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Dishwashers – the least trusted kitchen appliance?


A new report by Vileda claims that the ‘humble dishwasher’ is the kitchen appliance we least trust to do its job. But isn’t it also one of the appliances we want most in our kitchens? Do you trust your dishwasher?

Dishwashers can’t be trusted, apparently! A recent survey by cleaning solutions company Vileda claims we don’t trust our underperforming dishwashers to get the job done.

A resounding 71% of those asked voted it as the most likely appliance to under perform. Many even admitted to cleaning dishes after they’ve come out of the dishwasher. How mad is that?

Can’t live without a dishwasher

For the majority of my life, the only dishwasher I ever had was me and my own fair hands. Then we moved flat and inherited a Bosch dishwasher. I’m a complete convert, and can’t believe how I had managed to get this far in life without one.

Unlike 56% of the survey respondents who find washing up “therapeutic”, I don’t. So I’m not moving anywhere else unless there will be a dishwasher when I get there. The less time I spend at the sink, the better. And in the nearly four years of dishwasher-use, not once have I had to wash anything after it’s come out (and mine has never broken down either… yet!)

What on earth is going on? Do people just have rubbish dishwashers, or is it all down to user error, where they aren’t loading the dishwasher properly? I only suggest this because I got much better results after I worked out how to put the dishes in ours.

There’s a knack to loading a dishwasher, you can’t just chuck it all in and expect the machine to work miracles. Make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be, and don’t overload it. Using a good dishwasher detergent also helps.

What makes a Best Buy dishwasher?

More worryingly, 48% of respondents said it was the one household appliance that they most expected to break down. So surely it’s key to make sure you’re choosing a reliable brand in the first place? Our latest dishwasher reliability results are a good place to start.

We’ve been testing dishwashers for a long time here at Which? and we do see some bad ones. The worst models on test use lots of water, leave plates dirty, glasses smeared, and the actual dishwasher itself needs cleaning on the inside, too. If you want to see what I’m talking about, have a look at our dishwashers expert’s video on how we test dishwashers.

Does the dishwasher deserve its untrustworthy tag? Have you ever walked into your kitchen and thought “dishwasher, I just don’t trust you”? Are there any other kitchen appliances you don’t think are up to the job and does this keep you from using them?

Which kitchen appliance do you least trust to do its job?

Toaster (27%, 70 Votes)

Dishwasher (25%, 64 Votes)

Washing machine (15%, 40 Votes)

Tumble dryer (9%, 23 Votes)

Microwave (8%, 20 Votes)

Oven (6%, 15 Votes)

Kettle (3%, 9 Votes)

Fridge (3%, 8 Votes)

Other (tell us in the comments) (3%, 8 Votes)

Freezer (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 259

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Err … don’t Vileda make dishcloths and pan scourers?

I inherited a Hotpoint dishwasher. It wasn’t a Best Buy and every now and again I find a glass or a cup that has a gritty covering inside.

When the Hotpoint fails, I’ll be buying a Best Buy. I’ve had no problems with my Best Buy washing machine.

I’m not sure at all that I trust Which? best buy recommendations, certainly not for energy saving or for reliability. I bough a Which? best buy LG washing machine, at the more expensive end of the range, and it cost well over 4 times as much to run as my old (26 year old at the time) Hoover and also broke down 4 times in the first 18 months. LG’s service was diabolical (I had to get Citizens Advice, Trading Standards and Which? legal to help me to get them to fix it at all) and the machine didn’t rinse or spin anything like as well as my previous Hoover, though it cleaning things fairly well.
I’ll never ever buy another LG product and I won’t trust Which? or Energy Savings Trust recommendations for energy saving. The jury’s still out on whether I trust Which? reliability ratings any more.
I scrapped the LG after the 4th breakdown and bought an almost 30 year old second hand Hoover automatic which runs like a dream and costs a fraction of what the LG did to run. I’ve had that over a year now with not a hint of a breakdown so it’s already 3 times more reliable than the LG as that broke down 3 times in the first 11 months.

I couldnt believe the survey either, although I have come across many people who think you still have to scrape the plates clean and preferably rinse them before placing them in the dishwasher !

Our dishwasher gets loaded with un-rinsed, un-scraped crockery including porridge bowls throughout the day and set to switch on at about 5 am in the morning to help warm the kitchen up first thing.

Never had any problems with the results.

Be interested to see their raw data and survey population profile !

