Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Bob Cassette Rewinder: Hacking Detergent DRM (github.com/dekunukem)
1257 points by dekuNukem 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 401 comments

My $1200 7 year old Miele dishwasher stopped working a few months ago, with the “Intake/drain” light on red when starting a load. Dishwashers during the pandemic were sort of scare due to massive home remodeling demand, and the professional repair people would have cost $300 just to diagnose, so I went to try to fix it myself.

It turns out the water intake valve solenoid was jammed or gummed up somehow, as applying 120V to it directly had no effect. I went to find an OE replacement online only to find that they are $580, sold by only 2 places, and sold out. You need to be a certified Miele technician to buy them.

Given I knew the specifications from the model number and the printing on the solenoid itself wrt voltage and flow rate, I bought the cheapest replacement I could find on Amazon, spliced the wires into the existing harness and boom, it worked perfectly.

One thing I didn’t understand was why there were so many different inlet valves that all did the same thing. There were 120V AC and 12V DC versions but other than that the only difference was the water connector/dongle/bracket. It seemed absurd there would be so many but the reality is that actual solenoid is super generic and should only cost $20 and should be made to fit them all. Of course nobody really repairs things these days but I think this is the reason why. Even when the part could easily be standardized and replaced/repaired like a light bulb, companies want you to buy a whole new one.

A few weeks ago my Philips coffee machine broke down. It just stopped when I pressed the button for a coffee and went into error mode.

It turned out that despite my google-fu there isn’t a published repair manual to be found, Philips does not offer replacement parts anywhere oh and actually it’s a rebranded machine from Saeco...

So I just started taking it apart as the warranty had expired anyway. Took a bit of doing but ultimately found out that the motor for the bean grinder was broken.

With some luck by typing in some numbers printed on it I managed to find a place that sells them. With that it was a fairly easy fix that cost me 40 euros and an hour or three instead of 300+ for a new machine.

Also there is sweet satisfaction form having fixed a thing

Saeco is a Philips brand, no funny rebranding business going on: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saeco

Fair enough but nothing on the machine or labels inside it or the manual mention that. However later I found out that the parts are Saeco branded which did not help my search for them

Side note, but, depending upon where you live your warranty status should have no impact on whether you can safely take your device apart (unless you are unable to properly reassemble it, of course).

The whole "Warranty void if sticker removed" on a sticker over a screw or "Warranty void if panel removed" ... all of those things are scare tactics, and, in fact, not even legal in many places.

True, only reason I mentioned it was that if it was still in warranty I’d have sent it back for repairs instead

I'm glad you figured that out. I have a Saeco machine (Magic Deluxe) from 2004 that I've kept in working shape. Parts still aren't too hard to come by on ebay - although I'm now replacing the boiler and did end up with the wrong part before finding the correct one. Now I figure if I can get a gasket kit, I can fix the boiler I'm pulling out and have a replacement on hand when it leaks again in 5-10 years.

For the most part, googling part #s and looking at pictures will get you pretty far. These machines share a lot of parts with other Saeco/Gaggia/Philips models.

> Also there is sweet satisfaction form having fixed a thing

And if you do a video/write-up online you can share that feeling with others as well https://i.imgur.com/ZXAkTWC.png

I recently replaced the pump in my espresso machine. Turns out a lot (maybe all?) have the same solenoid pump and they are not expensive at about €25. Also found out my "Solis" machine is sold as Breville in the US.

Similar experience with a Miele. Inside it's about 4x more complicated than an American model: far more engineering around sensors and actuators and quality, while the American ones are designed with short lifetime and manufacturing costs as goals. Fortunately it came with a circuit diagram which made it easy to find a bad relay which had a generic replacement. Back in business for more years.

ps. Just remembered, that Miele also had a diagnostic/debug mode to tell you what system was faulting. Try that with your shitty builder's grade Whirlpool.

The thing is, all of it is garbage compared to appliances from 20 yrs ago before mfgr's started designing everything to planned obsolescence and IoT. American GE at least has an extensive parts network in country, while if your LG/Samsung breaks at this point you are basically SOL. On top of that the COVID-19 supply shock issues have exacerbated this situation.

> all of it is garbage compared to appliances from 20 yrs ago

There were garbage appliances 20 years ago, too... you just don't see them around anymore because they already broke down long ago.

American GE at least has an extensive parts network in country

Maytag, too. I had no problem finding Maytag parts recently.

The US brands have that. There's several good third party sites that have parts for most of this junk. I've saved a number of appliances with a $5 part. appliancepartspros.com comes to mind.

>American GE

No longer exists - sold to the Chinese: https://news.yahoo.com/ge-sells-appliance-business-chinas-qi...

I have a few LG appliances and while just a few years back finding parts for them would have been a challenge, it no longer is - there are several places online that specialize in them and I find it no harder to find parts for them as I do my few remaining GE appliances (that I have relatively few complaints about - heck my dishwasher is 15 years old at this point).

Love my LG front load washer/dryer though. Doesn't shake the house down on the spin cycle like the Duet HT it replaced and does the best job of rinsing out of any washer I have ever used - even the 1970's top loaders that used 20+ gallons per wash/rinse cycle that I grew up with :p

IoT is the worst. It's only convenient if you turn over your email address, all your device ids, your SSN, and your 1040 AGI. Otherwise you'll need to dismiss 20 nag popups before you can do anything.

I wouldn't mind IoT that electronically diagnoses and finds the part I need to replace. Maybe notification when was is done, but thats minor. In a small house can hear beep anyway.

Any "shitty" builders grade whirlpool will have a full schematic and repair manual with it. In fact, most have a place inside the bottom front panel where this manual is attached.

They also have diagnostic modes and test cycles. Though not that easy to use. Perhaps the miele is more user friendly when it comes to repairs.

Not in the last two I've bought here in the States...

If the manual isn't included you can find it online. Usually just search model number and PDF and you will find it.

Is lasting twice as long really a convenience if the repair costs ten times as much? I've always preferred simpler appliances that are easy to work on.

Is 10x repair cost right? Parts maybe 2x-5xish? For labor, I think it's the same "appliance repair" network as the others, so whatever that rate is, trip fee plus hourly.

Well the original poster said his Miele intake valve solenoid was $580 OEM. The one from Whirlpool is $40.

It sounded like it was $580 through unauthorized channels, and an authorized service technician would probably get them at cost.

The fact that the GP was able to find and substitute an equivalent part for cheaper means that the $580 had to be including the price of Something Else, and the fact that it was for sale in two different places means it wasn't just Miele.

Why would an unauthorized channel exist if it was more expensive than the authorized one? If I want a part for my Maytag dryer I just buy it. What kind of cockamamie scheme are they trying to pull by not selling parts?

Who even keeps them this long? after a few years they start to get gross inside and not work as well.. time to replace them and get a brand new one...

I noticed my 5 year old dishwasher was a bit dirty inside. Rather than throwing it away and buying a new one, I cleaned it with a cloth and some general kitchen cleaning detergent.

I then cleaned it with the recommended cleaning chemical and cleaning cycle.

It seems as good as new, to me.

It would never occur to me to discard a working dishwasher at 15 years, let alone “after a few years”.

I clean the filter about every other month and that’s largely it. They sell a dishwasher cleaner that you run though a cycle. I’ve bought one but haven’t seen the need to use it yet. Stainless interior looks brand new to me at around 7 years of use.

Use the cleaner! It removes non visible lime build up in pipes and pumps.

It’s not for the steel interior really.

That makes sense and you convinced/activated me. It’s running a cleaner right now. Thanks!

You can clean them. It's part of expected maintenance like changing your car's oil. This is basically true of all appliances. This is approximately saying who even keeps pants for a 2 years after I wear them a few times they are all dirty.

We used a dishwasher for ~20 years. It wasn't even broken when it was given away (it's still working at someone's home).

When it was leaving home its insides were spotless and odorless. It was still cleaning as good as its first day. Home appliances have long lives with proper yet minimal maintenance.

BSH group's appliances are pretty solid. Miele as various people written here is generally fussy, and they don't live longer than a properly cared Bosch or Siemens, yet their tolerances are lower.

Dad sold these things when I was little. Never sold Miele because he didn't wanted to sell headache to people.

