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The Dishwasher Sanitize Cycle: Your Ultimate Dish Defense

by Michael Webster

Over the last couple of years, it’s safe to say that the entire world is taking its sanitation and cleanliness much more seriously. With hand sanitizer and other disinfectants now being produced at max capacity to help combat infectious germs along with several other safe social-distancing practices, you might be wondering what the best option is for disinfecting arguably our most touched items at home: the dishes.

Most brands of dishwashers on the market come equipped with a normal wash cycle that does the base level of cleaning and a heavy-duty cycle for the dishware that needs a more thorough wash. However, even with deep-cleaning options such as heavy-duty, there’s no guarantee that your dishes are germ-free ― even if they come out spotless. Bacteria can still live on a dish’s exterior after most wash cycles, and that’s why some of today’s premium models of dishwashers now come with additional sanitization cycles to help fight off those pesky microbes. To help catch you up to speed on this innovative dishwashing capability, we’ll break down the benefits of a dishwasher sanitize cycle as well as share our expert’s top picks that will have your dishes looking spectacular while stopping bacteria and other germs right in their tracks.

Benefits of a Sanitizing Dishwasher

Before we get into the many advantages of investing in a sanitizing dishwasher, we’ll break down exactly how to use sanitize cycle on a dishwasher. You might be more familiar with sanitizing features on appliances like washers; however, the same logic still applies to dishwashers. A dishwasher’s sanitize cycle combines hotter water temperatures with longer wash times to help break down food and eliminate food particles while also vanquishing up to 99 percent of bacteria that’s left on dishware.

For a dishwasher to be considered as a certified sanitizing model, the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) requires that its sanitization cycle must be able to heat the water to a minimum of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. A dishwasher with an official sanitize cycle is perfect for larger households with a couple of kiddos running around, those with busier schedules, or for those who just want maximum protection during flu season. Along with the obvious benefit of sanitizing your dishware, here are a couple of other major pros that come with a sanitize cycle:

  • Kills bacteria left on dishes, silverware, and pans
  • Helps remove pesky food stains
  • Gives you peace of mind (knowing dishes are germ-free)
  • Helps prevent illnesses
  • More effective than washing dishes by hand 

Our Best Sanitizing Dishwashers

Now that you’re aware of what the sanitize cycle in a dishwasher can do for the wellness of your home, take a look at our expert’s top picks that will ensure your dishware always comes out squeaky-clean and germ-free.

Best Overall: Frigidaire Gallery® 24" Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher (FGID2476SF)

Stock photo of a stainless steel Frigidaire Gallery dishwasher.

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Washing and sanitizing significant loads of dishware has never looked so good as with this Frigidaire Gallery built in dishwasher. With the tub capacity to fit up to 14 place settings, you’ll have plenty of space to fit your dishes, pots, and pans, all in one go. And with intuitive features like DishSense Technology, this sanitizing dishwasher from Frigidaire automatically adjusts the wash cycle time, and water temperature based on the level of clean your dishes require. And better yet, this model is Energy Star Certified and comes with an exclusive Energy Saver option that effectively dries your dishes without using heat, which in turn, will cut down on your monthly energy costs.

Key Features:   

  • ENERGY STAR® Certified  
  • OrbitClean Wash System
  • SpaceWise Adjustable Rack
  • DishSense Technology

Best Budget: Frigidaire® 24" Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher (FFCD2418US)

 Stock photo of a stainless steel Frigidaire dishwasher.

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Washing and sanitizing plentiful loads of dishes after meals will be a total breeze with this stainless-steel Frigidaire dishwasher. With this affordable dishwasher, you can relax about that mountain of dishes stacking up in your sink thanks to its 14 place settings that offer plenty of tub capacity. Speaking of savings, this Frigidaire built in dishwasher can also help save you more funds each month on utilities thanks to its Energy Star Certified efficiency. To put the icing on the cake, you’ll barely even notice when this dishwasher is running (even if you’re right next to it), operating at a near-silent 55 dBAs.  

Key Features:   

  • ENERGY STAR® Certified  
  • NSF Certified
  • 14 place settings  
  • Quiet operation at 55dBAs

Learn More: Frigidaire Dishwasher Review for Large Families

Best Splurge: Thermador® Professional Sapphire® 24" Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher (DWHD770WFP)

 Stock photo of stainless steel Thermador dishwasher.

