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Help me choose a new dishwasher

My KitchenAid (Architect series, I think), what I thought was a workhorse, has developed problems--broken hinge (guessing a problem not w/ the DW but perhaps the installation five years ago) and, suddenly, much worse, dishes on the top rack are not getting clean. Before this, I loved it, its 3 racks, its quiet operation, and excellent cleaning. I had loved my previous KA and simply replaced it w/the newer version when we had to redo again post-Katrina.

But, now, rather than pay for an expensive repair and after reading a lot of negative reviews of KA, I'm considering making a change. I'd like to spend in the neighborhood of $1500 (less if I could find something I liked. : )

I use it every day, often twice, and when I'm entertaining, it gets run 3, sometimes 4X. I want quiet and excellent cleaning, a few options for different kinds of jobs. I want to be able to put inexpensive glassware in, but will continue to wash fine stemware and china by hand. I love having a third cutlery rack (which I've gotten used to using for draining lettuce, herbs, etc. when the DW isn't in use.)

I've read a lot of what's here on CH. I've looked online at Miele and Viking and seen some possibilities. I've ruled out Bosch. I could possibly be talked into a KA again. Wonder if anyone has a machine that fits these criteria--or nearly does--that you really love.

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  1. I high end Kenmore from Sears would be a good value and great performer at a lot less cost.

    Asko, Bosch, Miele all seem to have a lot of great models to choose from. What brands are available local to you?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Sid Post

      Well, I can get (or order) any of these brands.

      Do you recommend any particular model?

    2. If you want a good quality dishwasher not made by the Whirlpool company, try Bosch. I would not get a Miele unless you are totally sure you can get reliable service.
      One more hint on dishwashers. Several years ago a government mandate removed phosphates from dishwasher detergents and the cleanliness suffered greatly. However you can still buy Cascade with phosphates as it is still made for the restaurant industry. Or, you can buy biochemical phosphates (made for homeopathic medicine) and use 3 pills per load. That's what we do. Try it. You will see a big difference. Also, always keep the rinse aid topped off.

      1. I see you have ruled out Bosch. Too bad as they are very good quality machines. Personally, I would buy a Whirlpool or KA (made by Whirlpool). They use higher quality parts. I would not buy a Viking.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Enigma3

          Agree about Bosch. The Bosch we bought in January was the best dw we ever had.

        2. Just curious, NCW, but why did you rule out Bosch? I don't have a lot of experience with good brands (I'm a renter, and most apartments have had cheap models), but the owner of the house where I now live put in a Bosch dishwasher this year and so far it seems to do a great job.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

            Strange--I thought I had posted in response to Enigma3 about that. I did write a response, but I guess it's somewhere out in the ether . . .

            At any rate, re Bosch: I know three people who have Bosch DWs in their kitchens and all dislike them--one complains a lot about the racks, but it's my neighbor's machine that has almost never worked in all the years (nine or ten) that we've been neighbors that has scared me off Bosch. They're constantly having it repaired. It's not working now, and they say they've given up on it and are washing by hand. (Why they haven't replaced it, I don't know. Their oven has also been not working for a couple of years. Different priorities, obviously, lol.)
            So I know that's anecdotal, but since the only people I know personally who own Bosches don't love them, that's made an impression.

            1. re: nomadchowwoman

              SIL asked a friend in the business what to get and he said ASKO. She's had it a decade and still loves it.

              1. re: mcf

                I'll second the rec for ASKO. We bought a "Viking" dishwasher to match our stove in 2005, and it is actually made by ASKO (just with the Viking paint job and nameplate). It has been trouble-free all this time without a single repair, and we typically use it every day.

          2. Quiet, brilliant washing quality, separate cutlery tray, a huge variety of programmable wash options, gentle enough to run Riedel stemware safely and strong enough to remove the haze on our cheap stemware left behind by our previous KA jet engine, did I mention nearly silent and no service calls over a year has been our Miele La Perla model dishwasher. We use the Miele dissolvable tabs, their rinse aid and their water softening salt dialed into reflect the mineral content reported by our local water utility and the results are far superior to what our KA did that we wished we had made the changeover years ago. Local service is readily available and we used them for our installation but haven't needed them for any reason since.

