Our 12-year-old dishwasher finally bit the bullet this weekend. I'm surprised it lasted as long as it did, as it came standard with the house and was one of those cheapo no-name brands.
For a second we considered becoming one of those back-to-basics families that spend their evenings washing and drying dishes by hand while having heartfelt conversations. Then we laughed and headed out to look at appliances.
After several hours and many stores later, I learned something very important: Dishwashers now come with a lot of extra crap.
Our old model cleaned and dried dishes, period. Oh, there were some nice options, such as Air Dry and Short Wash (as oppose to the Full Wash), which you selected by twisting the dial a certain way. But now, a lot of the newer models also offer a delayed timer (what?); "Adaptive Wash," in which sensors (you heard correctly) determine how much cleaning your dishes really need; and a sterilizing mode. Because it's not really clean until it's sterilized.
Apparently when you don't shop for household appliances very often, going into the stores is like being an Amish person shopping for a cell phone. Really, the number of options were quite overwhelming to us, as were the widely varying price ranges. If I'm going to pay more than $1,000 on a dishwasher, it better clean my dishes, charge my iPod AND offer me a neck and shoulder massage.
In the end we selected a well-reviewed, reasonably priced model from a locally owned appliance store. We didn't go for the bells and whistles (don't you love old-fart phrases like "bells and whistles?") because we just want a machine that washes and dries. We did splurge on the stainless steel exterior and also will receive a rebate from our utilities company because we picked an energy-efficient model.
I feel so modern.
Image from Found in Mom's Basement