Whirlpool really knows how to make a good-looking dishwasher. The American-madeWhirlpool WDTA50SAHZ(available at AppliancesConnection for $714.10) rocks a contemporary design, with a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel door and a comfortable handle designed like a pocket. This dishwasher can fit nicely into many new or remodeled kitchens.
But if stainless doesn’t coordinate with your kitchen, you can choose the same model in white, black, or black stainless steel.
We brought this dishwasher into our labs for testing, and found that its pros and cons are similar to its sibling, the Whirlpool WDT970SAHV. The WDTA50SAHZ we tested comes in at around $150 less, but it still has some luxury features.
Over the comfortable pocket handle, a strip of shiny “chrome” enhances the look. The stainless interior is attractive, allows better drying, and keeps the noise down.
We liked the top-mount control panel, and the way it makes for a smooth surface on the door. A little red LED light shines on the menu when the dishwasher is running. When the load is done, a white light notifies you.
Reminders like this are useful. When you press the Start button to add a dish while the machine is operating, the Add a dish notice illuminates, so you don’t forget why the dishwasher has stopped.
The silverware basket fits comfortably into the door, but silverware can fall out when you open the door. You can attach the basket to the front of the bottom rack, but it may fall off during the cycle. At least it’s easy to move the basket onto the counter for unloading. One issue we noticed—the basket is small, and might not fit all the silverware a family uses for a meal.
The bottom rack pulls out easily. Unfortunately, the tines there don’t move, and they’re equidistant, in parallel rows, meaning you have to figure out your own layout. Whirlpool’s user manual suggests putting a casserole dish on the bottom left. In our tests, that left the dishes in front of it dirty.
The top rack has a row of moveable tines on each side, and on the right there are a few slots for wineglasses. It’s possible to raise the top rack to take room for tall items, but we think it’s a challenge for most people to do.
One of the luxuries you don't get with this model is a third rack. If you’re looking for one, you’ll need to buy a different dishwasher.
A few nice features add convenience to the daily dishwashing routine.
• 1-hour Wash
Our lab tests showed that this quick cycle indeed takes an hour, though it doesn’t clean or dry dishes as well as the Normal cycle.
• Extended Dry option
Heated drying turns on automatically with the Normal and Heavy cycles, but it’s worth selecting for the 1-Hour Wash cycle.
• Delay Wash
You can delay the start of a cycle for 2, 4 or 8 hours.
• Quiet operation
The sound from this dishwasher is fairly low, at 47 dBA. If you buy this model to replace your old dishwasher, you’ll probably notice how much quieter it is.
In our tests, the Normal cycle removed 96% of stains with almost no food particles finding their way back onto the dishes. And the dishes came out completely dry. Curiously, cycle time for Normal was about the same as for the Heavy cycle. Normal used about 6.5 gallons of water per load.
When we test a dishwasher's heavy cycle, we purposely dirty a load of dishes with the tough stuff—burnt sugar, melted cheese, and leftover lasagna. In this case, the Heavy cycle removed 96% of stains, but we saw food particles deposited back on our dishes. After an average of over 3 1/2 hours of run time, we were disappointed in that finding. On the plus side, the dishes came out completely dry.
The 1-Hour Wash didn’t remove food particles well. And it only cleaned off 89% of stains, leaving small bowls and spoons looking like they needed attention. All the dishes came out of the cycle wet.
To use the 1-Hour or Heavy cycles successfully, you would need to give the dishes a good rinse first to minimize redeposit. That’s not an efficient use of water, especially since each of those cycles take more than eight gallons of hot water to run.
We calculate that this dishwasher will cost you about $35 a year to operate.
What the users say
Owners have written that they enjoy dishwasher’s quiet operation and its good looks.
The bottom line
For many people, Whirlpool is a trusted name, and this dishwasher is made in America. We find that it leaves specks and stains on some dishes in the 1-Hour and Heavy cycles, so if you bring it home, stick to the Normal cycle, or make sure you scrape and rinse dishes well before loading them.
But we recommend that you choose another model. The Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ scored well in our tests, earning our Editor's Choice badge. Take a look at it before you make a buying decision. And you might also consider LG’s LDF5545ST. Though it isn’t American-made, it is one of the best dishwashers we’ve tested at about the same price point.
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.