Dishwashers for Hard Water – Buyer’s Guide

Hard water can pose a serious challenge for keeping your dishes spotless. The harder your water is, the more stains your dishes and glasses accumulate, even after a thorough cleaning.

And while there are plenty of time-proven methods aimed to reduce the effects of hard water on your dishwashers — such as acid additives or special decalcifiers—the first step to achieve a more consistent cleaning with high grain water is finding the right dishwasher.

Things to Consider

When looking for a dishwasher compatible with hard water conditions, the most important aspects to pay attention to are the materials and cleaning power.

Dishwashers that come with full stainless steel tubs are generally more durable, making them a perfect choice for households that run on water with high amounts of minerals like calcium and magnesium. However, hybrid tubs that incorporate polypropylene elements in the tub’s floor or lining can also hold their own against the effects of hard water.

Other important features to consider are the sound rating and capacity of a dishwasher. The sound rating is measured in dBA, or A-weighted decibels, describing the loudness of sound as perceived by the human ear. Quiet to medium noise levels of a dishwasher during regular operation ranges from 45 dBA to 55 dBA which is equivalent to a whisper or quiet conversation respectively.

List of Top-Rated Dishwashers for Hard Water

PhotoProductTub materialsLoading capacity
(in place settings)
Details
GE GDT655SSJSSGE GDT655SSJSSStainless steel16View on Amazon
KitchenAid KDPE234GPSKitchenAid KDPE234GPSStainless steel14View on Amazon
Whirlpool WDT970SAHZWhirlpool WDT970SAHZStainless steel15View on Amazon
KitchenAid KDTE234GPSKitchenAid KDTE234GPSStainless steel14View on Amazon
Bosch SHEM3AY55NBosch SHEM3AY55NHybrid14View on Amazon
GE GDF510PGDWWGE GDF510PGDWWPolypropylene14View on Amazon
GE DDT595SSJSSGE DDT595SSJSSStainless steel16View on Amazon

Loading capacity in a dishwasher is typically described in place settings which is the number of dishware items you can load in a dishwasher for a single run. For full-size dishwashers, this number ranges from 8 to 16 and even higher with heavy-duty machines. Plenty of modern dishwashers are also equipped with a third rack to improve upon the standard two-rack systems, though it is mainly done for storage organization.

Review of the Best Dishwashers for Hard Water

GE GDT655SSJSS Dishwasher for Hard Water

GE GDT655SSJSS

The GE GDT655SSJSS is a built-in dishwasher with a tall tub design, top controls, and a three-level washing system. This model supports fan drying without increasing the sound level during operation, while the quiet sound package further insulates the appliance and reaches the sound level of only 46 dBA.

Featuring 4 cycles and 10 options, this high capacity GE dishwasher accommodates a wide range of dishes across the entirety of the soil spectrum. One of the standout wash options is the steam PreWash setting which loosens even the hardest of stains before the main wash stage by applying hot steam to soiled surfaces.

A particularly energy-saving option found in the cycle selection is the wash zone feature, that divides the interior space into an upper and lower zone. Each zone could be washed separately to save water and power. This also creates a true half-load option, making it an ideal choice for small loads and lightly soiled items like glassware.

By including the Piranha™ hard food disposer with a removable filter, this dishwasher increases the cleaning quality and protects the hardware. Made from durable stainless steel, the disposer’s blade reaches the speed of 3,600 RPM during a cycle, shredding large food particles that could otherwise cause harm to the dishes or the wash arms.

In terms of capacity, this model is pretty accommodating even when it comes to large loads as it houses up to 16 place settings and includes a flexible racking system. The full-extension upper rack can be adjusted by height and holds 2 stemsafe shelves, while the lower rack supports multiple positions to suit taller items.

If you need to wash bulky or wide items, the lower rack can provide enough space with its fold-down tines. Both racks are mounted on smooth bearings and ensure an easy glide even with heavy loads.

Located in the upper rack, bottle jets allow you to wash tall and hard-to-reach items, namely bottles, vases, and wine glasses. Down in the lower rack you may find a long three-piece silverware basket with dedicated silverware jets. The basket itself can be separated for easier loading or to free up space, while the jets target dirty cutlery and effectively remove even old food stains.

On top of its loading flexibility, the dishwasher provides an efficient drying program with the help of the hidden interior fan that whisks away the excess moisture from all your dishes and cutlery.

For enhanced safety during operation, the floor protect system is installed to detect even the smallest leaks and prevent the integral parts as well as your kitchen from potential water damage.

