Which dishwasher?
October 30, 2017 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Picking a dishwasher. Our cabinet space is too narrow for a full-size model. Should we: demolish cabinets to fit a new 24", or put in a new 18", used 18", or portable? Snowflakes within.

I guess I'm an adult now. Our kitchen needs a reno, but it probably won't happen for a few years.
We need a dishwasher. Two adults, eventually planning to have a baby.

Cabinet width is 22 inches. Dishwashers come in either 18 or 24 inch widths. Ugh.

Which dishwasher? Four choices:

1. New 24" - requires busting up our kitchen drawers to make space, and getting new custom narrow drawers to replace them. Seems wasteful since we will be redoing the whole kitchen in a few years... but when we do, we can keep this dishwasher.

2. New 18" - $600. Will it be too small? Some people seem to prefer smaller as they can fill it every day rather than running it partially empty. We'll try to sell it in a few years when we redo the kitchen.

3. Used 18" - $300. Craigslist: "4 month old Danby in good shape, under warranty til 2020, warranty can be transferred to new owner". Is it significantly more likely to leak because it's used?

4. Portable - $600. Our kitchen layout will make it annoyingly cumbersome.

Also, if anyone has any brand or model recommendations, please share! We care mostly that it's energy and water efficient, will sanitize baby stuff, and doesn't leave gritty crud on the dishes. Noise isn't a bid deal.
posted by pseudostrabismus to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
We have an 18 inch dishwasher - we're two adults and a toddler who eat dinner at home every night, and I cook that meal about half the time (otherwise take out). With the smaller dishwasher, we run it about every other night and probably both nights on the weekend, so it's really a great size for us. Ours is a Whirlpool - costs about $600 at Home Depot (for white or black, the SS seems to cost more). It's about a year old now and we haven't had any issues so far.

My vote is to spring for the new one partly because I think the Whirlpool is a better brand than the Danby. If you found a Whirlpool used and not that old, I might take the risk.
posted by vunder at 12:10 PM on October 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

We have a 3 year old Whirlpool 18" stainless steel model bought new. Highly recommend going with new rather than demolishing kitchen cabinets. Danby isn't a bad brand but it's not great, either.
posted by Issithe at 12:13 PM on October 30, 2017

A lot depends upon the "few years." If it's 2-5 years, then Buy the 24" dish washer and alter one cabinet. If it's 5-10 years, then probably limp by with the used 18", as it won't be too wasteful to buy a new dishwasher at that point.

We had an 18" dishwasher at one place - you'll hate that small, but impossibly loud, dishwasher so much that $300 will feel like a smack in the face; $600 will feel worse. There are no "good" 18" dishwashers. Well, we were a family of 5 - we ran it nightly, and often twice or three times a day on weekends to eliminate backlog of dishes that were barely fitting in our tiny sink.

If you don't already have a timeline / budget for savings in place for the kitchen remodel, then assume it's 5+ years away.

But, buy a dishwasher with a good return policy; we needed to destroy the (already cracked) cabinets to get our new dishwasher in place because they put tile and grout in front of the dish washer with 0 additional height allowance from the cabinet. We planned to replace the countertop and sink. But once we opened stuff up enough to do it, we "ok, why not"'ed enough, did a bit of planning and ended up doing our full (excluding appliances) kitchen remodel ahead of our nebulous timeline of "eventually." The sink and countertop ended up getting returned for something more permanent.
posted by nobeagle at 12:16 PM on October 30, 2017

As for the efficiency, the Energy Star rating on the Whirlpool is moderate for its size - for us, the smaller size feels like it's probably overall more practical from that standpoint.

I've been happy with the results - no gritty film - but I've been less happy with some dishwashing soap than others. I also use the rinseaid stuff. This is my first dishwasher as an adult, so I don't really have a lot to compare to, but I've been happy with it.

When we were still using plastic bottles for the baby, I found that sometimes they would flip and then fill with water during the cycle, so that was a little gross. I would try to find a way to pack them in tightly together so they don't flip if you can.

Oh and it's not very loud. It's not like a silent high end Bosch, but it doesn't cause a racket.

