Choosing Dishwashers

nerdyshopperAugust 14, 2014

After prowling this forum for several years I find the choice of replacement dishwashers as confusing as ever. When I read so many posts praising Miele I come away with the impression that it is the best. Then I go to sites that sell them and they are full of posts that say they are now junk. Same with Bosch. Consumer Reports is currently touting either Kitchenaid or Sears Kenmore washer as the best made. No such praise here at GW. Similarly there are those that say premium dishwashers are no more reliable than cheap ones. Like I say, total confusion. Luckily I am just getting prepared for the day when our old Maytag gives up the ghost, but I wish there was a place that had statistics from enough people to give a lead on what to buy.

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I will give you two reliability breakdowns for dishwashers. The first is a Consumer Reports survey of dishwashers purchased between 2009 and 2013. The second is from an independent appliance store who calculates reliability for all brands they sell based on warranty calls in the first year.

Consumer Reports:
Bosch 7% failure rate
Whirlpool 8% failure rate
Miele 9% failure rate
Kenmore 11% failure rate (made by Whirlpool)
Maytag 13% failure rate (made by Whirlpool)
GE 13% failure rate
KitchenAid 13% failure rate (made by Whirlpool)
Frigidaire 14% failure rate
LG 17% failure rate
Samsung 22% failure rate

Local appliance store:
Miele 5.75% failure rate
Maytag 9.72% failure rate (made by Whirlpool)
Frigidare 10.28% failure rate
Fisher & Paykel 12.68% failure rate
Bosch 12.82% failure rate
Asko 14.17% failure rate
KitchenAid 23.51% failure rate (made by Whirlpool)
JennAir 27% failure rate (made by Whirlpool)
Thermador 29.66% failure rate (made by Bosch)
Whirlpool 30% failure rate
Viking 65% failure rate

Yup... Confusing, huh? The CR and independent results conflict quite a bit and different brands made by the same companies are all over the map.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 5:58PM
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Things to consider:
-is it really a "problem" if you never turned the water on for the dishwasher?
-is it really a "problem" if you never plugged it in or shut off the circuit breaker for some other reason?
-is it really a "problem" that you may hear a gurgle when the pump turns on initiating a cycle?
-is it a "problem" if you didn't read the owners manual before attempting to use the appliance?

A consumer may report an "incident" that has NOTHING to do with the reliability, quality, or functionality of a product. Meanwhile, the Service group probably actually reports "real issues".

I would use the Service guys data long before CR as consumers have unattainable requirements, i.e. magic dust is just sprinkled and it works, without them having to check how it may work.

I have a Miele 4225 Classic and it is easily the best appliance I have in my kitchen. Exceptionally well executed and I did the installation myself. At least 25% of all service calls are listed as NAD, no apparent defect or my favorite, customer education.


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 6:57PM
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As someone who just bought a dishwasher a month ago (and who did a lot of research just as you are doing), I think a lot of it unfortunately is a total crapshoot. We began our search by narrowing it down to several brands we were interested in based on their reliability records, features, and recommendations. Then, we looked at those brands of dishwashers in person deciding which features and rack arrangements best suited our wants and uses. There can be very different aspects to the features and rack arrangements and usability with an individual's own dishes between the different brands and the different model levels within brands.

The final decision boiled down to what I could get for my money. We will always check to see if we can get more for our money by getting a discontinued model, or one with teeny scratches, or one that has been a floor model. And, more times than not we've been successful at this strategy and have ended up with a nicer appliance than we'd have gotten just paying the standard price.

I guess what I am trying to say is that it is more than just reliability ratings you should be thinking about because there are also other things that factor in.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 7:26PM
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+1 on it being a crapshoot. You can just reduce your chances of it being bad by buying certain brands. For example both CR and the appliance store may not agree that Miele is the MOST reliable, but they both put it very high. That indicates its a safe bet. Same with Bosch. I have no idea what is going on with Thermador or the Whirlpool brands though, that's just plain weird.

