In late August, our dishwasher finally gave out. While it still went through the motions of cleaning, it wouldn't drain after the final cycle, leaving a pool of water at the bottom of the tub.
I tried a few things to fix it — I cleaned the filters, checked the drain hose and swapped out the spin arm and rear stopper — all to no effect. I entertained the thought of changing the dishwasher's solenoid valve, but then my time and patience were beginning to run out.
Fortunately, we were able to take advantage of an early Labor Day deal on a Bosch 500 series dishwasher ($899 @ Lowe's), which was not only on sale for $200 off its regular price, but the retailer was also offering a rebate on installation — another $240 off what I would have had to pay. Yes, the rebate is in the form of a Lowe's gift card, but we're looking to get new patio furniture anyway.
And, because the Bosch dishwasher is Energy Star compliant, I was able to get another $25 from PSE&G, my local utility, which offers rebates on energy-efficient appliances, including dehumidifiers, air conditioners, washers and dryers, smart thermostats, and more. If you're ever buying a new appliance, you should definitely check to see if your utility offers something similar — it's easy money.
But it wasn't the savings that most impressed me about our new dishwasher. It was the fact that it was dead quiet when cleaning dishes.
Our previous dishwasher, a GE Nautilus model that was about 20 years old, served us well, but we could clearly hear it in our living room, the next room over. It wasn't loud enough to be distracting, but I would tend to increase the volume on the TV a notch or two.
The Bosch, on the other hand, is so quiet that it's hard to hear it even when I'm in the kitchen. Bosch advertises the 500 series as one of its quietest models, with an average noise of 44 decibels. Never one to take a company's word at face value, I stood about 6 feet away from the dishwasher with a sound meter, and registered noise levels of 47-50 dB.
That's not as quiet as advertised, but still very close. And, given all the other noise in my house provided by a dog, two cats, a 4-year-old, and an air conditioner, the Bosch doesn't register at all.
Rack it up
At Tom's Guide, we list the Bosch 300 series as the best dishwasher overall — a sentiment echoed by other review sites as well — but we went with the 500 series for the slightly better sound-dampening, as well as an adjustable third rack, which gives you a lot more space for silverware and other kitchen utensils. In fact, apart from the quietness of the dishwasher, its adjustable third rack has been our favorite feature.
We found the top controls easy to use, too, and they give the front of the machine a nice clean look. While more and more appliances these days are connected to an app, the Bosch 500 isn't one of them, which is fine for us. I don't know how smart my dishwasher needs to be.
I also like the small red light that shines on the floor when the dishwasher is running. It's a good visual indicator, especially for something this quiet. Amusingly, the first time our dog saw the light, he tried to eat it.
I get that dropping $900 on a dishwasher is out of many budgets — the Bosch 100 series costs a little more than half as much — but based on my experience, the two features you should prioritize are sound levels and if the dishwasher has a third rack. Yes, cleaning performance is essential too, but after that, those are the features I'd look for. Hopefully, I won't have to make a similar choice for another 20 years.