Things people say: "What's the cheapest dishwasher you have?"

There was a time when a dishwasher's price was largely determined by the number of cycles and little else. So, when someone was looking for a new dishwasher, the primary factor that determined the price range of what they would buy was how many cycles it had. So, most people went for models that had very few cycles, as there weren't many differences otherwise. "It's just for me. I don't need all those cycles. What's the cheapest dishwasher you have?" Well, let's see what you get when you buy the cheapest dishwasher.

The cheapest dishwasher today is around $200-250. Dishwashers have come so far in the last 15 years that keeping to the same price range from 15 years back will end up getting you something of significantly lower cleaning power, higher noise, and reduced lifespan.

For instance, base model dishwashers will have vinyl-coated racks. Vinyl starts soft, but becomes brittle with heat, moisture, and bleach that's in detergent. Then, it cracks, allowing water and bleach to get on the steel racks beneath. Ever seen rusty dishwasher racks? Ever gotten one of those little rack repair kits? Vinyl is the reason for that. And, racks aren't cheap. A single rack without anything attached to it costs about $80, plus about $10 shipping. So, replacing two racks on a $200-$250 dishwasher will cost almost as much as the entire machine. 80-90% cost of repair versus replacing doesn't make repair a very good option.

Base model dishwashers usually lack a wash arm on the ceiling inside the tub. What does that mean? Well, the bottom rack gets cleaned from below and above, but the top rack only gets cleaned from below, with whatever sneaks past the dishes raining down on the dishes from above. A wash arm on the tub ceiling ensures cleaning from both directions on the top rack, so you don't have to worry about re-cleaning dishes. Every load you re-wash is costing you water, energy, and detergent. Money.

Today's dishwashers are also much quieter. The base models, while quieter than models from 15 years ago, are the loudest ones on the market today. While noise might not be the biggest factor, it's something that most people consider at least a little when shopping for a dishwasher. If you could have a quieter dishwasher, wouldn't you rather have that instead of noisier?

So, what does going up the line a little bit get you? Quite a bit! First, you'll get better materials. The racks, instead of being coated with vinyl, will be coated with nylon. Nylon stays strong up to ten times longer than vinyl, so you don't have to worry about racks rusting out. You'll also get a wash arm in the top of the tub, so the top rack gets cleaned from both above and below, reducing re-cleaning needs. And, you'll get at least a three decibel noise reduction

The big question: how much does all this cost me? Not all that much. Instead of $200-250 (white/black) or $350 (stainless steel), you'll be looking at about $400 (white/black) or $500 (stainless steel). That price difference will gain you a longer lifespan, better cleaning, and quieter operating. Over the average major appliance lifespan (10 years), it's just $15/year more. $1.25/month. FOUR CENTS A DAY. When we spend 15-25 cents per load on detergent alone, doesn't just four more cents make sense?

Things people say: "My washing machine doesn't use enough water!"

Today's washing machines are water- and energy-efficient, quiet, with greater capacities and better cleaning power than ever before. Yet, there's a common, though not prevalent, refrain: "they don't use enough water!" Well, before I get into why they do, I'll get into why the old machines used so much.
To make sense of this, let's go back in time about a century. The earliest washing machines would beat up laundry swimming in soapy water. More vigorous and damaging wash motions yielded more cleaning, but it wasn't a very good long-term solution for keeping clothes for a long time (sock darning and sewing were far more widespread skills back then). How did you know your clothes were getting clean? Mostly by how violently the machine battered your laundry. And, for the next 90+ years, this would remain the primary method of cleaning. Soap flakes were used back then, containing ingredients like lye and naphtha.

Washing machine or torture device? You decide.