Maybe i have bad luck with dishwashers?

i have a whirlpool washer/dryer i bought in 2006 for our large famliy (2 adults and 3 kids). we have worked that thing to the bone every weekend doing massive loads (everyone overloads it so they dont need to do two runs).

The dishwashers on the other hand (whirlpool, bosch, etc) only last ~5 years before they start going bad (poor quality washing, not draining properly, door not closing, electronic panel not working, etc)

> Maybe i have bad luck with dishwashers?

Strange, maybe. Currently I know of two Bosch, one Siemens and one Samsung machine in service. All of them are being used for more than five years and the oldest one only had a water-pump change since the water in the area was extremely hard & it was only used only some parts of the year.

Currently all are working without any problems.

Some of us clean them. It's trivial and involves a little vinegar.

i always see this as a form of stockholm syndrome.

My excesivly expensive and needlessly complex appliance is better then your cheaper and more common model becaues of a bunch of features no one cares about?

Can anyone access the Miele diagnostic board, or does it need some special Miele only tech to buy and use? Does the average consumer care that it has this function, espeiclaly when it is also so much more expensive to repair?

You can get a new base-model dishwasher for what the OP priced the replacement part at??

calling another brand "shitty" is just bad, no one said your clearly superior miele is shit, but you did to another brand for no reason?

I view dishwashers as disposable, after 4-5 years i throw them out and get a new one....

> Can anyone access the Miele diagnostic board

Yes, it codes on the washer's display. There's a few secret key presses to show errors and reset things if you can use a search engine, eg https://removeandreplace.com/2016/06/30/miele-dishwasher-err...

Funny...my way over-complicated LG clothes washer started leaking water all over the floor a week or two ago. A little poking around revealed that there's a water steering assembly, a modestly complicated bit of plastic with 3 solenoids attached. Searching Amazon, the OEM part is $70, but a half dozen places sell nearly identical units for $20, next day shipping. I noted there seemed to be 2 different versions of the knockoff replacement, differing in the angle of the wiring attachments.

Works perfectly.

Of course nobody really repairs things these days

While I'm sure the OEM would prefer you buy a whole new item, and a 'certified repairman' is likely to spend the extra for the OEM part, the existence of an aftermarket where someone has gone to the trouble to produce a nearly identical replacement part (and perhaps 2 different manufacturers have) tells me that people are in fact fixing these things.

Ha - I have a new LG front loader and took the covers off to have a look around. It has at least half as many if not 2/3 less parts than the Whirlpool Duet HT it replaced. And the motherboard is tucked up at the top of the washer, not down below like my Duet.

I mean the Duet HT lasted me 15 years (and may last someone else another 15 if I get around to selling it) but the LG bests it in every way. Most impressively it's whisper quiet, barely makes any noise on all but the highest spin speed and even then doesn't shake my whole house like the Duet did. And it does a fantastic job cleaning my laundry. My towels have never been fluffier or more absorbent. It's almost as if someone replaced them mid-wash.

If it's half as reliable as my Duet I'll be ecstatic, and if it breaks I'll fix it. There aren't that many parts and diagnosing these things is pretty easy if you have at least minimum problem solving/deduction/critical thinking skills.

They are. For many, a new appliance is a significant investment. Even when it's not, I'd rather pay 200€ for a used washer than 700€ for a new one. There has to be a network of repairmen who refurbish and resell machines for that to happen.

I also repair my appliances because it's quick. I can usually fix it in a day or two without interacting with another human, for very little money.

. . . and in non inconsequential numbers. There's a critical mass to establishing this aftermarket.

I've been able to keep my Fisher & Paykel dish drawers operating since 2004. Besides supplying parts, they also offer retrofits as they've made design improvements over the years. Ditto for a Fisher & Paykel double oven.

I'm recently annoyed by my Honda lawn mower which requires a complete transmission replacement ($220) due to a worn out key slot in the drive shaft. Annoying since the transmission itself is well built, but you can't buy just the drive shaft:


(I have an HRX217 but the transmission design is similar.)

... that’s when you decide to buy a lathe, and now you have a whole new hobby.

A local machine shop could probably build up the steel in the worn keyway in the shaft with a welder and cut a new keyway for a good deal less than the new part cost.

Good idea. The lawnmower is of course built around the transmission, so removing it is a bit of a hassle.

What I'll probably do is replace the easily replaceable parts (key, spring, clamps, washers, gear), give it a good lubrication, and sell it (disclosing the worn part) and replace it with a battery-powered mower. I'm tired of dealing with gas machines. I'm under no illusion that a battery-powered mower will be as durable, but I'm just done with the noise and pollution of gas.

Might not work for you but I enjoy using a push mower. I have an electric mower that I have to use if the grass gets too tall but the cord gets in the way.

My electric cuts 19" and the push mower is about the same, maybe a little wider. Cheap battery mowers are 16", maybe even 14". 22" ones are available for $450 on up. I'd consider buying one of those if the batteries would last for 5 years. My experience so far with cordless tools is not positive.

That’s a good plan. I’ve been using a battery mower for a couple years now and don’t miss gas at all. It’s nice having a mower that just works. I hardly mind mowing at all now.

I have a Maytag washing machine & dryer from 1955 that still run and the only thing either ever needs is a new belt every 15 years or so.

I've seen the inside of modern washing machines and the difference between the two is stark.

Both machines are actually extremely simple, but the Maytag is incredibly overengineered. Every last component is quality.

Modern machines do everything in the PCB but every component had maximum cost squeezed out of it.

Small engine repair shops may have a used shaft - or look for the same/similar mower on Craigslist with a dead engine - how my friend repaired a rototiller.

There is a reason that appliances, or pretty much any product these days, do not last.


I honestly 100000% believe that people use this term incorrectly almost all the time. Planned obsolescence is when something is deliberately made to break quickly so that you buy another one.

What is happening here is different - it's a question of "how do we make it as cheap as possible and last as long as the warranty".

They sound the same but they really aren't. No one is designing these devices to break deliberately. But companies absolutely are swapping metal cogs for plastic ones because a plastic cog won't break during the warranty period and that's what matters.

Sometimes there is a good reason to use a more breakable plastic part. Baratza coffee grinders are sturdy and well-designed, but there is a plastic gear in the power chain between the motor and the burrs.

That gear isn't plastic because it's cheaper than a metal gear, it is a sacrificial part.

Suppose you get some coffee beans with a rock in them. The burrs seize up because they can't grind the rock, and you don't notice it in time to cut the power.

Imagine that every part in the power chain is as sturdy as the motor and the burrs. The motor may burn out, or else it manages to force the burrs to turn, ruining them.

Now you have to replace either the expensive motor or the expensive burrs.

Instead, the plastic gear fails, saving the motor and burrs. This gear is cheap and easy to replace. (Baratza may send you one for free, even if the machine is out of warranty. Their customer service is second to none.)

So there are some cases where a breakable plastic part can avoid damaging or ruining the more expensive parts.

Of course one could imagine other ways of solving the "grinding a rock" problem. Maybe some kind of sensor to turn off the motor if it seizes up? But that would increase the cost of the grinder, and who knows if it may have other failure modes. Since this is such a rare situation, the sacrificial plastic gear is a simple and effective solution.

The factory gear in the tailgate window mechanism in a Toyota FJ55 Landcruiser is made from machined plastic for exactly the same reason.

People make replacement out of brass. I shudder.

When I was a kid, our family went to a drive-in theater in the family station wagon. I decided to watch by sticking my head out the back window. My dad decided to close the window; thankfully he realized my head was there before he finished. I'm glad I never got to find out if there was a plastic gear in the mechanism.

Oof - yes, that repair is going to cost a lot more than a new motor or burrs for a coffee grinder!


A better solution than a replaceable gear.

Not true, those things are deliberately designed to blow as soon as possible after warranty expires. Open any device, look for the capacitors near the energy supply.

Those do not like heat, and if you model the heat correctly, you fit the bell curve of expiration exactly after the 2-3 years after the warranty expires.

If you improve the cooling of the area, most devices lifetime can be doubled. I always wondered why no repair shop takes advantage of this, by offering a doubled warranty, for defusing planned obsolescence ahead of time.

