I just recently posted about Ecover dishwasher tabs and mentioned our cheap old Maytag dishwasher. Well… it had a good life, but recently started acting up and we chose to replace it with a brand new Bosch 800 Series dishwasher. I never really loved the Maytag, but with all the negative reviews you find online it was a little terrifying to pick out a replacement. Nonetheless I decided to go with the Bosch since as you might know I tend to prefer European appliances, and here are my first impressions.
By the way, you might have noticed that I’ve been somewhat AWOL recently both on the blog and on facebook – I’ve actually just started a new job and it’s been a very challenging couple of weeks! I’m super excited about this change, but also completely exhausted at the end of the day, so not much energy left for internet things. Hopefully soon I’ll get into the swing of things and get back to my regular blogging routine.
European vs American Dishwashers
In the meantime I thought I’d put together a quick post about the new appliance addition to our household. Let’s start out by clarifying the main differences between US and European dishwashers:
- On average, just like with washing machines, there is a big difference between the two: US models take less time to wash a load, but use more water and electricity. European models are slower but more efficient and usually much more quiet.
- American dishwashers have heating elements for drying dishes after the wash cycle, European models rely on condensation for this. With European models your plastic items will not be completely dry (plastic conducts heat differently and condensation drying doesn’t really work with it), but they will also not warp no matter which rack you put them on.
- European dishwashers require the use of rinse aid to help with the drying. I always use rinse aid, and my favorite natural one is from Seventh Generation – while it doesn’t get dishes quite as shiny as Jet-Dry, it does a solid job and gets an A rating for safety from the Environmental Working Group.
- US machines typically have food grinders that grind up any leftover food particles, European ones have a removable filter that can be rinsed off and is much easier to replace if something happens to it.
- The spacing between tines can be smaller in European models, making it more difficult to fit larger and thicker dishware.
Having lived most of my life with European appliances I was at first a little bit confused by our US Maytag. In the almost 5 years that we owned it I never once used the heated dry feature (I actually manually turned it off every time I ran a load – if I forgot I’d inevitably find something gross caked on the dishes), we always scraped the dishes before putting them in (so no need for the food grinder) and considering how high electricity rates are in our state I was mindful to not run it unless absolutely necessary since I knew it was not a very efficient model. So when it came to choosing a replacement I knew right away that I wanted to go Euro, and quickly narrowed my options down to the Bosch lineup.
Bosch 800 Series Dishwasher vs 500 Series
What was more difficult than choosing a manufacturer was deciding which model to get. This was a present to myself for landing a new job, so I decided against the basic entry-level Ascenta or 300 Series, but also didn’t want to pay extra for the made in Germany Benchmark Series (if I were willing to spend that much I would probably have gone for Miele), so it came down to two models: SHX65T55UC (500 Series) and SHX68T55UC (800 Series).
By the way I found the model numbers pretty much impossible to tell apart, and that was frustrating when I just started researching the options. The trick is the number in the middle, after the 6: if it’s a 5 you’re looking at the 500 Series and an 8 for 800 Series, i.e. SHX68T55UC for my 800 Series model. 300 Series and Ascentas still confuse me though!
A lot of consumer websites such as Reviewed.com and TheSweetHome recommend the 500 Series over the 800 Series. The reasoning? Both clean equally well, so why pay more for the additional features of the 800. But I think this is where testing in a non-household environment can skew things, so let’s take a look at the actual differences between the Bosch 800 Series vs the 500 Series (the price difference is around $100 at MSRP, and closer to $75 real world):
- The 800 Series models offer several rows of folding tines on the bottom and middle racks – this for me was the #1 reason I chose the 800 Series. The existing Bosch tines are quite narrow and all of them are at an angle. This is great for loading plates, but if you need to load larger items such as bowls or pans, it can be very limiting. With the folding tines I can be super flexible depending on my load – for example if I’m washing the Le Creuset pan pictured above I will fold down the tines, but if I have a large amount of plates I’ll keep those up.
