake up family members or you want to be able to run it during the day without having to shout over it. In addition, you don’t have to find room in your kitchen for this appliance as it will have a spot under the cabinet. It is permanently connected to your plumbing, which means that you don’t have to worry about connecting it to your faucet and not being able to use your kitchen sink which it is running.

B. Portable Dishwashers

Source: Home Depot

If you move often, do not have dedicated space in your kitchen for a dishwasher, or are not able to attach the necessary plumbing to have a built-in dishwasher installed in your home, then you will want to consider a portable option. They are easy to move in your kitchen, offer additional countertop space, and are perfect if you are not going to be running a lot of loads. Many smaller families and apartment dwellers opt for these kinds of dishwashers.

C. Countertop Dishwashers

Source: Home Depot

If space is really at a premium in your kitchen but you still want the luxury of not having to wash all of your dishes by hand, then you need to research countertop dishwashers. These are small enough that you can easily move them out of the way if necessary. Just the same as a portable dishwasher, it will attach to your kitchen sink with a converter and a countertop model will be able to hold about four place settings. They come with a number of features that you can choose from and are ideal for anyone on a tight budget or who does not have a lot of space in the kitchen for a full-sized model.

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D. Front-Control Dishwashers

Source: Home Depot

Families who want easy control over their dishwasher will love ones with front controls. This makes it very easy to select your cleaning options, set it, and walk away. If you want to be able to see your choices or even to easily teach your children how to use your dishwasher, then one with front controls is your best choice. Most people grew up with front-control dishwashers and so they will feel very comfortable having them in their own homes. They are easy to use and to clean.

E. Top-Control Dishwashers

Source: Home Depot

If the appearance of your kitchen is something very important to you, then you may prefer a top-control dishwasher. In these units, the controls are hidden from view, giving the appearance of a seamless transition between your dishwasher and your cabinets. These controls are only accessible when you have the door of the dishwasher open and since they operate electronically or with light-touch sensitive technology, you will not have to worry about pushing the wrong button or cranking the dial on your dishwasher too far. Of course, the buttons are integrated into the top of your system so that they will be flat and invisible, which only works to improve the overall appearance of your unit.

F. Freestanding

Source: Home Depot

Freestanding dishwashers can be built-in or portable and are incredibly common. The front of these dishwashers will be fully visible once they are installed, making them an obvious part of your kitchen but easy to operate. When you install a freestanding dishwasher in your home, you don’t have to worry about having special plans drawn up for the cabinets as you can simply slide your new dishwasher into the designated space. If you were to move and wanted to take your dishwasher with you, it is very easy to do so without expert help as you would need to move an integrated dishwasher out of your home.

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G. Integrated

Source: Home Depot

Fully-integrated dishwashers are completely hidden in your kitchen once they have been installed. This makes your whole kitchen look very streamlined but can cause problems if you have issues with your dishwasher not working the way that it should or want to take it with you when you move. If a contractor comes to your home to work on your integrated dishwasher, he or she will have to open up the appliance to be able to access the display and control panel. This is in sharp contrast to simply pulling off the front cover of a freestanding dishwasher to be able to work on the unit.

H. Semi-Integrated

Source: Home Depot

Similar to fully integrated dishwashers, semi-integrated units are very streamlined in the kitchen but have the control panel still visible. Instead of being completely covered, this makes semi-integrated options a little easier to use and to work on if there are issues with the unit. Which option you choose depends on the look that you want for your kitchen and how much trouble you are willing to go through to repair or to use your dishwasher.

i. Drawer Style Dishwasher

Drawer-style stainless steel dishwasher

Source: Lowe’s

The drawer-style dishwasher is a newer design development with the aim to be more convenient for loading and unloading. It’s a top-down style, but has two levels, each level being its own drawer. It’s much easier on the body to load and unload from the top than bending over to access from the front (unless your dishwasher is elevated).

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Recently we stayed in a condo unit on vacation that had a drawer-style dishwasher and loved it. Sadly, our unit at home is not this style so we make due. If we ever upgrade our dishwasher, we’ll definitely get the drawer-style.

II. Size

A. Full-sized

Source: Home Depot

These dishwashers, although the largest ones available, still come in a few size choices. For smaller families who don’t entertain a lot, the smallest full-sized dishwasher may be perfect. It will hold about 120 different items at a time, including cutlery, cups, plates, and pots. Larger families or ones who have a lot of parties will be better off with full-sized dishwashers on the other side of the size spectrum. Some of these can handle up to 15 place settings at a time, which works out to about 150 different items that you can wash at once.

