The Best Ever Cheap Dishwasher

I need to just admit this up front: I am a dishwasher snob. Not only is a dishwasher on my list of life’s must-haves, I need one that works. And by “works” I mean dependably cleans dishes, glassware, silverware and an occasional odd piece or pot. And it has to be quiet.

White dishwaser with door open

I use a dishwasher for more than washing dishes. I wash car mats, baseball caps, small waste baskets and anything else that needs a bath, animals and small children excepted.

Faithful readers will recall that nearly two years ago, my husband embarked on a major remodel of our home. (If you missed that you can catch up by going to, then clicking on Mary’s Life to find the story with photos).

That remodel was just amazing, because not only did my husband do the work, we did it economically enough to allow for top-of-the-line new kitchen appliances. I opted for a fabulous KitchenAid dishwasher with bells and whistles the likes of which were beyond anything I’d ever heard of. It did everything but put the clean dishes away in the cupboard.

I enjoyed that dishwasher. For about three months. That’s how long it took for us to have a life-changing moment in which we decided this was not a house we could afford to really own (without a mortgage) in our lifetimes. We put it up for sale. The first party to arrive for the Open House made a full price offer on the spot. We had 45 days to pack it up and move it out. And by “it” I mean our lives–27 years’ worth.

Most everything went into storage as we assessed what we would do and where we would go. We decided to take a year or so to get our bearings, as we settled into a very small apartment that had no dishwasher. But not to worry is what my husband said. He’s about as clever as any designer/builder you can imagine. And me? Well, I’m kinda’ clever myself.

I set out to match quality with need–a principle I’ve mentioned to you from time to time. I needed enough dishwasher to get through 18 months. It needed to be functionally solid, which means a dependable machine that washes dishes. I didn’t care whether it had 47 settings or was whisper quiet. I didn’t care what it looked like. We had no time to search for a used appliance that would meet our needs and budget.

After checking lots of reviews, I opted for this Amana 24-inch White Full Console Dishwasher with Energy Star (Model ADB1100AWW). I paid $289 for it on sale at Home Depot. Seriously, folks. Less than $300.

In my heart I was prepared for it to work well enough to get me through a short season of life. Beyond that, my expectations were low. I mean, really … $300? How could anything that cheap be any good?

Oh, my. Where shall I start? I love this thing. It is quiet, works like a champ and get dishes really clean. It uses very little energy and knows how to work hard. I will admit that I don’t want to push my luck, so I scrape and I do a quick sponge-rinse on dishes that are quite messy. I run it only full and opt for the longest cycle. I fill both detergent cups as well, measuring carefully.

This dishwasher is so lovely, so friendly and such a great little helper, there is no way in the world I am leaving her behind when we move. We will restore her little area back to what it was before we moved in because she’s going with me to our new home in Colorado. I already know where she will reside, too. We will be finishing that home’s large walk-out basement with a guest suite, which will include a bar and kitchenette. Perfect!

Would I recommend this dishwasher to my friends, of which I count you to be one? Yes, and without hesitation. Just scrape and sponge-rinse the food off before loading her up and you’ll be good to go. And she’ll keep your car mats and baseball caps clean as well.

This low end Amana Dishwasher is a full sized appliance (not one of those counter-top models) and the cheapest dishwasher out there. For my needs, it is also the best.

Question: How are you and your dishwasher getting along these days?

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29 replies
  1. CrEeD
    CrEeD says:

    REALLY?!?! The link to your “less than $300” dishwasher sells it today for $610. Not such a deal after all. Where did you buy it for $300?

    I’m on a fixed income and can’t afford an expensive dishwasher, but I also don’t want to waste money on one that will last only a few years. I need cheap and dependable. The reviews I’ve read, and I read them all when I find a machine in my price range, a whole lot less than $600, pretty much suck. I hate washing dishes, but I will do it rather than throw what little money I have away on a piece of junk.

  2. Cheapbutpicky
    Cheapbutpicky says:

    This was very interesting, indeed. When I bought a lake home, that would eventually become my primary home, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on furniture or appliances because it would only be used seasonally until I retired. I bought secondhand everything except the dishwasher. That, and a bed, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy used. So, I went to my local appliance store and walked through their “scratch and dent” area. I bought a Whirlpool model # DU915PWB0 for $149, with very little expectations. That was six years ago and I can tell you that it is the best purchase I have ever made. On holiday weekends it is often run twice a day with very little scraping and certainly no rinsing. It was used for 6 months of the year for the first four years and regularly for the last year. It cleans like I never would have believed and does not leave dishes streaked or cloudy. I am amazed. My top of the line bells and whistles one at home doesn’t stand a chance against this one. It is a bit louder than I would like but I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

  3. NJ
    NJ says:

    I wish this had been written a couple of weeks ago! We just purchased a new dishwasher, a Bosch which we love and can’t believe how quiet it is, but it was much more expensive than your new one!

