Whirlpool Dishwasher Review 2021: Pros and Cons

Whirlpool Dishwasher Review 2021: Pros and Cons

Whirlpool is one of the most popular American appliance brands, and its dishwashers give you a lot of bang for your buck. But are they any good? Below, we’ll break down the pros and cons of Whirlpool dishwashers, walk you through the differences in its product line-up, and give you our recommendation on which model is best for most people.

Best Whirlpool Dishwashers
Watch our exclusive video Whirlpool dishwasher pros and cons.

3 Reasons to Consider a Whirlpool Dishwasher

1. Reliability. You’ve probably heard or may just have a vague sense that Whirlpool is an old, reliable American brand. You’re right; it is. That’s why we include it in our annual best dishwashers rankings.

Whirlpool’s best value dishwashers may not have all the latest technology, but their no-frills design means fewer problems. You get solid wash performance and customer service at a reasonable price.

Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ

2. Affordability. Whirlpool has always been known for affordable dishwashers. You should know that they have jumped up in price recently, though. Like many other brands, Whirlpool has been struggling with supply chain issues. A dishwasher that cost $500 two years ago now rings up closer to $700. That’s still relatively low, but it’s quite a jump. And I don’t see any signs of prices going back down anytime soon. When it comes to style… Whirlpool has the sleek pocket-style dishwasher handles and fingerprint-resistant finishes found on more expensive brands like Bosch and Miele dishwasher at a much lower price point.

3. Speedy wash and dry. There’s a lot of debate about what’s better… dishwashers with a heating element to dry dishes, or the European style approach of relying on a hot water final rinse to encourage condensation. While the European method is safer for your dishes, won’t melt plastics, and uses less energy, condensation drying does take about 30 minutes longer per cycle and it doesn’t do a great job on plastics.Whirlpool goes for heating element approach, so you’ll get quicker drying and won’t have to deal with excess moisture your plastics. Just watch out for your kids’ utensils dropping to the bottom or you may be dealing with a mess of burnt melted plastic.

Whirlpool Dishwasher Is Not Right For You If…

If you’re looking for a dishwasher with a stainless steel tub, you need to make sure to select a model with an all-stainless interior. The majority of Whirlpool dishwashers have a plastic tub.

If you want to match the front of your dishwasher with the surrounding kitchen cabinets, you’ll need a panel-ready dishwasher. Whirlpool doesn’t offer any standard size (24-inch) dishwashers with a front that can accept a cabinet panel. The only panel ready dishwashers offered by Whirlpool are special application 18-inch models.

Quietness isn’t what Whirlpool is known for when it comes to dishwashers. While the company makes reasonably silent machines, if you’re seeking an ultra-quiet dishwasher (i.e., 38 to 44 dB) you may want to consider one of the Bosch dishwashers.

Whirlpool dishwasher types
Whirlpool dishwasher types

Whirlpool Dishwasher Types

Whirlpool makes dozens of dishwashers, and it doesn’t divide them into different series the way other manufacturers do. To make the assortment easier to understand, we would like to think of Whirlpool in three categories: Legacy, mid-range, and high-end.

Legacy Whirlpool dishwashers cost under $600. Why so affordable? They’re mostly very loud and look a little dated. Dishwashers today range from 38 dB on the extremely silent end to slightly above 60 dB at the noisiest. We recommend targeting a 50 dB or less—that’s quieter than a typical conversation.

All legacy Whirlpool dishwashers run considerably louder than 50 dB, but if your kitchen is isolated from the rest of your home, that might not be a problem. However, if you have an open-concept kitchen that connects to your living room, steer clear of these models. You’ll regret hearing the water of the dishwasher swooshing while you’re trying to watch TV or have a conversation. We typically recommend targeting 44 decibels or less, something found on Whirlpools highest end models.

On the outside, they’re available in black and white plastic or regular stainless steel and have bulkier handles and displays.

