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Dishwasher Features (continued)

Energy-Efficient Dishwashers.

If you ever needed a justification for turning on a dishwasher, here's one: An energy-efficient dishwasher uses less human energy and less water than hand washing. (Just be sure the appliance is fully loaded before starting it up.) The latter is far easier to calculate than the former, but never mind.

All the dishwashers on our list except for the Frigidaire FBD2400K carry the Energy Star label.

Energy Star-qualified dishwashers meet or exceed standards for water and electricity consumption set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. The Energy Star web site notes that energy-efficient models save consumers an average of $40 on utility bills compared with dishwashers built before 1994. The type of soil sensors found on the Whirlpool Gold WDT710PAY, GE GEF520PGD, and Bosch Ascenta SHE3AR56UC add to the savings. Ditto for other eco-related features, such as the overnight and eco-wash cycles on the Whirlpool Gold and the air-dry option on our top picks. The Bosch Ascenta SHE3AR56UC claims to exceed Energy Star requirements for water usage by 69 percent and other proprietary technology aims to cut energy usage by up to 20 percent.

Dishwasher Filters.

Scraping and rinsing dishes before loading them into the dishwasher is supposed to be a thing of the past. If you plan on skipping this chore (but for big chunks of food), make sure the dishwasher comes equipped with a stainless steel food disposer to keep food from cycling back onto the dishes or clogging the pipes. The GE GDF520PGD and Maytag Jetclean Plus MDB4709PA satisfy this requirement.

A self-cleaning filter frees users from having to check and clean it, while a manual filter requires periodic cleaning. Perhaps counter-intuitively, many expensive European brands come with manual filters because they help reduce noise. Most cheap dishwashers, including those on our list, have self-cleaning filters.

Dishwasher Safety.

Families with small children likely are concerned about dishwasher safety. Some budget models, such as the Maytag Jetclean Plus, GE GDF520PGD, and Bosch Ascenta SHE3AR56UC, have a child lock that's activated via the control panel or with a manual latch. Dishwashers with controls on the top edge of the door, like the Whirlpool Gold WDT710PAY, keep the controls altogether out of children's way.

Review continues below

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