How to choose a Miele dishwasher

Jun 24, 2004 (Updated Oct 12, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:The least expensive model is still a Miele.

Cons:There's oh-so-much-more you can get for oh-so-much-more.

The Bottom Line: You think you'd like to buy a Miele, but do you want to spend the money for more than just the entry level model???

When I had finally made the decision to purchase a Miele, the choice for me was simple: I wanted the least expensive one. At $1200, that “least expensive” is a lot of money. I admit, it was a splurge. But is Miele worth this price tag? And is the least expensive one really what you want?

In reviewing my dishwasher, I’d also like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned about the Many Models of Miele.

The model I own is the Novotronic G 841 SC Plus. It differs from the G 841 Plus in that it comes with the legendary and highly desirable cutlery tray. (Oh, and the upper basket is also adjustable.) This is, in my opinion, the single greatest asset in the grand arsenal Miele has over its competitors. In adding this third shallow rack (just over 2 inches at its deepest point) at the top of the machine, Miele stages its double coup by freeing up the entire bottom rack for dishes and by making silverware loading and unloading the easiest (while still ensuring that they will all come out clean). Not only is there no bending involved, but since the silverware lays flat, it is extremely easy to simply grab it and stuff it in your silverware drawer. And if you want, you can even order an extra insert and just switch inserts rather than unloading. More on that later though. (For more on comparing Miele to its competitors, read the prequel to this review: How to choose a Dishwasher: Is Miele right for you?)

A view from above…or a brief overview of the features of the G841 SC Plus:

14 Place Setting Capacity
I have not had an occasion yet to test this claim. What I can tell you is:
a) The tines are more closely spaced than in other dishwashers I’ve seen, allowing more plates to be loaded in the same amount of space. This has not affected how clean the plates get, with the exception of plates that have a cupped rim or pasta bowls. These I simply leave a space between.
b) When I cook, I use a lot of pots, bowls, utensils, etc. So far, I have only had a problem fitting everything (including the dishes) when there is a really excessive number of them.

6 wash programs
These are as follows:
Pots & Pans has a wash temperature of 170 F and uses 6.3 Gallons of water.
SaniWash has a wash temperature of 150 F and uses 5.0 Gallons of water.
Normal Plus has a wash temperature of 150 F and uses 6.3 Gallons of water.
Normal has a wash temperature of 130 F and uses 6.3 Gallons of water.
Economy has a wash temperature of 130 F and uses 5.0 Gallons of water.
Rinse & Hold has no heat and uses 1.3 Gallons of water.

3 wash temperatures
See above.

Update function
This is standard on all Miele dishwashers. What it means is that Miele’s dishwashers can be reprogrammed in the future to take advantage of advances in detergents or rinse aids. While this feature sounds interesting, it is not clear whether it has ever (or will ever) be used.

Single knob operation
This is the main feature that separates the three lines of dishwashers offered by Miele. The Novotronic line has a knob that is used to select a wash program. Next to this knob is the Start button. Aside from a general ON/OFF button, that’s it. Simple as that. Unless you change the knob’s position, it remembers the last program you used—all you need to do is press start.

The Touchtronic line uses buttons to select the wash program as well as the other features it offers. Models that feature a timer function also have a display that can show either delay time or time left in the current program.

The Incognito line gets its name from its sleek design with hidden controls. The thin control panel is located on the top edge of the door and is visible only when the door is opened. Since it is so narrow, it has numbered buttons corresponding to the desired wash programs. The delay counter is here (obviously it cannot be seen when the door is closed) and other buttons marked with symbols for setting the time delay or the “top solo” function. (More about that feature later.)

Deep upper basket
Without the cutlery tray, the upper basket can accommodate a 9 ” plate; the bottom basket an 11 ” plate. With the cutlery tray, the top basket loses 2 inches to become 7 ”. However, the SC models (those that come with a cutlery tray) come with an adjustable upper basket. It actually has three settings rather than two, each adding or subtracting an inch, and can even be adjusted to sit at an angle. At its lowest setting, it regains its 9 ” height, but reduces the bottom rack to the same.

All that having been said, I have not needed to adjust my upper basket—that 7 ” seems to fit what I need to load in there just fine, and besides, my dinner plates are large, so they won’t fit if I move the basket down. (See my note above regarding capacity.)

Foldable spike design lower basket
While there are a few bells and whistles available in terms of racking (mostly only in the very highest echelon models), for the most part Miele offers two styles of lower baskets.