On the inside, you’ll get a plastic tub, not stainless steel. While stainless interior looks nicer and tends to do a better job reducing odors, the plastic tub here saves money and is what allows Whirlpool to hit this crazy low price point, and we’ve found that Whirlpool interiors don’t stain too easily. I like how the racks have generously spaced tines—they’re great for stoneware or chunky coffee mugs. You’ll also get sensor wash, sanitize, and one-hour cycles.

If you’re really on a budget, these base models may be a good choice for you, but if you can we recommend splurging for what’s up next, the mid-range options.

Whirlpool’s midrange dishwashers cost between $600 and $800. They add conveniences like fingerprint-resistant finishes, sleeker handles and control panels, a stainless steel interior, a third rack, and noise levels at or below 50 dB.

On the inside, a third rack is a useful feature. It lets you neatly arrange your utensils and small bowls, and frees up space on the bottom rack where a silverware basket would traditionally sit. A fingerprint-resistant finish is super convenient, and a smaller or hidden control panel looks more modern. Midrange Whirlpool dishwashers also have nicer-looking handles, like this pocket-style one that blends into any kitchen design.

The 47 dB WDTA50SAKZ, for example, comes with a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel exterior, a sleek pocket handle, and a hidden control panel. Open the door, and you’ll find a stainless steel tub, a third rack, and an adjustable middle rack with folding tines. It’s a prime example of the streamlined, solid product Whirlpool is known for, and you can find it for under $800.

High-end Whirlpool dishwashers range from $800 up to $1,000 and deliver quieter, smarter performance. One even has Wi-Fi. You can also get a black stainless steel finish.

These high-end dishwashers have Whirlpool’s most advanced wash technology, the TotalCoverage Spray Arm. Every dishwasher has spinning spray arms with nozzles that shoot out water onto your dishes. Whirlpool’s two TotalCoverage spray arms have 21 nozzles designed to cover the whole tub in a high-pressure spray. Some also have heated and vented drying for bone dry results.

They don’t all have a third rack or stainless steel interior, so be sure to check for those features if they matter to you.

Overview of Whirlpool Dishwashers

Model Quietness Tub Price Quick/Normal Wash Finish Drying 3rd Rack Additional Notes
WDF520PADM 🔴 55dB 🔴 Plastic 🔴 under $629 🟢 1hr/2+ hrs 🟡 Standard, Pocket Handle 🟡 Heating Element 🟡 No Base features
WDF540PADM 🔴 53 dB 🔴 Plastic 🔴 under $679 🟢 1hr/2+ hrs 🟡 Standard, Pocket Handle 🟡 Heating Element 🟡 No Sensor wash
WDT710PAHZ 🔴 51 dB 🔴 Plastic 🔴 under $699 🟢 1hr/2+ hrs 🟢 Fingerprint Resistant, Towel Bar 🟡 Heating Element 🟡 No Sensor wash
WDT730PAHZ 🔴 51 dB 🔴 Plastic 🔴 under $749 🟢 1hr/2+ hrs 🟢 Fingerprint Resistant, Towel Bar 🟡 Heating Element 🟡 No Adjustable rack
WDT750SAKZ 🟡 47 dB 🟢 Stainless 🟡 under $849 🟢 1hr/2+ hrs 🟢 Fingerprint Resistant, Towel Bar 🟢 Condensation 🟢 Yes Leak detection
WDTA50SAKZ 🟡 47 dB 🟢 Stainless 🟡 under $849 🟢 1hr/2+ hrs 🟢 Fingerprint Resistant, Towel Bar 🟢 Condensation 🟢 Yes Leak detection
WDTA80SAKZ 🟢 41 dB 🟢 Stainless 🟡 under $999 🟢 1hr/2+ hrs 🟢 Fingerprint Resistant, Thin Square Handle 🟢 Condensation 🟢 Yes Leak detection

Some of the dishwashers in the Whirlpool lineup are geared toward builders and tenament buildings. Therefore, we excluded low end, high noise level (over 52 dB) dishwashers with plastic tubs from this review.

