Though the 97HEDBD might be one of the most stylish dryers we’ve tested, unfortunately it’s not the “most” anything else. It’s not the most affordable entry in the high-end market, it doesn’t have the most cycles or features on display, and—perhaps most importantly—it can’t quite hold up against the best dryers available. It’s a decent dryer, sure enough, but unless you’re really gunning to make an aesthetic difference in your laundry room, or if you want to match a paired washer, there are other superior options on hand.
Glamorizing the laundry room with a girl’s best friend
At CES 2014, Whirlpool polled show-goers on a selection of new machine finishes. And while we would've been equally excited if Bold Damask or Aqua Chevron graced our labs, it was the Black Diamond finish (formerly known as Diamond Steel) that made the cut.
The Black Diamond finish is stylish, classy, and very understated. So understated that if you were to look at the 97HEDBD under certain lighting, you might think it was just a standard black dryer. Most of the machine is, in fact, just a black dryer—the Black Diamond design is only found on the front panel under the controls and surrounding the door. Standard versions of this machine are available in gray (Diamond Steel) for the same price, or in white and silver (Chrome Steel) for less.
Despite the reflective glossy black finish, the controls are easy to read. Bright blue indicator lights track which cycles and features are selected, so you’ll never be confused by what’s going on in the machine.
A special stainless interior—known as a SilentSteel drum—is designed to keep laundry tumbling noise to a minimum. Clanging zippers or buttons won’t be silenced, but will definitely be dulled.
The Normal cycle did a decent job, getting clothes perfectly dry in an average of 50 minutes. Temperatures ran a bit high, though, peaking at 155.1°F. The EcoBoost option increases drying efficiency by lowering temperatures—good news for your clothes—but at the cost of nearly doubled drying times.
Delicates was easily the best cycle we tested. After just one hour and 23 minutes—a hair faster than average—clothes were 96% dry, perfect for finishing the job with an iron or clothesline. With peak temperatures reaching a mere 115.1°F, this cycle lives up to its name.
Lots of toys, but average drying
Price doesn’t always match performance, and in this case it’s hard to say if you’re really getting what you pay for. The Normal cyle got clothes perfectly dry, but in our tests Quick and Bulky were both subpar. Items felt too damp to be worn at the end of the cycles.
The only thing that really impressed us was Delicates: low temperatures, slightly faster-than-average drying times, and undamaged clothing make this the best cycle we tested by a mile.
Despite residing at the peak of Whirlpool’s newest dryer lineup, this machine doesn’t have as many extras as you might expect. In addition to the typical modes, you get a Casual cycle, Sanitize—particularly useful for households with small children—and a designated Towels mode. If you want to hook up a hose, there’s also a Steam Refresh option.
As for features, Wrinkle Shield can be performed with or without steam, in addition to this dryer's regular steam feature. Static Reduce, a damp dry signal, and a control lock are all fairly standard these days. The most interesting feature is EcoBoost, which increases efficiency for most cycles by reducing temperatures and extending drying times.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Quick Dry is a manual cycle that initially defaults to 26 minutes. At the end of that much time, our smaller load came out 85% dry. That's not bad, but we’ve seen similar cycles on other machines that did better. It should be noted that the manual does recommend using this cycle for loads of up to only four garments, while our test batch contains 10 items.
The Bulky cycle's performance was the most sporadic of the batch. The first test took 55 minutes and got our large comforter an impressive 75% dry. Second time around, it took just 47 minutes, but only removed 48% excess moisture. Peak temperatures got up to 143°F, and perfect bulky drying will require you to flip the item around mid-cycle, otherwise damp spots will get tangled in the middle of an otherwise-dry comforter.
Novelty finish, underwhelming performance
We can’t stress this enough: The Whirlpool Duet WED97HEDBD is not a bad dryer. If you like the look or you own a matching washer, buy it, especially with retail prices down to roughly $1,255.
Unfortunately, appliance competition is stiff. With more versatile, more effective, and more affordable machines on the market, this one doesn’t quite manage to hold its head above water.
Meet the testers
Logistics Manager & Staff Writer@ReviewedHome
Matthew is a native of Brockton, MA and a graduate of Northeastern, where he earned a degree in English and Theatre. He has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends most of his free time pursuing a performance career in the greater Boston area.See all of Matthew Zahnzinger's reviews
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