laundryvet: Yes it may be unfair, but the appliance store made the point that it was unfair equally for all the brands. Basically, ANY service call for the dishwasher counted against the brand, even if it was due to installation error or user error. That's simply because their software that calculates the repair rates doesn't have the capability to distinguish between different types of service calls. But since they get "nuisance" calls for all the brands it evens out.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:40PM
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Well, based on seeing the geometry and features of all the brands I have looked at (pretty much all but Miele) I would buy an LG that I saw on sale at Lowes. Wonderful heavy fold down pegs, third rack, lots to cycles and a great appearance. Only, from everything I have read anywhere they are an unreliable brand with a lot of unhappy customers.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 8:47PM
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i think it makes no sense that whirlpool makes kenmore and is the same as maytag/kitchenaid but their reliability different. going by the appliance store whirlpool has 3 times as many calls as its own brands! why?!
also i have a whirlpool dw that i despise as it really doesn't clean much no matter what i try and i have done a lot of the things recd here on gw. it is only 2 years old so i hate to relace it and as the op said with what can i replace it anyway? it really is a roll of the dice!
re LG i have a brand new french door fridge that has already had a service call for the fan in the freezer compartment locking up and the front-loader washer had a service call for a faulty gasket that was leaking water onto the floor within 2 years. no more LG for me!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 12:31PM
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I just did my first load of dishes in my Miele Dimension last night. I didn't know of DH paid attention or not. I think the cycle must have finished before he went to bed. This afternoon he asked if I'd seen how clean the dishes are. I said I emptied the DW this morning and yes...things look brand new. They look and feel different than they did with our 2 year old Samsung. I'm sure at least part of it is the fact that the Miele has a salt container and settings for hard water..which we have.

I'm happy with my new DW. :)

    Bookmark   August 15, 2014 at 7:39PM
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Also check out the similar and helfpul thread, 2 Weeks With my New ASKO Dishwasher--a review.

Here is a link that might be useful: 2 Weeks With my New ASKO Dishwasher--a review

    Bookmark   August 16, 2014 at 1:27AM
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I've had a Whirlpool Gold DW for about 3 years, and I love it. It's quiet, the dishes come out REALLY clean, and my dishes fit well. And it wasn't outrageously expensive.

I think most appliances (and TVs, and vehicles) come with a lot of bells and whistles that add to the price, but never get used. I try to buy things with the fewest settings/features, knowing I won't use most of them anyway.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2014 at 11:51AM
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Just bought a Kenmore Elite 12833. Get dishes clean, looks great and is quiet. Since any dishwasher review list seems to have its share of "NEVER AGAIN" reviews whether Bosch, KA, Miele, Kenmore etc we got a 5 yr extended warranty.

We are delighted so far.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2014 at 2:03PM
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Cindy Noll

My son is looking for a dishwasher. I have had great luck with 2 Maytags for the last 20+ years. My current one cleans better than the last, but I am holding my breath for the control panel to go LOL. The appliance store owner (have used this store for 30 years) said the Maytag model I told him to get, no longer has a food grinder. Nothing on the Maytag website says they discontinued the grinder. I can find nothing by searching the web. Anyone hear this? The grinder in MHO is what sets Maytag apart. She did say they could still get the grinder one, so is it a very recent change & don't they update their website? Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:29AM
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"The grinder in MHO is what sets Maytag apart"

Exactly! They're wrong. Whirlpool discontinued the grinder in all their brands EXCEPT Maytag.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 12:10PM
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Cindy Noll

Thanks. It's odd, because this appliance store is normally right on. Son said she showed him the screen in the DW, so I am guessing it was not the Maytag I told him to look at. He wouldn't have a clue.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 1:22PM
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After being burned by a $2000+ top of the line european dishwasher, I'm disgusted by the whole industry. How is any failure rate even approaching 10% acceptable??

I've decided only to buy mid range models and to spend money on in home warranty. It's absurd that stuff can't be built better these days.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 4:26PM
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Somehow, I feel like if you opened up a Consumer Reports from 30 years ago... the percentages of appliances needing repair would not be too different than today. I bet the majority of brands would fall between 5 and 20 percent just as they do now. Even the often praised KitchenAid dishwashers made by Hobart had their weak spots and needed repairs too. We see old appliances now and think "they don't make them like they used to" but you have to remember those are anomalies. Plenty of people bought appliances back in the sixties, seventies, and eighties and replaced them in 10 years or less. Similarly, 30 years from now, the majority of appliances bought today will be long gone, but there will surely be some that bucked the trend and are still working. Churning out thousands of machines each day while making little to no mistakes is not an easy thing to do.

People who repair their own appliances seem to be more satisfied with them overall. Obviously part of this is because they spend less on repairs, but I think there are other factors too. Those who rely on repairmen tend to think of their appliances as a black box. If it fails, it must be the manufacturer cheaping out! People who open theirs up realize that it is a collection of parts from many different manufacturers, and the failure of one does not necessarily point to a problem with the manufacturer of the appliance or even the part. When you see how something works you gain an appreciation for the fact that, even in a good design, stuff just... fails sometimes. That may not always be because of cost-cutting or a design flaw.

Another thing to remember is that many people no longer repair appliances, either themselves or by hiring a repairman. They'll throw stuff away with problems that had simple and cheap fixes. Or they'll think "oh, it's 10 years old, not worth repairing". BS! In my opinion if you like something, and it can be repaired for a reasonable cost/effort, it is ALWAYS worth it to repair now matter how old it is.

