Jeff Flowers on June 29, 2015 29 Comments When shopping for a new dishwasher, you may not realize the difference that a few decibels can make in terms of how loud your dishwasher is when you run a cycle. In fact, a low decibel rating is the most-requested features that people seek in a dishwasher. It makes sense, as nobody wants a loud appliance interrupting their family dinner. A noisy dishwasher isn’t just a nuisance that affects the kitchen, depending on its location it may be a disruptive distraction for many other day-to-day household activities. Waking up a sleeping baby or drowning out your favorite TV show are two scenarios that would likely play-out in my house, and depending on the layout of your home, you could probably think of a few situations where a loud dishwasher would be annoying. Before you buy a new dishwasher, let’s take a closer look at what a dishwasher “decibel rating” means and why you should be paying attention to it. What Is A Decibel? A decibel (dB) is a logarithmic unit that is used to describe levels of sound. Often decibels are measured as dBA units, which filter out higher and lower frequencies to be more representative of the way humans can hear. Using dBA units, sound monitors can accurately reflect what noise frequencies the human ear will be sensitive to. Most dishwashers range from about 46 to 60 decibels. On the surface, this decibel level may not sound like much, but in reality, this is loud enough to interrupt a normal conversation. To give you a better idea of how loud this may be, here are some common sounds with the average decibel rating for each: Decibel Levels of Common Sounds Noise Level Sound Noise Level Sound 10 dB Normal Breathing 88 dB Subway 20 dB Watch Ticking 90 dB Train Whistle 20 dB Rustling Leaves 98 dB Hand Drill 20-30 dB Whisper 100 dB Garbage Truck 50 dB Refrigerator 103 dB Jet Flyover at 1,000 ft. 60 dB Normal Conversation 105 dB Snowmobile 70 dB Vacuum Cleaner 110 dB Chainsaw 70 dB Hair Dryer 110 dB Symphony Orchestra 75-80 dB Dishwashers 110 dB Car Horn 78 dB Washing Machine 110 dB Jackhammer 80 dB Garbage Disposal 115 dB Loud Rock Concert 80 dB Telephone Dial Tone 120 dB Thunder 85-90 dB Blender 130 dB Shotgun Blast 85-90 dB Lawnmower 140 dB Jet Engine How Many Decibels Is A Quiet Dishwasher? As you can see, even just one decibel can make a difference. It is important to pay attention to the decibel rating of your dishwasher, because if your model has a dBA high of 60, you’ll likely end up competing with the dishwasher to hear your dinner conversations. A lower dBA range—around 38 or 40 dBA is considered a silent model—can mean that the dishwasher can run anytime of day or even night without disrupting normal household activities. Many newer model dishwashers, including portable and 18 inch models, even feature an indicator light to alert you that they are washing, because they can be so quiet that you may not even realize that they are running at all. 4 Factors That Determine How Quiet A Dishwasher Is Most manufacturers will provide the decibel rating for their dishwashers. However, below we have listed out the most common factors that can play a role in how loud or quiet your dishwasher is. 1. The Design When your dishwasher was built, how it was built, and what materials it was made of all play a role in the sound level it reaches when it is running. Even dishwashers from only 10 years ago are usually louder than newer models; this can be because of materials used, innovations in dishwasher design, and the way houses are currently arranged. With the popularity of open-floor plans growing around the world, manufacturers are forced to consider how loud their dishwashers really are. It’s one thing if you can hear the dishwasher running in the kitchen, but it’s entirely different if you can hear it from across the house. As such, designers are taking this into consideration when designing newer dishwashers, making today’s models quieter to run and less disruptive to the household as a whole. 2. Quality of Materials The decibel rating of a dishwasher goes way beyond the design. In fact, the biggest factor in lowering the decibel rating of your dishwasher lies in the quality of materials used within the assembly. Dishwashers contain insulation in the sides and front of the machine, and the higher the quality of the insulation, the lower the decibel rating will be. Likewise, the thicker the insulation is also plays a role in lowering the decibel rating. As an extra benefit, better insulation can also increase the energy efficiency of your machine. If you already own an older model dishwasher or a machine that is too loud, you can purchase sound-deadening material, similar to insulation, which is wrapped around the top and sides of the dishwasher, helping to reduce the noise and make a quieter kitchen. Dishwashers with stainless steel interiors are a popular choice, and although they can be more expensive upfront, they are much quieter than models with plastic tubs. Stainless steel tubs are more capable of absorbing sounds from the water spraying around inside the unit. On top of this, stainless steel is able to retain heat in as more efficient manner than its plastic counterparts. Not only does this help shorter the drying time, but it also helps you save money on energy costs and keeps the noise going at shorter durations. Stainless steel is also easier to clean, and won’t absorb odors as plastics can. 3. Construction is Crucial The basic construction of your dishwasher also matters in terms of sound quality. If your machine’s motor is attached to the base of your dishwasher, it is likely to be quieter than models where the pump and motor are attached to the tub. Unfortunately, dishwashers that have the motor built into the base of the unit tend to cost more, as the materials used cost more. 4. Extra Features Can Mean Extra Noise Supplementary convenience features in dishwasher models can also contribute to the overall noise level of the machine. Extra features such as disposal systems, additional spray arms, added jets, and certain dishwasher filters can all make a big difference in the decibel rating of your appliance. Dishwashers that contain a disposal system tend to be louder than those without, as the chopping and pulverizing of food particles will contribute to the noise level it achieves. Additional spray arms and added jets will also create more noise than other models simply because of the extra water shooting around inside of your machine. Certain spray jets are designed to shoot water only at your dishes and are engineered for the water not to reach the sides of the machine, but these specially designed jets also add cost. Dishwasher filters affect noise level as well. Every dishwasher has a filter that catches food particles and prevents them from attaching to just-washed dishes. If your dishwasher contains a self-cleaning filter, it also contains a motor that will pulverize any food bits and wash them down the drain. You won’t have to clean it yourself, but that extra process will also mean extra noise. Manual filters will have to be cleaned every few months, but they can help reduce the noise level of your machine. How Many Decibels Is A Quiet Dishwasher? There are many factors that go into how loud or quiet a dishwasher is. Unfortunately, when it comes to buying a dishwasher with the best decibel rating, it seems to be true that you get what you pay for. More expensive models predictably use higher-grade materials, contain better quality insulation, and feature stainless steel interiors that all work together to create a quieter, lower-decibel level dishwasher.