Complete with a glossy and easily cleaned stainless steel finish, tactile top controls hidden from the view, and stylish black pearl racking, this GE dishwasher offers a classic yet modern look for any kitchen design. It is also ENERGY STAR® certified, requiring only 270-kilowatt hours per year.

Features:

  • Loading capacity: 16 place settings
  • Number of cycles: 4
  • Number of racks: 2
  • Sound rating: 46 dBA
  • Exterior Finish: Stainless steel
  • Control type: Electronic top controls
  • Dimensions: 23.75” W x 34” H x 24” D
  • Energy consumption: 270 kWh/year

Pros:

  • Large loading capacity
  • Smooth glide bearings
  • Fan-assisted drying
  • Stainless steel interior
  • Hard food filtration

KitchenAid KDPE234GPS Dishwasher for Hard Water

KitchenAid KDPE234GPS

The KitchenAid KDPE234GPS is a built-in dishwasher with extended drying options, a removable third level rack, and a certified sanitation program.

Equipped with a tall 24-inch tub, this model not only provides plenty of loading space but also resists the effects of hard water thanks to the tub’s sturdy stainless steel construction that effectively staves off scaling, the formation of rust, and accumulation of residue.

The interior comes with three racks, all amounting to 14 place settings. The upper rack is mounted on SatinGlide® max rails to create a smoother extension and raising the rack’s weight capacity.

For additional storage, you may find and extra culinary rack located above the upper rack designed for holding oddly-shaped items and various flatware that may not fit in the silverware basket.

As for the wash system itself, the dishwasher engages on 5 levels to provide a thorough cleaning of all three racks while also ensuring consistent filtration capable of supporting the intake of hard water.

5 main cycles cover a variety of functions compatible with all dish types. Most notably, the ProWash™ cycle uses built-in sensors to determine optimal settings based on soil levels and the size of each load.

Another time-saving cycle is the express wash option that cleans lightly- or medium-soiled dishes in a shorter amount of time without suffering a performance loss. Both drying options are heater-based and engage internally generated heat to remove all excess moisture from the dishes.

Compared to the default heated dry setting, the extended heated dry option increases the time of drying to ensure even the largest and heaviest loads are completely moisture-free by the end of the cycle.

Additionally, you may enhance any cycle with a sanitation option by selecting the NSF® certified SaniRinse that raises the rinse temperature to 155°F as a means to remove most of the common food bacteria found on dishes.

This efficient KitchenAid dishwasher comes with an attractive stainless steel finish that resists smudges that would normally form with frequent touching. So by coating the exterior with an extra PrintShield™ layer, KitchenAid makes maintaining and cleaning the outside of the appliance easier since it requires only a soft touch of cloth. The neat pocket handle gives you quick access to the interior racking, while the hidden top console offers sensor touchpads for faster operation.

Features:

  • Loading capacity: 14 place settings
  • Number of cycles: 5
  • Number of racks: 3
  • Sound rating: 46 dBA
  • Exterior finish: PrintShield™ stainless steel
  • Control type: Top sensor controls
  • Dimensions: 23.875” W x 34.5” H x 24.5” D
  • Energy consumption: 270 kWh/year

Pros:

  • Culinary rack added for cleaning flatware
  • Anti-fingerprint coating
  • Stainless steel interior
  • Certified sanitation
  • ENERGY STAR® qualified performance

Whirlpool WDT970SAHZ Dishwasher for Hard Water

Whirlpool WDT970SAHZ

The Whirlpool WDT970SAHZ is a built-in dishwasher with a three-level racking system and improved cleaning performance. The combination of the extended loading space and upgraded spray system increases the overall cleaning quality, resulting in a more consistent output in households supplied with hard water.

Featuring three durable nylon racks, this Whirlpool dishwasher adds more loading space for handling flatware, bottles, and bulky culinary items. The addition of the third-level culinary rack increases the capacity by at least 35% and gives you more flexibility when you need to clean mismatched dishes in one cycle.

Besides, you may find more loading versatility for your daily dishwashing needs as the long silverware basket is designed to be easily removed and stored in-door instead of the lower rack, freeing up space for larger items at the bottom.

There are 5 wash cycles and 6 options, including extended heated dry options and 24-hour delayed start. One of the neater settings that could save you plenty of water and energy is the sensor wash that applies two integrated sensors to read the parameters of each load—such as general soil levels and size—so that the wash and dry settings could be adjusted accordingly.

An especially efficient option designed for dinner parties and other similar events is the 1-hour wash program that reduces cycle time to just below 60 minutes while delivering thoroughly cleaned glassware, dinner plates, casseroles, and silverware.

