After we spent a week testing it, I had to remind myself—looks aren’t everything. Clean dishes are more important. Luckily, we found that this dishwasher does an okay job cleaning most dishes, though there are a few caveats. Plus, it rocks very desirable features at a moderate price. (While you're looking, check out our full list of the best affordable dishwashers.)
The exterior is alluring. Complementing the black stainless finish is a matte stainless steel bar handle, trimmed with shiny chrome. That combination ensures the dishwasher will coordinate with many kitchen styles.
If black stainless steel isn't your jam, you can get all the features of this well-priced dishwasher with a white (WDR970SAHW), black (WDT970SAHB), or fingerprint-resistant stainless steel (WDT970SAHZ) finish.
Here are a few other standouts in the dishwasher's design.
• The top control panel is easy to read. Oddly, all of the controls are located between the middle and the right side. The Whirlpool badge, which on most of Whirlpool’s other dishwashers is located on the top left of the control panel, is centered at the bottom of the door instead.
• A stainless steel tub gives the dishwasher's interior a bright, upscale look, and better drying performance.
• The top rack is the place for knives and some kitchen utensils, as long as they’re not too deep. A spatula might fit, but a ladle probably won’t. It’s a great place for Tupperware lids, and other small items that shouldn’t get loose.
• There are stemware clips on both sides of the middle rack, so if you have a few friends over for a glass of wine, you can wash all the glasses in the same cycle.
As with other dishwashers, there are a few design challenges.
• The cutlery basket sits securely in the inside door. Since not everyone likes it there, Whirlpool has provided an alternative spot to place the basket, on the front of the bottom rack. Neither location works that well. If you put the basket in the door, silverware can fall out when you open the door, and if you attach it to the bottom rack, the basket can fall off.
• Although the middle rack is moveable to accommodate larger pieces on the bottom rack, we found it difficult to move. If this were your dishwasher, you might find that it wasn't worth the effort to raise it.
• Tines on the bottom rack don’t move or give any clues on how to load the dishwasher. The user guide provides some suggestions, though we didn’t always agree with them. It takes some trial and error to figure out how to arrange the dishes to get them their cleanest.
This dishwasher has a number of features that can make life easier.
• 1-hour Wash
It takes most modern dishwashers a long time to run the wash cycles, which is frustrating to owners. So, we’re always happy to see a quick cycle that cleans well in an hour. In our labs, the Whirlpool’s 1-hour Wash cycle took an hour and five minutes, which is fine. The biggest concern might be that this cycle uses close to eight gallons of water, about the same as the Heavy cycle, and three times as much as the Normal cycle.
• Display timer
This is a great convenience. It tells exactly when the cycle will end. When it’s time to unload, an LED light illuminates as well.
• Delay timer
You can delay the start of a cycle for hours, using these increments—1-8, 12, 16, 20, and 24 hours.
• Quiet operation
The sound from this dishwasher is 47 dBA, which is not very noticeable. There are high-end dishwashers that emit only 37 dBA, but your old dishwasher was probably much louder.
The Normal and quick cycles were each able to remove 96% of the stains on dishes. Our tests on the Heavy cycle are tough, since we want to see how a dishwasher does with burned sugar, burned-on cheese and lasagna. This model was able to remove 88%, due to its struggle cleaning burned-on cheese. That’s not a showstopper—you’d probably want to soak a pan like that before you popped it into the dishwasher.
The main issue with this dishwasher is that little specks of food can deposit back on the plates. During our tests, we saw food particles on more than half of the dishes after every cycle. The specks were small, but you wouldn’t want to see them on the plates while you were setting the table for a dinner party.
As for drying, the Normal and Heavy cycles left the dishes completely dry, with no residual water. The 1-hour Wash left all the dishes damp. You may want to select the heated dry option when you run the quick cycle, although it will take longer that way.
What the users say
This dishwasher is brand new, so there aren’t a lot of online comments yet, but the few reviews we’ve seen commend the dishwasher’s quiet operation and beautiful black stainless exterior.
The bottom line
This dishwasher looks great and boasts some very convenient features at a decent price point. The speedy one hour cycle, heated drying, timer displays, and delayed start are nice-to-haves. The machine leaves a few specks on your dishes, but it dries every dish perfectly on the Normal and Heavy cycles.
If you’re looking for a good dishwasher that's even easier on the budget, you can spend $250 less on the competent GE GDF610P, but you would have to give up this model's impressive black stainless exterior, stainless tub, and third rack.
Cindy Bailen loves writing about major appliances and home design and has spent over 15 years immersed in that. In her spare time, Cindy hosts pledge programs for WGBH-TV in Boston and other public television stations.
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.