The Maytag is the second kind of dishwasher, a tireless performer that's a veritable James Brown of plate cleaning. The Normal cycle takes about three hours. The MDB8959SAS also costs nearly twice as much per year to run as some more efficient machines we've tested, which may eat up a lot of the upfront savings its $720 sale price promised.
Remember, though, that it's all about the dishes. If you're willing to wait, and if you don't mind how much water it uses, the Maytag MDB8959SAS does an exceptionally good job getting plates clean. It may be the hardest working appliance in your kitchen.
A traditional exterior that will fit in any kind of kitchen.
The Maytag Jetclean MDB8959SAS is a solid looking machine with a stainless steel finish and tasteful hidden control display. A tiny Maytag logo at the bottom is the only blemish on the monolithic surface, and it'll fit in any modern kitchen.
Open the door, and you'll see a stainless steel wash tub that serves both design and function, as it looks nice, makes for a quieter wash and helps retain heat to expedite the drying process. Instead of a removable filter, this dishwasher features a "chopper"—a miniature disposal that grinds up food waste. It's louder than a filter-only dishwasher, but some customers prefer not having to clean a filter.
Up in the top rack, we were a bit frustrated by the layout, as its lack of flexibility made larger dishes something of a challenge to load. But the adjustable height levers certainly helped alleviate this concern. The bottom rack had no such concerns, and we fit ten whole place settings inside.
Choose your own adventure with the multiple options on offer.
Some wash options can only be added to certain cycles, but the range of features makes the Maytag MDB8959SAS a highly customizable dishwasher. In addition to the standard delay and sanitize options, there is a wash intensity feature (“tough scrub”), a heated dry, an extra dry, and a high-temperature wash.
There's also a delay feature that allows you to postpone the start of a wash by two, four, or eight hours, and a control lock for keeping curious children at bay.
Superb—albeit slow—cleaning, and one of the least efficient dishwashers we've tested.
Good cleaning power usually takes time, and Maytag seemed to understand that in building this dishwasher. While the Quick Wash was indeed quick (very quick) at just 35 minutes, the Normal cycle took nearly three hours and the Heavy Duty "Jet Clean" cycle took three and a half hours.
All that hard work and wait was worth it. While the Quick Wash was just decent, the Normal and Jet Clean cycles were among the most impressive wash performances we’ve ever tested, leaving behind almost no trace of food.
When it comes to efficiency, however, the good feelings quickly fade away. We calculated that it would cost the average user $44.88 per year to run this dishwasher. That's $20 more per year than other machines we've tested. Over the course of five years, that's a difference of $100—enough to upgrade to a slightly more efficient machine.
Clean dishes, but one heck of a big payback
The Maytag Jetclean MDB8959SAS cleans like a boss—the kind of boss who leaves all the lights on in the office, drives a big SUV and doesn't recycle. But beyond its environmental shortcomings, the dishwasher offers a pristine clean, a host of extra wash features, and a pleasing design to boot. Just don't expect it to be done quickly.
We're especially fans of this washer because it offers top-notch cleaning while falling straight in the middle of the Whirlpool lineup, just below some KitchenAids that cost a few hundred dollars more. It's not hard to find this machine for under $720, which makes it a great value—at least, as far as upfront costs are concerned.
For every dishwasher we test, we measure how much water and electricity it uses, and what percentage of standardized stains disappear after a wash. The Maytag MDB8959SAS was inefficient, but cleaning performance was exceptional.
Exceptional Normal cycle, if you don't mind waiting.
Compared with other dishwashers, the MDB8959SAS Quick Wash was average at best, but compared to the machine’s other cycles it was bad to the point of being useless. It was inconsistent and ineffective in most of our stain tests, and it only reached a peak temperature of 132.9ºF. It’s not even very efficient, so unless you’re in a major hurry and unwilling to wash dishes by hand, we don’t imagine you’ll be using this cycle very much.
The Normal wash, on the other hand, was extremely impressive. Our first run saw a perfect score in 6 out of 8 of our stain tests (dried milk, tea, minced meat, baked egg, dried oatmeal, and margarine), and the second run saw perfection in three (minced meat, baked egg, and dried oatmeal). Even the tests that were not perfect received high scores, although there was some inconsistency in our spinach test (usually one of our toughest stains).
The Jet Clean cycle was also very powerful, although less impressive due to the tougher nature of tests in this cycle. The minced meat, egg, and oatmeal tests were all near-perfect, and even our baked lasagna stain was almost completely cleaned. Our one complaint with this cycle had more to do with the MDB8959SAS’s hardware; the filter cannot be manually removed and cleaned, as a result some of the larger food particles (pasta and burnt cheese remnants) got stuck. After some time this created a nasty smell that was pretty unbearable. Consumers can get around this by either rinsing their dishes thoroughly before loading them, or by getting down and dirty when cleaning the filter.
One thirsty dishwasher
While the Quick Wash consumed a paltry 0.29 kWh per cycle, the Normal and Jet Clean cycles used considerably more—1.10 and 1.40 kWh, respectively. This made for an electricity cost of just 3 cents per Quick Wash, but a whopping 11 to 14 cents on Normal and Jet Clean.
There wasn’t a single cycle that didn’t consume a considerable amount of water, and there isn’t even an water-saving "Eco-Wash" option available. Between the Quick Wash, Normal, and Jet Clean cycles, the MDB8959SAS consumed 6.48, 7.10, and 12.42 gallons of hot water, respectively. Even the Light wash required a large volume of water (6.76 gallons). These figures make for an average water cost of 6 to 12 cents per wash.
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.
Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email