It can be hard to move the capacitors without having to redesign the entire power supply, as increasing the distance will increase the inductance. Increased inductance will make most power supplies less stable. One thing I have done in the past when I haven't seen any ceramic capacitors on the output side, on switching power supplies, is to solder a surface mount ceramic capacitor under the electrolytic output capacitor to reduce the ripple it sees, which will reduce the amount of heat generated internally.

An easier thing to do is remove the heat better. This can be done by making sure that the intake air first cools the capacitors (outside air->caps->transistors). Since most power supplies these days are shoved into a plastic box with no venting, it can be easy to add a few vent holes and a small fan. If you do this, make sure that all of the capacitors are discharged before handling as not all power supplies have bleeder resistors to make sure the capacitors self-discharge in a reasonable time period.

I would agree with you, excpet for these points.

1. They don't want consumers, or third party repairs, seeing Factory Repair Information. (They pick, and choose which appliance repair shops get the information, and it's tied to sales. Try finding a independant repair shop these days?)

2. They usually don't sell parts out side of warranty. When they do, they are marked up very high. (If enough models were sold, the part might have a genetic equivelant.)

3. It seems like they make repair just difficult enough, so people just buy new again? I have a family member who admits Bosh appliances are overpriced, and have short lives. She still buys the brand? I believe Bosh psychologists know why?

4. Right now I have two Bosh appliances on life support. I fool around with electronic repairs so I have them kinda working. If you get an E13 error on a Bush Washer, it's usually the drain pump. In order to open the door, you need to shopvac the water from the drain hose.

5. I've noticed the weak spot on Bosh appliances is the computer, and I get it. It's not the best enviornment for electronics. Make the computer boards similar to vechicle boards. It's pretty rare for a vechicle's computer to fail. Meaning they are built for a nasty environment.

I don't know why you have so much trouble with Bosh, they're up there with other well known brands such as Sorny, Panasomnic and Magnetbox.

On the other hand I have a cordless Bosch drill/driver set I bought refurb, they've held up to years of neglect and (not pro) use. Maybe give them a try next time?

Edit: jokes aside, that's good information. Fwiw I had to babysit a little tube for an hour+ to drain a Samsung washer to get at the drain filter. I wish I could have used a shop vac to speed that up.

What really is the difference? If you know a plastic cog has a 90% chance of breaking after 6 months you're effectively planning on it breaking. You're basically arguing that intent matters more than the effect of creating disposable products.

Yes that's the entire point of `planned` obsolescence. The word itself quite clearly signifies a requirement for intent to be there. If you make your product as cheaply as possible and because of this it does not last long does not mean it's planned obsolescence. It's just a cheap product.

My point is in *either* case you're planning on it breaking .

Not really. You can buy a hammer made out of metal, or a plastic one for half price. The plastic one will break long before the metal one would. Is the manufacturer "planning" for breakage? Or it is just a side effect of the product being cheaper?

Real planned obscolescence is making software that requires online authentication and then switching off the auth servers 3 years in so that the customers have to buy a new version. That's a deliberate action.

> Is the manufacturer "planning" for breakage? Or it is just a side effect of the product being cheaper?

It can be both. I was in a hardware store looking at painter ladders and noticed many of them had the two sturdy metal ladders kept together by a piece of plastic. Pretty much everyone would think they were extremely durable, while actually the weak link would soon wear to make the entire product useless. Was it incompetence or planned obsolescence? I have no idea, still I wonder why I spotted the problem in 5 seconds straight although I am no engineer.

No. A cheaper product may be more durable due to less complexity.

>> What is happening here is different - it's a question of "how do we make it as cheap as possible and last as long as the warranty".

They are choosing to ask this question.

But it's possible to ask other questions.

Let's take the example of the Gigabyte "Ultra Durable" mothers.

It's a motherboard series with some improved parts with a focus on reliability. And they are relatively cheap parts. And supposedly the really increase the reliability of this motherboard.

And they've built an affordable brand around it.

And people like it.

Using inferior parts that don't represent a substantial savings in hopes of having the device last just barely as long as the warranty so the user will have to buy a new one IS planned obsolescence.

I think even if the motivations can have different origins, they can lead to the exact same thought process and product.

So yes, strictly speaking they are not the same and they can lead to different outcomes, but I am not sure how much of a difference it makes in terms of real world results. Sure, it depends on the cost structure of the product and a few other factors, but in the end many products will just break right after the warranty period.

When my first electric razor stopped working, I decided to open it up and figure out why. It turns out the connection from power to the motor rotor was by graphite rods, similar to pencil leads. It's certain that the graphite was designed with a specific lifetime in mind, and once it ground down to nothing you got metal-on-metal grinding that destroyed the motor.

Carbon brushes are normal motor design. Replacements are available at real hardware stores that haven't completely devolved to housewares.

This assumes that you've noticed the problem before irreparable damage occurs, and you're familiar enough with motors to know what to look for and where to find parts. Neither was true in my case.

> No one is designing these devices to break deliberately.

Except if you design something to break right after the warranty (or as close to it as you can get using the cheapest materials possible), that is what you are doing.

But these two things really aren't the same. You could design something to definitely break after 2 years, or something that lasts at least two years.

There's a bit of survivorship bias going on here though. The only appliances still working from more than (X number of years) ago are going to by definition be those that were built to last for more than (X number of years).

So your only reference point is seeing that all the older appliances seem to be built to last. You'd need to do research on all the options that haven't lasted to today to find out if modern stuff really does break faster, and that's much harder to do.

If the coil itself hasn't burned out (easy to check with a multimeter), a bit of cleaning could be sufficient to fix it.

Indeed a lot of the mechanical parts like valves, pumps, etc. will be available online from various places, and I bet you'd be able to find the same thing on AliExpress cheaper than Amazon.

As for why there are so many variations, it could be a form of vendor lock-in (like laptop AC adapters, where the number of different output voltages is far greater than the tolerance itself), or different companies just chose different OEMs.

Thats why I keep my more then 15 year old espresso machine and resist the urge to get me something fancier. If somethings brakes i can got to the local hardware store and buy stuff from plumbing supply. Its also a generic clone of the E61 machine so a lot of parts are interchangable and the inner workings are straight forward so said i don't even need a manual for the specific machine.

Since I didn't know what the E61 machine is:


The hard part of fixing it can be that the manufacturer used a range of sources for each part. The parts are available, but it can be difficult to tell which easily available part is the right one. This is only a problem for fixing a single device - if you fix many, then you likely have multiple parts anyway.

yep, most home appliances are surprisingly easy to repair, the intimidating part is that you never did such repair and have no idea how to go about it. But there's the Internet and you can find instructions on Youtube to fix almost anything. Water pump in dishwasher, bearings in a washing machine, heaters, sensors - almost everything is replaceable. And many parts are reused between models and brands so with some searching they can be had cheaply. Usually it's not worth it to pay a service guy to fix your 15 year old device as it's probably nearing its end of life anyway, but why not give it a chance and try to fix it before throwing away..

That's the same sort of thinking I go through when walking down the plumbing fittings aisle of home depot. Slip fit threaded mpt fpt barbed 1/2", 3/4", 1", garden hose, pex, ...

I think the permutations make it hard.

Actual news about hacking! It is interesting that this is in the UK ... i'm fairly sure most rents come with a full-sized dishwaster when furnished and all properties have the plumbing for one. I'm not sure what the market is. Especially that one of the main value adds was "no mess" when our dishwashers all accept pre-form tablets for detergent.

Anyway, I adore these kinds of blog posts. Tinkering, naughtiness and a big dollop of technical knowhow.

> It is interesting that this is in the UK

Not sure where you get that from, "Bob" is made/from Paris, France https://daan.tech/en/about-daan-tech/

In Western/South West Europe (Portugal, Spain, France), full-sized dishwashers are a bit more uncommon I think, especially in single/double room flats in bigger metropolitan areas where flat sizes tend to be in the smaller range. As an anecdote, I've lived in maybe ~20 places and only two of them had come with a dishwasher, only one of them was an apartment.

This is the first time I hear about "Bob" and my current place couldn't fit a full-size dishwater but in order to save time and water, I might actually get this. The price is a bit high for what it is though.

