In other words, while the 13403 isn’t doing anything wrong, it also isn’t doing anything special. And when you’re paying $700 for a dishwasher, you want a little bit of pizzaz.
The controls are anything but hidden
The 13403 gets points for having a mostly stainless steel door and an entirely stainless steel interior. This improves noise reduction for both the eyes and ears, respectively.
But at the top of that exterior is a polarizing, black plastic, front-facing control panel. Even though it put a countdown timer front and center, the design didn't do it for us. Not only does it jump out and break the uniformity of the exterior, it also attracts fingerprints and smudges easily, doesn’t respond to inputs very well, and uses only one button to cycle through six wash programs. If the controls are on the front, they should at least be user friendly.
For what it’s worth, the red trim on the spray nozzles do look rather slick. Unfortunately, this is one instance where beauty on the inside really doesn’t count. And other than a stiff, stubborn height adjustment system for the upper rack and a row of folding tines on the lower rack, this Kenmore doesn’t offer much flexibility. Using our standard-sized dishes, we were able to fit 11 place settings and a serving setting, but you might have trouble with thicker plates or deeper bowls.
Even though this Kenmore did a competent job removing most stains and keeping redeposit to a minimum, it had an extra rough time at removing meat stains. The Normal Wash cycle scored a 96.63% removal rate on this particular stain, whereas many other dishwashers score well above 99%. Pots & Pans scored a much more respectable 99.76%, but many other dishwashers’ heavy duty cycles can 100% this stain without trouble.
The Pots & Pans cycle did not do so well removing the burnt cheese stain, with an average removal score of only 49.81%. Even though cheese is pretty common in American cooking, this is a stain that most dishwashers fail on default settings. Luckily, the 13403’s Turbo Zone spray jets are designed for messes like this.
Due to the heated dry option being a default on most cycles, the 13403 takes a bit longer to finish loads. If you don’t want to wait 2 hours and 38 minutes for a Normal Wash to finish, you may consider turning that option off. Thankfully, 1 Hr Wash actually takes 60 minutes, and the Pots & Pans cycle takes a little over 3 hours.
Quite a few options
On the plus side, the 13403 has a healthy selection of cycles and wash customization options. In addition to the standard loadout of a normal, fast, and heavy duty cycle, this Kenmore has a cycle for delicate items and a quick, detergent-free rinse cycle for when you just need to refresh dishes that have been sitting in the cabinet for too long.
If you’re not satisfied with how the wash cycles work, you can customize them a little with a handful of options. You can boost the wash temperature, add a sanitizing rinse to the end of the cycle, activate (or deactivate, to save power) heated drying, or set a start delay for up to 24 hours. Finally, you can turn on the Turbo Zone high-intensity spray jets to blast off really tough stains—Just make sure you’re facing your pots and pans backwards in the lower rack for maximum effectiveness.
Despite some longer-than-average cycle times, the 13403’s power consumption is actually pretty average. Unfortunately, this dishwasher uses quite a bit of water, with the Normal Wash using 5.58 gallons per run. This adds up to an estimated yearly cost of $33.70 per year. For comparison, most consumer dishwashers end up in the $29-30 range.
Broken down by specific cycles, Normal Wash used 5.58 gallons of water and 0.75 kWh of electricity, 1 Hr Wash used 7.17 gallons and 0.40 kWh, and Pots & Pans used 7.41 gallons and 0.90 kWh. If you’re vulnerable to droughts or live in a desert, these costs could be devastating on your utility bill.
Some stains are just too tough
For many dishwashers, one of our hardest tests is washing off baked-on spinach without spreading it on to other dishes—a phenomenon known as redeposit. The 13403 did a fine job handling redeposit, as we didn’t see too many green spinach specks dotting the dishes after a wash.
We did notice a different problem across all cycles, though. As protein is common type of stain on dirty dishes in American households, we prepare plates of baked-on meat to test with. The 13403 did a noticeably poor job with them. Even the heavy-duty Pots & Pans cycle left some chunks of meat behind.
Kenmore says its curved PowerWave spray arm, which has jets angled to spray dishes from both sides, leads to better coverage. We noticed no issues with uneven coverage or cleaning.
If you’re the type of person who runs a dishwasher overnight, you won’t be too deeply concerned about the 13403’s long cycle times. The Normal Wash takes over two-and-a-half hours, while Pots & Pans clocks in at a more reasonable three hours. However, if you find yourself needing to do multiple loads in one sitting, disabling the heat dry option can shave up to 30 minutes off each cycle.
Finally, if you’re in an area where water is scarce, the 13403 might not be right for you. Our meters recorded high levels of water usage, with each Normal Wash taking up to 5.58 gallons to run. With that said, our dishes are dirtier than most—but the majority of the other dishwashers we’ve tested used between 2-4 gallons on average. Using national average rates for power and water, we expect the 13403 to set you back $33.70 each year in utility costs. That's a few dollars a year more than average.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
We could fit 11 place settings and a serving setting inside the 13403, using standard-sized dishes. Some people like to use thicker plates or bigger, deeper bowls with wider rims, which might have trouble fitting inside this dishwasher. With only a handful of adjustable parts, the 13403’s interior doesn’t really offer much flexibility.
Like many other appliances, the Kenmore 13403 comes with a standard 1-year warranty. This applies to all repairs that are due to a manufacturer defect, but not for expendable items that wear out from normal use, or damages caused by consumer misuse.
The price is wrong.
At the end of the day, the Kenmore 13403 is a good dishwasher with a polarizing exterior and a too-high price tag.
Unless you’re deeply attached to Kenmore or Sears, your money is better spent on the similarly priced Bosch SHX4AT75UC or the Frigidaire Gallery FGID2474QS, as mentioned earlier. Both of these dishwashers have the advantage of being logo-free on the front, so you can go off-brand without tipping anyone off.
Meet the tester
Johnny Yu writes news, features, and reviews for Reviewed.com. He graduated from U-Mass Boston with a Bachelor's in Social Psychology and spends much of his free time expanding his gaming horizons. Sometimes, he does his laundry at work.
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