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Dishwashers

Sunday, 18 June 2006 | Tags: , , , , ,

Some say that the dishwasher has revolutionized the kitchen and freed people from the sink. While a fantastic benefit, is such freedom worth over $2000? We find out if there is a difference between machines of varying prices. The experts confirm that it's all in the spray.

The Basics

  • Dishwashers range from about $400 to $2000 Canadian dollars. The experts recommend spending a minimum of $600 or $700 to ensure a quality machine that could last up to 15 years.

  • Stainless steel washers are slightly more expensive but will last over 20 years.

  • Dishwashers come with so many features these days. The most important features to look for are two spray arms and water pressure.

  • Also keep in mind the following features:

    • There should be at least three wash cycles: light, normal and heavy. Other choices may also include rinse/hold, pot scrubber, china crystal and drying with or without heat.

    • A filter: the outer one should be coarse in order t catch large food bits. The inner filter should be fine to catch smaller particles. Some must be removed and cleaned manually, while others are self-cleaning.

    • A dirt sensor feature is supposed to adjust water according to how dirty the dishes are. It is an expensive feature, both on the dishwasher as well as your hydro bill, and it doesn’t necessarily mean your dishes will be better cleaned.

    • Different levels or tiers can help improve the clean. The more places the water sprays from, the cleaner the dishes will be.

    • A sanitization feature heats water over 140F and requires more energy. However as soon as you touch them to remove them from the dishwasher, they’re no longer sanitized.

    • Soundproofing is available on higher quality products and helps the machine run quieter.

    • Electronic touch pads, digital time display, delay timers, and child safety functions are other options to consider, but all will drive up the price.

    • Adjustable racks are very handy, especially if you like to wash pots and pans. Some machines have stemware holders for wine glasses.

  • Check the energy usage of the washer.

    • Good washers require about 90 minutes to complete a cycle while others can take up to 2 hours.

    • Most models use between 5 and 11 gallons of water. The lower the number, the more energy-efficient the washer.

  • Almost all of dishwashers on the market are made by General Electric, Maytag and Whirlpool and sold under flagship and associated brands. The main difference between the machines is in water, energy use and noise level. There are some basic types to choose from:

    • The built-in washer is mounted under the countertop and hooked directly in to the plumbing.

    • The portable washer is on wheels and hooks up to the sink with a hose. Portables are generally simpler in features. They’re great for a rental suite or limited space.

    • European-made washers tend to be quieter but more expensive than American.

    • Compact dishwashers are available for smaller spaces or single-person usage.

Other Considerations

  • To keep your dishwasher working for a long life, follow these care tips:

    • Remove large food bits before loading and then make sure everything is securely loaded to prevent banging and chipping

    • Don’t block water sprays with large items

    • Water temperature can affect cleaning and drying results (causing problems like spotting); should be set to 140F.

    • Make sure you use the appropriate detergent for your machine, amount of soil on the dishes and water hardness.

    • Select best cycle for each load.

    • To improve drying results use a rinse-aid like jet-dry, which also reduces spotting.

  • If your washer is no longer working properly, get it repaired by a professional. Keep in mind that if repairs are going to cost half or more than the washer itself, it might be best to buy a new one.

TEST CRITERIA

We went to a restaurant with 3 new dishwashers to compare their washing capabilities. We tested:

  • GE (no frills, electric heat coil to dry dishes): $400
  • Bosch (sturdy stainless steel tub, dries with condensation): $900
  • Miele (cools down dishes after they dry): $2200

Wash Test

To keep things equal we used the normal cycle on each machine and didn’t pre-rinse the dishes.

  • The GE was noisy while running and left gunk in the bottom of the glasses.

  • The Bosch was quieter and there was no leftover sediment. Everything was clean and dry, with the exception of lipstick left on some of the glasses.

  • The Miele was also quiet and proved to be superior. All of the dishes came out sparkling clean.

OUR TOP PICK

The Miele was the hands down winner when it came to cleaning and features. However, the lower priced Bosch was comparable apart from a few tough stains that would need pre-rinsing.

 

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