Presumably from £ being the primary currency in the readme. I think GP means the hacking is from UK, (and contributors) rather than the manufacturer of this mental device, which is surprising because who in the UK would have one of these when 'normal' dishwashers are basically ubiquitous.

Is this a London thing?

I've rented in the UK for decades and I've never had a dishwasher or space for one. Friends haven't bothered with dishwashers until they had kids, and then they needed to create a space and add some plumbing.

Dishwashers in the UK seem like the opposite of ubiquitous. Maybe I live in a strange bubble.

These counter-top ones? Not that I'm aware of. I have a normal (though half-width, but that just makes sense for a 1 bed place really) one in London.

Maybe older builds that haven't been updated wouldn't have any space for one as you say, without re-jigging cupboards, so maybe people do. But then you're losing work surface for it..

My view on the utility of those devices :

I lived in Paris for a while. Large appartement have dishwasher, but in single units, it’s uncommon.

I remember looking for solution like that for a renter in a small place without proper plumbing to accommodate a dishwasher.

I also see a market for the so called tiny house folks or full time RVer.

I don’t find that particular product appealing too much, but I would like to see more like that. And I know folks around me that would buy one if it’s was more open and fixable.

I've rented.....8 houses so far, all in North East(Newcastle) and every single one of them had a dishwasher. I suppose maybe part of it is that I simply wouldn't rent a place without a dishwasher ;-)

presumably "houses" is the key word here?

Fair, but in my experience with the UK something like a 2 bed house is really just an apartment cosplaying as a house.

Well in a lot of places, the fact it is a self standing property means the owner can do whatever they want with it without having to consult a "building committee".

Like rearranging plumbing/electrical however you want.

Whether landlords use this advantage for tenants quality of life is a whole other story.

I've rented flats outside london for years, always come with a dishwasher. I'm on a high salary though, so it may skew my world view of what is "standard"

Anecdata: I've rented 2 flats in London over the last 30 years (and been a frequent visitor to 4 more); none had a dishwasher. Rented one house in Newcastle; also no dishwasher.

Every place I've rented in London had a dishwasher, and we're talking 6 places over 15 years

Some UK flats are tiny and can't fit a full-size dishwasher.

And as a singleton, you don't often make enough dishes to justify a full load either. (although a twin drawer dishwasher would work a treat there)

If your flat is so small that you can't have a dishwasher, do you really want to occupy some (probably significant) fraction of your countertop with this thing? It looks like it could wash maybe a few plates and cups at a time. That would take maybe 2 min to wash by hand in the sink. The entire premise of this device seems ridiculous to me.

I have a disability and can't really wash dishes by hand. imagine all your plates and cups are made of thick lead.. that's what it feels like.

I'd gladly use a tabletop dishwasher if I didn't have one, otherwise I'd have to use paper plates and plastic cups.

I live in a UK flat without a 'full-size' dishwasher. Did you see OP though? This isn't about that, my half-width one still goes under the counter and takes normal tablets.

Yes, I found it strange that anyone in the UK would find value in this device enough to ship one... nevermind hack the cartridge.

Yes I agree. Never heard of these, seems totally bizarre, but I suppose I get the appeal (if you didn't know/think about the proprietary connection/protocol) if your kitchen/scullery wasn't designed with space for a dishwasher. But how many properties in the UK can be like that? Not very many, I'm sure an estate agent would tell you you'd have a hard time selling without 'updating'.

I don’t know about the UK, but Paris provide a large number of incredibly tiny apartment without dishwasher and the landlord is not open to make the plumbing accommodation to setup one. If even possible.

I had to pay it myself once in 2013. It was a sunken cost I was ok with given how cutthroat the real estate market is and how much I hate to do dishes.

"Bob" is not the only countertop dishwasher that exists; this is a solid market segment. It's also worth noting that the median price of these things is less than Bob, even before you add in the cost of buying a dishwasher with an extra corporate revenue stream embedded in it.

Do you have some suggestions for other brands? I have had my fingers on the order button for some weeks but and haven't found good reviews of other products yet.

Right now I just have a link to a review I ended up at off of the Wirecutter: https://www.reviewed.com/dishwashers/best-right-now/the-best...

(I've been meaning to get one since the beginning of this year but cashflow has been pretty tight, so it keeps slipping.)

Absolutely not made in Paris, but La Roche-sur-Yon in Vendée.

> I'm not sure what the market is.

Here's the 2019 data on dishwasher ownership in the UK [0]. More than 50% of two-adult households have them, rising to 64% for two-adult-two-children households. Retired single adult households have the lowest percentage (28%)

[0] https://www.statista.com/statistics/289337/distribution-of-d...

How strange. I've lived in a dozen or so rented properties in the UK and only had a dishwasher in one of them.

Really great post indeed ! As a small data point, I'm renting a 40-50 m² flat in the UK and only have a washer/dryer. No dishwasher and no additional plumbing for one.

There are tabletop models which need little extra plumbing.

I've rented many flats and not a single one has had a dishwasher. I wish my current flat had one, washing dishes is the chore I hate the most.

>I'm not sure what the market is.

I assume the target is the tiny home/mobile living market.

Probably the market is students.

Loved the obsessiveness! FWIW the entire beer-brewing industry runs on NaOH for cleaning and sanitising. Disposing of it is not quite as environmentally-friendly as the dishwasher manufacturer seems to want you to believe -- in most places you'd be in serious trouble if you poured any significant quantity down the drain.

eta: I've just looked up the constituents of the dishwasher tablets we've been using, and yes, indeed, they're mostly NaOH, an inert carrier (Na2SO4) and a variety of water-softeners, packaging films to keep everything in tablet form (but soluble) and a small number of helper enzymes, perfumes and whiteners. Looks like a teaspoon of NaOH might work justabout as well. :D

For my own dishwasher I’m using a mix of Potassium hydroxide (Potash), Sodium hypochlorite (Bleach) and Sodium tripolyphosphate (Phosphates). This is strong stuff, so make sure hoses/tubes, seals and connections are compatible if anyone wants to try this.

Instead of rinse aid I’m using a 50% citric acid/water solution. The final rinse is at 85c or 185f. The stuff dries instantly. A built in fan/condensation system prevents moisture inside and outside the machine. I’m using two commercial grade peristaltic pumps for the chemicals. I have also considered an enzyme pre-wash; Protease and Amylase. The diswasher is commercial grade, but the racks and operation is just like a normal household dishwasher.

Drinking glasses come out spotless. Rinse Aid is not necessary. I hold them up to the sunlight for inspection and I see nothing.

I'd be interested in reading more about this setup if you ever do a write up.

I will try to make a video or write about this sometime :) The feedback would be helpful and I care about people having an ideal dishwashing machine that operates with the least cognitive load.

Yes please share what country you’re in and what equipment you use? This is very interesting.

I’ve come to the conclusion that buying “consumer” or even “prosumer” appliances is a lost cause, all the brands use the same 3 white label Chinese manufacturers and you get the same quality no matter what you buy, you can expect to be shopping for a new appliance in <5 years time.

I’m hopeful that commercial appliances aren’t yet at that stage, you end up paying a significant premium but you save in time and lost effort when you don’t have to deal with buying a new one so soon.

> I’ve come to the conclusion that buying “consumer” or even “prosumer” appliances is a lost cause, all the brands use the same 3 white label Chinese manufacturers and you get the same quality no matter what you buy, you can expect to be shopping for a new appliance in <5 years time.

In general that's very true across industry now. For more information on this white labeling phenomenon this documentary is great:


>country and equipment.

Norway. Asko DWC5926 (DWC5926W). Seko PR-4 and PR-1.

This is the short version. There are some issues and fixes you should be aware of. Like how to fix a design fault at a circulation pump wire. There is also an easier way to rewire the machine from 3 phase to single phase if you’re doing that. Generally the Asko machine is a unicorn. You can also look at the Miele professional dishwashers that come with automatic dosing systems and sanitizing rinse.

I'd drop the bleach if your dishwasher has stainless steel interior walls. Chlorine is hostile to stainless steel, causing pits in the oxidised surface of the metal, resulting in corrosion.