Now, let's go back about half a century. Imagine you're a laundry soap manufacturer. You've been selling soap flakes for years, and they leave behind a greasy film on top of the water. You develop a better-cleaning detergent using surfactants and enzymes. It sells well, but you want to sell more. If people thought your detergent was working extra-hard to clean, they'd buy more, right? Of course! Now, how can we create that impression? Well, when we wash our hands, we get suds. So, let's add a sudsing agent to the detergent. That way, when people look in on their laundry, they'll see lots of suds, and that will show them just what a good job the detergent is doing on their dirty clothes!
So, between the old machines with their "beat 'em up" method of cleaning clothes in a tub full of water, and newer detergents that created lots of suds that would need diluting and lots of rinsing, water requirements became enormous. At the height of their consumption, recent conventional top-load automatic washing machines could use as much as 60 gallons of water. The detergents were better at cleaning, but they still needed lots of water to prevent excessive suds, and they needed lots of water to rinse those suds out.
Now, let's look at today's high-efficiency washing machines. With greatly reduced water usage during the wash cycle, a high-efficiency detergent becomes necessary. Why? Air. There's much more air available in the tub that can result in soap bubbles. That means that a sudsy soap will result in lots of suds. So much, in fact, that the suds can overflow the washbasket and cause damage to the motor, bearings, and/or electronic controls. So, HE detergent is nothing more than a non-sudsing version of the detergents we're used to.

Don't let this happen to you!

But, efficiency aside, doesn't a washing machine need lots of water to clean effectively? Nope! A washing machine needs only a few things: enough water to soak the laundry, enough detergent to work on the dirt and take it away (but not too much), and mechanical action to create scrubbing action among the articles of laundry. Just like you wouldn't get a bucket of soapy water and slosh it around with a stick to wash a single item, your HE washer doesn't need tons of water to get the job done, either. The clothes will scrub each other clean in a concentrated mix of detergent and water, just like you would do if you were hand-washing a single item. That scrubbing action, not gallons and gallons of water, is what gets your laundry clean.
But, you don't have to believe me. Check out Consumer Reports. Look at the top three dozen machines. How many of them are HE, and how many are not? Today's HE washing machines, whether front-load or top-load, are going to be much gentler while using far less water and energy, and clean even better than the old-fashioned machines. Heck, they even go so far as to say that front-loaders are the best cleaning washers on the market. They've got nothing to gain by saying they work better.
Why do people say they need more water, then? Sometimes, it's because it's unfamiliar, and that creates confusion and disappointment. Other times, it's misuse, leading to poor results. And, sometimes it's just good ol' "I know what I'm doing!" but ignoring the instructions. Now, on rare occasions, it's actually the machine, but the vast majority of cases are caused by the user. Use the proper amount of detergent, follow the instructions, and your laundry will be cleaned properly. I promise!

Things people say: "My Bosch dishwasher doesn't dry my dishes!"

If you've had a Bosch dishwasher, or know someone who has, you may have said or heard that it doesn't dry dishes properly. When lots of people say a machine doesn't work properly, the cause usually comes down to one of two possibilities: the machine doesn't work properly, or the machine isn't being used properly. While it's not impossible for the machine to work incorrectly, we always want to eliminate the human factor. And, in this case, it's almost always the human factor.
American dishwashers use a heating element to blast dishes with heat when the rinse is over. The dishes get hot, and the water radiates away as steam.
European dishwashers don't work this way. For a European dishwasher like a Bosch to dry properly, there are three important things that must be done.
1: ALWAYS use rinse-aid, like Finish Jet Dry or similar products. Rinse-aids decrease the surface tension of water to allow for effective sheeting and reduced spotting. If your detergent has a rinse-aid built into it, like Finish Powerball tablets or Cascade Platinum pacs, there is no need for a separate rinse-aid to be used.
2: ALWAYS use the Auto Wash cycle. This cycle tends to be longer than the time-based cycles, which will keep the dishes hotter for longer.
3: ALWAYS use the Sanitizing Rinse option. This will spray the dishes with an extra-hot batch of water at the end of the rinse cycle to leave the dishes as hot as possible for drying.
Why do we have to always - ALWAYS - do these things? It has to do with how these dishwashers dry the dishes. The heating element isn't exposed like it is on an American dishwasher. Instead, the element is below the floor of the tub, where the water is heated. This means the element can't be used to heat the dishes to dry them. So, how do they dry? Condensation.
After the three "ALWAYS" steps are followed, the tub will cool before the contents. The water on the hot dishes will radiate to the cooler walls where it will condense and drain out of the dishwasher. Without using all three "ALWAYS" steps, the water won't leave the dishes as easily, or they won't be hot enough to allow for the water to radiate off the dishes. When the three "ALWAYS" steps are done regularly, there is no issue with drying in a Bosch dishwasher. On my honor, I promise! :)
In the extremely rare case you're following these basic steps but continue to have drying issues with your Bosch dishwasher, I recommend having a technician examine your dishwasher. But, definitely make sure these three "ALWAYS" steps are being done first. It's much easier to use it properly (and MUCH cheaper) than to have someone come out to say the same thing.
Questions? Comments? Let me know what you think!

