Clean Options

The latest dishwashers are offering much more than spotless dishes
By Lisa Bonnema
May 12, 2010

The workhorse of the kitchen is getting a bit of a makeover. While the most important task of any dishwasher is to provide clean dishes, the latest models are being tweaked both inside and out to allow users to customize their cleaning experience. Whether it be catering to individual design preferences or giving users more cleaning options, as kitchen designer Susan Serra, of Susan Serra Associates, Inc., noted, “It’s all about flexibility.”

Across the board, the predominant trend in dishwashers is a “very clean, unobtrusive look,” according to Chris Harris, dishwasher product manager for Electrolux. However, achieving the look is in the eye of the beholder. Some prefer to showcase their appliance investments, while others want full integration for subtler sophistication. Manufacturers have been working on new ways to cater to both needs.

Stainless steel continues to be a top choice among homeowners who want their dishwashers to shine, but new options like oiled bronze and cool colors (think blue and green) are mirroring recent home interior trends. Alternative materials like glass are updating traditional black and white finishes, and two-toned options are adding texture. Some manufacturers are even offering several hardware finishes and styles on premium models for further customization

Cabinet panels and hidden controls continue to be popular, but new cabinet panel options are taking integration a step further. Instead of covering dishwashers with one large panel, homeowners can mount several on the front of the dishwasher, perhaps pairing a drawer front with a cabinet front. “This flexible feature allows designers to match cabinet designs on each side of the dishwasher, creating true fully integrated installation,” said Don Prevette, VP of marketing at Asko

Dishwasher interiors are also getting more flexible. In addition to height-adjustable racks, several new models are offering fully removable racks that allow users to make room for even the tallest items. Third and fourth racks are being added for specialty items like cutlery, and some are deep enough to make more room for bowls and cocktail glasses.

Perhaps the most useful advancements have been in customized cleaning programs. According to Juliet Johnson, brand experience manager at Jenn-Air, many of the latest cleaning options have been designed around home entertaining. These include programs such as one-hour wash, a plate-warmer option, top-rack-only wash, china and crystal cycles and even steam clean options for stemware.

In fact, steam pre-wash and wash options are popping up on more models. Ellis Mass, director of brand communications, home appliances, LG Electronics USA, said steam technology offers a more efficient way to clean baked-on food items “by using less water than most power scrub cycles.” Sensor technology is also helping dishwashers operate more efficiently. Many models use turbidity sensors to determine particle levels on dishes to save both water and energy, and some also incorporate load sensors to monitor water usage and to keep noise levels down.

As for the future, Serra believes homeowners will only continue to want more from their dishwashers. With the growing popularity of dish drawers, this may mean several dishwashers in the kitchen—a traditional tall-tub model and one or two dish drawers, for example. Drawer models may also migrate to home bars and finished basements. “They are great ergonomically and really suited for a more universal design,” Serra said. And if more, in this case, means less work, it might just be worth it. dishwasher trends and products

[1] For homeowners looking to up their “green cred,” Bosch has developed the energy- and water-efficient Evolution 800 Plus series. Thanks to a new hydraulic system, the dishwashers use 70 percent less water than the average dishwasher—only 2 gallons per cycle—and only 180 kWh per year of energy, exceeding Energy Star requirements. [2] Catering to culinary enthusiasts who want an added “wow” factor, Thermador has introduced an exclusive interior lighting system on its new Sapphire dishwasher. When users open the door, a blue LED light illuminates stemware, and, according to the company, will highlight superior wash results. [3] Although panel dishwashers aren’t new to kitchen design, Asko is taking integration to a whole new level with its multidoor panel option. Models equipped with this capability have six mount holes that can hold up to three different cabinet panels, giving homeowners the design flexibility to truly conceal their dishwashers. [4] Talk about taking appliance service into the next century. Miele’s Excella and LaPerla dishwashers can now be equipped with the company’s RemoteVision option, a communication technology that monitors the performance of the appliance and will automatically communicate any problems directly to the manufacturer. Operating via WiFi, the dishwasher can sense if something is wrong and send data to a service technician, who will analyze the information, contact the homeowner with a diagnosis and set up a service appointment. [5] Premium models, like the new Trifecta dishwasher from Jenn-Air, are focusing on cleaning programs customized for home entertaining. The Trifecta features three specialized entertainment programs, including a One Hour Wash option that allows for quick cleaning of dishes before guests arrive, a Plate Warmer cycle to help keep food warm before dining and a lower-pressure wash spray to gently clean china and crystal. A SteamClean option can also be used to keep stemware spotless.
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