>bleach and stainless steel Thank you for pointing that out. I was worried about Bleach corroding stainless steel inside and outside the dishwasher. Bleach has serious issues related to being used in a dishwasher and in general. I can’t find good information about Bleach in my digitized dishwasher notes. I know that I paused until I had resolved these issues. Corrosion of stainless steel worried me the most. If I can’t find better notes or remember why I was convinced; then I will have to stop using Bleach.

Sodium hydroxide is only dangerous if concentrated. Diluted, and especially if it is mixed with wastewater, it'll just react with the various organics to form soap-like chemicals.

If anything, it'll help clean your sewage pipes!

PS: Most draincleaners are just a concentrated NaOH mixture. Consumers pour them down their drain all the time and nobody worries about this either...

My plumber always tells me never to use drain cleaners, so I wouldn’t say nobody worries about it...

Your plumber tells you to never use something that might result in you not needing his services? Imagine that!

Devil's advocate: the back of those drain cleaner solutions make a point that the solution should never sit or pool in any surface or pipe. You have to run water and chase it down so it doesn't corrode the pipes. I know where I live some of the pipes have "flow issues" because of bad design, and if there was already a partial blockage I can see drain cleaner corroding the pipes...

We just mechanically clean them out ourselves, anyway.

Maybe if you have metal drain pipes. They sell the stuff in plastic bottles. If you have PVC drain pipes, it isn't going to disolve them.

If you ask them why they say its because it'll often dissolve the pipes before the blockage. Most of the trades people I talk to aren't looking to maximize their work. I've had them turn down jobs for being too gross and I don't blame them.

They'll generally use a snake/auger. Home Depot sells a basic one for $15. The beefier, further reaching ones cost more. Or, for smaller jobs, there are single-use plastic snakes.

You should avoid drain cleaners because in high concentrations they corrode metal.

The compound is fine in your dishwasher because it will fully react and neutralize in your plastic or coated metal dishwasher casing.

But u happily eat it on pretzels? There's no issue in low concentrations

People most certainly don't eat sodium hydroxide on their pretzels anymore than they eat raw egg in their cakes. Coating pretzels with lye before baking causes a chemical reaction that consumes the lye. You really, really shouldn't ingest any amount of lye, lest it react with the inside of your squishy organic matter like the surface of pretzel dough...

Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is lye, which shouldn't be consumed. Pretzel salt is sodium chloride (NaCL).

In German, I think their full name is Laugenbrezel. The full name may not be much used[1] colloquially, because it's implied -- but bread rolls made the same way are definitely called Laugenbrötchen.

"Lauge" is German for "lye". They're called that because they're made with it.

[1]: Though when I switched my phone keyboard to German just now to test it out, the predictive spelling corrector suggested "Laugenbrezel", not "-brötchen", when I'd got as far as "Laugenb".

Nope, pretzels are made with lye (NaOH). That's how you get the tasty brown Maillard reaction coating - boil the dough in lye water, then bake, then salt it.

Though it doesn't have to be lye - you can use other less caustic bases, such as baking soda.

Some traditional pretzel/bagel recipes use lye: https://www.bakespace.com/recipes/detail/Soft-Pretzels-using...

Lye is used in the creation of pretzels and bagels.

Couldn't you dispose of it by mixing it with an acid first to turn it into a neutral salt?

Doesn't that produce toxic fumes?

Proprietary cassettes for dishwashing machines? That's next level. Also I don't get the advantage that you don't need to measure the detergent level, I have always used standard "all-in-one" tabs (1 tab = 1 wash) for my dishwasher, they cost around 0.15 Euro per wash and they only thing I need to add ever few weeks is salt (due to hard water). You can buy the tabs in large packs like 100 in one plastic bag and they are not individually packed (the packaging dissolves during the wash). No need for shipping back the cassette to refill or complicated recycling. We are reinventing the wheel again.

> Proprietary cassettes for dishwashing machines? That's next level.

Although it is proprietary, to be fair on two points: there wasn't really any "DRM", it was literally just a one byte counter on an EEPROM so that a cartridge could digitally record the number of washes remaining, and the machine made no attempt to prevent this being changed. The manufacturer also did not prohibit the cartridges from being refilled by owners, this is in stark contrast to printer manufacturers.

I agree they could have done way more to make it easy for users to refill, although it's not prohibited it's completely impractical without some EE knowledge, and as the author says sending cartridges around the world is not a very efficient way of getting detergent back into these things. To be honest a better design would be no cartridges and a couple of reservoirs with level sensors (As you essentially suggested regarding measuring detergent level), since the machine already seems to be capable of pumping an accurate amount of liquid out of the cartridges they wouldn't even need to measure, just fill... I suspect the reason they didn't do this was for a more "consumer friendly" design where users have to do the least possible work, as it is more of a luxury product than a utility.

I'm not entirely convinced they are trying to make a serious margin on the cartridges, they work out about 3x the cost of the most expensive dishwasher tablet, but they have to send the thing back to france to be reprocessed and programmed... probably not at a scale to be very cost effective.

I do love the article though, it's great to be able to hack on stuff like this when the manufacturer made poor decisions.

Is is exactly DRM: it's a digital method intended to restrict the user from undesirable usage (from the manufacturer's point of view).

Early restrictions on printer cartridges in the 1990s were simple: they could be bypassed with a bit of tape, or pressing a combination of buttons on the printer. Later, the chips could be reset, probably in a way similar to this. Now, there are encryption keys etc.

> suspect the reason they didn't do this was for a more "consumer friendly" design

That is naïve.

>> suspect the reason they didn't do this was for a more "consumer friendly" design

> That is naïve.

We are supposed to avoid this kind of retort on HN, but I'll try to read underneath the surface.

I am more likely than most to infer exploitative and manipulative intent behind the choices of large corporations. However I am also very much a realist.

Consider that this company (whom I never herd of before this post) is not some multinational behemoth like Samsung. This product is coming from a very new, small manufacturer of luxury, miniature home appliances in France (so far a manufacturer of 1 appliance it seems). Given their niche target market, it seems far more likely to me that their choice to use cartridges is an attempt to fit that market, than an attempt to milk people for huge margins at scale on a consumable. Yes it's far from economical, but nether is their product.

I may be wrong, but I am not naive.

The cartridge system certainly doesn't seem inconvenient, but given that they designed the system to hold at least 2-3L of water in a user refillable compartment, it slightly baffles the mind that holding 130mL of detergent and 35mL of rinse aid in a similar fashion was deemed impossible (or impractical).

From manufacturer's perspective, to make a user-refillable detergent/rinse container is against own interests all round:

- Give up on additional revenue;

- Costly to make machine more robust/tolerant to variations in composition/pH/viscosity/etc. of 3rd-party detergent;

- No good way to enforce rinse/calcite removal inside machine - without DRM, user can just pour water as "rinse" liquid, and then lie when RMAing the washer that eventually clogged up and broke.

Have you ever noticed at the pump that the nozzle for diesel doesn't fit in your car if it uses a gasoline engine? Try it some time. This is to prevent people who aren't paying enough attention from ruining their day by putting diesel in their car. It would be trivial to sell large commerical-grade detergent containers with similar protections to provide an affordable, fool-proof mechanism to refill their own cannisters. The best thing about this approach is that you could still provide the subscription based model to anyone who truly values the model (instead of being simply forced to use that model due to lack of a suitable alternative), giving your customers the best of all worlds. Obviously, that doesn't quite rake in the money the way that the "razor and blades" approach to gouging your customers in the name of convenience does.

Obviously anything that means you rake in less money is against the short-term interests of the sales department, but not necessarily the long-term interests of the company.

> This is to prevent people who aren't paying enough attention from ruining their day by putting diesel in their car.

FWIW this also protects against ignorant drivers who through no fault of their own have never filled up gas. Many countries are full service, as I believe are some US states?

Beats me why filling up gas is made out to be such a difficult task...

Per TFA:

>Credit where credit's due, Daan Tech didn't completely lock down the machine with Bob cassettes. Once empty, you can leave it there and add detergents manually.

If that was the true concern they'd have locked that up as well. They want you to pay for convenience, not for the warranty's sake.