            6 Replies
            1. re: ThanksVille

              The La Perla has apparently been discontinued, but there are a couple of other models that look very nice and are priced between $1000-1500. I have a question about the detergents, etc.: do the Mieles require Miele products? Are water softening agents necessary if one's water is "hard"?

              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                Sorry to be so slow in responding. I don't believe Miele has a corner on great detergent, rinse aid or softening salt; however, I do know they do pretty thorough testing and tweaking of the consumables they put their label on because the 'fit' between hardware and consumable is critical to successful outcomes. I'm not sure if the Miele products cost triple a wash load over the costjoe specials but I am certain our dishes come out perfect and our stemware has never been more brilliant clean, free from spot, streaks, etched films, etc. since we got the Miele and started out with trial samples of all their products. Our water here is not particularly 'hard' but we researched our utility company's mineral content (available online to anyone) then dialed inthe setup program to reflect that rate and it meters out an appropriate amount of salts into the wash and rinse flow. With these results no reason to change from the Miele products. By the way, we have used the Miele conditioner treatment about every three months to clean and lubricate gaskets, etc. as a sort of preventive maintenance treatment. Snake oil? Who knows but the interior is impeccable, SS brilliant when the LED lights illuminate the interior and there has never been any hint of an odor. I pull the filter screen out weekly and wash it in the sink using an old toothbrush to clean the reverse side....takes all of 30 seconds. Again, can't see any reason to change

                1. re: ThanksVille

                  Thanks--that is very helpful.
                  I saw Mieles all the time when I was in Germany and Austria, even had one a place we rented, and they were impressive.

                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                    I have a "top of the line" Miele dishwasher and it is both the most expensive and aggravating dishwasher that I've ever owned.

                    All dishes must be thoroughly pre-rinsed as there is no built-in food grinder. In my old KA, I never rinsed any dishes including roasting pans and everything came out spotless. Here if you leave one piece of cilantro on a cutting board it ends up on the inside of your coffee cup at the end of the cycle.

                    But my biggest gripe is that it will not dry the dishes.

                    Despite numerous service calls from the Miele repairman, using Miele product$ in the machine, and trying every suggestion mentioned on online resources such as Gardenweb, there is no way to get the dishes to come out dry at the end of the cycle, (with the exception of plates). Everything else comes out SOAKED, especially plastic. It takes at least two kitchen towels to dry a full load. Consequently, everyone in the house hates unloading it and avoids that chore to the extent possible.

                    I also hate the Miele stainless steel finish. Every fingerprint or drop of water shows, unlike my prior Kitchenaid stainless appliances. I also have four Miele wall ovens, but that's another story.

                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                      Hello, MrsPatmore!
                      I am sorry to hear about the problems with your Miele...how frustrating!

                      The last time our Miele needed service, our beloved serviceman asked if the dishes were coming out dry enough. Actually, I have had no concerns about this issue, but he said that he could and would enter some data into the dishwasher and update that feature to improve the drying power. We have an '06 Optima about which we have few complaints.

                      Although I do not notice a difference, all of our dishes -- yes, always with the exception of some plastic items -- come out dry. At the end of the cycle, I do crack the door open to let the dishes cool; this helps with the drying as well.

                      Perhaps the water in your machine is not hot enough? Perhaps something is not draining completely? I would persist and ask your serviceman about your concerns.

                      Regarding your stainless steel exterior, there are several effective products on the market to clean the stainless finish. I find the stainless more of a problem on the fridge, but I do agree with you that these stainless appliances are not maintenance free.

                      1. re: liu

                        Wow! Liu, thank you for this information. The repairman told us there was nothing he could do, "all Miele dishwashers will not dry dishes." (And yes, we did check the temperature of our water heater at his suggestion). I'm going to call customer service tomorrow to get to the bottom of it. If there is an adjustment to be made, the repairman should have known that. BTW, this repairman has been here at least six times (for we have eight Miele appliances) and each time, I've been told that I just have to "learn to live with it." If that is not true, I'm going to be some kind of hot! Those service calls were not cheap!

