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Cheapism: Best budget dishwashers

The Whirlpool Gold WDT710PAY.

Woe is the homeowner who spends hundreds on a dishwasher that struggles to do as well as a sponge and some elbow grease, turning out plates and pans that display hardened evidence of last night’s dinner. With the right model, you needn’t spend more than $500 for shining performance and desirable features such as adjustable racks.

Here are four top picks from Cheapism.com: http://www.cheapism.com

· The Whirlpool Gold WDT710PAY (starting at $445) mimics the look, features, and washing ability of a much pricier dishwasher. In online reviews, recent buyers marvel at how much they can fit in this machine compared with their previous dishwashers -- up to 15 place settings, according to the manufacturer. Users can make room for large items by folding down tines on both racks, moving the silverware basket to the door, adjusting the height of the top rack, or removing it altogether. A sleek design hides the controls on top of the door. (Where to buy)

· The Maytag Jetclean Plus MDB4709PA (starting at $404) holds 12 place settings and uses an unusual tiered upper rack to accommodate tall items on the top and bottom. Consumers testify in online reviews that even heavily soiled dishes come out clean. A spinning blade minces any residual food to keep it from clogging the system. (Where to buy)

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· The Bosch Ascenta SHE3AR56UC (starting at $490) amazes users with its quiet operation. All the dishwashers on this list record decibel levels lower than a normal conversation, but this one is by far the least obtrusive, at just 50 decibels. That makes it a good choice for consumers whose kitchens adjoin their living spaces. On the flip side, it has fewer specialized settings and limited flexibility, although there’s room for 14 place settings and the silverware basket can sit anywhere. (Where to buy)

· The GE GDF520PGD (starting at $359) is equipped with three wash arms, unusual for dishwashers in this price range, and holds up to 16 place settings. Reviews and marketing materials alike point to the steam prewash option, which combines with a food disposer to rid dishes of any particles. (Where to buy)

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These are all standard, 24-inch dishwashers that come in a variety of finishes, from basic black and white to stainless steel (typically a $100 markup). They offer at least four cycles (normal, heavy, etc.) and options including a high-temperature sanitizing rinse, designed to eradicate bacteria, and delay start ranging from two to nine hours. If your power company charges more at times of peak demand, you can save money by setting the dishwasher to run when rates are lower.

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All four recommended dishwashers are Energy Star certified, which means they meet federal standards for efficiency. If even a budget dishwasher seems too expensive, consider the claim on the program’s website that an Energy Star model is even more efficient than hand washing: Consumers can save more than $40 a year on utilities, not to mention days’ worth of time.

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Full report on cheap dishwashers

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