- The 800 Series offers an Eco Cycle: a shorter and cooler wash cycle for delicate dishes and/or saving electricity. I have used this cycle previously on a half load (with the Half Load setting activated as well – it is the fastest option after Express), and was pleasantly surprised with the results!
- The 800 Series has touch controls while the 500 Series has buttons. I personally don’t see this as a huge advantage or disadvantage, and don’t have a particular preference either way.
- The 800 Series comes with an accessory kit, consisting of three small item clips and a bottle/vase holder. While not necessary, these are nice to have, and Bosch charges a lot for purchasing accessories separately.
Everything else is the same. Both series offer a third rack for cutlery and small items, both have “RackMatic” that allows easy adjustment of the middle rack even when it’s loaded, both are rated for 44 dB noise levels, have equal energy efficiency ratings, a fully stainless steel tub, an info light indicating that the dishwasher is running etc.
Bosch 800 Series Dishwasher Features
One really cool feature that’s available in both 500 and 800 Series is what Bosch calls “RackMatic”. My old dishwasher let you change the height of the top rack, but that required a screwdriver and repositioning the spray arm, and it was honestly way too much work for us to ever bother. The Bosch models let you do this quickly and easily, and you can even adjust after you’ve loaded the rack! You just grab the clips on both sides of the rack and move the rack where you want it to be. Here’s a somewhat awkward futuristic video from Bosch showing how that works. I typically keep the rack at the lowest setting, since we have a lot of tall wine glasses. In my old dishwasher they would have to go on the bottom rack, but here they fit perfectly on the middle one.
You can see in the picture below just how much of a difference in clearance between the bottom of the glass and the top cutlery rack there is when you go from the highest to the lowest setting.
Another thing I absolutely love is the top rack that’s meant for cutlery, large utensils and small items like ramekins and pinch bowls. The dishwasher does come with a standard cutlery basket, but I recently took it our for good – in about 3 weeks of running the dishwasher on a daily basis I had not used the basket once. The top rack is an absolutely fantastic alternative, although I have to warn the more OCD-inclined folks that you might spend more time loading it as you try to perfectly arrange all of the items. But whatever time is lost during loading is gained when you unload – no more sorting, you just scoop all of the items up and they go straight to the cutlery drawer!
Some people complain about not being able to fit their thicker dishes – I highly recommend you take some of your most commonly used dishes to a showroom to test it out. We have zero issues with this, in fact I can fit so much more into the Bosch compared to the Maytag that it’s not even funny.
A big concern for me was whether the tall wine glasses would fit on the middle rack – fortunately they do! The bottom rack does not have any kind of wine glass holder, and with the angled tines glasses would topple over if loaded on the bottom, so the middle rack was our only option.
Does it have any faults?
As with all things, perfection does not really exist. The Bosch dishwashers do have some drawbacks, and let me just note that I do not consider normal Euro dishwasher behavior to be a negative. So you won’t find me complaining about wet plastic items, having to rinse out the filter or longer wash times – that’s just part of the technology, and it’s considered standard for European designs, since it leads to efficiency. What I am listing here are some “quirks” that I’ve noticed over the past month of daily use.
- This is a known issue, and my main gripe with Bosch: the bottom rack comes off the “tracks” much too easily. It’s really quite annoying that my cheap old Maytag did this better than the much more expensive Bosch, and I’m currently working with their Service team to see if anything can be done (I’ve read that some people have received replacement wheels of a larger diameter that helped with this, I’ll update when I hear back from Bosch).
- The sprayer arm on the middle rack is not locked in securely. I once had a load with several tall items that shifted during the wash and started lightly hitting the sprayer arm. This actually caused the sprayer to fall off mid-wash! But at the same time this makes for much easier cleaning of the arm itself (removing the sprayer arm on the Maytag was a nightmare – ask me how I know…) if little bits of food clog the water holes. Coupled with the RackMatic height adjustments I really don’t see this as as big of an issue compared to the bottom rack one, but still sharing since I had never had that happen to me before with my other dishwashers.