For added performance efficiency, this model is equipped with an improved TotalCoverage spray arm that doubles the number of jets to cover more interior space. Moreover, the spray patterns also adjust for different sets of dishes as the spray nozzles crank up the water pressure and remove even hard-to-reach stains.

This stainless steel dishwasher is also fingerprint resistant, with a special layer of the coat covering the exterior surface to protect the silver-gray finish from smudging. The anti-fingerprint coating also makes the cleaning process of this model considerably faster. Touch controls are located on the top inside the door panel, creating a more uniform exterior look.

Features:

  • Loading capacity: 15 place settings
  • Number of cycles: 5
  • Number of racks: 3
  • Sound rating: 47 dBA
  • Exterior finish: Fingerprint resistant stainless steel
  • Control type: Top sensor controls
  • Dimensions: 23.875” W x 34.5” H x 24.5” D
  • Energy consumption: 270 kWh/year

Pros:

  • Kosher consumer-friendly
  • Flexible racking system
  • ENERGY STAR® certified operation
  • Sanitation cycles certified by NSF®
  • Durable interior and exterior

KitchenAid KDTE234GPS Dishwasher for Hard Water

KitchenAid KDTE234GPS

The KitchenAid KDTE234GPS is a built-in dishwasher with powerful wash cycles, extended loading capacity, and durable construction able to withstand long years of service even in hard water conditions.

This model is quite similar to the KitchenAid KDPE234GPS dishwasher described above with a few exceptions mainly rooted in exterior design and minor functionality features.

For one, even though this KitchenAid also features three racks, the upper rack is 2-position adjustable to suit loads of various sizes—especially those rich in tall items—while the third level rack increases overall capacity by 35% and allows you to clean small culinary items such as cooking flatware and washable parts found of kitchen appliances.

Both the upper and third-level racks are equipped with SatinGlide rollers to create a smoother feeling during full extension. However, the bearings are also made to support heavy loads that include pots, pans, and other cookware.

There are 5 wash cycles and 5 options, including two effective heated dry cycles and a 2-4-8 hour delay start function. Among the main cycles, you may find the powerful ProWash™ program intended for heavy loads as well as the NSF®-certified SaniRinse option aimed to remove most food bacteria from your dishes.

Similar to the previously mentioned KitchenAid model, this dishwasher comes with a wholly stainless steel interior and matching exterior. Though unlike the pocket handle design of the other model, this one comes with a smooth tower bar handle that matches the overall stainless steel design but adds a touch of chrome for extra shine.

On the inside, the stainless steel helps protecting the dishwasher from rust, hard water or soap residue, as well as unpleasant odors. On the exterior, the stainless steel finish is covered with the additional PrintShield™ layer to protect the dishwasher from fingerprints and smudges.

Regardless of your preferred method of wiping stainless surfaces—whether you use a soft dry sponge or a special cloth—the PrintShield™ layer gives you that extra glide which, in turn, makes regular maintenance more effortless.

Features:

  • Loading capacity: 14 place settings
  • Number of cycles: 5
  • Number of racks: 3
  • Sound rating: 46 dBA
  • Exterior finish: PrintShield™ stainless steel
  • Control type: Top sensor controls
  • Dimensions: 23.875” W x 34.5” H x 24.5” D
  • Energy consumption: 270 kWh/year

Pros:

  • Flexible three-level racking
  • Durable materials
  • Powerful heavy-duty cycles
  • ENERGY STAR® certification
  • Sanitation and heater-generated drying options

Bosch SHEM3AY55N Dishwasher for Hard Water

Bosch SHEM3AY55N

The Bosch SHEM3AY55N is a 100 series dishwasher with hybrid tub design, certified energy-saving operation, and an adjustable racking system.

This model features 6 cycles and 2 options, including certified Sanitize option and timed start with 3-6-9-hour delay increments. Among the program selection, you may find several settings that could prove to be especially useful with hard water, particularly the 160°F Heavy cycle that, combined with 3 tablespoons of detergent, effectively removes all deposits and salt residue.

On the other hand, the Auto setting is the smartest program that utilizes built-in sensors to determine soil levels of each load, making it the best choice for mixed loads that vary in item weight and soil intensity.

Amounting to 14 place settings of interior capacity, this dishwasher provides plenty of space for heavy cookware as well as delicate items. The adjustable upper rack adds to the storing flexibility as it lets you customize its position to suit oddly-shaped and tall objects.

For added versatility, two utility shelves are installed on either side of the upper rack to provide enough space for flatware, lids, and also to hold tall stemware. In the lower rack, you may find a long silverware basket that can be placed in various positions at the bottom level to accommodate large culinary items.

