Bob the Mini Dishwasher Review: Built for the Truly Lazy

You know where this is heading. About 10 minutes before the end of the first cycle I ran, I heard a gurgle then a splash were there wasn’t supposed to be a splash, and I found a few cups of hot water and a couple bloated coriander seeds and grains of rice streaming onto the counter and down onto the wood floor. It left a foot-wide water stain on the nice wood siding on my kitchen island. I will not be the only person something like this happens to.

Hose clamp clamped, I tested in earnest. I quickly came to like their “cassette,” a sort of eight-track-shaped cartridge that plugs into Bob’s base and has enough detergent for 30 loads, an idea I’d love to see in full-size dishwashers. You can also use tablets or regular dishwasher detergent, but the cassette was so convenient that it was all I used during testing, though I did just wish I could pour detergent into the cassette instead of needing the whole returnable plastic cartridge. I put in two plates, a half-liter pitcher, a 3.5-cup container and its lid, along with a mug and a couple of utensils. That loaded Bob full to the gills.

Pouring water into the tank seemed to take a while, but I was paying attention to other stuff and still crossing my fingers that I wasn’t going to have another hot-water blowout. My early impression was how much like a regular dishwasher it was. Tiny, yes, but the same sounds—about as loud as a built-in—same overall feeling and timing on the different cycles, including a quick 20-minute cycle that I used most of the time.

It worked well enough that I didn’t notice much difference in the quality of cleaning between Bob and my own dishwasher. When I threw something harder at it, like the insert from an 8-quart Instant Pot in which I had just cooked up a ton of ragù, it took up the whole basket, but it came out clean. The thing I was struggling with was how, in the time it took to fill Bob with water and put the dishes in the little basket, I could have just washed them by hand. Just pouring the water in as fast as Bob could take it (I’m not sure where the bottleneck is, but it was surprisingly not that fast), including refilling my 2-liter pitcher in the nearby sink, took a good 90 seconds.

I was more aware of this when I ran another little load: the top and bottom of my French press (salut, Bob!), the top of a mini-chopper, a drinking glass, a tiny Tupperware, a little colander, and one of those silicone garlic peelers. I could have washed all of that in 90 seconds and not had Bob hogging my countertop space. Tiny though it is, it’s still a big thing to have in the middle of your kitchen. The company makes the point that Bob uses five times less water than hand-washing, and that might be true for the (lazy?) folks who run water the whole time they’re washing, but not for the rest of us.

Haut Dish

Bob the Mini Dishwasher cleans your dishes about as well as a full-size machine.

Photograph: Daan Tech

I’m sure there are some people out there who could take advantage of Bob. Perhaps it would be a little more practical if you actually ran the plumbing for both filling and draining. (You might want a plumber for this—it wouldn’t have been a small project to plumb it into my sink, and it would be an eyesore.) And perhaps if you consistently had specific stuff, like just glasses or just plates, that you could cram in there efficiently.

I also feel like Bob’s drainage needs—next to the sink or above a bucket in the middle of your kitchen floor—will dampen some Gallic dishwasher enthusiasm. A built-in tank that could be slid out and emptied might have been a better option than a sink or a bucket with a hose running into it. When it came time to send Bob back to France, I ran the special draining cycle to purge the water from its innards, but after it ran, I was surprised to shake out a good half cup or more still in there, which could be problematic for storage or shipping.

Something didn’t quite add up right with Bob, and after the initial crush wears off, I think a lot of tiny-apartment dwellers are going to realize the machine doesn’t merit the amount of space it occupies and the time it takes up. There are a few people—including the incredibly lazy—who will love Bob and not find its small size a turnoff, and I think those folks could be very happy with it. As long as they remember to properly attach the hose clamp.

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