GE HE Top-Load Washer GTWS8655DMC

Manufacturer: GE

Let's look at the GE HE top-load washing machine model GTWS8655DMC. This model is available in white and a dark gray metallic finish.

GE, a long-time laundry also-ran, has thrown out everything that once embodied GE laundry and has started anew, with fresh designs and innovative technology. A huge 5.0 cubic foot capacity can accommodate the largest loads, easily handling king-size comforters and any other garments you might have to wash.

Like most of the other top-of-the-line HE top-loaders on the market, the GTWS8655DMC has a built-in water heater to sanitize towels and sheets, killing the germs and bacteria they harbor. This keeps towels and sheets fresh and odor-free.

This washing machine also has a feature that no other HE top-load washing machine has: STEAM! Yes, you can now use steam in the washer in a vertical platform. Get tough stains out with the power of steam, and take advantage of the stain fighting options built into the controls.

The gentle-close lid won't come crashing down (like the first generation lower models of this platform, which are being retooled to have the gentle-close lid), and there is a groove along the front of the opening to the washtub, so there isn't as much discomfort reaching in if someone happens to be pregnant. And, for everyone's comfort and convenience, the washtub is wider and shallower than most other models, so it's easier to reach the bottom.

The GTWS8655DMC washer can also communicate with the matching dryer (GTDS855EDMC for electric or GTDS855GDMC for gas) via cable to recommend a best option for drying. You can override this recommendation, but it's great for people who maybe aren't so good at doing laundry or are wary of possibly harming their clothes accidentally. And, for even greater convenience, the washer can hold up to two months' worth of liquid detergent and fabric softener. Just fill the Smart Dispense system with your favorite liquid detergent and fabric softener, and the machine will automatically dispense the proper amount for every load.

If you're in the market for a new washing machine and you want maximum capacity, maximum stain fighting power, and fantastic ease of use, definitely give this new GE GTWS8655DMC HE top-load washing machine a serious look. GE has made huge strides to improve their HE top-loaders, and it's a worthwhile option for your laundry room.

Frigidaire Affinity High-Efficiency Top-Load Washing Machine (FAHE4044MW)

Manufacturer: Frigidaire
Today, we're going to look at Frigidaire's new high-efficiency top-load washing machine, the Frigidaire Affinity FAHE4044MW. This model is available in white.
The FAHE4044MW washer is Frigidaire's return to top-load laundry after a hiatus of a few years. This model is 3.4 cubic feet in capacity, which is good for homes with smaller laundry needs. It can accommodate a "full" or "double" size comforter.
This model has a white polymer Seamless DuraMotion washbasket, which will not stain, rust, or crack, and it carries with it a lifetime warranty from Frigidaire. And, you can see the washbasket (and your laundry) through the window in the lid. You can see your laundry getting cleaner by the minute!
How does your laundry get cleaner? Well, Frigidaire has some great technology to make that happen. First, the detergent gets drawn in and circulated with the Waterfall Wash system, which cascades the detergent-saturated water over the laundry for the first eight minutes of the cycle.
Then, the Immersion Care wash motions move the laundry from top to bottom over and over, so there's plenty of turnover and scrubbing action inside.
Before getting to the 800 RPM max spin, the washer rinses with fresh water that bypasses the detergent dispenser to make sure no residues get brought into the rinse.
You do have the option to add extra water (up to 36 gallons) if you decide you want to, though you shouldn't ever need to, as the washer is designed to use the correct amount for the type and amount of laundry you're washing.
Inside, where you can't see, there's a tripod suspension system and a vibration control system to keep the machine balanced and quiet during spin.
If your home doesn't have big laundry needs and you want an efficient washing machine, perhaps you'd like to look at the new Frigidaire FAHE4044MW.

Frigidaire FAHE4044MW