I had a Bosch slimline dishwasher in the late 80’s. I understand that at that time the machines were made by Hotpoint and badged as Bosch. It wasn’t very good but to be fair I mainly wanted to be able to wash baking pots and pans in it. I gave it to my brother-in-law in 1993 and he’s used it ever since with only 1 breakdown and at the very least satisfactory results.

I went back to hand dish-washing from 1993 until 2003 when I bought a Hoover dishwasher. This washed very very well indeed but was unreliable and broke down several times whilst under 5 year warranty. In 2007, just before it’s warranty expired, I traded it in against a Miele (I didn’t check Which? at the time so I don’t know if it was a best buy). The Miele is superb, though to be honest apart from it having hot water fill which makes it very much more economical to run and faster to complete a cycle, I can’t honestly say it operates any better than the Hoover did, but it does have a 3rd rack at the top for cutlery, which is very helpful, and it is superbly reliable and solidly built.

I don’t have to rinse or scrape pots either!

I do very strongly believe, though, that the choice of detergent is crucial to good results. I use Ecover tablets. I used to use Finish in the Bosch and that ruined quite a lot of dishes and I’ve tried Waitrose and Co-Op own brand tablets and powders and found them all very poor at cleaning.

Overall I’d say that dishwashers are possibly one of the best kitchen appliances at doing their job.

Thanks for your feedback about dishwashers and washing machines. I’m sorry to hear about the trouble you faced with your LG washing machine – it sounds like one that was dropped at the factory. I say this as the reliability research we carry out annually tells us that overall, LG have a good reliability record for their washing machines made in the last six years.

It feels like a good moment to mention a bit more about how we work out reliability. We survey around 35,000 Which? members each year and ask them to tell us about the products that they own and the problems they’ve faced with them. Around 12,000 people respond to our surveys, and it’s this sample that we base our findings on.

We rank the problems Which? members tell us about in order of severity, from the niggles which are a pain, but you can live with, to the complete breakdowns. From this research we can work out an average reliability score for the product group, and plot which brands are better or worse. So our reliability scores are driven by the problems owners have experienced with their machines, and the severity of those problems.

Our four-star 85% reliability score for LG is based on the feedback from over 120 owners of LG washing machines and the machines that we heard about come from each of the last six years.

Working like this allows us to be confident about the reliability scores we give products, but this doesn’t mean that every product won’t break down. But we hope it gives members a good indication for how reliable each brand is. And reliability research also feeds into the other testing we do – if a brand has poor brand reliability, they won’t qualify for Best Buys, even if their products do well enough in our tests.

Let us know more about the reliability of your appliances – do they match our findings, are they better or are they worse?

HF says:
11 July 2011

I would not be without my trusty Zanussi compact dishwasher. Everything goes in with dried on food etc etc and comes out spotless. I can’t remember the last time I had to rewash anything. It is my most trusted kitchen appliance (and much better than the previous brand, which used to leave odd rejects and couldn’t get really filthy items properly clean). I use the supermarket’s value brand tablets, and only half a tablet is required in a compact dishwasher.

I don’t really believe the Vileda “research”

Graham Wadforth says:
15 July 2011

We have a Fisher & Paykel double drawer dishwasher which is absolutely superb. For few dishes use one drawer, for more use both. We tend to use the bottom drawer, which is slightly larger, for pans.

I cannot understand why you have never featured this machine in your tests. Although it originated in Australia / New Zealand it is distributed in this country by Whirlpool.

GESHerts says:
28 July 2011

We’ve had our current Bosch dishwasher for 8 years – and so far so good.
It’s been a reliable appliance [as has the Bosch Washing machine!], and with normal loading the dishes, cutlery and glassware come out clean and dry.

I try to rinse the dishes before, if they have a lot of scraps on the plates, and clean the filters roughly weekly or when I remember.

Dishwashers always clean much better if they are loaded properly. I have seen many times people carelessly chucking everything into the dishwasher and overlapping items. If people took just a few seconds to load dishwashers properly and keep the filters and spray arms clean, things would come out clean most of the time instead of coming out dirty most of the time. Also, using a “Which Best Buy” dishwasher detergent helps enormously.

If you are reading this because your dishwasher doesn’t clean properly, try loading every item loosely so water can touch all surfaces of every item, especially cutlery. Keep the filters spotless AND fitted tightly – any gap will allow food to be recirculated!!!! Make sure the holes in the spray arms are not blocked. Rinse off acidic or salty foods from cutlery immediately e.g. jam. Also consider plumbing the dishwasher into the hot water supply, no higher than 60C. Warm or hot flushes away food and grease debris instantly and keeps the interior cleaner. You may have to run a hot tap nearby first, to ensure the water entering the dishwasher is actually warm.

