I need it to clean dishes, not tell me the weather this week
January 7, 2019 5:42 AM   Subscribe

I need a new dishwasher ASAP and am totally overwhelmed. Have you bought one recently? The "good" ones now feature digital bells and whistles, like setting it ahead on your phone, that I do not need. I thought I'd just ask the green instead of reading another hundred reviews ...

I need it to be as cheap as possible, but decent. The "Open Box" sales evidently are not available in my area when I click on them at Best Buy.
( I currently have a Bosch that came with the house a dozen years ago -- it died and is too expensive to repair; I didn't think it was so great anyway -- )
Have you bought a decent, basic, under $600 dishwasher in the last couple of years that loads well, cleans well, does not make a horrible racket and is just, well, normal and fine?
posted by nantucket to Home & Garden (23 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I generally check Wirecutter's recommendations for things like this - their Budget Pick (Maytag MDB4949SD) seems to be in your budget.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:48 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]

Previously, from May, responding to a request with a "preferred price range [of] from $500 to $800."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 5:55 AM on January 7

I have a basic Frigidaire and it's good. Gets clean, runs quiet. It cost less than Bosch etc. However if I had to do it again I probably would insist on a model with a silverware tray.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:57 AM on January 7

We bought that Wirecutter budget pick 4 months ago. It seems fine. The racks are flimsier and harder to pack efficiently than our old one, so you might check that out in person if it's likely to bother you. We're happy with it for the price.

The install instructions were inscrutable, so I would pay for the installation next time, but that probably goes for any model.
posted by john hadron collider at 6:02 AM on January 7

The one we got recently is above that range so I won't rec it specifically, but I will say that we did not go out of our way to buy it for quiet and yet it is eerily quiet - I think maybe new washers are just really quiet these days? You may not have to make any extra effort to hunt a quiet one down, is what I'm saying.

Agreed that self-installing was a bit of a nightmare; if I had it to do again I would shell out for installation.
posted by Stacey at 6:09 AM on January 7

I have a newish dishwasher with a feature I hate- it has too many metal prongs inside to hold the dishes upright.

The extra prongs mean it's really hard to wash irregularly shaped items like bowls, pots, and tupperware. It's basically designed to wash 60 plates and no bowls. And the prongs are made of metal coated in plastic, so if I remove any, the exposed metal will corrode.

So my advice is to make sure the design of the appliance gives you some leeway in how to load it!

Brand wise, I've used quite a few and they all work so I wouldn't overthink it. Recently I used a $400 model from Ikea that seemed great.

One more tip- powdered soap in a box works HUGELY better - and way cheaper - than the little pods!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:12 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]

We recently went through this, and were on the verge of getting a higher-end Miele , when an acquaintance who's an appliance repair professional recommended getting the cheapest American brand stainless steel tub dishwasher we could find, preferably one of the Whirlpool brands (Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid, Jenn Air, etc.), which he said tend to be more reliable. His opinion was that all dishwashers wash dishes just fine these days, but the oft-recommended European brands such as Bosch and Miele are much more expensive to fix when broken. He suggested stainless steel as they're more durable and retain heat longer, which makes for drier dishes. We ended up with the Whirlpool model that was on sale at our local Home Depot; it washes dishes well, is quiet enough, and hasn't required any kind of service.
posted by sid at 6:30 AM on January 7 [3 favorites]

I did a bunch of research a while back and I believe Bosch came out on top (from my perspective) with the best "wash engine" I'm recalling this from memory but I believe most manufacturers have one "wash engine" and then build out their models with different extra features at different price points. Some features contribute to cleaner dishes like additional cycle programming but most are comfort/convenience features like quieter running, different rack configuration, timers and other wizbang stuff not related to actually cleaning dishes. I never ended up buying a new one but if I had it would have been a mid to low range Bosch.
posted by jmsta at 6:35 AM on January 7

In the previous question linked above by Mr.Know-it-some, I had recommended the Frigidaire Gallery dishwasher. (An earlier model, I guess, but I don't know what the differences are.)

