Hand closing top control dishwasher

Types of Dishwashers Buying Guide

Dishwashers deserve a lot of credit for taking care of the mess while you focus on the making. It’s important to find the ideal type of dishwasher for the way you create. The right dishwasher can help save time, effort and keep your kitchen running smoothly. Read on to learn more about the best dishwashers for you and get familiar with all your options.

Woman rolling out the top rack of a dishwasher in a large kitchen Woman rolling out the top rack of a dishwasher in a large kitchen

What are the Different Types of Dishwashers?

Some common dishwasher types include front control, top control, portable, fully integrated, tall tub and third rack dishwashers. Keep in mind that these dishwasher options are not always mutually exclusive. A top control dishwasher can also have a third rack or be fully integrated, for instance. Different dishwasher types will also come in a variety of sizes with unique feature sets and styles. Explore the full selection of KitchenAid® dishwashers to learn more.

Model shown: KDFM404KBS

Black open front control dishwasher Black closed front control dishwasher

1. Front Control Dishwashers

Front control dishwashers feature a control console on the front panel of the dishwasher rather than the top. These visible, up front controls offer some unique benefits:

  • Quick access to cycles and options

  • No need to open the dishwasher to see the time remaining in a cycle

  • Most front control dishwashers have an integrated pocket handle that stays out of the way

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Model shown: KDTE204KPS

Open top control dishwasher in stainless steel Closed top control dishwasher in stainless steel

2. Top Control Dishwashers

Top control dishwashers hide the controls on the top of the door to create a clean front panel. The console is often smooth, only requiring a touch to select an option. Some people prefer top control dishwashers because of the following:

  • A sleek door panel brings clean lines and a modern look to the kitchen
  • Controls are easy to wipe and keep clean
  • You’re less likely to accidentally hit the controls and select options
  • Models often offer a bar handle for hanging towels

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3. Portable Dishwashers

Portable dishwashers can be stored away and pulled out when needed. They don’t utilize the plumbing beneath your sink but instead attach to the faucet and drain out into the sink. Some models are similarly sized to a standard built-in dishwasher and some are small enough to fit on the countertop. Benefits of portable washers include:

  • Ideal for smaller spaces like apartments where there is no dedicated space for a dishwasher

  • You can take your portable dishwasher with you when you move

Model shown: KDPM604KPS

Dishwasher with cabinet panel on the front Open panel-ready dishwasher


Unlike portable dishwashers, built-in dishwashers are simply designed to stay in place. Any dishwasher that isn’t portable is built-in. They fit almost flush with cabinets and bring clean lines to the kitchen. Panel-ready dishwashers are a type of built-in dishwasher that allows you to attach a cabinet front to the dishwasher, giving it a completely built-in, custom look that matches your kitchen style. Read more about incorporating your appliance into your kitchen preferences by strategically placing your dishwasher. Learn what a built-in dishwasher is to decide if it’s the right fit for your kitchen.

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Model shown: KDTM604KPS

Closed third rack dishwasher in stainless steel Open third rack dishwasher in stainless steel

5. Third Rack Dishwashers

These models feature a third rack in the very top of the dishwasher. The rack is often shallow and ideal for smaller items like utensils, though some versions can fit mugs and bowls. Look for models with wash action under the rack so it gets hit with the same cleaning power as the other racks.

The FreeFlex Third Rack by KitchenAid brand is the largest third rack available.1 A deep, angled design fits 6" glasses, mugs and bowls. Rotating jets target the Third-Level Rack while a drying bar helps wick away moisture.

1. Among leading brands based on usable volume.

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Dishwasher Buying Tip: Consider DBA Ratings

Dishwasher noise is measured in decibels (dBA): the lower the number, the quieter the dishwasher. The quietest dishwasher from KitchenAid brand comes in at 39 dBA.

Person placing a full-sized glass in a third rack dishwasher Person placing a full-sized glass in a third rack dishwasher

What Are Common Dishwasher Sizes?

Dishwashers come in compact, standard and oversized models. A standard model generally holds between 10 and 12 place settings. In terms of exterior dimensions, the following are typical: 

Compact dishwasher: 18 inches wide, 34 to 36 inches tall and 24 inches deep

Standard dishwasher: 24 inches wide, 34 to 36 inches tall and 24 inches deep

Oversized dishwasher: 30 to 42 inches wide, 34 to 36 inches tall and 24 inches deep

Learn more about how to choose the right dishwasher size.

Hands pulling out 2nd rack of a third rack dishwasher Hands pulling out 2nd rack of a third rack dishwasher

What Are Important Dishwasher Features?

Dishwashers come with a range of features that can help make cleanup easy. Some standard features are rinse, normal and heavy wash cycles as well as heated dry options. Some high-end dishwasher features may be specialized, such as adjustable racks and cycles that deliver superior water filtration or higher heat.

For example, here are some KitchenAid® dishwasher features that help you master the mess of creating:

Advanced Clean Water Wash System: Uses microfiltration to continuously remove food particles during the wash and rinse cycles and circulates clean water to dishes in all three racks.

ProWash Cycle: Sensors measure soil levels throughout the cycle to adapt wash time and water temperature for tough messes or lighter loads.

FreeFlex Third Rack: Features a deep, angled design to fit 6-inch glasses, mugs and bowls. Rotating wash jets help clean items in the rack, while a drying bar with tabs helps wick moisture off of them.

Adjustable Middle Rack: Lowers to hold larger dishes, like your KitchenAid® stand mixer bowl, and raises to make room for platters, pitchers, blender jars and more in the rack below.

Fan-Enabled ProDry System: Combines a heating element and fan to circulate hot air after washing for a thorough dry.

PrintShield Finish: Resists smudges and fingerprints. The specialized coating for stainless steel is easy to clean with just water and a soft cloth, so you can spend more time cooking and less time cleaning up the kitchen.

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