Easy to use, eco-friendly and offering a 13 place setting capacity at a very attractive price, the Indesit DFG26B1 is certainly big on value. This full-sized machine dispenses with fancy LCD panels and programmes in favour of getting the basics right.
These basics include A-rated washing, drying, solid-feeling knobs and buttons, and only six programmes explained on the fascia in legends that you could read from the other side of the room. Internal layout isn't great for pots and pans, and wash performance is fairly basic, but you can’t argue with the simplicity or the great value.
Indesit set out to make the DFG26B1 simple to use – and it's just that. In features one big central knob for selecting one of six programmes, all of which are detailed in bold symbols and text on the left side of the fascia. Add in buttons for on/off, a delay start, and the enigmatically entitled MyTime function, which shortens the wash duration. And that’s it.
The door opens with a traditional pull of the handle and drops down horizontal. There are no fancy damped hinges or a self-opening mechanism. The detergent and rinse aid containers are, well, traditional detergent and rinse aid containers, positioned on the inside of the door. The detergent container will accept tablets or powder, while the rinse aid cover pops open to reveal a small opening. The inside of the dishwasher is all stainless steel.
In the floor of the appliance is the salt container, set well off to the left of the cabinet. This makes it fine for right-handers, but lefties will have a little more difficulty pouring in the salt. The food filter is a basic plastic container and simply pulls straight out for cleaning.
The two rolling baskets pull out easily enough, if not with the smooth rolling grace of a premium machine. The top basket can be height-adjusted on either side, raising or lowering it a few centimetres overall or giving it a jaunty tilt. There's plenty of room in this basket when set at its lower position, to get cups on top of the wine glass rack on the left side.
We did struggle a little with the long, central row of plate racks through this top basket. While this is great if you have numerous saucers or tea-plates, we generally have more mugs and bowls than china tea services. The plate rack tines make it tricky to lay bowls and pans in the basket, and limit the mug space too. Higher-spec dishwashers would have drop-down tines – but you can’t have everything at the Indesit’s rather attractive price.
In the downstairs basket we had much the same issue. The entire lower basket is lined with plate rack pins, tilting out towards either side from the centre. This makes it awkward to place pots, pans or bowls in this basket; the tines stop them sitting comfortably. Pans with straight sides are slightly easier to place on one side or the other, but all those plate racks are really only ideal if you wash nothing but plates.
On the plus side, the cutlery basket has two slots that allow it to sit over the plate rack pins pretty much anywhere in the machine. This gives you a few more options to juggle the contents before getting the wash underway.
The six programmes on offer start with the main ECO programme, the all-round low-energy wash upon which the A+ energy rating is based, and a 55oC Normal wash. The latter uses a little more water and electricity than ECO, but takes some 20 or so minutes off of the Eco 2hrs 20minute run-time.
There is a 65oC Intensive wash for mucky pans and plates with well dried-on food, and a Half Load programme. The latter actually uses slightly more water and electricity than the full load Eco programme, but it's an hour shorter in duration. If you're in a real hurry for your dishes, the Daily programme takes an hour and the Rapid programme only 40 minutes. These super-quick wash times have a caveat, though: neither have a drying cycle, so you'll need to enlist the services of a tea towel before you can put the wash away.
The only options available are the wash-shortening MyTime button and a delay start of 3, 6 or 9 hours. The LED indicators for the delay start double as indicators for wash, dry and end phases of the programme. Low salt and low rinse aid warning lights are also incorporated onto the fascia. Load the dishwasher, select the programme, press start… it doesn’t get much more simple to use than that.
The energy label would have us believe that the DFG26B1 emits a whisper-quiet 49dB of noise, which isn't much more than the ambient noise in a library. As is usually the case with dishwashers, the reality of all that high-pressure water jetting around against plates, pots and pans is that it makes a fair amount of noise.
We measured the DSG26B1 at around 53dB throughout the active part of the wash cycle, with the main noise being the water jetting around the plates and hitting the sides of the cabinet. This isn't overly noisy, but it’s a fair way off the mid-40dB rating you'd get from a premium machine.
In our first test wash we went for a fully loaded Normal wash, complete with plates, glasses, cutlery and cups. Our standard scrambled egg bowl, a day after it had emerged from the microwave, dried-on beans in a dish and dried-on Weetabix in a breakfast bowl also went in. Finally, we placed in a wine glass complete with greasy finger marks from crisps and red wine residue.
The Indesit’s multiple plate rack pins rather scuppered our first test, as I had precariously balanced the scrambled egg bowl on the tines. The bowl rolled onto its side during the wash, so missed the water jets and emerged nearly as dirty as when it went in.
However, the beans bowl and breakfast cereal bowls were cleaned well, and the wine glass came out clean and buffed. Drying wasn’t that brilliant and some small drips and runs of water were still left on various items. For glasses in particular, that would leave tell-tale streaking if you don’t give them a buff with a tea towel before you put them away.
For the second run we reloaded with a full set of plates and cutlery, and replaced the scrambled egg bowl. This time we wedged it at an angle on the tines on one side of the lower rack. We ran this second test on the ECO programme.
The scrambled egg bowl was cleaned this time around and the results were okay. Neither exceptional, nor poor; most of the egg was cleaned, but some stains and larger chunks remained. Drying was about the same in ECO mode. Overall, the DFG26B1’s washing and drying performance was solid, if not exceptional.
The DFG26B1’s A+ energy rating is only relevant to the ECO programme, but in our tests this machine returned good efficiency across wash programmes. This isn't a sensor dishwasher, so the consumption results will be the same whether you put in lots of really mucky plates and pans, or only a few, nearly clean dishes.
In our first Normal wash, the DFG26B1 took just over two hours and used 1.4kWh of electricity and just shy of 18 litres of water. In Eco the run-time increased to 2hrs 20 mins, but energy dropped to 1.1kWh and water consumption to just under 12 litres. Those figures are a little bit higher than Indesit’s claims, but all quite good. While we'd expect around 1kWh for the Eco, the 1.4kWh for the Normal wash is pretty good too. Rather like the performance test, the consumption figures are solid for an A+ rated machine at this price.
Based on running 250 dishwashing cycles per year, half on the Normal programme for heavily soiled loads and half in ECO for lighter duties, the DFG26B1 would cost about £47 a year in electricity to run. If you're on metered water at an average of £3.50 per cubic meter of supply and waste, the DFG26B1 would add around £13 to the annual running costs.
To put that in perspective, that's about £20 per year more than the most efficient dishwasher we've tested – the Miele GS 6820 SC. Mind you, that Miele will cost you more than four times the asking price of this Indesit…
The DFG26B1 sets out its stall to be a basic, easy-to-use dishwasher with good eco credentials – and it succeeds on all of those counts. Washing and drying performance are decent, if not exceptional. The basket layout is awkward for bowls and pans, but if you're looking for a simple, cost-effective dishwasher then the frill-free DFG26B1 is well worth a look.
A simple-to-use, basic dishwasher offering solid performance and good economy.