This Bosch dishwasher can withstand long-term effects of hard water usage with its stainless steel interior and rust-resistant polypropylene floor.

Also, the 24/7 overflow protection system monitors for the smallest leaks and shuts down the machine to prevent possible damage. This feature also helps with overflows related to clogging as it pumps out excess water in the event of too-high water levels.

This model also uses a unique EcoSilence™ motor system that reduces operational noise without compromising the overall performance. Designed with 18 sound reducing technologies, 2 brushless motors, and rubberized suspenders, the system can perform at a high level while also minimizing machine vibrations.

As for the appearance, the dishwasher’s classy and enduring stainless steel design is supported by front-facing controls with responsive electronic buttons and an easy-to-read LCD screen that shows various ongoing functions, remaining time, and level indicators.

Features:

  • Loading capacity: 14 place settings
  • Number of cycles: 6
  • Number of racks: 2
  • Sound rating: 50 dBA
  • Exterior finish: Anti-fingerprint stainless steel
  • Control type: Front controls
  • Dimensions: 23.56″ W x 33.875″ H x 22.563″ D
  • Energy consumption: 269 kWh/year

Pros:

  • Reliable overflow protection
  • Silent operation
  • Durable hybrid tub
  • ENERGY STAR® certified run

GE GDF510PGDWW Dishwasher for Hard Water

GE GDF510PGDWW

The GE GDF510PGDWW is a built-in dishwasher with improved filtration, extended loading space, and a quiet package that includes a quiet power motor and upgraded insulation.

Even though this GE dishwasher is a more affordable option among the brand’s top performers, its washing power is supported by highly efficient filtration and spray systems that make the unit’s cleaning reliable and consistent.

At the top of the list of hardware, upgrades are the Piranha™ hard food disposer with removable filters that utilize durable stainless steel blades for shredding larger food chunks during the cycle. The speed goes as high as 3,600 RPM, protecting the wash arms and drain from clogging.

Then there is the upgraded spray system that includes 3 pressurized wash arms with extended coverage, the application of which increases the dishwasher’s wash power along with the upper and lower levels. The estimated increase reaches at least 65% compared to other models.

Additionally, the SpaceMaker® silverware basket with cell covers located in the lower rack is equipped with dedicated jets designed for scrubbing the driest stains from your cutlery and flatware. For more loading efficiency you may move the basket to the door section whenever you need more space in the lower level.

Together the dishwasher’s two sharkskin grey racks accumulate 14 place settings further expanded by their towerless design as well as the removable function of the upper rack.

Featuring 4 cycles and 3 options, this GE dishwasher offers a range of cleaning programs, including heavy wash, normal wash, light wash, rinse only, temperature boost, and an effective heated dry setting. Electronic front controls also provide light indicators to display the cycle stage.

The interior of this model consists of PermaTuf® tub lined with matching lining, all done in smooth grey to achieve a classier look. In contrast, the exterior comes in a clean white finish and adds a pocket handle in the middle for an easier reach.

Features:

  • Loading capacity: 14 place settings
  • Number of cycles: 4
  • Number of racks: 2
  • Sound rating: 55 dBA
  • Exterior Finish: White
  • Control type: Front controls
  • Dimensions: 23.75″ W x 34″ H x 24″ D
  • Energy consumption: 275 kWh/year

Pros:

  • Superior hard filter filtration
  • Improved spray system
  • Dedicated silverware jets
  • ENERGY STAR® certified operation

GE DDT595SSJSS Dishwasher for Hard Water

GE DDT595SSJSS

The GE Adora DDT595SSJSS is a 500 series dishwasher with a hard food disposer, a third-level rack, and a dividable silverware basket.

Featuring 16 place settings housed by a three-level racking system, this GE Adora dishwasher can hold all types of dishware arrangements regardless of the difference in soil levels or item size.

The upper rack can be fully extended and adjusted by height with a single touch, so you won’t need to remove it completely to reset it for taller items. The lower rack features fold-down tines, expanding the loading versatility by width, while the extra culinary rack at the top is designed for holding various flatware and other thin cooking items.

Also, the three-piece silverware basket located in the lower rack can be easily separated to support different sets of cutlery. It also helps to free up space for large cookware and can be removed from the dishwasher altogether.

Also to performance-enhancing features such as the Piranha™ hard food disposer and dual motor system, this model offers 6 wash cycles and 10 options, including the true half-load wash zone option and fan-assisted drying. The latter is powered by the dishwasher’s 4-pass multi-wattage wash and dry element able to complete the full drying process in a shorter amount of time.