                        I'll report back with the results of my further investigation. In the meanwhile, thank you for taking the time to respond. Regarding the stainless steel, I've tried a few "stainless cleaner" products that didn't seem to work any better than Windex or 409. Is there a brand that you recommend? Thanks so much for your comments!

            2. Our Bosch is about 2 years old. We run it at least once a day. Most times in the short cycle which is really wonderfully efficient! No complaints here. Very quiet. We had some spotting issues, but Bosch recommended Finish detergent with the Powerball Tabs. Problem solved. The only problem so far was a hinge on one of the four little doors of the utensil basket. Bosch would only sell a complete new basket to me, not just one of the doors. Very chintzy of them. I don't like their attitude, but they make a wonderful machine.

              1. I just replaced my old dishwasher....after keeping it alive for a few years, my friendly parts guy recommended KA, and Maytag, and to specifically stay away from LG, Bosch, and Viking, unless I want to keep seeing him. The hi-zoot Maytag sure does run quietly, however the hush comes at a price, and not just $$$. This thing runs for almost 2 hours...another trait the parts guy confirmed. $1500? You can spend a little more than half that and have an awesome machine, unless you have a real itch to spend. And you run it 4 times when company is over? Aside from the run time, you're actually loading and unloading the stuff 4 times? Do your guests ever see you?!!!

                2 Replies
                1. re: BiscuitBoy

                  No, BB, I don't run the machine 4X WHILE the guests are over but 2-3X during the day or two I'm prepping and once or twice after the dinner, depending on # of guests, dishes, etc. My point is simply that I use my DW a lot.

                  I'm budgeting $1500 b/c, yes, I'm considering high end machines (even if it ends up not being the highest end brand). There are certain features I want. Of course, if I can get what I want for less, I'll be happy. I have no "itch" for anything but the machine best suited to me/my kitchen habits: My relationship w/my DW is almost as important as my relationship w/my DH : )

                  1. re: nomadchowwoman

                    hmm, the relationship analogy is interesting...for me,a simple girl with a big heart who works hard and is unpretentious is paramount. The hi maint lady with the tan, jimmy choos, vuitton bag, and collagen, not so much. I wouldn't get all hung up "sexy" brands, as they almost never deliver

                2. Coming late to the party. Sorry.

                  I would offer the following thoughts for anyone who is considering a DW purchase:

                  If you're well endowed financially and just have to spend $1500 on a DW, it's your money -- go for it. But me, I think that spending that much on a DW is crazy. There are many DWs available for 1/3 of that, and IMO the high end ones are simply not worth three times the price on any rational grounds, even if they have extra "features." The extra cost goes mainly for the inefficiencies of low-volume production and advertizing, high design, and do-dads of dubious value.

                  Fixing low volume fancy DWs, like low volume fancy cars, is also painful for the wallet, mostly because the high-end dealers who sell them are accustomed to dealing with high-end clients who pay high prices for things and don't really care what things cost, and because they usually don't have much competition from local fix-it firms. Basically it's a racket.

                  All manufacturers have changed their designs and performance over the years. I would not give much weight to comments like "our ____ has performed well for 20, 10, even 5, years." The machines sold today by ____ are in no way the same as those old ones, nor are the machines sold by other manufacturers that others say to avoid. Give more weight to those who have made a recent purchase of the model you are interested in. Many brands have been bought and sold many times over the years, and who is actually manufacturing any specific machine can be quite opaque.

                  When all is said and done, most DWs perform pretty much the same. They clean the dishes. Quietness is nice, but you can have that with machines at many price levels, certainly if you're careful, or just put an extra piece of insulation around it when they install the thing. I guess stainless drums are nice, but I really don't know why. Mine (I have 2) have plastic drums and the dishes come out just fine provided I load them with a modicum of care. And they are quiet enough for me -- I don't notice them running, and we have a very open house.

                  If you want to be totally confused about DWs, and read all the contradictory opinions, go over to the Garden Web and start reading.

                  1. I am constantly amazed that most people are not familiar with Fisher Paykel dishwasher drawers. Not only are they VERY easy to use, they are energy efficient, attractive and easy to use. Two drawers (or one) fit into your old dw cabinet. Using the "old fashioned" oversized water-waster is something for a family of 10 perhaps, but check out the dw drawers....