I think noucermane is correct. Your point that there wasn't any software DRM does not mean that they did not intend it as DRM. I expect that they did a cost benefit analysis of additional electronics for SW DRM vs revenue lost due to hackers like this one for this version of their product, and found the tradeoff acceptable. This does not mean that if this hack became easily available and widely used, that they would not implement SW DRM on a later revision. Who knows, maybe the current version is already ready for SW DRM, it's just that they haven't felt the need to release the DRM version of the cartridge yet.

Given that they went out of their way to build an auto-renewal system in the device (a pretty sophisticated endeavor for a kitchen appliance manufacturer) it seems blatantly obvious that this lock-in was meant to prevent refills. Otherwise why not offer a manual override?

I have air filters that notify you when the filters should be checked or changed, I have coffee machines that tell you when you should descale them but they all let you override or ignore the issue if you so desire. And they're a lot less sophisticated than this device.

I'm not a fan of ad-hominem but I do agree with Symbiote that your take in a bit naive. You don't need to be a behemoth to embrace a crappy business model. Remember Juicero?

> You don't need to be a behemoth to embrace a crappy business model.

It's also the almost cliche case study in undergraduate business school. Known as the "Kodak" model or the "Gillette" model: "Give away the camera, sell the film" or "Give away the shaver, sell the blades" and while it's not an exact fit (I doubt they're selling the washer at cost) it's in the same vein.

I personally do think it their actions are deliberately exploitative. I don't inherently have a problem with offering users a 'more convenient' experience for a higher price, but there's absolutely no reason they couldn't sell their prefilled cartridges and also offer a refillable cartridge with a reset button, which can still tell you how many washes it has left. They also could absolutely sell the detergent directly to consumers, rather than implying it's some kind of secret sauce. Ultimately, this would cost almost nothing to engineer, and you wouldn't have to change the machine at all.

Their deceit is made more egregious by their supposed care for the environment.

I think investors are looking for the next Keurig. Sustainability be damned.

Look at the lengths Juicero went to create a subscription model for juice. Clearly there is a desire for that business model to be applied more broadly than just inkjet printers.

Absent any indications to the contrary, my default assumption is that we're seeing the same business model applied here.

> Is is exactly DRM: it's a digital method intended to restrict the user from undesirable usage (from the manufacturer's point of view).

Bollocks. DRM would have been to digitally sign the EEPROM.

I have beginner-level lockpicking skills. I can rake open the door locks from companies like Schlage and Kwikset used on most houses in the US in a few seconds. That they're easily defeated by someone with basic knowledge of tools for manipulating them does not mean they aren't locks.

This DRM will prevent the average consumer from refilling the cartridges even if it's easily defeated by those with a working knowledge of embedded electronics.

> I have beginner-level lockpicking skills.

Pretty irrelevant "argumentum ad verecundiam", but for the sake of argument, you are not "average" anymore. Being able to pick Schlage and Kwikset already puts you in the probably 0.1%.

Anyhow, back on track, the average customer does not refill their cartridges. I doubt the idea of doing so has even sparked in their head. (and yes, the average consumer is dumb).

> Being able to pick Schlage and Kwikset already puts you in the probably 0.1%.

What percentage of the general population knows how to dump an I2C EEPROM, do some reverse engineering to find the counter, and update the counter value? It seems easy to us because we're on HN, and many of us are EEs or other embedded systems people, but it's pretty specialized knowledge in the population at large.

This is absolutely DRM. Not effective DRM when squared off against an embedded systems engineer, but DRM nonetheless. Yes, they could have used a hardened encrypted EEPROM specifically built for these kinds of applications (for example, the ATSHA204A from Atmel/Microchip), but that would have cost more and in applications like this COGS for the disposable element is king. They probably assumed that a simple unencrypted I2C EEPROM would be good enough, and quite honestly they're probably right: unless somebody goes and starts selling a little dongle to reset these cartridges to consumers, it's only going to be a handful of technically-inclined power users resetting them.

> the average customer does not refill their cartridges

Yes, and this is why this rudimentary hardware DRM is sufficient for the current market. If the marketplace changes and the hack becomes easily attainable and widely used, SW DRM may emerge.

You're right for the wrong reasons. DRM doesn't have to involve encryption; but it does have to involve copyright.

A right-click blocker script or those domain locks on old Flash games is a form of DRM as long as it keeps you from copying something. Doesn't have to be elaborate, doesn't have to involve crypto. It just has to have the effect of stopping you from copying something that copyright law protects. Once you have that, then it's unlawful to remove the DRM unless it's for a lawful purpose; and it's unlawful to tell anyone how to remove it for any purpose.

I'm confused. Yes, normal consumers can probably figure out how to put detergent and rinse liquid in. But what percentage of customers is going to be able to overwrite an i2c EEPROM? It is DRM for almost everyone.

Printer cartridges used to be easier to fill, too. Give them time.

A small bit of trivia:

In the days of HP Deskjet 500C/510/550C trio, HP sold official black cartridge refill kits. It was a bit clunky, but you inserted your cartridge to a contraption, pulled some levers in order presented on the device and you'd have an officially refilled cartridge.

The black cartridges on these printers were transparent, held really liquid ink to the brim and the refill device had aluminum, HP branded ink bottles. Oh, the cartridges had air-pillows inside to maintain a positive pressure at all times.

My new printer has ink tanks that I can put any type ink into. No cartridges.

Which printer is that?

Epson ecotank. Other manufactures have tank inkjets as well to be more eco friendly and economical.

HP also has one. It's more expensive than normal ones, so it doesn't smell like razor-cartridge business model.

I'd happily buy one of these but, my current one runs like a champ and it's ink-advantage model, so it's really cheap to run.

Lasers are better if you don't print that often. I got one ten years ago and I'm still on the starter toner!

I have both laser and inkjet printers. Inkjet is for color, photos, and its scanning capabilities. Got a laser for printing papers during master and Ph.D.

Mine has split drum and toner. Its life is very long, but I need to find a new drum for it soonish, and it's a bit hard to find. Also Samsung's transfer to HP isn't helping.

Don't want to throw it away because it's a small business printer and a flawless machine from my point of view.

I have a laser for b/w. It’s a entry level brother printer. The toner cartridges they come with are only partially filled and replacements are expensive. My starting toner cartridge died after a couple reams of paper. Nice thing of about laser is the toner doesn’t dry up like inkjets but they also moved toward razor handle and blade model.

Some home lasers have this problem unfortunately. I think I learnt my lesson and started to buy home office equipment.

They're more serviceable, longer lasting and they're generally faster and higher quality overall. When used in light duty, they run as long as you can find refills for it.

I always buy original refills BTW. Yes, they're expensive but, they last for a long time and I sleep better at night.

I've got one of those entry level Brother laser printers. If you don't mind voiding your warranty, you can buy third party refilled cartridges for less than $20 on Amazon. They work just as well as the OEM ones.

The one Shaq is hawking.

On the other hand, one could argue that if the dishwasher manufacturer's intention was indeed to prevent user refills, they would have known to already implement their own strict "DRM-style" technological limitations, drawing from the history of printer cartridges. The fact that they haven't may well be a sign of good faith.

You might be right, time will tell. Or they might never develove into that position due to slightly better consumer protection laws since the HP thing.

> "all-in-one" tabs (1 tab = 1 wash) for my dishwasher,

Technology Connections explains why you actually want to use powder:

* https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rBO8neWw04

TL; DR: It allows for the pre-wash/rinse cycle to work properly and gets things cleaner, faster.

I'm a fan of the channel, and watched the video, but also haven't had issues with my Bosch not having a pre-rinse compartment. It washes far better than any dishwasher I've had before, including ones that had a pre-rinse compartment.

Your dishwasher was designed to be used without a pre-rinse and is good dishwasher. I’ve had not-so-great dishwashers with pre-rinse slots that were essentially required.

Since we are talking dishwasher life hacks: I always add washing soda (sodium carbonate) along with the detergent, for hard water. It's one of the main ingredients in dry detergent, but it's super cheap. It boosts pH and increases the ratio of sodium to detergent, reducing soap scum.

Washing soda? I’d never heard of it. Here is a nice explanation of how you make washing soda and the difference.

TLDR, bake some baking soda for a few hours to make washing soda.


Or just buy it at the store?