As of this month, I've had it for four years, and it's been great.

Pros: Cleans well; quiet; controls are hidden when the door is closed, giving a clean look; both racks have prongs that swing up or down to accommodate large or small items; stainless steel front is very resistant to fingerprints (I also have the matching refrigerator, and it stays fingerprint-free as well).

Cons: Tub is plastic, not stainless steel (if that matters, but plastic may contribute to it being quiet); hidden controls mean you can't see where it is in its cycle (although that's not something I care about); there seemed to be a batch of reviews a few years ago complaining of various failures due to defective manufacturing, but I haven't had any issues.
posted by The Deej at 6:35 AM on January 7

We have a Whirlpool dishwasher that I'm happy with. It's a few years old, but this one (WDTA50SAHW) seems like the current equivalent, and is well reviewed. This one has a silverware rack that can mount on the door or sit in the lower rack, which seems like a nice feature that ours doesn't have (ours is lower rack only).
posted by Kriesa at 6:36 AM on January 7

I think maybe new washers are just really quiet these days

All but the absolute cheapest models are now significantly quieter than comparable models were 10-20 years ago.
posted by Candleman at 6:53 AM on January 7

I think this is actually the previously Mr.Know-it-some intended to link. I note with some amusement I'm in both threads. In 2016 I complained about our crappy old dishwasher but said it still got most of our dishes clean and concluded "literally any new dishwasher should do the job". In the thread from this past May I sang the praises of the Bosch I bought in 2017. It's over budget for you, but it is indeed still awesome. The cheaper Ascenta models from Bosch should still get the dishes just as clean, but as I said in 2016, literally any new dishwasher should do the job.

One important thing to consider is how much you care about drying cycles. European style dishwashers (like Bosch) use a condensing cycle to dry the dishes, but they rely on rinse aid to make it work and that cycle doesn't really get plastics dry. If you think rinse aid is an abomination and/or you want your plastic stuff to get more dry as part of the cycle, you will be happier with an American style dishwasher with a (less energy efficient) heated drying cycle. Newer Bosch models (which are actually manufactured in the USA for sale here anyway) do offer an "extra dry" option with supplementary heating, but it seems silly to pay extra to restore the feature a cheaper washer includes by default. We don't have that much plastic, we already have a drying rack next to the sink, and the other features of the Bosch won out for us, but that does seem to be a common complaint from other people.
posted by fedward at 7:23 AM on January 7

We have this Samsung in our current house. We sought it out after our previous experiences with the Samsung in our old house. We love it. Depending on how old your current dishwasher is, there might be a few more bells and whistles, but we're able to ignore them just fine and get a basic wash. Our kitchen is open to the family room, the sofa sitting just a few feet from the counter where the dishwasher is installed, and you can barely hear it. For a couple hundred dollars more, you can get a model with a third rack for cutlery and stainless steel tub that's slightly quieter. That's actually what we had in the old house. To be honest, I don't even miss that third rack. It's too soon to compare the durability of the plastic vs stainless interior, but it will say that after 3-4 years, the one with the stainless tub still looked brand new.
posted by BlueBear at 9:21 AM on January 7

We have a Whirlpool "Gold" series dishwasher, bought open-box about 8 years ago, and it has been great. Probably one load per day, almost every day. Would recommend if you can find one in budget. It's very quiet, cleans dishes fine. The "Gold Series" gets you the stainless rather than plastic tub, and some extra sound insulation, IIRC.

Personally I prefer the "American style" dishwashers to "European style" ones, even though we never, ever use the heated dry cycle. The other feature apparently unique to American style dishwashers is they have a sort of grinder-thing that disposes of food waste, which most (all?) European ones don't have. They have a (disgusting) little filter basket that you have to empty occasionally, which IMO totally violates the "you have one job" principle (in particular, the dishwasher has one job and that's making sure I never need to touch nasty soggy food bits). YMMV on how much you care about this, of course. And who knows, maybe the European companies have seen the light and come around on this. Worth looking into, though, if you feel similarly.

