Thread Number: 74787  /  Tag: Vintage Dishwashers
Best Vintage Dishwashers
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Post# 986053   3/10/2018 at 11:57 by Soveryone (Libertyville, IL)        

Hi everyone,
Iím new to the forum. There seem to be many on here with a lot of knowledge on the subject of vintage appliances. Iím looking for recommendations on good brands & models of vintage dishwashers. Any help is much appreciated.


Post# 986069 , Reply# 1   3/10/2018 at 13:53 by chachp (Conway, AR)        
You're likely to get as many response as there are membe

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I think though many will say the vintage Kitchen Aid machines can't be beat.  Of course, it depends how far back you want to go and what features you find important.


For example, do you care if the machine has multi level or single level washing?  Do you care if it heats the water and/or does it dry the dishes with a air, heated air or an element?


In the Kitchen Aid line I'm willing to bet most will say the 18 series if you're looking for all of the above.  If you want to go older than that my personal favorite is the 15, 16 and 17 series machines which offer some of the above but they clean like crazy and are fast you just have to follow some basic rules when loading them.


Are you particular to the features?  Do you plan to use it everyday or occasionally?  I'm eager to see how others respond.  This should be a fun thread.

Post# 986074 , Reply# 2   3/10/2018 at 14:05 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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I'd say KitchenAid also. I've only ever owned the older models with a one-level wash system but they clean amazingly well.

A brushed-chrome fronted KDS-15 was up for sale on eBay recently.... just sayin'

Post# 986093 , Reply# 3   3/10/2018 at 16:09 by Ultramatic (New York City)        

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I have a KitchenAid KDS-58. They say the 18 series is the epitome of dishwashers. No arguments from me.  There are quite a few dishwasher experts here that are devoted KitchenAid users. 

Post# 986103 , Reply# 4   3/10/2018 at 17:51 by Soveryone (Libertyville, IL)        

Is there a way to tell the model superficially? What is multi-level? Is that when thereís another sprayer at the top?
We are restoring a 1954 split-level & are using vintage appliances & fixtures. Itís not a real big home so nothing too fancy but I would like to use something from the 50ís or 60ís if possible. There was a beautiful brushed aluminum KA Imperial by Hobart on Offer Up but someone got to it before me. I hesitated because Iím not familiar with the different models & what I should be looking for. I think I missed out on a gem but no use crying over lost deals. I saw the one on eBay but itís a bit out of the way.

Post# 986210 , Reply# 5   3/11/2018 at 20:16 by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Hey Kari, there are ways to usually tell just by looking at the machine what it is, high end or not. I too am on the KA band wagon and normally I am a Maytag fan in and out.

If you are going back that far with appliances, for sure a KitchenAid machine would be the best to get. Not to mention they were the highest of the high end machines of the time.

Post# 986217 , Reply# 6   3/11/2018 at 21:35 by arris (Rochester New York)        
Kitchen Aid-18

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I had a mid 90's Kenmore Ultra Wash, it was a great dishwasher !! Went to a 2015 Kenmore it was terrible, from the standpoint of time, I happened to get a KDI-18 from a member here.... It's a great dishwasher, 20 minutes wash time on Normal, air flow heated drying, not an Energy saver, but cleans GREAT !! Roughly about an hr. to wash and dry a load....

Post# 986218 , Reply# 7   3/11/2018 at 21:40 by whirlykenmore78 (Prior Lake MN (GMT-0700 CDT.))        
To make it easy:

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Just about any KA, or WP/KM Powerclean from the 80's thru the early 2000's will do the job better than any other. Also any MT Jetclean/Intelliclean from the 90's-2000's are solid performers. If you like GE the best bet would be a GSD-1200 these seem to work the best of all the GE models.

Post# 986227 , Reply# 8   3/11/2018 at 23:47 by TheSpiritOf76 (wichita kansas, Historic Midtowne.)        
If I may inerject here....

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I vote for Whirlpool. I have had my Custom "70", from the early 1970s now for 4 years, and it has been a great dishwasher! Gets everything spanking clean, and has not given me any problems.

I also have a top loading 1963 GE Mobile Maid. That is also a very good machine. in some respects I even find the fact that it is a top loader more convenient in some ways. But yet the front loading Whirlpool can definitely handle things like cookie sheets and large dutch ovens better. But the GE cleans just as well, and has been just as trouble free.

Now,I required a portable model when I was first looking for a dishwasher. I lived in a rental property that simply did not have the space for a built in. But since then I have bought my own home and there is a space where a modern dishwasher was (WAS being the operative word, meaning I took the stupid thing out!), So since my Whirlpool is a convertible model. I am just going to have it permanently installed.

Post# 986263 , Reply# 9   3/12/2018 at 10:35 by Soveryone (Libertyville, IL)        

For the KAís... What are the differences between the Superba, Imperial, & Custom models? As for the numbers... Are the higher numbered models the more recent & are the lower the older models?

