Close up of a top control dishwasher and a front control dishwasher.

Top control vs. front control dishwashers: which is right for you?

There are many elements to consider when choosing the right dishwasher for your kitchen. A simple way to narrow down your options is to first decide whether you want a top control or a front control dishwasher. Discover the differences between these dishwasher designs to help you make the right decision for your needs.

Exterior of a stainless steel top control dishwasher

What is a top control dishwasher?

A top control dishwasher hides the control panel on the top of the dishwasher door for a more streamlined design. Since the control panel is not visible on the exterior of the machine, top control dishwashers give your kitchen a modern look without sacrificing your appliance’s functionality.

Exterior of a stainless steel front control dishwasher

What is a front control dishwasher?

Front control dishwashers have a control panel on the exterior of the dishwasher for easy access to cycle selection. These dishwashers typically have handles that are tucked into the exterior, keeping the appliance flush with your cabinetry.

Close up of top control panel and front control panel

Are there differences between dishwashers with top controls vs front controls?

The main difference between top and front control dishwashers is one of aesthetics. The hidden control panel gives top control dishwashers a modern and minimalist design, while front control dishwashers have a more classic appearance. Some front control dishwashers have a clear external display of the time remaining in a wash cycle, while most top control dishwashers do not. Whirlpool offers a top control dishwasher with a cycle status indicator on the exterior. 

Both dishwasher designs share a majority of features. For example, 1-hour wash cycles, soil sensor and heated dry options are available for most dishwashers regardless of design. 

What are the pros and cons of top control and front control dishwashers?

There are advantages to both dishwasher designs. To make your decision easier, consider the top qualities of each option.

Pros: Front control dishwashers

  • Most have pocket handles to keep appliance flush with cabinetry
  • Control panel is in clear view at all times
  • Easy access to controls with door closed
  • Large capacity and compact size options


Cons: Front control dishwashers

  • Buttons on the exterior control panel can be accidentally pushed
  • Smart dishwasher features are not usually available in these models


Pros: Top control dishwashers

  • Control panel is hidden from view for a sleek and seamless appearance
  • Tap touch control panel can be cleaned with ease
  • Smart dishwasher capability options are more widely available


Cons: Top control dishwashers

  • Some have external handles that stick out from the appliance, but can offer a place to hang towels
  • Most do not have a detailed external cycle status display 
  • Generally more expensive than front control options


Do front control dishwashers stick out more vs top control models?

Typically, top control dishwashers stick out more than front control dishwashers if they have an external handle bar. Most front control dishwashers have a pocket handle that tucks into the exterior of the dishwasher door, so the appliance remains more flush with its surroundings.

Shop for Whirlpool® Top and Front Control Dishwashers

Whether you choose the minimalist design of top control or the classic look of front control, Whirlpool has a variety of dishwashers that are sure to fit your kitchen’s needs.

Top control dishwashers

Front control dishwashers

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