The “foldable spike” basket is a very simple design with four rows of spikes running side to side, angled slightly away from the center. The two rows in the rear can be individually folded to accommodate large items.

The other option is the “PlateGuard Plus” basket, available on the upper level models, which is taller on one side to form an L-shaped rack. This design holds the plates at three separate points rather than with spikes. There are also four half-rows of spikes on the other side of this rack, two of which are foldable.

While the product literature boasts a myriad of inserts to customize your racks, I was unable to purchase any from my local appliance dealer. (And it’s one of the largest appliance dealers in the Chicago area.) Perhaps now that I own the unit I could inquire directly of Miele about this issue.

Flow-through heater
Here is another feature that I believe puts Miele head and shoulders above the rest. While both Bosch and Asko claim this feature on some of their models, only Miele’s is good enough that they actually recommend connecting it to your cold water line to save energy.

I have not done this, but my water takes so long to warm up (1 minutes!) that I like to use the following strategy: I load all the dishes (almost none of them need any rinsing), turn on the dishwasher, then run the hot water while it is filling, spraying down the sink and running the garbage disposal. Normally, by the time the dishwasher has filled, I have hot water for washing those items that are not dishwasher safe, without wasting nearly as much water as I used to when I had to run it hot before starting the dishwasher.

In my experience, the cold water takes between 15 and 20 minutes to come up to temperature, which is confirmed by a note I found regarding wash times: when cold water is used, ”program times will increase by approximately 25 minutes.” Since I’m rarely in a hurry for the dishwasher to be done, this is a non-issue for me.

Stainless Steel interior
Again, some level of stainless interior is standard on all of Miele’s dishwashers, though the upper level units have a premium grade stainless. This feature is more or less indispensable, considering that the drying method used is condensation. (Translation: the heat stored by the machine and the dishes themselves evaporates the water…so why is it called “Condensation” instead of “Evaporation”???) Since stainless steel retains heat much better than plastic, and since a certain degree of polish helps radiate it more efficiently (both heat and light bounce off shiny, smooth surfaces better than dull, pockmarked ones—think aluminum foil…), it really makes a big difference in how dry your dishes get without any added dry heat that can damage your dishes.

(And besides, it looks sleek and German that way.)

Built-in water softener
This, like the “Update feature”, seems to exist more to impress the customer than to be truly useful. If you have really hard water, hopefully you’ve already got a water softener (and if you don’t, it is worth the investment…). If you have just slightly hard water, a little research will tell you that dishwasher detergents have softening agents in them, and by simply adjusting the amount you use, you may find the problem solved.

It does sound neat, though, doesn’t it?

Water softener salt indicator
So you can hypothetically tell when you hypothetically need salt.

Fortunately, this feature can be easily disabled.

Rinse Aid refill indicator
I don’t think I honestly knew how fast these machines go through that stuff until I had this…

Double Waterproof system
The hose which connects your Miele dishwasher to your water supply terminates in a small box that encloses the connection. It is equipped with a sensor and shut-off valve, as is the sealed underside of the machine itself. If any leakage or overflow occurs at either point, the incoming water is shut off to prevent any further potential damage.

Of course, then a repairman has to come check it out and reset it for you…

Intake/Drain fault indicator
This is essentially to alert you that the Waterproof system has activated, though it can also simply mean that the filter is blocked.

Triple Filter system
Miele dishwashers utilize this 3-level filter system to prevent blowing food particles around the dishwasher. It does not, however, have a solid food disposer, so this filter must be removed periodically and cleaned. Located at the bottom of the dishwasher, it is both easily accessible and easy to remove. Cleaning it is a snap.

Child safety lock
All Miele dishwashers come with this standard feature. Since the water temperatures can be very high, if there is any chance your child may try to open the dishwasher (not easy to do, but possible), you will want to use this. I normally run the dishwasher after my children are in bed, so again, this is a non-issue for me.

51 dB operational noise level
I am at a loss to compare this to many of the competitors, since most craftily avoid giving you an actual dB rating to work with, preferring instead phrases like “QuietSeries 300 sound package—our quietest ever!”, which for all we know could be as noisy as a jet plane.

I can say that it easily passes the “turn-up-the-TV” test (meaning you don’t need to). At the risk of sounding loopy, I would even go so far as to say that it’s a nice sound…all you can hear is the very faint sloshing of the water inside, rather than the humming of a motor. I would honestly say it’s a sound I don’t mind…it’s even somewhat calming.