The only annoyance I have with modern dishwashers is they don’t dry very well. Stupidly – and probably as a result of over zealous safety paranoia – modern dishwashers don’t have a visible heating element at the bottom of the cabinet and without a heating element for drying, items simply don’t dry very well. You can improve drying slightly by opening the door as soon as possible at the end to let the steam out, then shutting the door and leaving it closed for 20 minutes, but it still doesn’t match the drying performance of older dishwashers with heating elements.

We bought a Bosch dishwasher on Which? recommendation several years ago, and it worked fine (the lower tray wouldn’t clean perfectly but we worked around this). Then we received a letter on 18th June about a recall – looked like a scam, but no, it seemed Bosch dishwashers were bursting into flames. It took 3 weeks to get an engineer to attend during which time we were advised not to use it. To cut a long story short, the part got replaced and the dishwasher hasn’t worked since since – that’s 2 months without the machine. We phoned daily as Bosch NEVER kept their promise to ‘call back tomorrow’. The outcome is that Bosch says we have to pay half a call-out to get another part replaced, and this hasn’t fixed it either. The main point is that Bosch offer the worst customer service I have ever experienced because customer service staff are unable to resolve the problem or put you through to anyone who can. I think Which? is great but I really would not buy a product from a company with back-up service this poor (check out the internet). Please can you take this in to account when looking at the next ‘best buy’ awards so I can avoid companies like this in future. Any suggestions to get back to having a functioning dishwasher would be appreciated. Helen

I bought a John Lewis & Partners JLBIDW1319 fully Integrated dishwasher less than a month ago – I am very, very disappointed. The problem is with the upper tray (adjustable height) ; it’s very flimsy, tilts a lot on the sagittal plane and because of this the upper tray does not easily engage its hose at the back particularly in the upper position and if there is no engagement the dw door cannot be closed. When the upper tray is in the lower position the engagement is not difficult. However, when the tray is in the lower position even Waitrose dinner plates cannot be stacked in the lower tray and if the upper tray is raised even beer glasses cannot be stacked in the upper tray. And upping the upper tray causes engagement problem and the door cannot be closed. Absolute nightmare! JL sent the manufacturer’s (Electrolux) engineers who say I do not stack properly! My last DW (different brand) lasted for 13 yrs without any problem. JL is refusing to take the DW back saying I have used it! Without using it how would I know if there are any problems? 2 days ago, the upper tray got stuck; I am not able to push it in or out. In my opinion, it’s a DW from hell! JL is refusing to send its own engineers to check the DW and declining to give even vouchers as a refund. Are there which engineers who can check this and give a report? Any suggestion you can make, please? Thanks.

KC, as this is within 30 days of purchase you are entitled to a full refund, unless JLP (with whom you have the contract) can prove that you are using the machine incorrectly. The issue is engagement with the hose; stacking problems are not part of the fault , I would suggest; that should not affect the engagement.

I would simply remind JLP of their legal obligations under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, that denying your rights is illegal, and they should remove your appliance, refund you, and pay for a subsequent re-installation (of they were responsible in the first place; if not, worth asking).

Thanks, malcolm r

Electrolux engineer is not admitting there is an engagement problem for obvious reasons! In view of this what can I do? Get an independent engineer to report on the DW? I wonder weather Which would have a list of such engineers? Please advise. Thank you

KC – Malcolm has given you the best advice so I recommend you pursue your consumer rights as advised. The product is faulty [unfit for purpose and unsatisfactory quality] and you have the right to reject it in return for a full refund if you act within thirty days of taking ownership.

This is a statutory right. You do not have to worry about what an engineer might think and John Lewis should not attempt to deny you your rights or negotiate them away with an alternative resolution if you want a full refund. You could alternatively ask for a replacement machine of the same type and price.

See the following Which? guidance on exercising your rights –

KC, did the engineer get it to engage satisfactorily under your loading conditions? You could send pictures to JLP showing the problem. You could get a local appliance repairer to provide an independent assessment and inform JLP first that they will be required to pay if the report confirms your problem. It all depends on how sure are of the fault.
As you reported within 30 days of purchase JLP must refund if you are right.

Hi KC – Which? runs a Trusted Trader scheme: https://trustedtraders.which.co.uk which might help you find a local engineer. I would hope that you could get a report about the problem for the standard callout charge and if this is in your favour I would try and recover the money from JLP, but perhaps wait until the problem is resolved or you have a full refund.

It’s common for retailers to use manufacturers’ service engineers, so I don’t think there is anything odd about an Electrolux engineer calling.

Best of luck.