- The dishwasher requires proper installation. It has to be installed with a “high loop”, and not all plumbers know this. Even though we ordered installation through Lowes, we got lucky with a very good plumber who knew what he was doing – he said I was the first customer in his 20+ year career to ask about the high loop!
- Speaking of installation, there were some things that came as a surprise: the wiring is different than on the Maytag (it comes with a junction box that needs to be installed as well and you need cabinet space for that), and the hose length is shorter.
- The cutlery basket that comes with the dishwasher is not a great design – it is very long and offers zero customization options other than keep or remove. I prefer baskets that are split into two sections – those offer a lot more flexibility, although in all honesty I love the top rack for cutlery so much that I could easily do without a basket at all.
So, How do you use it?
I personally primarily use the Auto setting for regular loads, add Sanitize or Extra Shine if I have a lot of wine glasses. The Sanitize and Extra Shine settings really do make a difference in how dry the dishes come out, although even without them turned on dishes are much dryer than I used to get in the plastic tub Maytag with heat dry turned off. If I have pans in there I’ll use the Heavy cycle.
The Half Load feature really doesn’t decrease the wash cycle by much, so I rarely use that. Once when I had a small load that was dirty enough for Express to not be an option I used Eco plus Half Load – that cycle took about an hour and I was very surprised that the dishes came out completely clean! I keep meaning to try out Eco on a regular load, but have yet to do that.
For detergents I primarily use the following: Ecover Zero powder, Ecover Citrus tabs and Seventh Generation rinse aid. This dishwasher requires less detergent than my old one, so I use about 1.5-2 Tbsp of the Ecover powder for most loads, and I’ll use a tab only when I have a heavy and/or full load. I do have some Finish Quantum on hand from an old stockpile and I’ll use that every now and then if I have an especially dirty load (think fish roasting pans).
(By the way, Vitacost tends to have great prices on Ecover products, and you can get $10 off your first order there by registering through this link.)
The removable filter gets checked once a week or so, but to date I haven’t found anything more than some crumbs on it. I think eventually I’ll bring that down to a once a month maintenance schedule. Funny story: my in-laws have had their Bosch dishwasher for about 10 years, and this Christmas was the first time they found out from me about the filter. They had no idea it was there and had never taken it out to clean! Believe it or not, the only thing it had was some shards of broken glass – no food gunk whatsoever.
One more thing: as with my front loader washer, I’m a firm believer in air circulation. I know this is not necessary, but I prefer to not leave the door firmly closed all day so that I avoid any chance of smells in there (damp warm environment + dirty dishes = bacteria heaven). Here’s what I do: after I unload the dishwasher in the morning, I put a microfiber towel in the door and leave it like that for the day.
Would I recommend the Bosch 800 Series dishwasher? I absolutely would recommend it, however only to people who understand the way European machines work and have determined that it will be a good fit for their household. A lot of the negative reviews that you will read revolve around the difference in technology, and if a person absolutely must have heated dry and they are willing to sacrifice energy efficiency for it a Bosch dishwasher will not be a good fit, no matter how much I personally love it.
With that caveat in mind, if you do want to go Euro, you will love this dishwasher: it cleans amazingly well, it’s whisper quiet, it saves money on the electric bill and offers lots of loading flexibility.
I have been enjoying every day of owning it – the dishes are coming out cleaner than ever before, no matter what amount of caked on food was on them when they went in. The technology is fantastic, and I even went searching for videos made from the inside – fortunately youtube has everything! Just look at how powerful those jets are:
THE Bosch 800 Series Dishwasher was PURCHASED BY ME FOR PERSONAL USE. THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS THAT WILL GIVE ME A SMALL COMMISSION ON ANY PURCHASES MADE THROUGH THE LINKS.