Whirlpool WDF310PLAB Review
A low-end dishwasher that's cheap to buy and cheap to run, but you'll find yourself scraping and rinsing your plates more often.
A daunting task among dishwasher manufacturers is coming up with an affordable low-end model that’s still attractive and functional. Whirlpool’s WDF310PLAB is an attempt at providing just that – an inexpensive dishwasher that provides only the bare essentials of what a machine needs to do its job. At an MSRP of $379, the WDF310PLAB has a bare-bones package of just three types of wash cycles and two adjustable wash options. But while certainly affordable, this machine falters at its one job of cleaning dishes. This isn’t the worst we’ve seen from a machine in this price range, but other models at just $50 or $100 more have markedly better performance than the WDF310PLAB.
Design & Usability
A low-end machine doesn't have to be ugly. Or boring.
For what it’s worth, the WDF310PLAB looks as basic as a dishwasher can be. The black door is very glossy and shiny. The door handle is recessed, which is good if you don’t like accidentally banging against a protruding door handle, and bad if you wanted a place to drape your “Kiss the Cook” apron. The plastic control panel features a vent and front-mounted controls that take up a small corner on the right of the door. Despite taking up very little real estate, those buttons manage to not look cluttered.
If it only had a slot for inserting bills or coins, the WDF310PLAB’s controls are so simple they could be mistaken for those found on a soda vending machine. Each of the five buttons are clearly labeled, making cycle and option selection very easy. The circular buttons are responsive and feel like bubble wrap: satisfying to press because of a distinct popping sound and tactile response, and slightly addictive. This works out in the WDF310PLAB’s favor, because there’s only one button for cycling through each wash cycle mode, as opposed to one button each for Normal, Heavy, and 1-Hour Cycles. This means you could find yourself pressing quite a few buttons when choosing how you want to do your next load, so it’s a good thing Whirlpool made it fun.
When you get a look at what’s inside the door, you start to see why the WDF310PLAB is a $380 machine. The white plastic tub makes the machine very light, but you’ll be able to very clearly hear the water splashing around inside when it’s running. Neither the top nor bottom racks feature any adjustable tines, and although the bottom rack slid out easily on its track, the top rack is very sticky and stubborn. Instead of a single, large cutlery holder, the WDF310PLAB comes with a pair of smaller baskets. The duo can fit almost anywhere in the bottom rack, or be removed entirely, adding a limited level of flexibility to your loads. Unfortunately, that’s the full extent of your adjustability.
A standard package with nothing groundbreaking or fancy.
The WDF310PLAB has the usual Normal and Heavy cycles, plus the standard Whirlpool 1-Hr Wash cycle, with additional options for Hi-Temp Wash and Heat Dry. This is about as basic as it gets for a dishwasher, and we’re happy to see that they are all included despite the low upfront cost. For non-wash options, this machine also features a 4-hour Delay and a Control Lock. You won’t find a sanitize or sensor feature here; part of why the WDF310PLAB is so inexpensive is because it only provides you with what you need most and none of the extras.
Avoid the 1-Hr Wash if you can.
So the WDF310PLAB looks alright and has all of its bases covered as far as cycles and features go. How well does it actually clean? Unfortunately, not very. On the Normal cycle, we found soil remains in the mugs, glasses, and small bowls loaded on the top rack. What’s especially troubling is that some small tea stains were left behind; tea being one of our easiest stain tests and practically a freebie for most dishwashers. It suggests to us that the top rack just doesn’t get enough water during the Normal cycle. The Heavy cycle doesn’t have this problem, but also couldn’t quite handle the burnt cheese and sugar tests we threw at it.
On the bright side, there were very few instances of redeposit. For the most part, the particles that did get washed off were directed to the WDF310PLAB’s removable filter and drained away, as opposed to getting stuck back on to other dishes. This held true even during the 1-Hr Wash, the worst performer of the three cycles, and the one cycle that we recommend you avoid for this machine.
The 1-Hr Wash had the same problems of the Normal wash, but amplified. While it lives up to its name and actually finishes in one hour, it left a large percentage of stains behind. None of the dishes came out perfect, and were certainly not fit for eating off of. The cycle may be good enough to handle lighter jobs, but anything that’s been baked on or left to sit overnight will be too much for the 1-Hr Wash.
An affordable option, but not a very good one.
The WDF310PLAB is a good effort, at the very least. It shows that a low-end dishwasher doesn’t have to look ugly or dated. It has a stripped-down but functional selection of wash cycles and options. It’s a good example of what extra features can be trimmed to make a dishwasher more affordable without sacrificing too much. Unfortunately, the core of a dishwasher is its ability to clean dishes, and at the end of the day, the WDF310PLAB just does not deliver. The WDF310PLAB’s may work out for you if you’re willing to take the extra time to scrape your plates and rinse them before loading them. Those who simply don’t have that time should look elsewhere.
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