Are today's dishwashers any better than years ago?

leaveswaveMay 6, 2012

Haven't used one since I was a kid. Planing a kitchen remodel for the new-to-us house and considering whether to install one.

I don't mind doing dishes by hand; gives me a chance to look out the window and ponder things or just daydream.

However, it would also be nice, at the stage I'm at, to not have that chore.

But how much have they really improved? My deal-breaker criteria are:

--> "green" detergent (whatever that means)

--> no etching of dishes

--> no wasteful use of overly hot water

--> an energy-saving mode to bypass the drying cycle (even if it just beeps at me to open it up to allow dishes to air dry.

PS: Please don't beat the dead horse of oh, put one in for future re-sale "value". If I choose not to put in a dishwasher, I will have a set of cabinets sized to be easily replaced and a line plumbed for it. And that will be the extent of my concession to future owners. This kitchen is going to be 100% for me.

...TIA for any pointers about today's technology, models, etc.!

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Emphatically YES they are better than those of years ago. In answer to your list:

1. I used Seventh Generation dishwasher liquid (or powder) for years with great success. I now use Finish Powerball tablets, which I break in half, using only half each time with very good results. Most new detergents work using enzymes to break down the dirt.
2. Indeed, no etching of dishes - this was usually because (as I understand it) of the old, harsh detergents.
3. They are much more efficient with water use, both hot or cold, using far less water than old models.
4. Many newer models don't have heated drying at all - for example, my Bosch has a stainless steel lining, which allows the steam to condense on the surface, and drain away at the bottom drain. No heat is required for drying. It can take longer, however, as you need to keep the door shut to complete this process.
5. Many new machines have a 'quick' cycle which is perfectly adequate for most needs, as well.

Nowadays, the types generally fall into two, which are sometimes referred to as 'European style' and 'traditional'. Basically, the 'European style' has no heat drying cycle, using the stainless steel condensing system, and has no macerator, merely a filter which should be rinsed periodically (I probably only do this every 4 months or so, if that, so not onerous). The more traditional style has a macerator for grinding up food residue, which makes it noisier.

Whichever type you use, please be aware that you should NOT rinse dishes these days - just scrape. The new detergents need something to 'work' on, and if you pre-rinse, they will not work effectively, plus you waste more hot water.

Whatever you decide to do, I hope this gives you some starters for ideas. I you use the search facility for this forum, there are lots of discussions about various brands and types. You should also be aware that there are now different sizes available: 18" wide units (I've used these in rentals and they're great) and dishdrawers.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 3:15PM
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It depends on what you mean by "better."

They certainly use a lot less water and electricity.

They are much quiter.But they take a lot longer.

All dishwasher detergents are now phosphate free.

In general, the hotter the water the less water needed for effective dish cleaning. Unless the engineers are complete morons, there is no such thing as overly hot water in dishwashers.

Study after study shows dishwashers are more efficient than hand washing. And that "overly" hot water disinfects dishes leading to less colds etc.

If you decide you want a dishwasher the next thing to decide is the budget. IMO a decent dishwasher starts at $400 and anything above $2k is for hardcore appliace geeks that want all the bells and whistles.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 3:16PM
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"--> "green" detergent (whatever that means)"

Non-issue. Phosphates are gone. Many alternatives to choose from. And you won't need much of it to get your dishes clean.

"--> no etching of dishes"

Too much detergent will etch. The right amount won't. It has always been so.

"--> no wasteful use of overly hot water"

Whatever machine you get will heat the water within to 120F or higher. If it doesn't, it's not working right.

"--> an energy-saving mode to bypass the drying cycle (even if it just beeps at me to open it up to allow dishes to air dry."

Most machines available today enable this with a button push.

IMHO, today's machines are better than ever. They do take longer than they used to.

I think they should be called "dish-closets" as opposed to dishwashers. They're a place to put my dirty dishes out of sight until I feel like cleaning them. Then I push a button and go to bed.

Even cheap ones will clean your dishes just fine. I would suggest being willing to pay for quiet.

Learn your water quality and appropriate dosages for detergent. Things have changed that way since you were a kid.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 5:07PM
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In addition to all the above, i can add this: consider getting a dishdrawer.
Web search dishdrawer.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 5:27PM
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Ditto all the above. As long as you can adjust to the long cycles (I usually start a load last thing in the evening) a DW is now very good on the criteria you list, and uses less water than hand washing.

Geeky modification, if your cabinetry is not yet built: do a google image search for "raised dishwasher." Well worth the trouble!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 9:41PM
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For dishwasher detergent, I use the Method Smarty tabs. There are 20 in a pack, but cut them all in half with scissors to give me 40 wash loads. I like them the best as they clean well and aren't overly strong like Finish Quantum.

For a dishwasher, I've been using a Miele Diamante for the past two years, was $1400 new. I've had no issues with it and everything comes out clean. Its also quiet. It can be connected to either your hot or cold water line. Either way, it will heat the water (if it needs to) for the specific wash cycle you select. I have it connected to our hot water line, so the dishwasher doesn't have to take the time to heat the water much. The cutlery tray on the top took a day or two to get use to, but now we love it and would never want a dishwasher without one. For drying, it uses condensation drying, instead of a heating element. It heats the water in the final rinse when it uses the rinse aid. Then a fan comes on and circulates air around the stainless cavity causing the condensation drying. We find it works well, but items like plastic containers still have some water on them.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 7:53AM
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