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: vitaminD

                      Did you check out Miele's dish washer....they seem to have variety of collections...which are in the price range of $1500 ( and above too)

                      may be sometimes going to appliance stores and checking out for a floor sample can provide an affordable yet good brands...

                      1. re: vitaminD

                        I know one couple who has them and is very happy with them. But I've never seen them in any showrooms or stores I've been to, which may explain (here anyway) why people aren't really familiar with them.

                        1. re: vitaminD

                          When I was shopping, I was turned off by the preponderance of bad reviews for the brand in general and the dw drawers in particular.

                          1. re: mcf

                            I think the drawer thing is a great idea, tho outrageously priced by both the trendy and everyday brands...also a few retrofit issues in a pre-existing kitchen

                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                              I like the drawer idea, too, that's why I was reading reviews a few years back.

                          2. re: vitaminD

                            Do any of the dish drawers dry the dishes?

                          3. I owned a store that sold and serviced major appliances for over 25 years and have seen many changes in that industry. Some thoughts.
                            I would rate the manufacturers (on quality and washability) as follows:
                            Miele (if you can get reliable service), Bosch and any Whirlpool brand are the clear top three. They use higher quality parts. GE Monogram comes next. They use good parts in the Monogram line. The Whirlpool brands are Kitchen Aid, Maytag, and Whirlpool. Since taking over Maytag they have put Whirlpool technonlgy and parts into all Maytags. Personally I would not buy any other brand. Many manufacturers build products to break down sooner than in years past. Also, there is most definitely a big difference in washability based on technology used. Any dishwasher (other than Hobart) worth its salt will have a normal cycle of at least 90 minutes. That's the reality. I always use high heat and air dry. High heat is an absolute must to get dishes clean. All dishwashers operate best when the water is around 165 degrees.
                            The sulfates issue is a biggie. Just buy one box of Cascade with sulfates and see for yourself. Rinse aid is a must for clean glassware. Especially if you do not use detergent with sulfates. Also, do not overload your dishwasher. Not good for cleanliness.
                            You can buy a good Whirlpool for around $600 that will do a good job. But I like the clean look with the hidden controls at the top. This, in a good dishwasher, will run $1000 or more for a good quality machine.
                            Hope that helps.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: Enigma3

                              Thanks very much--all this is very helpful. And after calling around, I have my doubts about reliable Miele service--so thanks for tipping me off to that issue. If you don't mind, I wonder if you can answer a few questions. TIA.

                              Would you spend $600-700 to repair a 5 1/2 yo Kitchen Aid?

                              Everyone (but the folks I know) seems to love Bosch so I decided I should reconsider. But as I've asked around about them, I keep being told that they don't have a drying element. From what I've read, they rely on "condensation drying." Is this really effective?

                              Also, the DW repairman told me that the liquid rinsing agent I'm using is "counteracting"(his word) the dishwashing tablets I'm using (Finish) b/c those tablets already include the rinse agent. He said when I use both, I'm causing the glassware to get fogged/filmed. Does that sound right?

                              Finally, what are these biochemical phosphate pills (i.e., do they have a brand name?) and where would one buy them?

                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                Since the Bosch went into the house where I live, we have generally tried to use the Finish tablets because that is the brand Bosch recommends for its machines. They also recommend using Finish rinse aid. Apparently, the installer said that the latter isn't really necessary, especially because we don't have hard water. However, my experience has been that using the rinse aid along with the Finish tabs (even though they have it) has yielded fewer water spots and no filming on glassware. Don't know how it varies by brand of DW.

                                As for the drying, there is often pooling of a small amount of water on the bottoms of upturned mugs or bowls in the top rack (i.e., concave surfaces facing the overhead spray) when the DW is first opened. That isn't different than any other DW I've used, but YMMV.

                                1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                  I bought a new DW about 2 years ago. Had not read Enigma's post, obviously, but based on Consumers Report had narrowed down my search to Bosch & KA/ Whirlpool (including Kenmore, which as noted by JohnB are generally Whirlpool products). At the time, I was replacing a 21 year old Kenmore. I ultimately bought another KA.