Thanks, Kari

Post# 986273 , Reply# 10   3/12/2018 at 11:50 by stevet (palm coast florida)        
Details on the way!

I just emailed you a copy of the "Kitchenaid Inner Circle." This was an educational aid for Whirlpool employees to help them get up to speed on the Kitchenaid dishwashers after they bought the division from Hobart. It should clarify much of the information you are asking about.

Of course, we are all still here to help!

Post# 986274 , Reply# 11   3/12/2018 at 11:54 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
I wish

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I could endorse KA, but they're limited in several aspects. Any GE with the multi-orbital arm will outwash any KA and that's Consumer Report's conclusion, not just mine.

Post# 986279 , Reply# 12   3/12/2018 at 12:23 by kd12 (Arkansas)        

I would have to say any KitchenAid with an upper spray arm. As much as I love the old '50s models, the failure to add an upper spray arm until into the 70s was a serious oversight. I think the next best vintage machines are the Sears Roto-Rack models. Built like tanks, and the roto-rack and spray tower worked about as well as an upper spray arm would have for cleaning. My grandma had a Harvest Gold one that ran as a daily driver from the early 70s until she died in 2005.

Post# 986314 , Reply# 13   3/12/2018 at 17:17 by appnut (TX)        

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You know I'll agree with Kevin about a GE with Multi-Orbit wash arm will out wash a KitchenAid.  A GSD1200 is best since it doesn't have the electronics of the GSD280.  Also a Whirlpool PowerClean or Kenmore Ultrawash will outwash a KitchenAid.  As I've said before, one of the reasons why I bought my GSD1200 in 1987 was because it was ranked much higher in cleaning ability than a KitchenAid. 

Post# 986315 , Reply# 14   3/12/2018 at 17:19 by jakeseacrest (Massachusetts)        

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stevet jealous! Where can the rest of us score that Kitchenaid Inner Circle guide?

Post# 986317 , Reply# 15   3/12/2018 at 17:23 by appnut (TX)        

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Yes, Michael, I too was thinking the same thing!!! Was gonna probably email Steve!!!

Post# 986351 , Reply# 16   3/12/2018 at 22:45 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I will weigh in on this

Reverse rack Maytags are good, the only Maytag product I like, I hate all the Maytag washers, but the best is still a one arm wonder Kitchen Aid, that single wash arm will out clean ANYTHING made Try one and see!

Post# 986381 , Reply# 17   3/13/2018 at 09:02 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

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That's so true and the GSD1200 is the best choice - we have a few which have run perfectly, cleaned perfectly and never needed pre-rinsing or ultra-careful sorting and placing.

Our KA15 washes very well in the bottom rack. The upper rack (lifts up with the lid) requires that a 'row' be left open across the back. This makes the available space much smaller. If, however, one is willing to make the sacrifice, then it cleans super well in the bottom rack and gently at the top.

There's just no way around it, though - the GE self cleaning gigantic filter at the back of the dishwasher and the multi-orbital arm were rated better than even KA by an independent organization which adored KA for very good reason (and through clinched teeth, their review is delightful reading).

Post# 986382 , Reply# 18   3/13/2018 at 09:04 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        

This post has been removed by the member who posted it.

Post# 986396 , Reply# 19   3/13/2018 at 10:37 by firedome (Binghamton NY & Lake Champlain VT)        
I'll agree with Hans...

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and others that the single arm KAs clean amazingly well and quickly, plus they are among the best quality construction, something that can't be said of WP and GEs or even later KAs. Simple common sense loading obviates the need for the upper arm, and in engineering the prime directive is simple beats complex. The Custom and Imp models do just fine if you don't need the fancy cycles... Jim "arris" glad you like the KDI-18. We have a KDC17 and also had one for 15 years in the 70s and 80s. No machine is perfect but '50s to '70s KAs (KA 14 to 18 series) are great machines!

Post# 986421 , Reply# 20   3/13/2018 at 12:50 by stevet (palm coast florida)        
Inner Circle Secret!

I have to admit that I received the inner circle PDF from one of our very own members many years ago. For the life of me, I cannot remember who it was so if you want a copy, just email me and I will gladly send it to anyone who wants it.

So no need to be jealous.. it is yours for the asking.

Post# 986452 , Reply# 21   3/13/2018 at 18:03 by appnut (TX)        
Waves hand!!

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I'm asking, please and thank you very much in advance.  Bob

Post# 986487 , Reply# 22   3/14/2018 at 00:04 by Mrsalvo (New Braunfels Texas)        

I was always partial to the Sears Roto-Rack. Or a good impeller dishwasher ofthe 50's. Something fun.

Post# 986506 , Reply# 23   3/14/2018 at 08:24 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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Maytag Jetclean will scrub the rust off a car bumper!

