Josephine Cochran invented the dishwasher in 1886, and for a century, the machines gushed and clanged like something from the steam age: not exactly suited to today’s open-concept home design. Now, they whisper. European brands began their silent assault on the U.S. market in the late 1980s, and low noisemaking was a key selling strategy. Because these models use less water, there’s less sloshing. They use less energy, too—two small motors wash and drain simultaneously instead of one larger, louder motor performing each task separately. Also, there’s no noisy disposal to grind food particles and no electric heating element (drying occurs through condensation on the insulated stainless interior panels). Bosch reached a new low with the 39-decibel 800-series dishwasher earlier this year. The hum of your fridge is probably louder.