The one thing I dislike about the Whirlpool is that it always assumes you want the heated dry cycle, so you have to press the "Dry" button every time to turn it off. The dry button is, as a result, slowly wearing out. At some point in the next decade I expect it to fail (it doesn't seem to be as robustly built as the "Start" button which is the only other one you need to press every time) and then I guess we'll have heated-dry dishes whether we want them or not. But I think this is an issue endemic to all dishwashers (and other machines) with membrane-switch keypads, which is virtually all of them today. If I could find a stainless-tub dishwasher with 1960s-esque mechanical controls I'd have preferred that, but it doesn't seem like that's a thing you can get.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:22 AM on January 7 [2 favorites]

We just got a GE Adora line (sold at Home Depot) with a stainless interior and it doesn't have any super fancy bells or whistles, but man is that thing quiet. And a fully stainless interior means less chance of something inside cracking and leaking.

We got it for under $600 because there are sales on those things all the dang time.
posted by soren_lorensen at 9:39 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]

The only thing I'll add to this discussion is that there is one innovation in the dishwasher tech that for our family has been a complete game changer (as much as one can be in a dishwasher), the third rack. Eliminating the inefficient silverware cube from the bottom rack and creating a narrow rack on the top of the dishwasher for just silverware is a brilliant use of space. I'll never buy a DW without a third rack again.

Ours is a Bosch and is brilliant, but there are several brands that offer it now I believe.
posted by wile e at 9:49 AM on January 7 [1 favorite]

We have a Bosch 300, like the Wirecutter pick and love it.

Third rack is a game changer lol.
posted by so fucking future at 10:38 AM on January 7

Got a 400$ base level white Bosch unit that is quiet and fab. Kadin2048 is mistaken - it does have a grinder component below the two part filter grate and it gets fed regularly cause I don't rinse my dishes before I stick them in there. Ever. Scrape the food into compost and then dish goes in the washer. If it's dishes from today I just use the quick wash which takes a 1/2 hour, the longer wash and sanitize (handy for containing the sick) can take just over two hours and does a more thorough job and dryer dishes. I clean the filter grate out monthly and run a cycle with just vinegar in it to clean the rest.
posted by zenon at 1:23 PM on January 7

Got a 400$ base level white Bosch unit ... it does have a grinder component below the two part filter grate and it gets fed regularly cause I don't rinse my dishes before I stick them in there.

I think you are mistaken. I'm not aware of any Bosch dishwasher with a grinder. Think about it. What would the grinder grind? All water passes through the filter before getting to the pump. So anything getting to it would already be smaller than the filter screen. There's nothing to grind.

What is happening is that your unscraped food is just being broken up by the churning hot water and detergent in the bottom of the tub. Most of it is reduced to minuscule particles suspended in water which pass through the small holes in the filter and go out the drain. Only a small amount of particles that are not reduced are caught by the filter. No grinder necessary.
posted by JackFlash at 1:58 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]

I found it very useful to actually take some of our dishes and glasses to the store and test load them in a few models. The US and Euro models seemed to consistently have different tine spacing, and our plates didn't fit the Euro models very gracefully. It may also tell you if you can even use a 3rd rack.
posted by sapere aude at 2:03 PM on January 7

I bought the Maytag Wirecutter budget pick above 6 months ago and I really like it. I wanted a stainless tub and a grinder. It does a good job of washing dishes, and I don’t have any complaints about flimsiness or capacity in my 4-person household.

The machine I had before that one was ancient and epically terrible. The one before that (different house) was a mid-high end Bosch that was fine, but didn’t clean any better than my current machine and cost well over a grand, plus it had that gross filter mentioned above.
posted by jeoc at 3:45 PM on January 7

I stand corrected- the grinders are like a mini garbage disposal. All my unit has is an impeller/agitator spinning bit. Now that I know about these grinders and how it reduces the amount of regular maintenance I’m just going to pretend that I don’t know about them when I clean my filters.
posted by zenon at 9:34 PM on January 7

Thanks so much everyone! I bought the Maytag.
posted by nantucket at 2:28 AM on January 8

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