B. Slim

Source: Home Depot

If you are a little short on space in your kitchen but still want a dishwasher so you are not forced to wash everything by hand after every meal, then you will want to opt for a slim dishwasher. They are about five inches smaller than a full-sized dishwasher, which is often just enough space to make it possible to have one of these in your home. Unfortunately, they aren’t as energy- or water-efficient as a full-sized dishwasher is but if you are determined to have this appliance fit in your home, then you will have to be ok with a trade-off.

C. Compact

Source: Home Depot

All tabletop dishwashers are going to be compact but you can also buy integrated units this size as well. Integrated compact model dishwashers will take up about as much as space as a drawer in your kitchen. Size-wise, they are comparable to a microwave and can wash anywhere up to six place settings at a time. They use a lot more water and energy per load than full-sized or slim dishwashers do but if you are in a pinch, then they are a great option. Versions that fit on your counter are especially useful if you have problems bending down, making them a great choice for elderly homeowners.

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III. Features

A. Stainless Steel Interior

Source: Home Depot

Quieter than the typical plastic interior that most dishwashers come with, stainless steel is more energy efficient and is better at sanitizing your dishes. In addition, when you opt for stainless steel for the interior of your dishwasher, you will be able to use warmer water for your cycles. While it can rust over time and will show calcium buildups and hard water stains, regularly cleaning your dishwasher will keep it looking great for a long time.

B. Plastic Interior

Source: Home Depot

Most dishwashers have a plastic interior but these do tend to be a little noisier to run than one with stainless steel on the inside. You can’t use water at the scorching hot temperatures that you can with stainless steel, so if you want to be able to run a sanitizing cycle, then plastic may not be the right choice for you. They are very easy to keep clean and last for a long time.

C. Sound Reduction System

Source: Home Depot

Having a quiet dishwasher is especially important if you have a small home or your kitchen is close to your bedrooms. When you buy a dishwasher that has a sound reduction system built into it, you won’t have to worry so much about how loud it gets. This will allow you to run your dishwasher whenever you want, whether that’s in the middle of the night or when you have a party going on at your home. The freedom to wash dishes on your schedule makes buying a dishwasher with this feature worth it for many people.

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D. Custom Door Panel Ready

Source: Home Depot

If you want to have a fully integrated dishwasher, then it will make it easier for you to have the custom kitchen of your dreams when you buy a dishwasher that is ready for your kitchen panel to be installed. This ensures that your design is seamless and lets you customize the way your kitchen looks.

E. Delayed Start

Source: Home Depot

Not having to be at your home when your dishwasher starts running makes it easy to time when you want your dishes to be warm. This also allows you to delay the start of the cycle so you can take advantage of less expensive electric bills during the night.

F. Sensor Wash

Source: Home Depot

Most commonly found on more expensive dishwashers, this feature allows the machine to sense how dirty your dishes are and then automatically adjust the cycle to get them clean. Your dishwasher will also be able to adjust the temperature of the water that is used to optimize the cleaning.

G. Fingerprint-Resistant

Source: Home Depot

There are few things more frustrating than buying a new dishwasher only to have to clean smudged fingerprints off of it every single day. When you buy one that will resist smudges and fingerprints, you can enjoy an easy clean and a great-looking appliance all the time.

H. Wi-Fi

Source: Home Depot

Perfect for homeowners who spend a lot of time out of the house and want to be able to control their dishwashers from a distance, Wi-Fi allows the dishwasher to link up to an app on the phone and the homeowner can control all of the cycles to operate the dishwasher remotely.

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I. Third Rack

Source: Home Depot

A dishwasher with a third rack actually has a third tray that is perfect for washing silverware. There are a number of reasons why homeowners opt for appliances with this premium feature, including that you won’t have to use the silverware basket on the bottom rack of your dishwasher. This allows you more room for washing larger items. In addition, you won’t get your hands dirty when loading your silverware because they are laying on their sides and you won’t be at risk of getting poked. For this last reason, many families with small children opt for this premium feature so their kids can help with loading and unloading the silverware.

J. Steam Prewash

Source: Home Depot

One of the best ways to make sure that all of the stuck-on food that is on your dishes comes off during the wash cycle is to buy a dishwasher that comes with steam prewash. This steam will help to loosen any food that is stuck on your plates before beginning the actual wash, which results in a much better clean.

