How to Choose a Quiet Dishwasher

While dishwashers are arguably one of the most helpful appliances in modern times, they are quite loud.

And by quite loud, I don’t mean deafeningly loud, but rather, they can make more noise than we’re comfortable hearing in the kitchen. So, if you’re in the market for a new dishwasher, you should probably choose a quiet model.

You can gauge the loudness of a dishwasher by its decibel rating. Most dishwashers produce 45 to 65 decibels (dBA). Some of the higher-end models only produce between 38 and 45 dBA, which is as quiet as they can be currently.

There is still a lot more to learn about dishwasher noises. Today, I’ll explain what decibels are, what the different dishwasher decibel levels are, and how to soundproof a dishwasher.

What Are Decibels?

Let’s kick things off with a brief explanation of decibels.

Decibels, which are shortened as dB or dBA, are a noise rating system assigned to household appliances and electronics. A rating is given to a particular object based on how much noise it generates.

In general, a higher decibel rating indicates that an appliance makes more noise. Technically, decibels are measured logarithmically, with every 10-dBA increase describing a 10-fold increase in sound pressure.

What does this mean? An appliance that generates 20 dBA will be twice as loud as a 10-dBA appliance. A 30-dBA appliance will be twice as loud as a 20-dBA appliance, and so on. So, higher-dBA appliances are exponentially louder than those with lower figures.

Another thing to consider is the difference in loudness perception among people. Some people may perceive something as loud that others can hardly hear. So, it’s basically up to the subjective perception of people to deem a household appliance, such as a dishwasher, as loud or not.

Dishwasher Decibel Ratings

Dishwashers manufactured sometime in the 1990s generated about 60 dBA, which is as loud as current dishwashers can go. Luckily, through years of technological advancements, dishwasher companies have managed to reduce that figure to somewhere around 40 dBA.

That’s not to say that all dishwashers are equally quiet. Here, I’ll describe some of the most common dishwasher loudness “breakpoints.”

60+ dBA

If your dishwasher is older than 20 years, which is probably the case for many people out there, then this is the loudness level you should expect. It’s roughly the same noise level as a business office during work hours or normal conversation tones between a group of people. Many people won’t find it deafeningly loud, but it’s incredibly annoying, especially in small kitchens.

50 to 59 dBA

The 50- to 59-dBA noise range is the standard for most modern dishwashers. Based on the logarithmic method of measuring decibels, dishwashers within this noise class are twice as quiet as their 1990s counterparts. However, that doesn’t mean they’re quiet. It’s comparable to the same noise level as a fridge with its compressor working at full-power.

44 dBA

Any dishwasher rated 44 dBA and under is what the industry deems as “quiet.” It’s still audible if you pay close attention to the appliance, but it’s not so loud that it will disrupt you during your downtime. In comparison, this is roughly the same noise level as the background noise of a suburban area at night.

38 dBA

While there is only 6 decibels between 44- and 38-dBA models, the difference is like night and day. Super-high-end dishwashers designed specifically to reduce noise levels will come with a 38-dBA label, which is as low as modern-day dishwashers can go. They’re priced at around one grand, but it can be worth the expense if you want a dishwasher that’s as close to literally whisper-quiet as they can get.

Tips to Choose a Quiet Dishwasher

One of the only methods of choosing a quiet dishwasher is by checking its decibel level. Compare the decibel rating on a dishwasher to the decibel rating breakpoints listed above, and you can gauge whether or not the appliance will be relatively annoyingly loud or not.

However, it should be noted that the decibel rating may not tell the complete picture. A dishwasher may have a 44-dBA rating, but in reality, that figure refers to the dishwasher during one of its quietest phases (spraying water all over your dishes). When the pump turns on to draw water from the inlet line, the noise output of the dishwasher may be considerably higher.

Something else you can do is shop by brand. While all dishwasher manufacturers market their products as quiet to a certain degree, there are generally 2 brands that stick out the most in terms of quiet operations—Bosch and Miele.

Miele, in particular, is known for manufacturing some of the world’s quietest dishwashers. Some of its high-end dishwashers have the ExtraQuiet program that suppresses noise output to just 38 dBA. It does this by reducing the flow rate of water entering the machine during the filling phases. The cost for near-whisper-quiet operation is jaw-droppingly high—just a heads up!

Decibel Chart

Here’s a brief decibel chart for you to consider. Please note that while 60-dBA dishwashers are the loudest, they’re actually quite quiet relative to what you would typically hear during the day.

Decibel Rating Comparative Object Notes
140 Fireworks Pain threshold
130 Jet engine
120 Police siren
110 Trombone Extremely loud
100 Helicopter
90 Hairdryer
80 Truck Very loud
70 City traffic Loud
60 Loud conversation Moderately quiet/loudest dishwasher
50 Moderate rainfall Faint/average dishwasher
40 Refrigerator (standby) Quiet dishwashers
30 Whisper
20 Rustling leaves
10 Breathing
0 N/A
-9.4 Quietest room in the world

How to Soundproof a Dishwasher

So, what if you’re not in the market for a brand-new, whisper-quiet dishwasher? Is there something you can do to soundproof your existing dishwasher?

Yes, there is. In fact, there are three things you can do—install soundproofing material, throw a soundproof blanket over a freestanding dishwasher, or soundproof the cabinets.

Installing soundproofing material

Soundproofing material comes in the form of fiber insulation, such as the 60 × 24 × 1-inch rolls made by CM-Ceramics. You can install it underneath your dishwasher to prevent it from moving around when the spraying arms are blasting water at full force. Also, consider using the foam to close the empty gap between the bottom of the dishwasher and your floor to prevent noise from escaping from underneath the tub.

Throwing soundproofing blanket over the dishwasher

A regular soundproofing blanket, such as the Sure-Max 80 × 72-inch Blanket, can be a quick and excellent way of keeping your dishwasher’s noise levels down. Simply throw it over your dishwasher, making sure not to block the back of the machine.

This method usually only works for portable freestanding dishwashers. However, you can use this on a cabinet dishwasher with the help of weights. Simply drape the blanket over the dishwasher on the countertop, use cans of food to keep the blanket anchored to the counter, and let the bottom of the blanket fall over the dishwasher door.

Soundproofing kitchen cabinets

You can take the same roll of foam from CM-Ceramics and use it to soundproof your kitchen cabinets. Just cut the roll down to the size of the cabinet walls and anchor them in place using screws or another fastening system.

Make sure you soundproof the other side of the cabinet relative to your dishwasher. Adding the soundproofing foam directly to the side of the dishwasher prevents it from venting steam properly, which can lead to puddles of water accumulating beneath the device, possibly contributing to mold growth.

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