Watch our exclusive video review of best dishwashers in 2021

Features to Look For in a Modern Dishwasher

How Quiet Are Whirlpool Dishwashers?

When we ask our customers about chief requirements for their new dishwasher, we always get the same answer: “I need a quiet dishwasher.” Silent operation hasn’t been a focus of U.S.-based manufacturers up until 10 years ago. Now all manufacturers understand the importance of quietness.

So, how do you know if a dishwasher is quiet enough?

The dishwasher industry measures noise levels in decibels (dB or dBA). For example, 40 dB is the noise level of a quiet library, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. A regular conversation is about 50 dB, while a crowded restaurant or coffee shop clocks in around 60 dB.

Noise Level Comparison Chart

As a rule of thumb, we consider dishwashers between 38 and 45 dB super quiet. Still, anything under 49 dB is pretty respectable, especially since the loudest parts of a cycle are also the shortest.

Whirlpool makes a variety of dishwashers to accommodate different price points. Unfortunately, most of its budget dishwashers go above 50 dB. However, Whirlpool still offers many models around 47 dB quietness level.

In this review article, we deliberately skipped rating models that are louder than 51 dB.

We covered dishwasher quietness on our earlier post. Feel free to check it out if you want to become a dishwasher Ninja.

Quietest dishwashers with live audible sound test

How Well Do Whirlpool Dishwashers Clean and Dry?

TotalCoverage Spray Arm
While this Whirlpool feature might be a mouthful to say, it’s a truly distinctive feature of the brand. It’s designed to cover the entire interior tub with a high-pressure spray via 21 nozzles to ensure that every dish gets properly rinsed and cleaned. That can be difficult for many manufacturers, particularly when you consider that dishware and cutlery are often loaded in the dishwasher randomly.

Total-Coverage-Spray-Arm-2

Plastic Tub & Stainless Steel Tub Models
When you go with Whirlpool, whether you get a plastic or stainless steel tub will depend on your price range. All Whirlpool models under $500 feature plastic tubs, but many of the higher-end models do boast more durable stainless steel tubs. Although plastic tubs are not attractive looking, they help keep costs down for Whirlpool. In addition, since Whirlpool uses a heating element for drying, a stainless tub isn’t essential (Stainless tubs—at least stainless steel interior walls—are required for dishwashers that use condensation to dry and therefore don’t have a bottom heating element. The reason? The tub serves as an integral part of the drying system). In addition, stainless tubs tend to absorb noise better, and they don’t get discolored over time. The same set of products we mentioned above feature a stainless steel tub. WDTA50SAKZ, WDT750SAKZ and WDTA80SAKZ.

Fan Dry Option
Fan dry speeds up the drying process since it efficiently circulates the hot air inside the tub. The Whirlpool dishwasher WDT730PAHZ is the only model that features the fan dry option. The fan helps it run more efficiently—that’s part of why this Whirlpool dishwasher has an EnergyStar rating.

Soil Sensor
This feature is shared by all Whirlpool dishwashers. Sensor determines how dirty the dishes are and adjusts cycle time and water use accordingly. This is great for energy savings. It’s also great for those of us who use only one button on the dishwasher, since there’s no need to play around with the menu to customize options.

Sensor Cycle
Closely related the soil sensor, the Sensor Cycle expands on its capabilities. It helps save water and energy by determining the load size and adjusting the temperature of the wash. With the exception of low-budget Whirlpool dishwasher WDF520PADM, all models come with this feature.

Notable Cycles and Options
Most Whirlpool dishwashers feature enough cycles and unique options to serve most households effectively. These include the Sani Rinse, which removes 99.99 percent of bacteria, plus Heated Dry, which gets great drying results from plastics like baby bottles and leftover containers—items that can often come out of the dishwasher covered in water droplets. You can even use Hi-Temp when cleaning baby bottles for an extremely sanitary clean. As dishwashers have become more energy and water efficient, cycle times have become longer. However, Whirlpool dishwashers all feature a 1-Hour Wash cycle option that speeds up dishwashing time.