  4. Penny
    Penny says:

    Of all of our Whirlpool Gold appliances the dishwasher and clothes dryer are the only ones worth keeping. The others are junk and not worth a dime. Refrigerator-repair bill of $75 on a 5 cent part when it was a year old, microwave that had to be replaced because of a cracked door, washer with automatic load that doesn’t work right, and an oven that is set on 425 and in an hour gets to 350 degrees. My sister had a GE refrigerator go out on her last year that had 1 service call in 44 years. Where are the appliances that are worth spending money on?

    • PDuncan12345
      PDuncan12345 says:

      There aren’t any appliances worth spending money on anymore. It’s called “Planned Obsolescence” and it’s capitalism at it’s best. Made to only last a third of what they used to, buying new appliances every seven to eight years keeps the economy going. Seriously. They’re built to die in a very short amount of time. There is no such thing as a quality kitchen appliance anymore. BTW, you need a new heating element. I have an electric wall oven from the 1970s and about two months ago the bake heating element died (the one on the bottom, not the broil heating element on top), so I ordered a replacement for $22 from Walmart. Took almost an hour to replace because I couldn’t get at the back of the oven very easily with the door in the way, but once I got it in there it works again like new.

  5. Richard
    Richard says:

    My wife wanted a new dishwasher since the one that came with the house was so noisy. I had a terrible time finding the decibel levels listed in the specs until I happened on Bosch. The one we purchased was the quietest listed. When it is on you can’t hear it running. It takes much less water than the old one and quite a lot less than washing dishes by hand. Since Joyce passed away, I only do one load per week. I just put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher all week and then wash them every Sunday evening. Solves a lot of problems for me.

  6. Emjay
    Emjay says:

    Aieee! No way could I NOT use the dishwasher! Folks who want to contemplate life while they are elbow deep in dishwater are undoubtedly happily occupied. However, we have four now-grown kids, and I taught English the entire time they were growing up. That meant lots of hours grading papers at night, often until midnight. Washing all dishes by hand was not in the cards even with the kids doing part of the washing. The dishwasher was an essential part of life then, and it is now that I am retired. I sure do not want to spend part of my evening in close contact with suds and detergent, Thank you for the recommendation, Mary.

  7. Jessie Clemence
    Jessie Clemence says:

    We had a house built two years ago and chose to not upgrade the dishwasher, which, I kid you not, has a mechanical dial on the front and an on/off switch for the heated drying cycle. It’s ridiculous, and I fully planned to upgrade it the minute it died. I expected this to happen within two months.

    But it’s working beautifully and shows no signs of dying yet. I love the thing. Heh. Just goes to show you that fancy doesn’t always mean better.

  8. tinydogpries
    tinydogpries says:

    Diana B, I fully agree with you. I simply can’t see a need for a dishwasher. When I grew up there were 8 kids and mom NEVER needed an electric dishwasher, she had 8 manual dishwashers plus herself. She actually chose to do dishes when she wanted some alone time ’cause if we kids weren’t told to do dishes we pretty much steered clear of the kitchen after meals. For a column intended to help people save money and live frugally it’s hard to believe an item entirely for convenience and not for frugality is being so highly recommended.

    • Renita
      Renita says:

      Some of us prefer to spend our time doing other things than scrubbing dishes. Dishwashers also save hot water and energy over handwashing.

  9. crabbyoldlady
    crabbyoldlady says:

    I have no room for a dishwasher, and we can’t afford to get a different house. You are all so lucky. I have been washing dishes by hand for the last 14 years and I hate hate hate it.

