In 1990, the United States passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The design of the modern-day dishwasher, absent of cumbersome and unwieldy features like levers, evolved from meeting the requirements of this law. These days an ADA dishwasher refers to the height of the product itself.
ADA dishwasher is approximately 32 inches tall (the legs can be adjusted based on the chosen model) as opposed to the 33-34 inch height that’s standard on most other dishwashers. This can be a problem if your previous cabinets and flooring were installed around a standard dishwasher, and you'd like an ADA compliant dishwasher instead. But if you have lower counters or raised floors already, an ADA height product will serve you perfectly.
ADA Dishwasher Buying Guide
You might wonder what else is important when considering an ADA dishwasher? The primary consideration is that everything from controls to knobs and racks must be reachable from the front with one arm. The racks must also be designed for easy dish placement. Fortunately, most modern dishwashers are already designed with this in mind.
Best dishwashers with ADA height are also the same standard widths (18-inch and 24-inch) as other dishwashers, so you don’t have to worry about width or depth compatibility.
So what else matters when choosing an ADA dishwasher, not just in terms of accessibility but in overall quality? Generally, four main elements make a great dishwasher—quietness, design, cleaning ability and drying ability. Let’s take a look at each feature a little deeper.
Quiet operation is one of the most requested and sought-after features in modern dishwashers today. Because the dishwasher is usually located in the middle of your kitchen and dining area, and often near the living space, a noisy dishwasher can disrupt family time or gatherings. This is even more relevant now that Energy Star requirements have led to longer washing cycles than before. Numbers can often be confusing when it comes to noise levels, so we’ll offer some references to help you understand where a specific model will be on the noise spectrum.
Dishwasher noise levels range from as low as 38 dB up to 60 dB. The sound of a quiet library is about 40 dB, while 50 dB is about the sound of light traffic and 60 dB is the noise level of an average conversation. As Designer Appliances, we suggest to stay between 44-48 dB for optimum quietness. If you want more information on the topic of noise, consider checking out our article on the most quiet dishwashers for a deeper look at dishwasher noise levels.
You’ve probably already noticed that dishwashers come in a wide range of styles, designs and types. From basic dimensions like width (18-inch narrow dishwashers vs. 24-inch standard designs) to finishes (stainless steel, fingerprint resistant, etc.), you can find all kinds of variations to suit your unique needs and preferences.
If you want an extremely custom look for your kitchen, there are panel-ready dishwashers available that can be finished with a cabinet-matching front façade that will blend effortlessly with your existing décor.
There are even portable dishwashers on wheels that can be moved in and out of your kitchen when not in use.
ADA dishwashers, on the other hand, are highly compatible for installation in lower countertops and apartments with less space than others. Other features that can be integrated into the design of your dishwasher include built-in water softener for better performance and less long-term wear on your dishes and your dishwasher.
All of the design style in the world won’t mean much if you’re dishwasher doesn’t clean well. Fortunately, the range of dishwashing cleaning ability is wide enough that you can find a quality cleaning experience in an inexpensive package. Meanwhile, you do have to look out for cleaning “features” that don’t really do much but raise the price of your dishwasher without adding actual cleaning ability.
Look for dishwashers with a high number of spraying nozzles, and high-pressure capability. You’ll also want a bit of variety in cycles and rinse styles to adapt to your unique loads and dish types. Additionally, it’s important that your dishwasher offers enough racks that are effectively spaced for maximum cleaning power. You don’t want your full loads to be left half-washed just because they were too tightly packed.
Overall, most modern dishwashers do an effective enough job at cleaning. But be on the lookout for poorly-reviewed dishwashers with a reputation for bad cleaning performance. If you do that, and complete your research effectively, you’ll be just fine.
What good is a dishwasher if it’s no good at drying your dishes when it’s done cleaning them? Many people underestimate the importance of quality drying ability, or misunderstand what’s necessary to ensure their dishwasher dries well.
One of the most effective features to help in drying is a stainless steel internal drum. The condensation capabilities of this material over plastic are significant, so if you want a truly effective drying experience after every cycle then consider a dishwasher with a stainless steel interior.
Other drying features include fan-assisted drying, or a door that will automatically crack open after a cycle in order to allow ventilation for faster drying speeds.
Generally, it’s important not to neglect effective drying ability when buying a dishwasher. Choose a model with a track record for both quality and dependable washing and drying ability, and you won’t regret your decision.
4 Best ADA Dishwasher Models
Here are some quality ADA dishwasher models to consider, as well as some basic stats about them.
Bosch 800 Series 24-inch ADA Dishwasher
- 44 dB, ultra-quiet operation that won’t disturb the kitchen or dining space
- So quiet that there is a red light beaming to the floow when the dishwasher is operational
- Integrated water softener to protect your dishes from hard water spots
- Plenty of rack features, including a 3rd rack for more loading space, plus 3-level height adjustable racks and a flexible silverware basket that can be separated into two distinct baskets
- Variable pressure water jets that allow for adjustable intensity and better cleaning
- 6 washing programs and 5 unique features to cover all types of soiling
Fisher Paykel Double Drawer Dishwasher
Drawer dishwasher is an extremely luxurious option that is a pleasure to use. The doors open like smooth drawers, offering easy dish placement and a sleek, modern design. This Fisher Paykel dishwasher DD24DAx9N is compliant with ADA.
- 45 dB ultra-quiet noise level that won’t disturb your daily life
- 6 washing cycles and 6 options to cover all soil types
- Fan-assisted high performance drying to get rid of water droplets after a wash cycle
- Ability to wash in both or just one drawer, saving you water and effort during smaller washes
- 14-place setting capacity for plenty of dishwashing power
Miele Classic Plus ADA Dishwasher
A Miele dishwasher is one of the highest-quality products available on the market today, though they do come with a relatively high price tag. But don’t fret, they also offer a longer life and more features than their cheaper competitors. Here are some features available in Miele G4993SCVi model.
- Panel ready dishwasher front that allows customization for limitless design choices to match your unique kitchen
- 46 dB quiet operation; not top-of-its class, but still plenty quiet for everyday use
- 3D cutlery tray and flexible interior that allows for more loading options for different sized dishes
- Stainless steel internal tub, offering longer life and better drying capability
- 5 washing programs for all types of dishes
- Half-load washing option, allowing you wash a half-load without sacrificing economical operation
Bosch 800 Series 18" Slim ADA Compliant Dishwasher
Bosch doesn’t have just one great 800-series dishwasher—this SPX68U55UC model. The company also makes ADA compliant, slim 18-inch dishwasher without sacrificing any advanced features.
- 18-inch wide size allows for fitting in narrow spaces and compact kitchens
- 6 wash cycles and 5 options for a variety of cleaning power
- 44 dB quiet operation—quiet enough that you won’t be affected by it during cycles
- Tons of rack customization, including a 3rd rack and the ability to hold up to 10 place settings
- Variable spray pressure to allow for different soil levels and the ability to reach every inch of the interior
- Leak detection, protecting you against flooding in your kitchen
- This series includes panel ready and pocket handle style options
If your dishwasher rests below the current flooring level, you should consider getting an ADA dishwasher for its shorter height profile. Just be sure to confirm that the distance below the counter to the raised portion of the floor is correct for the dishwasher you choose. And remember—not all ADA compliant dishwashers are created equal. By keeping the above-mentioned factors in mind, you’ll choose a dishwasher that not only fits your kitchen space but also fits your lifestyle and needs.