Smart Features (Wifi Connectivity)

Some newer Whirlpool models come equipped Wi-Fi connectivity and smart features. As of today, only the WDTA75SAHZ in Stainless Steel and WDTA75SAHZN in Sunset Bronze have the “smarts” when it comes to connectivity. But as home automation continues to grow in popularity, we expect the number of models with these features to increase.

whirlpool-smart

So what’s included in these smart features on Whirlpool dishwashers?

  • Control Lock Mode is an option that allows you to remotely lock your control panel, keeping children from turning the dishwasher and dishes inside into a playset.
  • You can download ‘Specialty Cycles’ from your phone app, which is useful if you want even more customizable cycles and options than those that come standard on your dishwasher.
  • When you need to clean your filter, the Whirlpool app will alert you. It can also help you find troubleshooting and support information when you’re trying to figure out how to reset a Whirlpool dishwasher or which Whirlpool dishwasher parts to order. And if your dishwasher is in need of service, Whirlpool can automatically send information to its service database and help you set up an appointment for maintenance.
  • Amazon Replenishment will automatically order detergent refills when you need them.
  • Whirlpool models with smart features also boast integration with Alexa Assistant, Google Home, and Nest.

Whirlpool Dishwasher Style & Design

The Whirlpool dishwasher models for the most part share the same technology. However, different products in the lineup have different style and design elements.

On the exterior, you’ll notice different shaped handles and hidden vs visible control panels. Whirlpool dishwashers come in different color finishes, too, including: sunset bronze, white, black, black stainless, stainless steel.

On the interior, you might find two or three racks. If it’s important to you to have a third rack for smaller dishes, utensils, and flatware, be sure the model you pick has one. A third rack isn’t something you’ll find on pricier models—you just need to look for it.

A unique Whirlpool feature is the AnyWare silverware basket. It’s the only flatware basket on the market that can fit into two spots on the bottom rack or into a slot on the door to give you more space for more pots, pans, and dishes.

Whirlpool dishwasher styles
Whirlpool dishwasher styles
Whirlpool’s unique AnyWare silverware basket fits into the door or into the bottom rack.

How to Clean Whirlpool Dishwasher

Maintaining a Whirlpool dishwasher isn’t that different from cleaning any other dishwasher. We have an entire post on how to clean a dishwasher that outlines the basic routine and all the parts you need to wash regularly. The only thing that’s different is a Whirlpool dishwasher filter, which might be a little different to remove than your last dishwasher’s filter. Basically, you just need to remove the filter and wash it by hand whenever you see food particles on it or you notice that your dishes aren’t getting completely clean. The Whirlpool website has detailed instructions on how to remove a Whirlpool dishwasher filter.

Our Top 3 Whirlpool Dishwasher Picks

1) Whirlpool Dishwasher w/Best Cleaning: WDT710PAHZ

Whirlpool WDT710PAHZ

Listed just under $699, this dishwasher offers all of Whirlpool’s standard features. While its 51 dB noise rating isn’t considered quiet and the plastic tub certainly isn’t as luxurious as stainless steel, it does clean well. If you want to wash heavily soiled dishes, you may want to use the pots and pans program for extra help.

You can wrap up your cleanup in under an hour thanks to the express wash cycle.

The smooth front surface is made from fingerprint resistant stainless steel.

The WDT710 belongs to the family of WDT7xxx series. When you spend an extra $50, you’ll get the Whirlpool WDT730PAHZ, which boasts the Fan Dry option and an effective heating element.

Staying in the same family, the Whirlpool WDT750SAKZ is quieter at 47 dB and comes with extra convenience cycles.

