The kitchen is the core of every home. It’s where we gather; where we sit, and eat, and cook together. But the kitchen also contains some pretty powerful appliances—things like noisy range hoods and loud dishwashers—which can put a damper on the time that we get to spend together.
If you’re trying to figure out how to create a more intimate kitchen space, investing in a quiet dishwasher can be a great place to start.
What makes a dishwasher noisy?
Best Buy lists the decibels of each dishwasher at the start of its product name, which makes it easy to find out which dishwashers are louder. However, there are a few different factors beyond decibel level that come into play.
The first is that dishwashers are rated in decibels, which describe sound on a logarithmic scale. What that means is that, when you’re looking at decibels, you’re not looking at the direct “size” of a sound. Instead, you’re being given a difference in sound level, so a difference of just a few decibels can be very noticeable.
The second is that there is no industry-wide regulation for when a manufacturer should measure the sound of its dishwasher. A brand like Samsung, for instance, might be measuring every dishwasher at the middle of its cycle, while Kitchen Aid might be measuring theirs at the tail end of a delicate/China setting.
The third is that dishwasher installation can differ, and some kitchens might provide better sound insulation around where the dishwasher sits. (We’ll discuss this more in a few paragraphs.)
What all of this means is that there’s no definitively “quiet” dishwasher, and no singular “loud” dishwasher. Instead, you’ll be able to identify a group of dishwashers that are pretty quiet, a group that are about average, and a group that are a little noisy.
How many decibels is a loud dishwasher?
Even though there’s variation throughout the appliance world, you can still get a good idea of how loud a dishwasher will be in your home based on its decibel level. Most dishwashers are 46-60 dB, and anything under 45dB is considered to be very quiet.
39-45 dB dishwashers are very quiet, and they’ll sound similar to rainfall when they’re operating. Libraries offer a similar amount of noise, or early mornings in the suburbs. They’re a great choice for those who like their homes to be very quiet—maybe you live in a studio apartment, or maybe your kids like to do their homework in the kitchen with you after dinner. Most of these dishwashers are a little more expensive, as they feature sound-adsorbing stainless steel tubs, but they’re offered by many brands including Bosch, KitchenAid, and Samsung.
45-49 dB dishwashers are a little noisier. They’re more in the sound range of a quiet suburb during the daytime, when the kids are at school but you can still hear some cars in the distance. Most dishwashers fall into this category.
50-59 dB dishwashers are also very common. These will sound more similar to background music; you’d be able to tell the difference between each cycle, and might have trouble sleeping if your bedroom is close to the kitchen.
Dishwashers over 60 dB are considered to be quite loud, and are much less common. You’ll mostly see these models in older homes, or in budget kitchen renovations. They can be a great option if you need something inexpensive that works well, but will disrupt your kitchen conversations.
What if I have a loud dishwasher already?
In the ideal world, we’d all live in homes with super-quiet dishwashers, and we’d be able to replace our dishwasher if it was too noisy for our liking. For most of us, however, that’s not the reality. Dishwashers are expensive and replacement isn’t always an option, especially for people who don’t own their home.
If you have a loud dishwasher that can’t be replaced, there are other things that you can do to minimize its loudness. Sound reverberates around the room, and much of what we hear is the reflection of sounds around us. (Here is a great example of this effect!) Kitchens are especially bad for this, as they’re covered in sound-reflective surfaces: hard floors, crisp countertops, and often high or flat ceilings.
By adding soft, sound-adsorbing decor items like rugs and cushioned dining chairs, you should be able to dampen some of the noise created by your dishwasher. It won’t make your dishwasher itself quieter, but it’ll help minimize the reflections that make it seem so noisy.