I am a relatively recent convert to dishwashers and had never had one until I moved overseas three years ago and found that one came with my rented house. Very quickly I realised that I would be unable to live without it and so a dishwasher was an essential purchase when I moved back to the UK and bought my own house last year.
The kitchen in the new house only had space for a slim line dishwasher and although we put in a new kitchen anyway a few months later, I decided that a slim line would be more than adequate for a family of two. My other main shopping criteria concerned the look; I wanted something in stainless steel as I dislike white kitchen appliances. This limited my options to a very small handful of dishwashers and in the end I decided on the SMEG as not only is it AAA rated (relating to Energy rating, Wash performance, Drying performance for those not in the know) but it also had a flat fronted and very sleek appearance. It matched the fridge and washing machine I had picked out too.
I ordered my appliance from Boots Kitchen Appliances, it was delivered a week later at a time that suited me and it was installed and ready to go in no time at all.
The dishwasher boasts of a ten place setting capacity but I struggle with this a little. The term "ten place setting" makes me think of the crockery and cutlery that would be used during a two or even three course meal for ten, something I have never hosted, but I cannot imagine being able to fit that number of pots into my dishwasher. Thus I find this a little misleading, although certainly there is room enough for ten plates, ten glasses, ten knives and ten forks if that is what they mean. Any cooking utensils, pots and pans or any dessert crockery would certainly have to go in the next load. In practice, we are a family of two and we generally need to put it on every couple of days.
The bottom shelf of the dishwasher contains two rows of plate racks, the front row also contains the cutlery basket. I have some very shallow pasta dishes but these will not fit comfortably into the plate racks because of the angle, it really only works for regular plates. The racks fold down so that the space could be used for pans or large serving dishes instead. The top shelf is ideal for glasses, cups and anything other than a plate really.
There are five program settings; I tend to use the "Auto" program although if I am washing pans I might turn this up to the "Ultra clean" program. I have also tried the "Eco" program which washes in a colder temperature and I have used the "Quick wash" which is for very light cleaning. There is no particular reason that I mainly use the Auto program, other than when you switch the machine on, it will default to the program it used most recently and this was the first one I selected. The other main program is "Soak", I have never used this.
The results tend to be much the same no matter which program I use, although I would not attempt to use the Quick wash on pans or such. The only thing I can think of that it struggles with is a non stick pan I make scrambled eggs in and occasionally I need to run dishes I have cooked with through twice, even if I have used the "Ultra Clean" program.
As well as these five main programs there are some additional options, for instance you can put the dishwasher on a timer delay. I have never done this and cannot envisage circumstances in which I would need to delay my dishwasher program starting. It is either ready to go on or it isn't as far as I am concerned. There is also a special button which you can use if your dishwasher tablet already contains rinsing agent and salt. Again I have never used this function; in fact as I live in an area of extremely hard water, I feel better knowing that I have salt in the dishwasher. The salt chamber is right at the bottom of the washer, it is easy to access for filling up, the advice is to do this every 20 washing cycles, however we have not been so vigilant and to no ill effects so far, touching wood..
I have been quite surprised at the length of the wash programs, with the exception of the quick wash, they all last about 1hr 45 minutes to 1 hr 55 minutes. This is about the same as my previous dishwasher but that was an oversize American one and I had expected this one to be much quicker. The quick wash is about 50 minutes. The length of wash left is digitally displayed on the front of the machine.
I have found the day to day maintenance to be quite low and very manageable. After we had the machine for some months I started to notice the pots were not coming out quite as clean as I would like, but a top up with salt and a quick clean around the bottom and the spray arms rectified the situation immediately. We now keep on top of this and generally find that it requires little effort to keep it in good working order. I also use the Finish Intensive dishwasher cleaner regularly (e.g. once every month) and I have found this to be extremely effective.
I don't think I would recommend a slim line dishwasher for any household with more than four people in and even four could be a push. SMEG appliances do not come cheap, I paid £450 for mine a year ago and this has come down a little bit, although the latest models can be over £600. It is my view that you are paying for a premium brand and a very stylish appliance which looks good in the kitchen, but I don't feel it does anything extra special. It does everything I would expect a dishwasher to do and nothing more and nothing less.
Short name: Smeg DF410S1