K. Flexible Racks

Source: Home Depot

If you entertain a lot or use a lot of large pots and pans when you cook, then you already know that it can be tricky to get everything to fit in your dishwasher. This is why it’s important to buy one that has the option to move your racks. A flexible rack system will allow you to adjust the racks in your dishwasher to accommodate even your largest pots and pans so that you don’t have to do any of your dishes by hand if you don’t want to.

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L. Auto-Releasing Door

Source: Home Depot

When your dishwasher has finished running, you will want to open the door as soon as possible to release the steam and allow your dishes to start air drying. If you are not right by the dishwasher when the cycle stops, then you may miss your opportunity and your dishes will sit in the damp dishwasher for hours until you think about opening the door. Dishwashers with an auto-release technology will pop open the door when they are finished, which will allow the air to circulate inside the dishwasher and start drying your dishes right away.

M. Hard Food Disposer

Source: Home Depot

This small food disposer in a dishwasher makes it possible to have a dishwasher without an existing garbage disposal under the sink. This means that you don’t have to worry about getting every scrap of food off of the plates and bowls before you run them through the dishwasher. It’s important that you do clean the bottom of your appliance once a month or so to ensure that it doesn’t get blocked or clogged.

N. Sanitation Cycle

Source: Home Depot

This optional setting on some dishwashers runs water that is around 150 degrees F through your machine to really sterilize and sanitize your dishes. Running this cycle can really add up as it raises your electric bill but if someone in your home is sick or has a compromised immune system, then it’s worth the extra cost for the peace of mind. This hot cycle can actually kill the flu virus.

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O. Viewing Window

Source: Home Depot

If you want to be able to check on the progress of your dishwasher and how well it’s cleaning your dishes, then you will want to opt for a unit with a viewing window. This is a great way to be able to peek inside, make sure that the dishwasher is running, and check on your progress without having to open the door and interrupt the entire cycle.

P. Taller Tubs

Source: Home Depot

Ideal for anyone who loves to cook or bake and is constantly dirtying lots of deep pots and pans, a taller tub can also handle more items at once. In addition, they usually come with the wash arm attached to the top instead of the floor, which saves even more space on the bottom rack. With no kick plate on the outside, the manufacturers have figured out how to really maximize the space and capacity of these appliances.

Q. Touch Pad

Source: Home Depot

This is perfect for the homeowner who wants to streamline his or her home, get rid of noisy knobs and buttons, and have sleek design wherever possible. A touch pad on the dishwasher works just as well as knobs but it is silent, easy to use, and easy to clean.

IV. Finish

A. Stainless Steel

Source: Home Depot

Due to its sleek appearance, stainless steel is becoming more and more popular in kitchens everywhere. They are incredibly long-lasting, won’t rust or scratch if you scrape something across their front, and will look almost new for years due to their durable material. In addition, stainless steel is non-porous, which allows it to resist germs and bacteria a lot better than other surfaces do and will contribute to the overall health and sanitation of your family. You can quickly clean the outside of your dishwasher with a disinfectant and rest easy that your family is safe from dangerous germs. Stainless steel also looks great in most any home, no matter what décor you have chosen for the rest of your kitchen; with so many appliances now available in this finish, you can easily match it to your refrigerator, stove, and oven if you want to.

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B. Black

Source: Home Depot

Black dishwashers looks great in most any kitchen, depending on your décor. People who choose them over other color dishwashers often do so because they look clean most of the time. Even if they do get a bit dirty, black does not show smudges or dirt as easily as white dishwashers will. They especially look great if you have other black appliances in your kitchen as well.

C. White

Source: Home Depot

If you want a sparkling clean kitchen all of the time and like the look of white appliances, then you will love how clean and fresh a white dishwasher looks in your space. While they can be a little trickier to keep clean, when a white dishwasher is polished and shiny, you will love the way it looks. Make sure to match it to other white appliances for the nicest-looking kitchen.

D. Slate

Source: Home Depot

While stainless steel still reigns king among kitchen appliances, slate is quickly becoming popular as people realize how attractive this finish is and how well it fits in with the rest of the décor in their homes. Not as shiny as stainless steel or as subdued as a white or black finish, slate adds visual interest to your kitchen and keeps things from getting too boring. It looks great, is easy to clean, and will continue to improve the appearance of your kitchen for years to come.