Post# 986581 , Reply# 24   3/14/2018 at 17:29 by cycla-fabric (New Jersey)        

I would go with any dishwasher that has 2 level washing action, I do have a vintage KitchenAid KDS 17 as a spare machine that is used when parties require it, but that machine only has 1 wash arm on the bottom of the tub, and I have been disappointed at times when I load the machine with corning ware pots that I think shouldn't be an issue with cleaning(they have to go in the top rack as they would block the spray to the top rack if put on the bottom rack, so it would waste space on the top rack as nothing would get cleaned were the pot was on the bottom rack, I have used the soak cycle which I think is a waste of time, washes a bit then just sits there imitating a soak). If you are not doing pots in the dishwasher it washes great, but don't expect cleaning power as with a 2 arm dishwasher. Any vintage Whirlpool, GE, or Maytag is your best bet in my opinion.


Post# 986686 , Reply# 25   3/15/2018 at 07:43 by Pierreandreply4 (St-Bruno de montarville (province of quebec) canada)        

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kitchenaid is a good brand there are also good old ge potsrubber there are also Kenmore dishwashers that where powerhouse like old fashion rotoracks models or this model as well as reverse rack maytags adding pics of possible good models if they still exisit in the refurbish market?

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 3         View Full Size
Post# 986771 , Reply# 26   3/15/2018 at 18:21 by Launderess (Quiet Please, Thereīs a Lady on Stage)        
Single wash arm dishwashers

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Of old that could "scrub the rust off a car bumper" are all very well IMHO, but there are drawbacks.

All that high pressure washing seems to have done a number on my dishes and glassware done in the GE Mobile Maid.

As things are shoved about by the powerful jets of water they rub against tines of racks. As a result most of ones white china (plates, bowls, cups, etc...) have dark gray marks.

Perfectly new set of white coffee mugs from Corelle are all scratched/etched on outside.

Dishes that survived years in the old Kenmore/Frigidaire 18" dishwasher have been reduced to rack and ruin by just a few washes in the GE Mobile Maid.

Post# 987008 , Reply# 27   3/17/2018 at 14:55 by Ultralux88 (Denver)        

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Is there any concern or good reason to not use one of these Vintage dishwashers as your primary machine? I've wanted an old Kitchenaid as long as I can remember (goes back to seeing Grandma's when I was little...), but I also don't want to end up all broken-hearted with a broken dishwasher that I can't fix either...

Post# 987012 , Reply# 28   3/17/2018 at 15:02 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
I have used a

Kitchenaid Custom 21 for years now, never a problem.

Post# 987014 , Reply# 29   3/17/2018 at 15:14 by Launderess (Quiet Please, Thereīs a Lady on Stage)        
No reason at all

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Long as one is aware of limitations (if any, and or are willing to put up with a machine that is obsolete in terms of often finding spare parts easily. That and of course locating anyone to repair the thing should it become necessary.

Main worry to sort out with older KA and many other vintage dishwashers is lack of heating for main wash, and or rather puny heating power coupled with a short cycle.

Many dishwashers of old were on market at a time when nearly all households had tap hot water at or >140F as routine. The energy crisis of 1970's and or concerns about scalding have reduced those temps to 120F. This is all fine and well with modern dishwashers with built in heaters *and* thermostats that will hold the timer until proper temps are reached.

Like their commercial cousins then and pretty much today most vintage dishwashers relied up on *very* caustic detergents (heavy on chlorine bleach), and not to near boiling water temperatures. This combined with very powerful force of water (thanks to generous use of) meant these machines often could produce acceptable to great results even with short cycles. However they did so with what would be considered unacceptable energy and water use by todays standards.

My GE Mobile Maid has *5* (five) changes of hot water W-R-W-R-R-D, with each fill taking on lots of water. This for us is because of high water pressure and that the fills are timed and not controlled by a float.

Post# 987024 , Reply# 30   3/17/2018 at 16:07 by Ultralux88 (Denver)        

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The hot water isn't an issue, as we keep the water heater cranked up as fares it goes. My main fear is something breaking that I can't find a part for. I know I can fix the thing, as long as I have the parts to do so. I know they're known to be reliable and well built. I just don't know how much daily use a 60s, 70s, or 80s dishwasher is going to take after all these years. I really do want to use one as my primary dishwasher though.

Post# 987064 , Reply# 31   3/17/2018 at 22:08 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Get a good one

That has seen light use and you wont have any trouble, I have a friend who has a KDS 15 and has used it daily since BRAND NEW with out a single repair!

Post# 987074 , Reply# 32   3/17/2018 at 23:30 by Ultralux88 (Denver)        

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Thats what I wanted to hear, something to set my rampant anxiety at ease... I'd really LOVE to find one with the stainless steel wash tub, but I'm not holding my breath! I'm eyeing anything from a KDS-15 (Preferably with the Hydro-Sweep) to a KDS-18.

Post# 987085 , Reply# 33   3/18/2018 at 01:24 by speedqueen (Harrison Twp, Michigan)        

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Include the KDS-20 too, it is an 18 minus the sprayer that washes the top of cups. I recently acquired one, it works wonderfully.

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