Whirlpool WDT7x Series dishwashers have an excellent price/performance ratio. We’re not fans of their relatively loud operation and plastic tub, but considering their superior reliability and low price point we don’t mind recommending them to our budget conscious customers.

2) Whirlpool Dishwasher w/Best Style: WDTA50SAKZ

This $799 model boasts features like the TotalCoverage Spray Arm and modern stainless steel tub. The 47 dB quietness level is solid for this price point. If you’re looking for a sleeker towel bar design, consider this model’s cousin, the WDT750SAKZ.

3) Whirlpool Dishwasher for All Budgets: WDF520PADM

Listed at an affordable price under $599 during seasonal promotions, this model holds 14 place settings—less roomy than most competitors. It’s also fairly loud at 55 dB. However, we wanted to present this option if you’re on a tight budget but still want a reliable dishwasher.


Conclusion

From a value perspective, we recommend sticking with Whirlpool’s mid-range dishwashers.

The basic models are too loud for most home kitchens, which tend to be where your family gets together. Ideally, you don’t want the dishwasher to be louder than your conversation.

Once you get into the premium dishwashers, brands like Bosch give you more for your money. You’ll get a more complete feature set compared with Whirlpool.

That’s why the sweet spot for a Whirlpool dishwasher is between $600 and $699. The WDTA50SAKZ is an ideal choice at this price point. It may not have Wi-Fi, but it has everything else you need.

To sum it up, Whirlpool’s midrange dishwashers have everything you need (plus a convenience or two) and nothing you don’t, at a fair price.


FAQs

Who owns Whirlpool? Who makes Whirlpool?
Michigan-based Whirlpool Corporation owns Whirlpool. The company also owns KitchenAid, Maytag, JennAir, and Amana, among other household name brands for appliances. When comparing Whirlpool and KitchenAid dishwashers, you’ll notice that they share some of the same features. Overall, however, we find that KitchenAid dishwashers are the higher-end version: They’re quieter, with a better build quality and nicer racks.

Are Whirlpool and KitchenAid the same company?
They’re sister companies both owned by Whirlpool corporation. When comparing Whirlpool and KitchenAid dishwashers, you’ll notice that they share some features. Overall, KitchenAid dishwashers are the higher-end version: They’re quieter, with a better build quality and nicer interior racks.

Do I need extra Whirlpool dishwasher parts to install a new Whirlpool dishwasher?
Yes, Whirlpool sells the dishwasher power cord and dishwasher floor mounting kit separately.

What does Whirlpool mean by “heavy duty” dishwasher?
Basically, they mean that you’d never want to use this dishwasher in a home smaller than the size of an airplane hangar. Unfortunately, these dishwashers are noisy and built with the legacy technology. At 65 dB, they sound louder than a small truck. Whirlpool still manufactures these dishwashers for special use cases where quietness concerns are trumped by heavy duty constant use.

Does Whirlpool make 18-inch dishwashers for small apartments?
Yes, here’s a list of all 18-inch Whirlpool dishwashers.

Does Whirlpool make panel ready dishwashers?
Yes, however you can only get an 18-inch panel ready Whirlpool dishwasher.

What is monochromatic stainless steel vs fingerprint resistant stainless steel?
We are equally perplexed by manufacturers’ inside jargon and also find the term “monochromatic” confusing.

Monochromatic stainless steel basically means that the surface is good, old stainless steel but some trim, controls and handles are painted plastic or metal.

Stainless steel appliances look great in any kitchen but they are prone to getting dirty with touch, vapor and overall use. Fingerprint resistant coating helps deflect unwanted marks on appliances.

What brand of dishwasher is most reliable?
Miele and Bosch lead the pack in manufacturing the most reliable dishwashers in the market. Whirlpool, although not in the same price range, is one of the best examples of reliable American manufacturing.

Does Whirlpool make portable dishwashers?
Yes. In fact Whirlpool’s WDP370PAHW is part of our best portable dishwashers ranking.


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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on October 9, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.

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