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Splashy dishwasher features that save water

Fancy sprays and wash settings that aim to clean better

Published: July 21, 2015 08:00 AM
GE Profile PDT750SSFSS

Photo: GE

WaterWall, Storm Wash, PowerWash Plus—they all sound like something you’d find at a theme park, not in the dishwasher section of your appliance store. Yet despite the fact that today’s dishwashers use less water per cycle than ever before, manufacturers are making splashy claims about sprays and water features that they say get dishes cleaner.

Of course, not every innovation is an improvement, as Consumer Reports discovered in its latest dishwasher tests. Our first foray with a Samsung Chef Collection dishwasher with the WaterWall feature, in which a sheet of water moves back and forth across the tub floor, was one example. The filter clogged, stopping the cycle, and we got an error message. But after Samsung made a software fix, the machine got excellent marks for cleaning even with a heavily soiled load.

Water works

Rotating jets mounted in the Turbo­Zone of the Kenmore Elite 12783 provided a cleaning boost. The Kenmore Elite 12793, in an industry first, has a motorized spray arm—360° PowerWash Plus—that can change direction if a dish or utensil blocks its path. At least one GE Profile dishwasher has special bottle-washing jets on the top rack that are worth a look if you tote your water bottle wherever you go. But Storm Wash, a feature on the Samsung DW80F800UWS that briefly directs extra spray to a Storm Zone, was more like a passing shower.

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Like other appliances, dishwashers have had to meet tougher and tougher standards to earn Energy Star status. In their quest to develop machines that use less water and energy but still turn out loads of clean dishes, manufacturers have added soil sensors, extra water jets, new rack designs, improved water filtration, and better temperature controls. New standards coming in January will be more stringent still, and certain dishwashers from Bosch, Kenmore, and KitchenAid already meet them. The trade-off can be longer cycles, but you probably won’t mind once you see your utility bill.

We’ve also noticed a trickle-down effect: Features once seen only on high-end models are appearing in more moderately priced machines. All-stainless tubs, adjustable upper racks, and ample flatware slots are common, and all but the cheapest dishwashers have soil sensors. Third racks for laying flatware flat, built-in water softeners for homes with hard water, and time-remaining displays are other affordable conveniences.

And dishwashers are getting their due in the design department. Kitchen­Aid has introduced a dishwasher with a window and an illuminated interior as part of its new signature kitchen suite. Miele has seized on the hands-free trend with a Knock2Open dishwasher: The door unlatches with a gentle rap of the knuckles. We’re bringing them into our labs this summer and will let you know how well they wash dishes.

Kitchen Remodeling Guide

Find everything you need to know about undertaking a kitchen remodeling project in our Kitchen Remodeling Guide including the results of our tests of kitchen appliances and remodeling materials.

Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the August 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.


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