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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.

Bosch i dos auto dosingThe 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.

  Only Liquids!

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.

Miele twindos  auto dosing reviewYou 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.

  Avoid It

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.

Actual Testing

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.

Bosch I DOS system machine being tested

Positive Reinforcement 

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.

Rachael Stevens
Miele washing machine
I am seriously thinking of buying a a Miele twindos, but I am a little worried incase the machine is difficult to understand and of course use.
I would like to know if the 2 bottles that come with the machine can be reused and can I put liquid detergent of my choice in one bottle and Lenor or comfort softener in the other bottle, will the instructions advise me of which bottle goes where?.
My other concern is having emailed Miele they say that if I use my own liquid detergent and not Miele's own make my own detergent may be too thick and this could damage the machine.
Any advice would be much appreciated and also advise on which model of Miele should I purchase

Siemens/Bosch i-Dos
This Article is BS.
First of all, you are able to use whichever Detergent you want, regardless of Manufacturer. Also you can use the powder Stuff if you want.
I own Siemens Machine with BSH's "i-Dos", Mieles TwinDos System looks and feels like a cheap, crappy Patch-On solution, which is unacceptable in a machine that is 2x the price of a Siemens one. Wich is why i moved away from Miele. The quality is getting worse every year. Who thought it would be fine to put flimsy plastic bottle like containers in the bottom of a washer? With i-Dos you just fill it in a normal Tank where you would put your powder in an old washer, thats it. My maschine weighs in the laundry, measures the soiling level and doses the detergent accordingly. If you select a wrong Programm and complain that it washes wrong, well i think the problem lies not within the maschine. Proprietary detergent containers? That has nothing to do with "Premium" Quality. Miele is a Ripoff.

Your machine measures the soiling level?
Hi Mike, How does your machine measure the soiling level of your laundry? Thanks, Andy.
I guess is the same way dishwashers do. By screening the water from pre-wash with a sensor.
Siemans and Miele iDos TwinDos
Actually I own both - Siemans and Miele. Upstairs is the Siemans, downstairs is the Miele. The Miele is the batter machine. Firstly, the dryer on the Siemans is terrible. It tangles clothes. it tears clothes. It DOES NOT alternate left and right. They dryer has a superior non iron steam function.

The Miele's twin DOS washer has two bottles of solution which can be an advantage. Also you can buy very easily specially cleaning formulas, for instance for DOWN, which is quite remarkable because it works well.

The disadvantage of the Miele is price, and the dryer is assembled and who knows, maybe some of the parts are made in Czech Republic, rather than Germany. We have two Siemens top line dishwashers too - their advantage was Zeolith - which might be a gimmick. But their 5 year warranty is awesome. But Siemans have withdrawn their 5 year warranties now. Get a Bosch then. Or if you have the readies, the Miele is the best out there IMO. The base line machines also last 20+ years.

Consumer knowledge
I recently bought a Miele TWINDOS machine and while I appreciate the concerns and frustrations expressed in the article, I think it basically boils down to users doing their research and reading the manual to get the most from their machines and its dosing system.

Manufacturers will imply their machines have some sort of AI that can take the hassle out of washing and give you more free time to go cycling, climb Everest, etc (if you believe the adverts ;) ) but they don't and will only work even remotely like advertised with effort on the part of the user. That is, sort your washing accurately according to colour, dirt level, fabric, etc and then tell the machine exactly what you're washing. So in some regards it takes MORE time. Because only then will the user get the most out of the machine and an auto-dosing system. I do this and think it's great. However, I'll only use the free detergent that came with the machine and then will refer to the manual to use my own, due to costs.

Miele TwinDos
Seems a fairly mediocre article. while correct in stating that liquid detergents cannot contain bleach, it conveniently doesnt explain that a number of dosing machines have 2 compartments, one for detergents (liquid) and one specifically for the bleach side of things.
I wonder if the article was written by someone either with a vested interest in powder detergents or perhaps just poorly researched.

Author arguing teeth with a dentist?
I'm not sure about other washing machine brands, but Miele is...well...Miele. This is very much in line with a layman standing umming and aahing about the efficiency and quality and engineering expertise of Mercedes Benz or Audi. I doubt such companies have problems with underqualified designers or engineers and if there is going to be a 'new concept' it will be about as good as is possible to that day and age. Certain companies are known for quality for a reason. No point saying I'm 'not from Miele'...people will believe what they want to. Either way...proof is in the pudding. They are not really a company that needs advertisements.
George Eycott
Another vote for Twindos
I am another convert to twindos, I am a real person and I have no connection to Meile or any other manufacturer (I am a radio engineer as it happens!). What I do have is a toddler, a wife and another baby on the way and consequently a lot of washing! It is clear that the author of the article has been supplied with poor information when it comes to the twindos system.

As others have said, the lack of bleach issue has been overcome by having two containers (hence the name presumably), one of detergent and one of bleach. Also as others have said you can get refillable containers (often on offer, mine were free) which you can either use with detergent and bleach (being careful to get the right type of bleach - read the info from Meile and the labels on the container, no degree in chemistry needed), or you can opt not to use bleach and use the second container for fabric conditioner instead, then just use powder for whites washing (which has the bleach in) occasionally instead of the autodosing system. No problems. The machine weighs the washing so it knows roughly how much water and detergent to use (ok, it won't be perfect but I bet it is more accurate than any of my guesswork) and can be adjusted to suit the local water conditions and the soiling level of the load. I am sure there are systems out there that deserve the negative nature of the article above, but the Meile version is not one of them and overcomes pretty much all the issues highlighted in the article above.

As for the machine not knowing if you have a mixed load, well it asks you if you have colours or white items then it is based on the programme you have selected and the weight of the washing. If you give it duff information then the results will be wrong, but that is not the fault of the machine. The same would be the case if you used a strong bleaching powder designed for whites in a delicate colours wash, the machine prompts you and asks the question, less likely to have errors I would think!

Very Happy With Bosch i-dos
I am very happy with my Bosch machine and it's i-dos feature.
I find it very easy to use and wonderful not to have to fiddle with detergent every time I put a load on to wash.
The article has a very negative position with little consideration of how consumers feel about these machines.

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