Laundry

Whirlpool Duet WFW97HEDBD Washing Machine Review

Back in Black

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The Whirlpool Duet WFW97HEDBD (MSRP $1,499 in special finishes or $1,349 in white) looks like no other washer. It has an all-new black color scheme that Whirlpool calls Diamond Steel, the result of a design contest that Whirlpool kicked off during last year's CES.

The '97 has roughly the same stain removal, efficiency, and clothing wear performance as the WFW95HEDW—which costs around $300 less. Like the '95, it also has Whirlpool's FanFresh system, which can wash and dry a small load overnight.

But the flagship WFW97HEDBD does add a unique feature: Whirlpool's Load and Go system, which holds enough detergent for twelve loads of laundry. When it's filled, it automatically dispenses just the right amount of soap, so you don't have to worry about detergent residue remaining on clothes.

If you hate pouring detergent into the cap of the soap bottle—and who can see those tiny lines, anyway?—this Whirlpool might be the washer for you.

To read our full review of this washer's matching dryer, the Whirlpool WED97HEBD, click here.

By the Numbers

The Whirlpool WFW97HEDBD looks like a real stunner. But is it as beautiful on the inside as the outside? We take it into the lab and find out.

Design & Usability

In the laundry room, Diamond Black is the new white

At first glance, the Whirlpool Duet WFW97HEDBD looks like a black washer. But upon closer inspection, a subtle vector cube pattern—sort of like an M.C. Escher drawing—emerges. Ironically, the pattern doesn't come into full view without overhead lighting, so that dimly lit basement might not be the best place to show off your new artwork.

FanFresh

FanFresh circulates air and tumbles your laundry up to 12 hours after a cycle has completed.

One extra goodie stole the show: Load and Go. The WFW97HEDBD has the ability to hold up to 12 loads' worth of liquid, high-efficiency detergent. Based on the weight of your laundry, the washer will dispense the correct amount every time. This feature is what sets the 97 apart from the 95, and—we think—justifies the jump in price.

Other high-end features like a drum light and steam cleaning are included, while the FanFresh feature—which tumbles and air-fluffs already completed loads—adds the most flexibility to this machine. Start a load before bed, and don't worry about musty clothes when you wake up.

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The door, the control panel, and the cycle selection are all borrowed from the rest of the Duet lineup. If you've used a front loader in the past ten years, you're already familiar with the WFW97HEDBD's controls.

Cleaning Performance

Buying a washer that doesn't clean is like buying a donut you can't eat. To make sure the WFW97HEDBD can get stains out of your clothes, we use mechanically coated cloth swatches. They're covered in common household stains like cocoa, sweat, and oil.

After a battery of test washes, we found the Heavy Duty cycle was the most powerful. It clocked in at 1 hour 15 minutes, but removed 37% more stains than the Normal cycle. That Normal cycle took only 40 minutes, and if you're in a real hurry, Quick Wash will save you a little bit more time with its 29 minute duration.

After we analyzed the strips, we found the WFW97HEDBD did particularly well against blood and cocoa stains. That's encouraging, since those two substances stand on opposite sides of the pH scale. Oil stains were the most resilient, but that's true across most washing machines.

Performance

Above-average performance—but you're still paying for features

Interior

A interior is well illuminated with a drum light.

Spending over $1,300 on a washing machine may seem outrageous, but at least the Whirlpool Duet WFW97HEDBD offers more than just a pretty face and lots of extras. After putting this stylish washer through its paces in our test labs, we found it was tough on both cocoa and blood stains. And that's good, since those substances are on opposite ends of the pH scale. Sweat removal was also impressive, but oil clung onto our test laundry pretty tightly. It's tough to beat the laws of chemistry, after all.

Dispenser

The Auto Dispense holds up to 12 loads worth of liquid detergent.

We also found these cycles were reasonably fast. The Normal cycle took just forty minutes, while the Heavy Duty cycle lasted an hour and fifteen. Those extra thirty-five minutes do give you a major stain removal boost, but unless your clothes are really dirty, the Normal cycle should be just fine.

The Whites and Delicate cycles offered average performance for this price range. If you've owned a Duet before, you'll know what to expect. For those upgrading or replacing another model, those cycles are on par with other high-end washers.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.

Efficiency

Efficiency is about more than just how much water your washer uses. It's also about how much moisture your washer is able to spin out before you swap to the dryer.

Measuring how much water and power the WFW97HEDBD uses is straightforward, we simply record results from water and wattage meters. We estimate the WFW97HEDBD will cost you $32 a year to run–based on average national costs and use patterns.

The wet laundry we took out of the WFW97HEBD earned mixed results. The Normal, Heavy Duty, and White loads finished with half the water spun out–that's what we're looking for. Meanwhile the Delicates and Quick Wash loads came out sopping wet, 108% heavier than they went in.

Before You Buy

Strength, convenience, beauty

It's easy to look at the price of this machine and dismiss it out of hand. But there's a solid washer here that offers above average cleaning performance, doesn't drain lakes to operate, and looks fairly unique. If the laundry area is prominent in your home, this is a machine worth showing off.

Just be aware that you're paying extra solely for Load and Go, the auto dispenser that stores and automatically releases the right amount of liquid detergent for up to 12 loads. The WFW95HEDW, which doesn't have this feature, still offers identical performance for less.

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