Both the interior and exterior of this GE model come in stainless steel, boosting the longevity of the unit as well as adding more universality to the final look, making it visually appropriate for a great number of kitchen designs. This construction also improves on the durable qualities of the tall tub as it effectively resists hard water effects for much longer.

Features:

  • Loading capacity: 16 place settings
  • Number of cycles: 4
  • Number of racks: 3
  • Sound rating: 48 dBA
  • Exterior Finish: Stainless steel
  • Control type: Electronic top controls
  • Dimensions: 23.75″ W x 34″ H x 24″ D
  • Energy consumption: 270 kWh/year

Pros:

  • Large loading capacity
  • The adjustable three-level racking system
  • Detachable silverware basket
  • Hard food filtration
  • Energy-saving operation certified by ENERGY STAR®

In Conclusion

How do I remove hard water deposits from my dishwasher?

While many prevention techniques may help you stove off future hard water deposits, the first stage of this process is removing the already accumulated stains from your dishwasher.

There are a few steps to ridding your appliance of hard water residue, all of them quite simple. For this, you will need common household items like white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, Lime-A-Way, or Borax. Additional tools include a sponge, a screwdriver for the filter, and a toothbrush (preferably new and soft) or a small cleaning brush, also soft.

How to clean a dishwasher for hard water?

  • Clean the filter located at the bottom of the dishwasher’s tub. The best way to do it is to remove it first (some filters need to be unscrewed first), then rinse it with hot running water while carefully scrubbing it with a soft toothbrush. Adding special dishwashing detergent may help the process.
  • Get a dishwasher safe glass and fill it with white vinegar, though not to the brim. Place the container on the top rack of the empty dishwasher and run a normal cycle.
  • After the vinegar stage has completed, add regular baking soda to the tub’s floor and run a short cycle.
  • Avoid using the newly cleaned dishwasher until the next day and leave the door open overnight. This will vent the odors from your improvised cleaning agents and remove the traces of hard water buildup.

How does hard water affect your dishwasher?

Hard water generally lowers the cleaning quality of a dishwashing machine. This includes salt deposits, scaling, murky stains, and cloudy glass effects. More serious hardware damage may occur only after continuous exposure to hard water over a long period, though it also depends on the grain count in your water.

High grain hard water contains high amounts of magnesium chloride and calcium chloride which can result in the buildup of deposits on the interior parts of your dishwasher. Over time, the dishwasher’s motors, pumps, and heat-generating elements become particularly vulnerable to lime deposits. If not removed in time, such deposits can lead to premature rust of the tub and even motor failure.

How do you get hard water stains off glasses in the dishwasher?

One of the easiest ways to remove hard water smudges from your glassware is to soak it in a special solution. You can whip it up at home by mixing two cups of white vinegar with warm soapy water.

Once the mixture is ready, submerge the glasses for 10-30 minutes. The soak time depends on how tough the hard water stains are and how much of the total surface they cover.

After a good soak, take out the glasses and wipe them with a soft sponge or cloth. Rinse each glass well to remove all traces of the solution.

What to use in a dishwasher for hard water?

Since the issue of cloudy glassware and stained dishwasher tubs is quite common in areas with hard water, a few foolproof methods have been accepted as the top go-to DIY solutions. The most commonly used additives include white vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, and special cleaning agents.

Normally vinegar is poured into a glass and placed inside the tub, but some tutorials recommend adding it directly into the liquid detergent tray, though it could be harmful to some dishwashers. Baking soda is usually peppered over the bottom tub surface for maximum effect.

What dishwasher is best for hard water?

If you live in an area with hard water supply but your household still requires a dishwasher, your best option would be a model with full stainless steel or hybrid interior and heavy-duty wash support.

One of the most trusted brands that make dishwashers compatible with hard water use is GE, followed by KitchenAid and Whirlpool. Your best pick when it comes to the best affordable dishwasher for hard water would be GE GDT655SSJSS with stainless steel design and powerful filtration.

Most leading industry brands offer a whole series of affordable yet powerful dishwashers suitable for hard water use, but which of them is the right option for you depends entirely on the priorities of your household—whether you put style, functionality, or durability above all else. The perfect balance of budget, performance, and design is possible to strike once you invite more practicality into your process.

About the author

Jessica Nickson

Jessica Nickson

Jessica Nickson is a keen home and garden innovator with over 25 years of hands-on experience in, home improvement, landscape gardening and all things appliance related to making life easier and more interesting. You can contact her via e-mail - jessica@thehomedweller.com.

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