I haven’t seen a machine that holds detergent for prewash cycles nor powdered detergent here in Denmark for over a decade

Luckily, there's no need! Anything you'd put in a prewash compartment, you can put directly in the "tub" for the same effect

(Note this is not the case for the normal compartment - that does work differently)

My brand new Kitchenaid dishwasher has the prewash compartment on top of the normal compartment - effectively making it a measuring cup throwing its contents into the tub once you close the door.

When there is no holder for the prewash cycle, you can just dump some detergent directly in the dishwasher.

My dishwasher lacks the prewash basin as well and the manual recommends to just dump some detergent onto the door for the prewash cycle.

I just bought some the other day in Løvbjerg.

Same. I just opened my wash machine to check - no separate compartment for prewash.

I watched the same Technology Connections video and started adding a squirt (I use inexpensive liquid detergent) just directly on the inside of the door.

It has remarkably increased the “crud busting” power of my Bosch. I used to be fastidious about pre-rinsing before going in the dishwasher. Not I’m more confident to just go from table to washer (with a super quick rinse)

Even if you use tablets, buy a bit of liquid or powder and put about a teaspoon into the initial rinse.

On a tangent, the dishwasher is such a wonderful improvement on hand washing. My parents generation still sees the dishwasher as some kind of cheat or lazy way out.

They are so much more efficient and environmentally friendly than hand washing.

If you have more than one or two pots, you’ll easily use more than the couple of liters of water your dishwasher uses (and the heat for that water has to come from somewhere).

I'm not so sure about the environmental friendlyness. Our dishwasher runs for one and a half hour in eco mode. I'd need to measure how much energy it uses in the process. It feels so inefficient and slow. I'd spend about 20 minutes washing and drying the dishes on my own using cold water...

We still use it because with kids, every minute saved is a small win.

It does seem odd, but it is _far_ better than doing it manually. The reason it's so much more efficient is because it takes so long - it can do a great job despite using very little energy and water because it just keeps going at it gradually

The main power saving comes from running at lower temperature.

Heating up water takes way more electricity than running the pumps.

Take a look at the Technology Connections video. Most people would be astonished how little water is used.

And considering that practically all of the energy use is heating the water, that translates into low energy use.

The eco modes (or just generally, modes on newer dishwashers) take longer because to balance out the small amount of water, they need to spray the dishes more times. The energy use is low.

How much water and energy does it take to manufacture the machine? Mining the raw materials, transporting everything from different countries, etc, Sure it's convenient, but I'm not sold on the environment friendliness compared to hand washing. Of course, if you already have one it doesn't make sense to not use it, but much of our collective energy use comes from consumption and making new things we don't need.

Yeah just don't use too much. It was long ago but my then-roommate once used liquid dish detergent in the dishwasher because we had run out of dishwasher detergent. The seemingly endless gallons of foam flowing out onto the floor was quite memorable.

Same! Using normal dish soap that's sitting next to the sink anyways; if you only add a squirt, it doesn't start making foam like crazy as it pretty much gets "used up" by all the grease, and the result is so much better.

I agree

He even mentions that in the video, likely that your machine maker has altered their programmed cycles a bit to accommodate for it.

My ikea one from 2016 has one.

Both Ikea ones that came with my last and current place doesn't have one. Maybe it's a higher end feature.

I think I picked the cheapest one. Could it be a regional thing? I'm in Germany.

Another point regarding tabs: some of them contain rinse aids and salt (or other limescale mitigation) in addition to the detergent.

Salt needs to be dosed (read the manual and check the hardness of your water) which is not possible with tabs.

The rinse aid in the tab would be released at the wrong time together with the detergent. (Not sure how big of a problem this is).

One thing I have been doing since watching this video was to add a small scoop of Oxyclean to the dishwasher (in addition to the tab). The difference in cleanliness has been noticeable.

Yeah, this video was interesting but didn’t at all support the conclusion he made. He stopped the cycle half way through and basically compared washing with soap and without. Shocker,with soap was better. More surprising is how close without soap was.

I assume he skipped comparing full cycle because showing that there isn’t a difference doesn’t result in a catchy title and an interesting video.

The "Nespresso" businessmodel of cartridges is too environmentally unfriendly, and one of these days governments/EU will step in and crush it.

The "Nes" in the name is from Nestle, who owns it - so it being terrible can't a surprise to anyone.

> one of these days governments/EU will step in and crush it

This seems unreasonably optimistic

> Proprietary cassettes for dishwashing machines? That's next level.

Sony had proprietary cassettes for all kinds of products over the years, even when there were standards available (Betamax is the most famous but only one example)

I have 4 handheld voice recorders from the 1970s from my father. Philips, Norelco, Sony, and one other brand. All use the same size microcassette except the Sony. Fuck you, Sony.

Betamax wasn’t any more proprietary than VHS which was developed by JVC. It has a fairly large number of manufacturers that produced VCRs including NEC, Toshiba, Aiwa and Pioneer the issue was mainly cost and the fact that Betamax cam recorders could not be miniaturized as efficiently and as cheaply as VHS so you ended up with a two stage solution still for home movies and amateur movie production (porn played a big role here).

>porn played a big role here

Beta had porn.

Furthermore, that's not how home video worked. VHS and Beta were sold on their TV recording capabilities, not their home video libraries. Home video was supposed to be handled by disc formats (Laserdisc, CED, VHD, etc); selling movies on $100-ish tapes was prohibitively expensive compared to ~$15 discs.

Eventually this was worked around with video rental shops and falling prices of VHS tape, but a consequence of this is that neither Sony nor JVC were licensing content for distribution on their tapes. Remember, you could record whatever you wanted on the tape; that was the point.

By home movies I mean replacing the super 8 format.

The design behind VHS made camcorders cheaper to make as well as enabled them to be used to play video. Betamax at the time had a more complicated solution where a separate player was needed and also initially a two stage solution where different tapes had to be used.

I don't think Beta really counts here. Probably the best example of Sony doing this is their Memory Stick, despite compact flash, sd and usb storage being readily available.

Yep. Also mini disc and DAT and a dozen others. I don’t know why people focused on my Betamax comment when the portable dictation device is more to the point.

Minidisc was cool.

As mentioned in the article, those tabs are for full-sized dishwashers.

Also IME, cheap dishwasher tablets (e.g. the generic blue/white combo) don't work very well.

Sure, but for 0.15-0.20 Euro per tab you can get quality tabs. I buy "Jar Platinum" tabs in bulk and I have never had any issues with the quality of the wash and I have been using them for like 10 years daily.

I think Jar is a Czech (and maybe others) brand equivalent of Fairy in the UK.

It is, bother are Procter & Gamble

The tabs are ridiculously ineffective! I had issues for a year with my dishwasher until one of the handymen looking at it suggested to use the powder detergent for the compartments instead. Tried it once and it made a night-and-day difference. Never going back to those shitty tabs if I end up with a full-sized dishwasher in the future.

Interesting - we have a Bosch Dishwasher, always used Finish (the brand) tablets and everything comes out perfectly clean, every time. I joke that the multiple modes on the machine are just for show because it literally makes no difference if I pick the 50C eco wash or 70C intensive wash - everything comes out super clean anyway.

New Bosch here too. We stopped using the 30-minute quick cycle which blasts the dishes with a lot of water but doesn’t seem to get them clean, plus leaves a bitter soapy residue, bleh, and all the plastic is wet.

I couldn’t believe the eco cycle would take 3 hours, but it does a fantastic job. Also never thought I’d care about rinse aid, but now I’m obsessive about never running a cycle without it or having a spare bottle on hand.

This was an excellent post, and zero surprise the secret sauce can be replaced for pence/pennies on the pound/dollar.

Remember the ridiculous “fresh squeezed” juice bags? What’s next? DRM petrol/gasoline for hyper-performance (eco + power + range) auto fuel... but it’s regular gas with a couple drops of stuff added? Music player + headphone combo but you can only listen to Neil Young?

Yeah ok, the 30 minute wash admittedly is very poor. But the quick wash + Vario speed so it's done in 1:05? Still perfect.

And we have cheaper electricity between 00:30-4:30am so I just always schedule that 3h long eco wash for then.

To all the European Bosch dishwasher users: does yours clean starch properly?