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Get ready to undergo a dishwashing experience like no other with this prestigious Thermador Professional Sapphire built in dishwasher. This luxury sanitizing dishwasher from Thermador is absolutely loaded with supreme washing capabilities and is guaranteed to make light work of your toughest dish loads. With exclusive features like Sens-A-Wash, Crystal Protection, an Extra-Tall-Item Sprinkler, and an additional PowerBoost option, this Thermador dishwasher will show you exactly what superior dishwashing looks like. And with the capacity to fit up to 16 place settings, after-meal cleanups will become faster and more efficient than ever before.

Key Features:   

  • ENERGY STAR® Certified  
  • Wi-Fi compatible
  • Sens-A-Wash technology
  • PowerBoost option

Best Quiet Sanitizing Dishwasher: GE Profile™ 24" Fingerprint Resistant Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher (PDT785SYNFS)

 Stock photo of a stainless steel GE Profile dishwasher.

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For a sanitizing dishwasher that hardly makes a peep during its wash cycle, this GE Profile dishwasher combines a contemporary aesthetic with innovative features like Wi-Fi compatibility to simplify dishwashing. Once the dishes go through any wash cycle on this GE Profile dishwasher, Twin Turbo Dry Boost ensures a complete dry the first time thanks to an inline heater and dual fan system that provides exceptional drying performance. Add that impressive feat to the powerful steam and sanitization cycles that aim to eliminate all bacteria on dishware surfaces, and this high-quality dishwasher has everything you need to guarantee your dishes stay clean and germ-free.  

Key Features:   

  • Wi-Fi Connect
  • Twin Turbo Dry Boost
  • Piranha Hard Food Disposer
  • Leak Defense with Active Flood Protect

Best with 3rd Rack Sanitizing Dishwasher: Bosch 500 Series 24" Stainless Steel Built In Dishwasher (SHPM65Z55N)

 Stock photo of a stainless steel Bosch dishwasher.

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This expertly designed Bosch dishwasher has all the room you need to fit your army of dishware, offering ample amounts of capacity with 16 place settings to make after-meal cleanups go by in a flash. To help you efficiently load your dishware even more, this sanitizing dishwasher from Bosch includes a flexible third rack with the brand’s exclusive RackMatic technology that fuses expandable wings and adjustable tines to ensure you fit every dish you desire. Other state-of-the-art features on this Bosch dishwasher include AquaStop leak protection, an EcoSilence motor system for quiet operation cycles, and of course, a thorough sanitize wash cycle that eliminates bacteria and also enhances drying results.

Key Features:   

  • Bosch PrecisionWash
  • EasyGlide rack system
  • 16 place settings
  • AquaStop leak protection  

Best ADA Compliant: GE® 24" Built-In Dishwasher-Stainless Steel (GDT225SSLSS)

 Stock photo of a stainless steel GE dishwasher.

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This dishwasher from GE is the definition of modern functionality and comes equipped with several ultra-convenient features to help make after-meal cleanups effortless. This GE washer is ADA compliant with a low-profile installation option, so loading dishes and taking them out puts as little stress on the body as possible. And with powerful built-in capabilities like the Piranha Hard Food Disposer, food particles getting clogged will be a thing of the past thanks to multiple stainless-steel blades rotating at 3,600 RPM that shred food waste to smithereens and keep your dishwasher looking pristine. 

Key Features:   

  • ADA compliant
  • NSF Certified
  • Piranha Hard Food Disposer
  • 3-Level Wash

Learn More: The Best GE Dishwasher Review

Why Trust East Coast Appliance?    

Locally owned and operated since 1988, East Coast Appliance is the largest independent appliance dealer in Virginia. We sell it ALL — from new name-brand appliances to scratch-and-dent appliances to our very own refurbished appliances. Aside from our huge selection of every major brand and everyday low prices, what sets us apart from our competitors is that we service what we sell and that we are locally owned and operated with factory-trained associates. And if you’re a local, great news: East Coast Appliance is committed to providing the absolute lowest prices on the same available brand and model — simply bring in the ad of the local retail competitor while the lower price is in effect, and you'll receive your price match.   

Shop Sanitizing Dishwashers at East Coast Appliance   

There is a reason we are dubbed “The Discount King” — for unbeatable deals, shop some of the best sanitize dishwashers online at East Coast Appliance. Our friendly associates are always happy to help you find all of your kitchen and home appliance needs, whether you call us or use our online chat feature. Better yet, stop by one of our showrooms to see why we are the best appliance store in Virginia. Visit us today!   

Learn More: How Long Do Dishwashers Last?