At the point in the wash cycle when the unit drains, there is a bit more noise, since it empties into your sink’s drain. However, I have found that it is brief enough that it is not bothersome.

509 kWh consumption per year
It’s difficult to know exactly what this is based on, especially since it changes depending on where you look. According to, , the number of kWh/year listed for the G841 is 340, with Asko models ranging from 200-300 kWh/year; Bosch, KitchenAid and Maytag models from 340-370; and other Mieles from 300-340. It is well within the guidelines of being “energy efficient”…but more than that, I cannot tell you.

To have and have not…or what features doesn’t it have???

Well, we’ve covered what features the G 841 model has; so what other titillating features could we get that we’re missing out on?

Starting with the knowledge that all Mieles will have a minimum of the features already listed (with the exception that some “space saver” models have a smaller capacity), here’s a list of those features that are available on the upper level models.

China & Crystal Wash
Since these items should not be washed at high temperatures, Miele offers a special cycle on the top models of each line that features a 115 water temperature.

Light Wash
For a smaller load or lightly soiled dishes, this cycle uses only 3.7 gallons of water, but is only available on the Touchtronic Premiere Plus. It would seem to be made extraneous by the next feature, however…

Once again available only on the very top model each in the Touchtronic and Incognito lines, this feature uses light to gauge how clean the wash water is and can cancel a fill and reuse the water if it is clean enough. This can save over two gallons of water.

Top Solo
No, it’s not the character from Star Wars, it’s the option that allows you to conserve water and energy by running the wash arms on the top of the dishwasher only. Unfortunately, if you see the note regarding racks, you’ll notice that an average dinner plate will most likely not fit in the upper basket. While some other dishwasher manufacturers have trumped this feature with the ability to isolate either top or bottom, Miele is somewhat trapped by the fact that their biggest asset, the cutlery tray, is on the top…

Anti-block sensor
On the Touchtronic Premiere Plus, this feature warns you if the middle spray arm is prevented from spinning freely. Of course, you could check it yourself before closing the dishwasher…

Turbothermic Plus drying
As far as I can tell, this is available on all models except ours and those in the Incognito line. Essentially, it consists of a small grille on the left-hand side of the control panel with a fan that circulates the air in the dishwasher to speed drying. Since the same thing can be achieved by opening the dishwasher, this once again seems extraneous.

Convection drying
This is, for the most part, the same as Turbothermic, except that it is featured only in the upper level Incognito models. Since these models have a sleek, continuous front panel, it wouldn’t do to interrupt it with a grille for drying. Therefore, they use a fan at the bottom rear of the machine to force the air out the top and over a cooling coil to condense the water.

Delay start
This feature is not available on Novotronic models. A 9 hour delay is available on the mid-to-upper level models, and a 24 hour delay on the highest level Touchtronic models. Only on those two same models is a wash time countdown also featured.

”Slimline” models
Miele offers two models—one each in the Touchtronic and Incognito lines—that are a mere 18 inches wide. They accommodate 9 place settings and have most of the more desirable features, including the cutlery tray (though obviously it becomes much smaller) and Top Solo washing…though if your dishwasher is that small to begin with, it seems to me silly to run only the top…

Now that you know what features are available, there’s one more important thing to know about Miele dishwashers…

From Start to Finish, or did you want a front panel with that?

Of all the models I mentioned, mine (the G 841) is the only one that only comes prefinished in black, white or stainless. The Touchtronic G 892 can be had prefinished in black or white, or can be ordered unfinished. For all other models, stainless steel front panels can be ordered (or black or white on some) from Miele for $20-200 or so, or a custom panel can be made by your cabinet maker to match your cabinets. Even the control panel itself must be purchased separately, in (you guessed it) black, white, or stainless (again, from about $20-200). Aside from being a bit of a hassle, this can add significantly to the price of the unit and must be taken into account when comparing prices between different models. When you consider that the Premiere Plus (the very top dishwasher in terms of features) costs nearly $2000 dollars before all this, that’s no chump change.

All right, so I know what you’re saying at this point. I could’ve learned all that from reading the product literature! Tell me how it really works!

OK, OK, I was getting to that...

What the FAQ? or some questions I’d want answered before ponying up $1200...

The cutlery tray sounds great, but is it a pain to load?