  10. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    The Amana dishwasher sound interesting. Last year I bought a new dishwasher. The feature I shopped for the most was a short cycle, as in my experience, most dishwashers take 90 minutes to 2 hours to wash dishes. That is just too long. I made all of the sales reps I talked to get out the manual to find out what the shortest cycle was. I ended up with a Bosch that has an optional Express Cycle that is only 30 minutes long. I saw an immediate decrease in my water bill and my electric bill and my dishes are clean. Plus, when I have that inevitable situation where unexpected company walks in and I’m worrying about whether or not I have enough clean silverware or glasses, I can quickly run the dishwasher while I throw together a meal. I was skeptical as to whether or not my dishes would be clean after only 30 minutes, but after a full year, I can say they are. Although Bosch is not the most inexpensive dishwasher available, it also not the most expensive and I bought it when the store was having a free delivery and $25 installation sale. It has been one of my most successful purchases in a long time.

    • Linda
      Linda says:

      I too have a simple Bosch dishwasher and love it. I only use the express cycle which is 32 minutes and have had no problems. I just open it up and it air dries the dishes in very little time. Very quiet too.

  11. DianaB
    DianaB says:

    I must admit I am always amazed that when there are only two people in a house, why on earth do you need a dishwasher, regardless of the price? And I agree with Cindy. Dishes should not have to be pre-washed but I certainly think they should at least be rinsed of debris. Why make all that stuff end up in the dishwasher and have it flying all over the dishes with the water? Filters do need to be cleaned I agree. And, Eleanor, I was wondering the same thing if this is an apartment then this surely must be a portable dishwasher. But in the 3rd to last paragraph the article mentions that ‘her’ little area will be restored to the way it was when they move, so am assuming that the hubby actually installed it somewhere under a counter and ran plumbing to do so. Seems like a lot of work to me on both ends. And then ‘she’ ends up in a basement walk-out. Sometimes I think folks cause themselves a lot more work and expense than needs be. But I do not have the time, money or space for a dishwasher, wash by hand and have for years, and am happy to do so. I guess we are talking home resale value with built-in appliances.

    • Bonnie Sem Lucy
      Bonnie Sem Lucy says:

      Why do you care? I live alone and I have and use the dishwasher every day. No need to explain myself. You love to wash dishes, I don’t.

    • Renita
      Renita says:

      Because I cook a lot at home and don’t want to have to do dishes every night. And it saves time, water and money to use a dishwasher. I think the dishes get cleaner, too.

    • PDuncan12345
      PDuncan12345 says:

      Dishes are sanitized when you use a dishwasher. There is a heating element in them that your hands cannot possibly tolerate the temperature of. Dishwashers actually keep people from getting sick so often besides being a place where the nightly dishes can be stashed until the thing is full. I can’t stand clutter, and seeing dishes in a rack on the counter top 24/7 would drive me absolutely crazy. Maybe you don’t eat every meal at home but we do so there would be dishes out on the counter every day and night. That’s just NUTS. And ANYBODY can afford a dishwasher if one is only $300 so that is not an excuse, you just don’t “get” how easy dishwashers can make a person’s life and how important it is to disinfect dishes more than washing by hand can possibly do.

  12. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    For me, having to pre-wash dishes before they go in dishwasher defeats having one. My critical feature is being able to remove filter for cleaning. Once I found that out, clean dishes forever

    • Julie N
      Julie N says:

      I would love to know what kind of home dishwasher has an easy-clean filter. It takes me the better part of a morning to dismantle, clean and reassemble ours, and it needs to be done several times a year. This is a dishwasher with the “built in disposal” but it’s not perfect by a long shot. I think it grinds up stuff and starts redepositing it on the dishes when it gets bored! And yes, we do remove large stuff from plates, but I’m like you, Cindy, I don’t want to pre-wash.
      Having worked with a commercial dishwasher that takes 5 minutes to clean, I know it’s possible to construct an easy-clean machine. I just haven’t found the home version, affordable or not.

      • Renita
        Renita says:

        We bought a new Bosch dishwasher last year and the filter takes about 30 seconds to remove, a minute to wash off, and another 30 seconds to put back in.

  13. Tracy Harris
    Tracy Harris says:

    I hope you are right, LOL I’m just getting ready to install my kitchen in my fixer upper house, and I’m going to go with your suggestion, it was on my short list. The only thing I don’t like is where the silverware basket is, I kinda like them in the front, but for $50 I can deal with it, LOL I will be in contact if you are wrong…:)

    • Lonnie
      Lonnie says:

      I took you up on your suggestion, Mary! I bought one Saturday…just need to find someone to hook it up and get the old one out. Looking forward to using it soon.

  14. June
    June says:

    I’m glad you like your dishwasher so much, but I would really like to know what you are going to use
    every day in your new home since your Amana is being relegated to the guest room.


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