The basic idea of a dishwasher hasn't changed in years, and it's simple enough to explain to an orangutan, but every once in a while a product comes along that's just stunning.
What makes the so amazing is not that it's super efficient (like the Bosch SHX98M09UC), well designed (Asko D5434XLS), or innovative (Miele Futura Crystal); it’s that it excels at the most important function of a dishwasher: washing dishes. In fact, the just about trounces every other machine we’ve tested when it comes to cleaning power. What’s more, it's far less expensive than all the above mentioned dishwashers, with an MSRP of $1049 and sale prices around $900. These two factors—price and performance—make the the best dishwasher of 2012.
To date, the is the best dishwasher we’ve tested. Yeah, this was a shock to us, too, because it’s not flashy or uniquely innovative, it’s not highly-efficient, and it doesn’t include a library of extra perks. But when it comes to cleaning power, this thing is a real beast. Take a look at these test results:
In its pleasant simplicity, this appliance is more “to the point” than a lot of other top-performing dishwashers.
Anyone familiar with dishwashers made by Whirlpool (which manufactures Maytag and KitchenAid, as well as a few Kenmore and IKEA models) will recognize some familiar elements here. The control panel seems a bit cluttered, but that’s mainly because of its range of options. While there seems to be a lot of text, the interface is fairly intuitive: all the options are neatly separated from the cycles. The blue indicator lights are also helpful, as is the status display.
Open the door and you'll see the wash tub is stainless steel, which reduces noise and helps in the drying process. There’s also a set of jets at the back of the tub; these are part of the ’s “PowerScrub” option, and a key reason for the machine’s superior performance.
There's also a set of jets at the back of the tub, a key reason for the machine's superior performance.
The top rack is sturdily constructed and flexible enough for most small-sized dishes. The tines are also adjustable and intuitively placed. These tines are fixed, yet the bottom rack is designed in such a way that loading dishes should not be any sort of challenge. The cutlery basket is very spacious, if a little flimsy in its construction. One convenient feature: owners can remove the basket entirely (to make extra room) and still use the smaller basket attached to the right side of the lower rack to load a small number of utensils. The filter, which cannot be removed for easy cleaning, includes an electric disposal that grinds up small food soils. This helps limit backup and ensures a thoroughly clean wash.
Demonstrating the ability to completely clean off certain stains for the first time since we started reviewing dishwashers, this model absolutely knows how to get the job done right.
Dried milk, dried tea, baked-on meat, baked-on egg, dried oatmeal, and margarine: all of these are stains that were perfectly washed away by this model. (We should point out that “perfect” means 100 percent clean across _two separate tests!) Tests involving lipstick and baked-on spinach weren't quite perfect, but they are traditionally the most difficult things to remove.
Excuse us if we’re more excited than you, but we make these stains and we know how hard it is to remove them, so we’re just amazed. Amazed!
The Heavy Duty wash was equally impressive, although it scored slightly lower because it involves three additional stain tests (burnt sugar, burnt cheese, and baked-on lasagna). Still, the Heavy Duty was spot on; it scored perfectly on everything listed above (except margarine), including baked-on spinach (a first), burnt sugar, and baked-on lasagna (also a first). Excuse us if we’re more excited than you, but we make these stains and we know how hard it is to remove them, so we’re just amazed. Amazed!
If the stellar performance weren’t enough, this model also includes a range of wash features and customization options.
In addition to the three main cycles (1 Hour, Normal, and Heavy Duty), there is also a Light/China cycle intended for delicate dishes and glassware. While the Heavy Duty cycle was the most impressive, it actually used less power and took less time to complete than the Normal setting.
There are a few extra wash options included, the most head-turning of which is the “PowerScrub” option, which engages a series of additional spray jets to ensure a more robust wash. While this accounts for some of the ’s superior performance, the high volume of water used in each of the main cycles also deserves some credit. In addition to that, there is a high-temperature scrub, sanitize rinse, heated dry cycle, and a 4-hour delay. There’s also a child lock and—so you can keep tabs on it all—a status display.
This thing uses a lot of water, but if you’re not worried about the impact on your utility bill then it’s no big deal. Wash on.
So here’s the key to the ’s outstanding wash performance: inefficiency. Energy consumption wasn’t too bad—at least by comparison to its water use. The 1 Hour Wash drained 0.64 kWh of electricity, while the Normal and Heavy Duty washes consumed 1.00 and 0.90 kWh, respectively. This makes for an energy cost of about 7 to 10 cents per cycle.
This makes for a yearly operating cost of $39.60.
But here’s where the is an environmentalist’s nightmare: it soaked up 6.63 gallons of hot water on the 1 Hour Wash alone. This figure climbed to 7.08 and 7.54 gallons for the Normal and Heavy Duty cycles, respectively (which makes for a water bill of 6 or 7 cents per wash). We’ve tested dishwashers that use up to 9 or 10 gallons per cycle, so this is by no means an abhorrent level of inefficiency, but it’s still significant. Based on the estimation that the Normal wash is used 50 percent of the time, this makes for a yearly operating cost of $39.60—a few bucks higher than most other machines we've tested.
This thing washes dishes like Mike Tyson punches dudes: completely.
There was nothing unique about this KitchenAid when it rolled off the Big Box Store's delivery truck. To be honest, we were expecting another run-of-the-mill, mid- to high-end dishwasher. After we put it through a second round of tests to make sure the phenomenal results weren't some sort of fluke (accidental dishwasher steroid injection?), we accepted the truth. No error; it’s just a darn good dishwasher, la crème de la crème. It scored near-perfect on a range of stain tests in both the Normal and Heavy Duty cycles, and the 1 Hour Wash was one of the best performing quick cycles we’ve ever seen.
This is just a darn good dishwasher, la crème de la crème.
The makes use of a unique spray system to clean dishes—not to mention an absurd amount of hot water and an electric food disposer in lieu of the filters found on other models, such as the KitchenAid KUDE60FX. We concluded that these three factors contributed mostly to the suspiciously strong performance, but the machine still seems to have this mysterious quality, as if some kind of dishwasher gnome were living inside it with a little scrubbing brush... and yes, dishwasher gnomes are a thing now.
This average capacity allows for a fairly standard number of dish settings at one time.
We were able to fit 10 standard place settings, plus a serving setting. This is average and should suffice for most dish sizes and shapes, making it a fairly versatile machine for any consumer.
The has an excellent cost to performance ratio.
To date, the is the best dishwasher we’ve tested. It came as a bit of a shock, because it's such a run-of-the-mill machine, otherwise. It’s not flashy or uniquely innovative, it’s not highly-efficient, and it doesn’t include a library of extra perks. But when it comes to cleaning power, this thing is the proverbial top dog.
When it comes to cleaning power, this thing is the proverbial top dog.
The price tag is fairly low, as well, which is why it also won our award for Best Mid-Range Dishwasher. The MSRP is $1049, but sale prices drop this bad boy down to a very reasonable $899.
Meet the tester
Tyler Wells Lynch
Tyler Wells Lynch is a freelance writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Vice, Wirecutter, Gizmodo, The Rumpus, Yes!, and the Huffington Post, among others. He lives in Maine.
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