The way that the cutlery tray is designed, it holds all of the silverware on its side. (Since the spray arm for it is above it, the water needs to flow past both sides.) There’s a gorgeous photo in the product literature that show it fully (and anal-retentively) loaded. I took one look at that picture and thought that looks cool, but there’s no way I’m taking the time to load it that neatly!

There are very small plastic tines that help you position the silverware (and keep it on its side). They alternate between short and tall. It is relatively easy to more or less “drop” a piece of silverware between these tines and be done with it. If you’ve got a lot of silverware to fit in, you may want to take a little more time than that, so that it all fits.

But...I have found that if I actually take an extra moment to sort the silverware as I load it (all the knives together, the dinner forks, the soup spoons, the dessert forks and teaspoons) then when it’s time to unload, I can actually grab a whole fistful of soup spoons and “drop” them into my silverware drawer.

So the answer is no, it’s not a pain to load...but if you are a little careful, it’s even easier to unload...

Ok, How easy (or difficult) is loading in general?

I think the answer to this question may have more to do with whether your mother, like mine, was an expert at cramming a prodigious amount of dishes into her dishwasher. (Of course, she always washed them first, so crowding wasn’t much of an issue.)

You really can’t overload this or any other dishwasher and expect spotless results, so use some common sense. I have had reasonably good success with getting it pretty full without too much crowding, but there have been some instances where I’ve had to wipe out a few bowls that were a little too tight.

I will point out that the upper rack in particular has taken some getting used to. The reason for this is that there is a bar (one of the unremovable type) running front to back at about 1/3 of the distance from the left hand side. It is called a “coffee bar” (though it does not in any way resemble a place to get a good cappuccino), and it is there to allow you to tip items like coffee mugs toward the spray so they get cleaner. Since I get my coffee from a real coffee bar, I don’t use it for this specifically. What I actually use it for is glasses and baby bottles. [As you’ll see from the next question, since baby bottles don’t get clean, I first use a bottle brush to remove any residue, then lean them against the bar. Enough water gets in that they will pass my test, but without the help of the bottle brush, no way.] Since this keeps the glasses from being stuck in the corners, they come out nice and clean every time. (For more on my rant about corners and dirty glasses, see How to choose a Dishwasher: Is Miele right for you?)

Come on, no dishwasher is perfect...tell us what doesn’t get clean.

Ok, I’ll start again with the cutlery tray.

Occasionally, if you’re not careful to make sure that the spoons aren’t leaning over too much, they don’t get as clean.

Keeping in mind that, as I mentioned, the spray arm for the cutlery tray is above it, any smaller items you place up here will be clean on the top, but not so clean on the bottom. Examples would be small tupperware lids, baby bottle nipples and rings, etc.

Of course, speaking of baby bottles, they tend to have too narrow a neck to get cleaned properly. The only dishwasher I know of that can get these really clean is the kind with two hands, a bottle brush and some hot, soapy water.
The same goes for vases and cruets (if you don’t know what a cruet is, you don’t have one, so don’t worry about it).

Items that are placed on top of the fold-down racks (located on both sides of the Upper Basket) will not get clean unless they are not blocked by the items below them.

As mentioned earlier, plates that have a cupped rim and shallow bowls will often not get clean unless a space is left between them.

And your common sense will tell you this, but dishes that have baked on or burned on food will need soaking to get clean. That said, I have not necessarily had to scrub them first—if I let them soak for a while as I’m loading, sometimes that is enough to soften and loosen it. Once again, you should use your judgement.

Another note regarding cooked-on residue: In some instances (the spaghetti sauce pot springs to mind) the Pots & Pans cycle will do the trick. However, I would not use this cycle if you are also washing anything that might be considered delicate. Water that hot can be hard on your dishes over time.

How long are the wash cycles?

With the exception of the Economy wash program, which is 103 minutes (and the Rinse and Hold at 11 minutes), all the programs are 142-147 minutes in length. Once again, this is based on a hot water fill. If the fill water is not hot, it will take an extra 15-25 minutes.

So there you have it.

I am happy to take any other questions and add them to this FAQ, just leave me a note.

And to answer that very simple, standard question are you happy with it? I will give a roundabout answer:

My husband is both allergic to spending money and a giant skeptic as to whether a dishwasher existed that could convince him to stop rinsing first.

I’ve never heard a man speak so glowingly of a Kitchen appliance...

Thanks for reading!

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