Miele dishwashers being more reliable than lower end brands seems to be an anomaly. Most of the time, high end appliances aren't really more reliable than lower end ones. And even on that chart, my point is proven: Frigidaire dishwashers are shown as much more reliable than many more expensive brands. And the high end ones usually cost MUCH more to repair and not just any technician can do it. When you buy high end appliances, you should be able to afford repairs as well as the initial purchase, because ALL THE BRANDS BREAK! Generally, if you are buying high end, you do so because of the looks and the performance, not because you want something that will never break (you won't get it). And of course, you should never ever buy high end if you do not live close to an authorized servicer.

You also have to consider that appliances today are much CHEAPER TO BUY on average than they were before. Today you can buy a top load washer for $400, just like you could 30-40 years ago. Adjusting for inflation that old washer would cost thousands. Not many washers sell for that much today, and the ones that do are arguably better than the 30 year old $400 washer. You are a fool if you think that $400 today will buy you the same quality machine as $400 yesterday.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Sat, Aug 23, 14 at 17:27

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 5:20PM
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My concern is that there is no reliable information on how well a design really cleans dishes. Just individual experiences. Consumer reports seem to lack the ability to test for that even though they claim to. Other so-called test sites don't seem to do anything but read manufacturers claims. I even suspect some of them are fronts for promoting certain brands. Places that sell them and give purchaser reviews seem to show the good and bad reviews freely. But one persons totally negative review is contradicted by another's glowing report on how well theirs cleans.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 8:16PM
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That's because they all clean the dishes when used properly. Just like the people who complain about front load washers, people who complain their dishwasher isn't cleaning are either doing something wrong OR something is wrong with their machine. Trust me I've had some CRAPPY bottom of the line apartment grade dishwashers in my time and they did a fine job. However, they were cheaply built and extremely noisy.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 10:27PM
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I had a crappy bottom of the line dishwasher that did not clean. I don't know which monkey programmed the cycles on that thing but every single cycle was missing the interim rinse - the manual confirmed that by the way. Result: filthy water from the wash was carried over into the final rinse and left everything streaky and nasty. I finally had enough with running cycles twice, went on ebay and got a Bosch. Will never look back.

    Bookmark   August 23, 2014 at 11:31PM
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^Yuck! What brand? I guess I assumed that if the $200 dishwasher I had years could clean, anything could. I guess I'm wrong on that.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:29AM
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Have you looked at

Electrolux #1 there

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 1:15AM
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^Yup that is a totally new design they are importing from Italy. They are selling it both under their Electrolux and Frigidaire brands. I'm curious to hear some feedback from actual users, but from what I've heard so far it sounds like it should be a big improvement over their previous line.

Sadly, this will probably mean a loss of American jobs. I'm pretty sure this will replace the American made units. Instead of investing in their factory here like GE did and creating an entirely new kick-ass dishwasher, they are just dipping into their "global portfolio." The only factory here that they seem to care about is the one they just built in Memphis which the local government paid for almost entirely. And why was that factory built in the first place? Because they wanted cheaper labor than the older plant in Canada! They probably didn't go to Mexico only because the government there couldn't give them a sweeter relocation deal than Memphis, and because they've had shipping/cartel issues with their laundry and refrigeration factories in Juarez.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 2:01AM
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It's really hard to compare DW cleaning. Some of them really do better than others, but it depends so much on the hardness of the water (some higher end models adjust for that), the detergent, how overstuffed the DW is and so many other factors that they'd make the laughable side by side oven tests look downright plausible.

There are many threads on detergent here, and it matters more than ever.

That said, the ugly old Whirlpool that came with my house cleaned amazingly well with the gentlest, most eco-secosensitive detergent I could find. It made the dishes absolutely sparkle, like on a commercial.

Due to many factors requiring compromise, I ended up with a GE Monogram (as far as I know, same as the top GE) 4 years ago. It's fine. Good enough, anyway. Not shiny and sparkly. It does very well with plastic containers thrown in over the tops of the small dishes and glasses, and lots of bottom rack dishes squeezed in where they don't really belong. But it doesn't remove little stuck on bits of lettuce or mustard that has dried onto a knife blade, even when these have plenty of room and exposure to the spray arms. Perhaps a different cycle would do a better job for those things, but I use the one that gets everything dry. A different detergent might help the mustard. Generally, I just try to remove gunk (not pre-wash, but wipe or rinse rather than scrape) before it goes in, especially if it's going to sit a couple of days and dry out.

Other machines have a better washing action, but require you to place each piece very carefully and not stuff in those last couple of items.

There really is a difference in washing ability. I don't know of any reliable way to test for it, however, because it really is about your dishes, your water and your detergent, and the results can vary widely.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 2:43AM
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Yuck! What brand?

I don't know. It's some made in China dishwasher that is sold by many, many manufacturers - I have even seen it sold as GE and Whirlpool.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 12:40PM
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