I think if any of us were home and prepping meals 3 meals a day during the week, the 18inch might feel small.
posted by vunder at 12:17 PM on October 30, 2017

Hm. I have an 18" Kenmoore that's been going strong for about 7 years. I don't think it's louder than any other standard dishwasher I've had over the years (but I've never had fancy appliances). I did exactly what you are doing, pulled out a single cabinet (actually a set of drawers - we have another set and I was worried about losing drawers but we've managed). I did this about a year before we had our first (and only) baby. We used to run it every few days. Now it's daily with the whole family dishes thing. We are also working on a plan for a kitchen reno and dang it if a full dishwasher just doesn't seem like the biggest space hog! I may go for another 18" just to have the storage space (and work space) for other things. We do generally wash our pots and pans nightly and there's always a few things that get handwashed so YMMV.
posted by amanda at 12:50 PM on October 30, 2017

Oh wait, correction, I just looked more closely and we have the Frigidaire brand, not the Whirpool. Specs are nearly identical.
posted by vunder at 1:23 PM on October 30, 2017

I have an 18" Frigidaire (I think) in my rented apartment; I think it's about 8 years old and it's going strong, not a fancy silent machine but not terribly loud. We are two adults/no kids, and once in a while we run it in the morning and then again in the evening (if we eat three full meals at home and bake cookies or something).

I am one of those who loves the 18-incher, because it never gets so full that it takes a long time to unload.
posted by mskyle at 1:38 PM on October 30, 2017


That is all.

[But basically, I grew up with one. Pain. In. The. You-know-what. My parents finally remodeled and the formerly 1-person kitchen is now a 3-person kitchen. You have to move it every time you do the dishes, which means your kitchen sink / whatever is next to your kitchen sink is no longer accessible. You have to attach the hose, which may or may not occasionally leak when you're in a rush and leave to do errands. Just please, don't.]
posted by DoubleLune at 1:45 PM on October 30, 2017

Agree that it depends how far away this renovation will be. I have a Bosch 18" which will cost you a bit more than the $600 but does a great job (you'll see in other dishwasher threads that people here are very happy with their Bosch). I don't know the other brand, but I think an ineffective dishwasher is not worth it. My friend commented that my Bosch seems to fit more than her full size dodgy brand dishwasher as it is designed better.
posted by AnnaRat at 1:46 PM on October 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

FWIW, we've had a Craigslisted Bosch in our vacation house for 2 years and it's running like a dream.
posted by sarajane at 2:42 PM on October 30, 2017

We put in an 18" Miele in our recent kitchen renovation.

It has been great so far-- much quieter and more effective than our old 24" whatever it was that came with the place. We usually run it every day (two adults), once in a while every two days. It gets all kind of gross cat food and whatnot off the dishes without trouble, and I like the silverware tray instead of the silverware basket.

It's more expensive for sure, but if you went that route and then later renovated and wanted something else you could craigslist it and get some $$$ back at least?
posted by little cow make small moo at 2:51 PM on October 30, 2017

Also adding, please get as good of a dishwasher as you can afford. I asked this question a couple of months ago and am happy to report that my new dishwasher washes sooooo much more effectively than the old one.
posted by sarajane at 3:00 PM on October 30, 2017

Do not under any circumstances get a GE.
FWIW, we went with a (full size) Bosch to replace it. It is quiet and effective.
posted by plinth at 5:59 PM on October 30, 2017

DoubleLune feels pretty strongly about portable dishwashers, but testifying in opposition: I love mine. Our kitchen is 100 years old, and all the counters -- ALL the counters would have to be replaced to fit a built-in. Our kitchen is large enough that when not in use the dishwasher sits to one side, and is a convenient place to stage ingredients or dump sacks as you come it. People lean against it to talk to me when I'm cooking. It's only hooked up to the sink for an hour and a half at a time; we've had no problems with leakage. Best features: 1) dirty dishes go in and stay out of sight until time to run it; 2) ... it's a dishwasher. Put in incredibly greasy dirty pans, take out shiny clean pans.

Agreeing that dishwashers aren't something to cheap on if you can possibly afford to go towards the high end.
posted by kestralwing at 9:03 PM on October 30, 2017

I'm another one who loves their portable dishwasher. I have this one. I bought a little rolling cart to put it on, and it tucks away into the corner of the kitchen. Every other day or so I run it, it hums along for 90 minutes, then my child unloads it.

My favorite thing about it, honestly, is that you don't have to bend over to load/unload. I hadn't realised just how annoying I found that until I didn't have to do it anymore, but the difference between loading a dishwasher at waist height and one at ankle height is *staggering*.

I've never had a problem with leaking or anything like that with this dishwasher, and I think it's worth noting that the portable dishwashers of even ten or fifteen years ago are nothing like those of today. Ten years ago I had a secondhand portable one, and it was so bad I rarely even use it because it was honestly easier to just wash the damn dishes myself. The one I have now is quieter, faster, easier to use, and gets things much cleaner. The technology has evolved, and is, in my opinion, well worth looking in to.
posted by mishafletch at 10:13 PM on October 30, 2017

We have an 18 inch Bosch and it's super quiet and awesome. Four people who eat most meals at home by far. We just run it every night.
posted by RedEmma at 7:19 AM on October 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

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