Automatic dosing of detergent and conditioner, is it a good thing or a bad thing?
In the world of commercial machines, automatic dosing or auto dosing has been about for a while and in full-blown commercial use, we can understand why.
The primary reason is to control costs, preventing operators from using too much detergent or indeed too little as often the machines will be operated by unskilled labour so, it makes sense there. Plus you’ve got all the space you need, adding extra size to the machines is not of concern normally and the cost of installing such a system not prohibitive in relative terms.
In a domestic setting, not so much.
You’ll see these systems labelled up as i-Dos, self-dosing, TwinDos, auto-dose and so on but in essence, they’re all the same thing, just differing flavours.
Now we totally get that it sounds great, load up the machine with “stuff”, wash things and that’s it. The marketing bumph makes it sound great, it’ll improve your life, give you more time, make you not worry and all the usual garbage we see but, is it actually true?
In large part, no it isn’t. It’s a glorified advert, of course, it’s not exactly fully accurate will we say, to be kind.
Here’s why that’s the case explained for you and why we would recommend you avoid these systems like the plague.
Out the gate all the domestic systems we’ve seen from the like of Miele, Indesit, Bosch and so on have the same underlying fundamental problem, they can only use liquid detergents.
Many people might not think this a problem but, it is and a big one.
You see no liquid detergent can contain bleach for technical reasons, it’s just not possible to do so when you use liquids all the time you get issues with smells as bacteria grows in the machine leading to the old smelly washer problems.
Where people combine that with constant low-temperature washes we see this problem made worse and potentially damage to the machine so all in all, it’s not even remotely a good thing in our estimation.
For far more information on this please see our article all about detergents for more on this topic as well as others we will talk about here, that will cast more light on why we hold this position on auto dosing.
Not In Control
So here’s the other big thing about auto-dosing, you’re not in control of the dose, the machine is and the simplistic logic within it.
Mistake number one many people get into trouble with is endowing washing machines (and other appliances) with having more intelligence than they actually have. They’re pretty dumb really for the most part.
The chance of a machine figuring out that you’ve banged in mixed items is zero. Mixed colours, not a hope. mixed up wash labels, no chance.
The machine will wash on the program you select irrespective of what you put in it and, when there’s an auto-dose system in operation, it will do according to the program that you select. What that means is, if you select the wrong program, it’ll wash wrong and now it will also dose wrong as well.
That leads to use being a very fickle affair, you need to sort laundry completely correctly, select the correct program and the correct soiling level or, it won’t wash well.
None of the machine currently available can get around that problem and without some hateful fuzzy logic or AI and RFID or something in the clothes, we can’t see any way around that problem. Unless you can get a robot that will do it all for you of course but, we’re probably some way off from that being a reality.
So if you are perhaps under the illusion that somehow the machine will magically work all that out for you, please rethink as it simply will not do so. You could actually end up with more to do, not less.
Bigger Cost, Then More Cost
Any machine with an auto dosing system is going to cost more, probably significantly more.
It will have extra bits in it that at some point will probably break and they won’t be cheap. To us, it’s just more points of failure never mind the potential problems outlined already.
You also have systems like Miele’s TwinDos auto-dosing system that uses specific detergents that are delivered in a sort of cartridge type way and, they ain’t cheap.
We guess you could argue that if you can afford a Miele TwinDos machine than you probably aren’t all that bothered about the cost but we’re sure you don’t want to get ripped off or do you want to get poor results or have more hassle. The bottom line here is, this is going to cost you more and possibly a lot more over the time you own the machine.
Of course, if the manufacturer can lock you in to buying stuff from them and them exclusively at whatever they want to charge you, sure they’re gonna do that. We would advise strongly to avoid anything that traps you in this way as there’s no need for it and, it probably won’t be doing you any favours.
On balance we cannot see any real-world benefit in having an auto dosing system in a domestic washing machine, to us it just makes no sense at all. There really are no redeeming factors from a technical perspective in design or in use.
We get that on the face of it that many people might think this a great idea and it does play to the “lazy” in us all, why do something you can have a machine do for you but here, it’s not really doing that much and may well end up making things more difficult for many people, not easier at all.
Therefore our advice, avoid auto-dosing system, they’re not worth the hassle or the expense.
We've been testing a few of these machines from the BSH Group so we now know more.
We've not tested the wash performance as, it's liquid, it won't be as good, that's it.
We have tested the wash performance on the normal washes and, shock of shocks, it's largely in line with machines that use the exact same tank and drum but at a far, far lower price without the auto dosing system. So, what we thought was the case, proves to be true in actual testing.
We also noted that a number of these machines now come with cleaning systems to clean the drum, some of which use all manners of contraptions to solve the problem of bad smells that will almost inevitably occur, including internal carbon filters to try to clean the air, steam generators and so on as well as a bunch of electronics to control it all. Which means that, as two repairers commented when they peered into these machines, they'd not touch it with a bargepole, far too complex and not worth getting involved with.
The electronics and steam generators etc in these machines are insane money, ludicrously expensive.
We suspect that self-repair is a non-starter and probably anything outside the manufacturer's own service will be also. And that means, not cheap or you're on an expensive maintenance plan.
Oh and for good measure, every single one we've looked at thus far also has a sealed drum so if you don't have a maintenance plan and the bearings fail, you're looking at a £200 plus repair. At least.
You'll notice this and a few more articles, often features that are heavily promoted by one or two manufacturers, usually of German origin (well the brand name anyways) seem to attract more comments than most. And, only one gets defended... you need to ask why that might be.
And you'll notice that as often as not those same comments are emphatically supporting the auto dosing system.
And, you need to keep in mind that machines sold with such a system are sold with a hefty premium.
Then you have to wonder why that is given the givens and that normal people, who are quite happy probably wouldn't do that or be researching a product that they already own and are using.
Marketing people, on the other hand, wishing to underhandedly want to promote these features may well masquerade as Joe Public.
Even if some are genuine, they do not have the insight we do as we've actually tested, reviewed and looked at the insides of these things and how they work. Largely this is why we are quite dismissive of the comments.
You decide what's real and what's not, even when the posts start with "I'm a real person and don't work for XXXXXX". You nor we, have any clue who these people are, such is the nature of the internet so these could be completely fake or false reviews, who knows as the comments are not verified posters.
Our advice is to think about that a lot before you part with your cash.