                                  My search criteria were different than yours: I am energy-conscious and/or cheap, depending upon your perspective, so I had virtually always used the feature on my old KA that allowed me not to heat-dry, and continue to do so on the new one. In fact, that was one of the reasons, besides reliabilty & price, that Bosch & KA were the only brands I considered. I would assume that the Bosch condense-dry works similarly to that feature on the KA. As Caitlin says, you will have some moisture remaining on some top-shelf items, especially if they are plastic or have any sort of concave bottom surface (i.e., the surface that is facing up when you place them face-down on the topshelf). Using Rinse Aid definitely reduces that issue. And, for our lifestyle it does not matter. I typically run the DW after dinner, empty it in the morning, and leave any wet items in the dishdrainer on the counter, where they are all dry within an hour or so.

                                  For me, the trade-offs between the Bosch & KA products -- and I was focused on machines in the $600-$800 range -- were that the topshelf of the KA machine was more easily adjustable up & down, which is a feature we use a lot, vs. the Bosch product that has an automatic shut-off if the machine is not draining properly, so that the water will not flood out onto the floor. The latter feature matters to us because we live in a very old house, and the plumbing sometimes crumps out, which is a problem if the DW floods the maple flooring. Ultimately we went with the KA because the flooding issue is sporadic (maybe 1 every 2 years), whereas the adjustability of the top shelf is something that matters on a weekly basis.

                                  We've been very satisfied with the KA, with the exception that we find the configuration of the top shelf rack to be somewhat difficult to use. Until I figured out how to load it exactly right, we had a couple of glasses that broke because they tipped over while the machine was in operation.

                                  KA also recommends Finish. Since getting the new machine, I almost always use the Finish tablets and rinse-aid.

                                  1. re: masha

                                    Correction to my post above, I was replacing a 21-year old KA.

                                2. re: Enigma3

                                  "The Whirlpool brands are Kitchen Aid, Maytag, and Whirlpool."

                                  Also Kenmore (Sears). Many Kenmore models are made by Whirlpool, unless things have changed recently -- compare the inner workings of a Kenmore with the Whirlpool model down the line from it in the (Sears) store and it will be quite obvious.

                                  1. re: Enigma3

                                    I would love to have a Hobart in my home kitchen ... in my dreams. Great info, thank you!

                                  2. Forgot Fisher Paykel. If you like the look, they are excellent quality. Right up there with Miele.

                                    1. I just want to add that the single worst thing about so many new dws is the flatware basket running down the side... so everyone pops open the door and bunches up dirty flatware in the front corner. OK if you don't mind rearranging every single piece before turning wash cycle on.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: mcf

                                        The basket along the right side of my KA is one of the things I like about it. It's just a matter of personal preference. Most of the flatware gets loaded with the basket fully exposed. It's not a problem to add a couple of pieces later that go in the front corner.

                                      2. Every dishwashers is the same: it's just a watertight box with a pump connected to a couple of arms that shoot water at your dishes. I've had experience with all levels from the very highest end to the lowest. Here's my advice. Check with your neighbors to see if any of them love their dishwashers, otherwise, stick to middle-priced, widely available dishwashers from American manufacturers, with a minimum number of cycles. The more expensive the dishwasher, the more likely it is to break down and the longer you'll wait for parts. If it's a Sears or a Whirlpool, they'll have the parts on the truck to fix it; if it's Miele or another European make, the parts will usually come across the Atlantic on a very slow boat. Consumer Reports rates them by quietness, just pick the quietest one you can afford. If you really entertain a lot, get two $750 dishwashers rather than one $1,500 model.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Big Eater

                                          Better yet, get two $375 models rather than one for $750. That's what I did, more or less, and it (they) have served me well. Noise has never been a problem, and one can always add some insulation left over from the construction job if one wants to.

                                        2. I bought a KA a couple of years ago and really regret it. I bought it primarily because I loved the idea of a separate rack for flatware. There's only one little problem: it does not leave enough space for tall glasses on the rack below. I'm not talking about giant ice-tea glasses either, just six-inch tall tumblers that we use all the time. Ultimately, we had to remove the flatware rack.

