Open Thread: What Kind of Dishwasher Should We Buy?

by Little Miss Attila on September 15, 2010

I believe we have reached a bit of an impasse at the McCann Penthouse: unless the person who tunes up our refrigerator is able to get the dishwasher working again (that is, if it’s a mineral-deposit issue due to the hard water here in SoCal, which was the problem with our clothes washer), we might have to buy a dishwasher for that 24 1/4-inch space in the kitchen. I have come to peace with the fact that I cannot manipulate my husband into washing the dishes more than every few weeks, and he has come to peace with the fact that he cannot manipulate me into washing dishes for more than 20 minutes at a time (I specialize in “dish triage,” and concentrate on bowls or spoons or mugs or small plates on an as-needed basis).

So let me know what you think, or I shall have to break down and re-subscribe to Consumer Reports. My brother, who tends to research every purchase nine times to Sunday, has been a devout subscriber to CR for many years. I, however, am a bit off-and-on about it: after all, subscribing to that magazine/web site means that I am paying money in a pledge to pay more money to buy a bunch of stuff. Isn’t there something slightly off about that? I mean, my brother can afford that overhead; he’s a software engineer. But I’m a writer, and I’m married to a writer. I need to travel light.

Since my readers are generally engineers and Travellers on The Path of Frugality, I suspect you can help me figure it out.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris Wysocki September 15, 2010 at 11:27 am

Get the Fisher & Paykel dish drawers. Two dishwashers in one!

I have the model which includes a built-in water softener.


Darrell September 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm

F&P? Yeah. If you have $1000 or more.

Go to Sears, Lowes [Hawthorne?], and other similar stores and see what’s on sale in your area, including delivery and set up. You should be able to get a great 24″ Frigidaire, Whirlpool, or Kenmore for $300 or so. Most stores have reviews available for the models they hawk or internet access to make comparisons. You might even luck out and get a top model with superficial damage for the same price. Look for the Energy Star symbol because you know what’s coming. Read the website reviews for the model at the store, and remember that some people are picky assholes.


Texan99 September 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm

My impression is that dishwashers aren’t being made very sturdily any more. When I was growing up, you could buy any old reliable brand and expect it to last a long time. Now you have to pay attention to how much thin plastic there is, unless you want to be calling a repairman all the time. I recommend a metal tub for this reason as well as to cut down on noise. It’s good to pay attention to how much they cut corners on things like any little moveable dish-holding prongs or the little wheels that the bottom tray rolls on, which will constantly be breaking and getting lost if they’re too wimpy. It’s nice if there’s a secondary spray-bar right under the top tray. A lot of new models have built-in garbage disposals, it you like not having to pre-rinse. I’ve been pretty happy with a couple of Bosches in two different houses, but Kenmore is fine too if you stick with the metal tub.


Sippican Cottage September 15, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I’ll clue you in on a little secret: More or less, all appliances, no matter what the brand, are made in one big factory, in a place where rice is often served for lunch, and different stickers are affixed to the different brands, and that’s that.

If you’ve got crappy water, forget buying an expensive dishwasher anyway; you’ll have to replace it often whether it’s fab or chintz. There’s only one thing you need to look for, because it’s the only part that matters on a dishwasher now: A big, METAL latch. Do not under any circumstances buy one with a plastic handle latch.

You can thank me later, with all the free time you’ll have from not trying to replace the latch ten times in the next decade.


retriever September 15, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I agree with Texan99. We have bought 3 in the last 8 years, and they keep breaking, no matter how much they cost. The major factor is made in CHina piece of !@#$. The second is that with the energy efficiency requirements they all have tinymotors which have to run for two hours to run a cycle and the motors wear out as well as being a pain. We have spent lots on them trying to get soundproof as we have a small house and kitchen with no doors open to living room, but it makes little difference. Last time it broke, my husband went to Home Depot, got the cheapest discounted floor model, put it in the back of the Explorer and installed it himself. A TAD crooked, but it doesn’t leak, and saved us hundreds in delivery and installation costs. Refrigerators are equally cruddy now. When our latest one breaks, we plan to bring down the 1950s one up north to use as it is still going strong (all metal construction)


Mike September 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm

After 3 years of the old towel under the door to sop up the leaks (TUTHDTSUTL) maintenance program with our old Maytag we bought a shiny new GE. There was a showroom model that was a year old at our appliance dealership and they had it seriously discounted.

It is a GE Profile. Beautiful on the outside and all shiny on the inside. What’s not to like about shiny things? Only problem is there is absolutely no reasonable, logical or rational loading pattern. No matter how you load it things do not fit. They roll around when you open the door and slide the tray out. You can’t actually fill it with as many dishes/pots/pans/bowels as one would assume a modern dishwasher ought to hold.

If I could buy a new 20 year old Maytag, we would be talking heartbeat time.


tomg51 September 16, 2010 at 6:04 am

I see a market for dishwashing services
Leave the burnt lasagna tray and hot chocolate mugs by the door
Get clean ones back the next morning.


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