Refilling the non-refillable Miele AutoDos Dishwasher Automatic Detergent Dispensing Disks

Did you know that modern (dish) washing machines have the ability to automatically dispense detergents? The positive side is: this can reduce the amount of detergents used. The machine will monitor the washing process, and ‘cleaner’ dishes should require less detergents.

Our new energy Miele Dishwasher came with that exact feature: the Miele AutoDos System, an automatic detergent dispensing system. The detergent is inside a rotating disk, dispensing detergents as needed, making it (hopefully) more environment-friendly:

Miele AutoDos Power Disk in Miele Dishwasher

The downside is: Miele did not make it refillable: after around 20 washing cycles, you have to replace the disk with a new one. This is not environment friendly. So I wanted to change this….

Why a new dish washer?

Energy prices are on the rise in Europe and everywhere else this year. Already last year we planned a kitchen upgrade which we finished in May this year. One goal was to replace the aged kitchen appliances and furniture, with the benefit of reducing energy consumption. Measurements so far shows that we were able to reduce our electrical energy consumption in the 30% range which is a big plus these days. And because the new Miele G 27695-60 SCVi XXL AutoD K2O dish washer features a ‘SolarSpar’ program. This needs only around 60 Wh for a single washing cycle: it uses directly the hot water from the solar heating system.

However, there was one thing I was very skeptical about: AutoDos: a cartridge system/disk which is used to dispense the washing detergent. The machine comes with one cartridge plus with a voucher for 6 extra disks:

Miele dishwasher (source: http://www.miele.ch)

Is that really a good thing? Is this just a new business for Miele, similar to the ‘Ink Gold’ of the Ink printer business?

Miele AutoDos Power Disk

The good news is: the machine still can use the ‘usual’ dish washer detergent. So one can still use normal dishwasher tabs or dishwasher powder detergents:

Miele Dishwasher with installed AutoDos

AutoDos

So from a customer point of view: I have the choice, what I want to use. That’s good. One AutoDos disk lasts for around 20 washing cycles, depending on the amount of detergents the machine decides to use.

The machine uses a clever way of dispensing the detergent itself. Below a video of Miele which shows the dispensing with the rotating disk:

For each washing cycle, I can decide to use the AutoDos (if disk is present an detected) or not. For a month, we used both AutoDos and normal detergent tabls, and the results were equally and very good. Only for the ‘SolarSpar’ program we had to extend the drying time, and it is by far the most energy efficient way to clean the dishes.

Price of AutoDos Disks

The AutoDos disks are sold by Miele directly, and a 6-pack of disks is rather expensive with US$ 70:

Miele AutoDos Powerdisk Set Prices (Source: http://www.miele.ch)

Each disk contains around 400 g detergent power:

Weight of a Miele PowerDisk

In comparison: 1 kg of usual dishwasher powder costs around CHF 7.00:

‘Handymatic’

What about refilling the Power Disk?

Miele says the cartridge is made of recycled plastic, but “it cannot be refilled because the powder consistency is too critical” (heise.de). I understand this for sure has an impact, but maybe they just want to create a new and profitable business? To me, the usual disk washing powder looks very similar to the one used in the disks:

Normal dishwasher detergent powder (Handymatic)

I really like the concept of automatic detergent dispensing. But not be able to refill it does not make any sense? So just let’s try it.

Refilling

The idea is to cut a hole and to refill the disk with standard dish-washing powder.

💡 Be aware that this might void the warranty of your Miele dish washer.

What I have used:

  • Empty Miele Power Disk to refill
  • A sharp knife to make a hole into the disk
  • Masking tape to close the hole
  • Dish washer detergent powder for refilling
  • Funnel for easier refilling
  • Pen for marking the hole
  • Scale, to measure 400 g of detergent

The amount of detergent used in the machine is defined by the chamber inside the disk. I use the weighting scale to fill it up to the 400 g, but that does not really matter. An empty disk is about 40 g:

Weight of empty PowerDisk

Because the disk still might have some detergent in it, I recommend to seal the opening with a masking tape: This prevents the falling out of the detergent during refilling.

PowerDisk Dispensing Opening
Closed Opening

💡 my first idea was to refill the disk using that opening hole: but this requires turning the disk, which makes it complicated and a long process.

Use a pen to mark the hole for the funnel:

Use a drill or knife to create a hole for the funnel:

The hole should be just large enough for the funnel:

Use the funnel to fill in about 400 g of detergent:

Using a funnel to fill the disk

Vibrate/shake the disk gently to fill the 400 g, then remove the funnel. It should be filled up like this:

Close the hole with masking tape:

Closed the hole with masking tape

Remove the masking tape from the dispensing hole:

Finally, insert the refilled disk into the dish washer:

The machine automatically turns and detects the refilled disk, and AutoDos is detected and activated:

That’s it: the dish washer is able now to dispense for another ~20 cycles with a refilled disk. 🙂

Summary

I really like the concept of automatic detergent dispensing system. The rotating disk is a clever thing. But why not making the disk refillable? That would reduce waste and makes it less expensive. With the current way, it looks like just a way to sell overpriced dish-washing detergents. But at least Miele kept the ‘old’ way, so you don’t have to use it.