                                          There are other things I dislike about the machine as well. They want you to load all the glasses leaning sideways, which is awkward to do. There are wasted dead spaces in the upper rack where you can't fit much of anything.

                                          I liked the fact that there seemed to be so many slots for plates in the bottom rack, as opposed to in the Maytag that we replaced. But it turns out that there is very little flexibility for loading anything other than plates down there.

                                          I do like that it is very quiet, which is important because it's in a kitchen that opens to the family room. The quiet is also important given that the machine takes three hours to do a load.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: bitchincook

                                            I don't understand this. My KA has about 11 inches of room from the bottom of the lower tray to the rotating sprayer under the upper tray. The flatware is not a factor, as it is in a long, narrow basket along the right side. You must have an unusual configuration.

                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              I think she is speaking of the feature with some of the premium KAs where there is a flat basket-like receptacle that lies horizontally at the top of the DW, above the top shelf which is intended for large utensils, especially with plastic handles that you might not want to place in the bottom shelf. Like you, I have a more basic model, with a flatware basket on the bottom only. For plastic handled utensils, I just fit them in the top shelf, or sometimes place them in the basket on the bottom as I never run the Heat-dry cycle.

                                              I do agree that the angle of the dividers on the top shelf complicates how glasses are placed.

                                            2. re: bitchincook

                                              IMO the glasses leaning sideways deal is a positive feature. Most glassware is slightly cupped on the bottom, meaning that if it is loaded straight up (and you don't use the drying cycle as I don't because it is not really necessary and is energy-wasteful), you end up with a little pool of water on the bottom of each glass, which easily spills on the glass and dishes below when you unload, thus forcing you to hand dry various items, all of which is a PITA. Leaning glasses prevents this.

                                              Three hours to do a load is common in modern machines, in order to clean dishes while using less water and energy than older models. This too is a good thing.

                                              1. re: johnb

                                                In theory, the requirement that glasses are loaded on a slight angle may make sense in terms of elimination of water that might pool in a concave bottom (like you, I never use the heat-dry feature). In practice, in the first few weeks that we had our new KA (2+ years ago), we lost a couple of glasses to breakage because we'd not placed them in a stable position and they toppled over when the DW was in operation. I did 2 things to correct that issue: (a) I became more adept at loading the DW in a manner to be sure that glasses were placed in a stable manner; and (b) a bought new a set of everyday glasses that had thicker side walls so they were less susceptible to breakage.

                                                Still, I would prefer to have the configuration of the top rack on the KA DW that this one replaced (purchased in 1989); regardless that the angle for the glasses resulted in a bit of water pooling in some occasions, I liked that rack better because the glasses were more stable and because it had more usable capacity. Really my only complaint about my new KA.

                                                (Yes the cycle on this one takes longer but only about 1 hour, compared to 1/2 hour, if you don't use the heat-dry. As Johnb states, the longer cycles is the result of energy-efficiency improvements and is true of all modern DWs.)

                                            3. We've had 4 Miele's so far in various homes, 2 in our current. Some observations I would make having owned and used many dishwashers.

                                              Nothing comes close. They wash very well, are quiet and service (no matter where we've lived) is almost immediate and superb. Reliability is ok, they do go down and parts are expensive to very expensive. They last forever. Our old one is still in use at a friends, ones we've owned in Europe probably had 20 years on them. They all look like new and work just as well as they day they were bought.

                                              They have started coming down in price. The last one we bought was the top of the line model and cost less than their midrange washer we bought about 8 years ago. The new one is noisier and not as well laid out as the old one. Its pretty obvious to us they are more focused on selling quantity these days are have joined the "rack as many dishes as you own in there -- as long as they are all Corel dishes". We're not particularly pleased with our new Miele. The dealer told me they had had a lot of complaints about that washer and it was quickly discontinued. If you look at a Miele, look closely from the perspective of the dishes you use. We had to change all of ours, either too high for the glasses rack or too thick to fit between the tines. Otherwise they are a different dimension in dish washers -- if that's of interest to you.

                                              We have a Bosch at our Swiss home. We occupy that place a max of 2 months every year and that's the only reason it still exists. Buy an opening price point Whirlpool, not much different.