All my stainless steel pots and pans have a starch layer after cooking potatoes or rice. I've tried all kinds of detergents and am using Alec's "use some detergent for pre-wash" method.

If UK still counts as "European" - yeah. I put all my pans and pots in the dishwasher after cooking and they come out clean. The specific dishwasher is SMS67MW00G(Series 6 basically) + I use the Finish 0% tabs(I'm very sensitive to strong chemical smells, and those tabs don't leave any fregrance when you open the dishwasher).

+1 to Finish. Been using it for an year.

BTW being from India and new to using dishwasher I got into the habit of rising the dishes before placing them in dishwasher. I recommend it. It’s a little extra work but the dishes come out sparkling clean every single time.

The whole point of a dishwasher though, is that you /don't/ need to do that. Strongly recommend watching Technology Connection's video on the subject; the takeaway is to put powder/tab in free for the first cycle, and powder/tab in the compartment for the main wash - first cycle takes away way more dirt that way.

> The whole point of a dishwasher though, is that you /don't/ need to do that.

Our filter clogs really quickly if we leave too much on the dishes, even with prewash detergent.

Some things do get stuck if you don't rinse, it won't take everything out of it. It is not magical (and filters get clogged)

We have a Miele dishwasher, and there's a difference for some things. The most recent example is some burnt on porridge after a bain-marie double pot had gotten forgotten about on the hob. The 55° wash didn't get that clean but a separate 70° wash did.

The last time I took an interest, "Quantum Finish with Powerball" seemed to be the sweet spot for performance vs. cost. That's decade old information, though.

We have a Bosch dishwasher and switched over to tablets (Finish brand) when I installed it after using the sample packs.

It’s hands-down the most effective dishwasher I’ve ever used; I never imagined I’d have feelings about or brand allegiance to a dishwasher, but Bosch earned it (and Finish is part of it, I guess).

Beware of their bottom end models. My house came with a Bosch and it does a decent job cleaning but it's very cheaply made. There's a weld that failed that used to hold the upper spray hose in place, the bottom rack falls out of the track most of the time... My Whirlpool at my previous home was far better built.

The cleanest wash I have even gotten in a dishwashing machine is using a small dab of liquid dish soap (like you would use to wash by hand) instead of "real" dishwasher soap. I don't use it regularly because others either think it is nuts or would use too much on the few nights I don't load the machine. I have up trying to justify it and just use tabs for political reasons but the fact is I got a great wash for way less product. Something to note: commercial dishwasher machines (food service) use liquid soap (automatically dispensed, of course).

Dishwashing fluids contain bleach and other harsh chemicals that can e.g. remove caked on tea residue from cups, something soap will not do without a lot of direct mechanical action.

As a tea drinker, unless you are very fastidious, handwashing generally doesn't remove everything and a layer can build up in cups which needs standing in bleach every so often to clear out.

> compartments


We're you using two tabs per wash? If not, you aren't prewashing with detergent, so you are washing your dishes in the filth.

I've used tabs (brand name ones) for nearly 20 years and they're perfect.

The tabs suck. Gel packs (at least, Finish Quantum) work amazingly, though.

If you're in the US, the Ultra Shine brand available at Dollar Tree works great for me and is the best price I could find. $.10 a pod. I don't have hard water and I run my dishwasher on the normal wash cycle. Normally don't load dishes with heavily caked on food particles.

My experience as well, different tabs have massively different quality.

> Proprietary cassettes for dishwashing machines? That's next level.

I was in the market for a new washing machine and noticed the Miele W1 machines now have something similar called "TwinDos". You can still add detergent the old-fashioned way but it had me wondering if this is a lead-up to the same business practices we see with Nespresso and inkjet cartridges.

I haven't done any actual research, but I got a feeling that Miele might have been bought up or some external entity got a say in how to optimize their business?

A 70yo family friend loves Miele. Never bought anything else for a dish washer, washing machine or drier. When his dish washer broke down two years ago - he proudly mentioned that it lasted him 22 years - he obviously bought Miele again.

Just half a year later it broke, he called a Miele technician, who said that this wouldn't be covered by warranty: You see, the manual explicitly states that you must run the machine with a higher-temperature program every so-and-so-ishth time, since the ECO program, which is selected by default every time you turn that goddamn thing on, doesn't heat the up the water enough, and all the gunk will add up in the machine's pipes over time, damaging it.

Now that's all fine and logical and I would have shrugged it off if this was an Ikea or no name brand from the local store, but a goddamn Miele that costs premium and is supposed to be a quality product? It's designed by German engineers which probably qualify as rocket scientists in every other country on this planet. And they cannot figure out how to add a counter to that thing so it would warn you if you used ECO mode too many times, or even better yet, make it just raise the temperature automatically even though you selected ECO?

Traditional German companies complain about not being able to compete with competition from eastern Europe and China, but then go ahead and pretty much offer the same quality by going to alibaba.com and ordering from there, with a Miele logo slapped on, while keeping the price the same as before. I can only see this being a short term solution, thanks to those old folks who have your brand image burned into their heads from thirty years ago, and will keep buying your stuff. The family friend from above? He got a discount of 50€ for buying a new Miele, which he happily accepted. qed.

Miele is a private company. Also, they have a large depth of manufacturing - they "even" make their own electric motors and most everything in Germany, too https://www.miele.de/haushalt/produktionsstaetten-2244.htm

Their washing machines and vacuum cleaners tend to last 30+ years in the experience of my parents, and my vacuum cleaner is over 15 years old at this point as well. Still more silent than most new ones, with great suction, and ergonomic.

That said... the thing about Eco mode is quite horrible indeed. There should be a self-cleaning program that runs as often as necessary and a corresponding reminder on the display.

This is not for you since you mention prices in Euros... I am always surprised when I read about bad experience with their products in the US. Especially the service seems to be some overpriced BS. Miele service is what regular electricians do in Germany.

My non-Miele clothes washing machine has the same stipulation, and you obviously wouldn't want it suddenly ruining your clothes or dishes with a higher temperature. But it does come with a counter and indicator light for the hot wash.

I don't think you can blame acquisition- it is the eternal cycle of brands that at some point they start frittering away their value instead of building it up.

With clothes I see the issue, but even the "auto/normal" program would've been fine according to the manual. I've never seen anything that said it's for the dishwasher but cannot do more than 40C, or whatever ECO does.

> it is the eternal cycle of brands that at some point they start frittering away their value instead of building it up.

Yeah, maybe I'm reading a bit too much in there, sometimes you just need the wrong guy in charge.

That actually seems like a "very German" thing to do --- see the discussions here and elsewhere about maintenance on German cars for another example.

I would never have noticed if not for the bad rap of some products in the US, but yeah. I can well imagine how it goes: Oh, so the product is designed for service every X interval. So we can assume Y and optimize further for (price, comfort, weight, looks, power, mileage)...

Funny, when our Miele dish washer broke the Miele repair person said it was because our water was too hot. It wasn't, our heating company confirmed the temp.

Although there's zero electronics involved in the cartridges, and it's pretty easy to refill yourself too.

> I don't get the advantage that you don't need to measure the detergent level, I have always used standard "all-in-one" tabs

Yeah this kind of "convenience" makes my BS meter beep. It's a non-problem, and I'm always suspicious of things like this because it's usually a sign they're trying to sneak something past you. (Or marketing to "the new generation" of domestic chores deficient people)

I mean, sure, I get that a dishwasher that needs no plumbing is a good idea, but at the same time, it's too few dishes (in my case) to be a big chore.

I use tablets too, but this is a ultra compact dishwasher so tablets aren't going to work on it, they are meant for full sized machines.

Ha, I thought that was going to be about a VHS head cleaner tape. Mine came with super-special head cleaning fluid in a tiny bottle. The bottle doesn't last long, and you then have to buy another bottle of super-special cleaning fluid at a super-expensive price.

One whiff of the cleaning fluid - hmm, this smells like alcohol! Alcohol works great in it.

It also reminds me of back in college in the 70s where there were many audiophiles in the dorm. They'd buy super-special vinyl record cleaning fluid, because nothing but the best for their vinyl records. I just used liquid dish detergent, which works perfectly.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact