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Splurge vs save: Cheaper dishwashers that outshine expensive ones

We test models with vastly different price tags to see which one really performs best.

splurge and save dishwashers lead
Last updated: 18 February 2021

Need to know

  • CHOICE experts rigorously test dozens of dishwashers in our labs
  • Our test results reveal expensive models aren't always the top performers
  • Do your research and check our reviews to find the best for your budget and needs

Some of us would pay just about anything to avoid having to do the dishes, but how much do you really need to spend to get a decent dishwasher? 

Some might say they’re worth their weight in gold (just think of all those avoided arguments over whose turn it is to wash up!), but that doesn’t mean you have to spend thousands to get a good one. 

In fact, our lab experts have found some cheaper dishwashers that will get your crockery just as squeaky clean as models that cost thousands of dollars more. 

dishwasher testing ash

CHOICE expert and dish don Ashley Iredale.

And they should know: they spend hours doing the dirty work so you don't have to, rigorously assessing the washing and drying performance of dozens of dishwashers. 

They douse cutlery in egg yolk, smear sauce on plates, scrutinise features, measure the volume of water and energy used… all so they can let you know which unit cleans best. Learn more about how we test

Expensive doesn't always mean better

"We often find that price is not necessarily indicative of performance," explains CHOICE dishwasher doyen, Ashley Iredale

"You can pay many thousands for a dishwasher, but if you choose wisely you can get one that performs as well or better than the ones with the bigger price tags – particularly if you're realistic about the features you don't actually need, or can live without."

So before you splash your cash, check out some of our head-to-head comparisons and be sure to visit our detailed test reviews too. 

Dishwasher comparison: Asko and Haier 

Despite a price difference of more than $1800, these dishwashers scored almost exactly the same CHOICE Expert Rating overall. In fact, in our cleaning test, the cheaper Haier actually outperformed the more exxy Asko with a washing score of 80% to 75%. Its drying performance was also superior, but it fell away in energy efficiency, scoring 58% compared with the Asko's 82%. 

In our cleaning test, the cheaper Haier actually outperformed the more exxy Asko

The Asko does boast more sophisticated bells and whistles, such as an anti-flood feature, fan-assisted drying, internal light and more wash programs (eight programs compared with the Haier's six). 

Our expert Ashley says these are the types of things that contribute to the higher price point, so consider what you're paying for and whether it's worth it.

splurge and save dishwashers asko vs haier logos

Dishwasher duel: The Asko and Haier scored very similar results in our tests.

"Typically, when you pay more for a dishwasher, you'll get a more well-known brand, additional features and more programs," says Ashley. "You might also find more thought's gone into the design, meaning the appliance may be easier to service, or recycle at the end of its life. 

"You may get a smarter rack design and internals, giving you things like fold-down tines for versatility. While these are nice to have, they don't contribute to cleaning capabilities or efficiency, so if you don't need them, don't pay for them."

Note, too, that we test a variety of Asko and Haier models and they did perform differently, so do check out our reviews to see specific test results. 

Dishwasher comparison: Smeg and Westinghouse

When comparing price versus performance, this cheaper Westinghouse cleans up nicely against the $2000-plus Smeg dishwasher. In terms of washing prowess, it got the exact same score in our tests, despite the Smeg's much higher price tag.  

The cheaper Westinghouse was also more efficient for water use and energy use, which means you'll save money on running costs as well as the purchase price. Our experts estimate that over 10 years, the Smeg will cost you $1201 to run compared with $765 for the Westinghouse. That's money you can spend on a new dinner set! 

Over 10 years, the Smeg will cost you $1201 to run compared with $765 for the Westinghouse

On the flipside, the Smeg did boast a slightly higher drying score, a bigger capacity (15 place settings to the Westinghouse's 13) and quicker wash cycles. It also comes with extra features including a child lock door, easy-to-lift top basket and auto-open door.

splurge and save dishwashers smeg vs westinghouse logos

Dishing the dirt: The Westinghouse matched the Smeg for washing prowess.

When it comes to choosing, the type of finish you want will also affect the price, advises Ashley. "Stainless steel dishwashers like this Smeg will always set you back around $50 to $100 more than a machine with a white enamel finish, like this Westinghouse," he says. 

So, if you're not that fussed about looks, or you don't mind the shiny white finish, you can pocket some extra savings. To see these models' full test scores and compare them against others, check out our dishwasher reviews.

Please note: Prices are what CHOICE paid at time of purchase and may vary between retailers. 

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.