Or: I showed how to refill the Miele AutoDos Power Disks: that way I can safe money and still benefit from the automatic detergent dispensing. So far I did not notice any difference with a refilled disk. I have to see over the next weeks and months, but I expect it to work perfectly. Otherwise I’ll post an update for sure…

Update 1-Jul-22: today, the first refilled PowerDisk was empty. Refilled it again, and ready for the second cycle.
Update 9-Oct-22: already filled the first disk 3 times without any issues. The only thing is that about two months the powder channel down the door to the bottom area (where the powder goes into the machine) needs to be flushed with glass of water. I think this is something I would have to do with the original PowerDisks too.

Happy refilling 🙂

Links

20 thoughts on “Refilling the non-refillable Miele AutoDos Dishwasher Automatic Detergent Dispensing Disks

  1. Hi Erich, Automatic detergent dispensing based on how dirty the dishes are is not new, I was taught how to do this as a kid, Sometimes the drying unit would return the dirty dishes if the washing unit failed to completely clean them :}

    I guess the chip will be in the next model.

    Nice hack, BTW.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing, there is no chip inside to force you to throw it away.
    I’m looking at my Pantum laser printer to figure out how to reset the page counter chip on the toner cartidges. I have a remanufactured cartridge with an STM8 chip instead of the manufacturers epoxy blob, so I have a pretty good chance of figuring it out, I think!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yes, luckily they did not add such a chip or electronics to count the cycles. As far as I can tell: the disk is supposed to dispense an exact amount of detergent for every turn, and it knows the number of turns of course. It knows as well if the door is open or closed (reed contact), but otherwise I did not see anything. That’s why I filled it up to the same amount (maybe a bit more would be better) so it does not run out too early.
      As for your Pantum laser printer: yes, this is a pain, same thing with ink-jet modules which have a chip inside it. 3D printing material started with this too, and I don’t like it.

      Like

  3. Erich, we tried this (with refill hole cut into the side of the disk and covered with duct tape when through). It worked for the first dishwasher run, but wouldn’t recognize the auto-dos disk for the 2nd try. Did our dishwasher figure out we weren’t buying new disks? Any suggestions to get it to accept the refilled disk?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sara,
      just a few days ago I have refilled my first disk the 3rd time. No issues at all to recognize it, and worked perfectly. There was only at the end of the 2nd refill a message about ‘cleaning’ it (don’t remember the exact message): Below the disk down to the door (inside, where the powder goes down) there was a bit of powder inside the tunnel: used a glass of water to wash it out and it was fine. I was always wondering how the system knows if the disk is empty or not: I thought there must be some kind of sensor down that tunnel: if no powder comes down, it must be empty.
      Now you say you cut a hole on the side? This let me believe that there might be some sensor on the side (capacitive, maybe?) to sense the amount of detergent in the disk. So if you have cut the hole on the side, this might be what you are running into. So I recommend to make the hole on the bottom. I saw some others who did make the hole on the top, but there you have the issue that the plastic is thin and you have to be careful not to damage it too much.
      Can you try a new disk with the hole on the bottom side?

      Like

  4. I can put an AutoDos disk in the recycle garbage buy it will end up in a landfill. Recyclers in China don’t want weird things make of multiple different plastics!

    Clear plastics like water bottles and juice cartons are likely to be recycled.

    When talking about plastic recycling, there is a big difference between “can be recycled” and “will be recycled”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This really depends on the recycle infrastructure in your country. As for Switzerland, there are special collection points which take the plastic. They do shred them into pieces, then separate them and recycle the as much as possible. The parts which are not recyclable then get burned in special facilities and create heat for industrial processes or general heating of buildings. See https://www.bafu.admin.ch/bafu/en/home/topics/waste/guide-to-waste-a-z/plastics.html for details. But this is not at the same level for each country in the world. So in essence it is the best to avoid using plastics at all, and if it is used, to re-use it as many times as possible. And at the end use a proper recycling process.

      Like

  5. Hey Miele PowerDisk Friends!

    Thanks for sharing your experience!
    This Guide inspired me do some extra work.
    Maybe Miele want to do some extra Profit like Epson with there printer ink 🙂

    For 3D Printers i created two Plugs.One for the 15mm Hole, where you fillin the Powder and a other Plug, so that the Powder stay enclosed.

    Here are the links:
    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5556225
    http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:5556276

    happy printing

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a Miele clothes washer with auto dos. I very quickly learned that this was an expensive way to add detergent. Luckily, Miele sell the container so you dan run a cleaning cycle on the auto dos system, they have a sealable lid so it is easy to fill with detergent and fabric softener. The Miele washer actually allows you to change the auto dos operation to allow for this. I am thinking of new dishwasher soon and like the idea of auto dos, but as seen it is expensive and wasteful of plastic. A refillable auto dos makes sense and Miele should recognize this and stop trying to employ expensive and wasteful systems to make extra income. By supporting refillable auto dos they would sell more machines and make the extra income that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Bill,
      I 100% agree with you: a refillable container makes much more sense.
      As for my dishwasher, I’m alternating two containers I refill, so I always have one ready when one gets empty. I have refilled them now more than 10 times, and no real issue at all. I had once a message asking me to do a ‘cleaning’ maintenance of the area where the powder falls down into the machine. I think this is normal for using the prefilled ones, and the maintenance procedure is described by Miele too: simply remove a cover, then brush the inside to get any stuck detergents out of the channel, that’s it.

      Like

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