Noise level is the number one concern most consumers have when shopping for a new dishwasher. Over the last ten years, the appliance industry has been hard at work innovating to make dishwashers quieter. In this article, we will show you the differences between the loudest and quietest dishwashers, while also giving you a solid understanding of dishwasher decibel ratings and what they 'actually' mean.
With kitchens trending toward more open floor plans and usually being positioned near family rooms, having a noisy dishwasher just isn’t a smart choice. You want to be able to operate your dishwasher and still have use of the kitchen and dining area while it runs. That won’t be possible if the noise is so loud that you have to shout over it. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available that offer impressively quiet operation. You just have to know how to understand decibel ratings and how they’ll affect cost.
So first off... what are decibels?
Decibels (commonly referred as dB or dBA) are what the appliance industry uses to measure how loud something is. It gets a little confusing because decibels are measured on a logarithmic scale based on a power of 10. For those of you without math degrees, this simply means that every increase of 10 decibels doubles the intensity of the sound. So a 50-decibel dishwasher is actually twice as loud as a 40-decibel dishwasher. Dishwashers from the 1990's all operated at about 60 dB, which is about 4 times louder than today's quietest dishwasher... quite the improvement!
Decibels can be confusing! Check out our video featuring actual audible sounds levels
What Decibel Level is Considered Quiet?
For the average home environment, any dishwasher below 50dB won’t be an enormous nuisance. But if you are particularly sensitive to noise and want to operate your dishwasher without even noticing its noise, you’ll want a quieter model. That being said, once you go below 44dB the differences in volume aren’t even noticeable to the human ear in a home environment. That doesn’t mean that dishwashers that advertise 44dB noise are useless, only that you shouldn’t let that be the deciding factor when making a purchase. Anything lower than 50 dB will serve you perfectly.
Loud - 60 dB & Above
This is what dishwashers sounded like in the 1990s and earlier. If you are replacing a dishwasher from that time period, any dishwasher you buy will likely be quieter than what you currently have.
Average - 50 dB & Above
This is actually half as loud as the previous example. Most entry-level dishwashers nowadays start at about 50 dB. This is still pretty loud, and you will definitely still hear the dishwasher running in your kitchen. Dishwashers in this sound level are typically cheap and can be found for around $400.
Quiet - 44 dB
We think this is the sweet spot for most customers. At 44 dB the dishwasher is still audible, but if you aren't paying close attention, you'll forget the dishwasher is even running. You can find dishwashers in this category for as low as $600.
Quietest - 38 dB
And finally, 38 dB is the quietest dishwasher rating on the market as of today. If you are a truly discerning customer and minor sounds bother you, this is for you. The quietest doesn't come cheap, however. Most units in this category are well over $1,000.
Quietest Dishwasher Brands
When it comes to noise, Bosch has a reputation for being incredibly quiet in their dishwasher design. They were the first dishwasher manufacturer to market quiet dishwashers in the United States, and since then, all other manufacturers have followed suit.
Miele is another manufacturer that focuses on making their dishwashers quieter than the competition. Whereas most brands publish their noise ratings when the dishwasher is empty, Miele publishes numbers when their dishwashers are full. This technique is a more accurate real world reading and accounts for the noise of water bouncing off dishes.
No matter which brand you choose, all brands nowadays are putting out quiet models. Make sure you use our decibel guide from above to make the right decision.
Selecting a quiet dishwasher can be a confusing task. Hopefully, this article has made that task a little bit easier. If you still need help selecting a quiet dishwasher, check out our top 5 quietest dishwashers.