Hand touching a KitchenAid® front control dishwasher

Top Control Vs. Front Control Dishwashers: Which Is Best for You?

When it comes time to buy a new dishwasher, there are several factors that help narrow down which model is right for your home. Deciding whether you want a top control or front control dishwasher is one of the decisions you’ll make along your shopping journey. Learn about the differences between these dishwashers to find the right choice for your kitchen.

What is the difference between top control and front control dishwashers?

Front control dishwashers have a control panel on the exterior of the dishwasher door, whereas top control dishwashers (also known as fully integrated dishwashers) keep the control panel out of sight on the top of the dishwasher door. While the location of the control panels differs, both dishwasher designs are similar in function. KitchenAid® dishwasher features like the FreeFlex Third Rack, Advanced Clean Water Wash System and Fan-Enabled ProDry System are available in both front and top control dishwashers.

Close up of black KitchenAid® top control dishwasher door

What is a top control dishwasher?

A top control dishwasher, or a fully integrated dishwasher, keeps the dishwasher controls tucked away on top of the dishwasher door. Because the buttons are hidden away, top control dishwashers have a sleek, seamless appearance that help give your kitchen a modern feel.

Black KitchenAid® top control dishwasher

What are the pros and cons of top control dishwashers?

When you’re shopping for a new dishwasher, knowing all the benefits and disadvantages of each option will help make your decision easier. Read about the pros and cons of selecting a top control dishwasher below.


  • The minimalist design is modern and sleek, making your kitchen feel current and on-trend.
  • The hidden control panel’s flat surface is smooth and easy to clean.
  • Less opportunity to accidentally hit the buttons while working in the kitchen.

Top Control Dishwashers: Cons 

  • Some top control dishwasher models have an external handle that sticks out from the surrounding cabinetry. Though this can add a premium look and a place to hang towels.

  • Most top control dishwasher models do not have a time remaining display on the door’s exterior. However, some models do have a status indicator light on the exterior with a time remaining display on the top of the door.

Explore top control dishwashers from KitchenAid

Hand touching a KitchenAid® front control dishwasher

What is a front control dishwasher?

Front control dishwashers have an exterior control panel on the front of the dishwasher’s door. In most KitchenAid® models, front control dishwashers have a pocket handle on the door, keeping the dishwasher flush with your cabinets.

Stainless steel KitchenAid® front control dishwasher

What are the pros and cons of FRONT control dishwashers?

If you’re on the fence about which dishwasher design is right for you, weigh the pros and cons of front control dishwashers listed below.


  • The controls are accessible without opening the door.

  • The exterior control panel is always in clear view.


  • The external buttons on front control dishwashers may be more likely to be pressed unintentionally.

  • The front control panel is visible at all times, so the dishwasher can appear less minimal and seamless in its design. 

Explore FRONT control dishwashers from KitchenAid

Do top control dishwashers stick out from under the counter?

In some top control models, the dishwasher has a handle that sticks out from the dishwasher door, rather than a pocket handle that tucks into the door. Though the external handle can add to the overall depth of the dishwasher, it can be used as a hanging rack for dish towels in smaller kitchens.

If you prefer a top control dishwasher but want a more flush installation, KitchenAid brand offers plenty of top control dishwashers with pocket handles.

What are fully integrated controls on a dishwasher?

“Fully integrated controls” is another way of describing the control panel on top control dishwashers. These controls are hidden away and are less visible while the dishwasher door is closed. However, some models feature an exterior indicator light so you can still check the cycle’s progress at a glance.

Opened stainless steel KitchenAid® front control dishwasher

What are other important dishwasher features?

When shopping for a new dishwasher, you should also be considering appliance size, color, function volume and washing and drying capabilities. If you have a large family or often prep multiple courses for a meal, a large capacity dishwasher with the FreeFlex™ third rack would be the right fit for you. If you have an open concept kitchen, you may want to look for quiet dishwashers that run discreetly while you enjoy your meal.


Whether you choose the fresh and modern feel of a top control or the timeless and classic front control model, KitchenAid has a selection of dishwashers to fit your needs.


Learn more about KitchenAid® dishwashers