dishwashers
Expert Score
8.2

Whirlpool Gold WDT920SADM Dishwasher Review

Great cycles and features, but cleaning could be better.

October 14, 2014
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

When a consumer spends upwards of $700 on a dishwasher, he or she will likely have some expectations: LCD timers on the controls, an upper rack with adjustable heights, and lower racks with moving parts to ease loading—to name a few. When it comes to handling and design, the Whirlpool Gold WDT920SADM (MSRP $849) delivers.

Unfortunately, it doesn't clean as well as some of its similarly-priced competitors from Electrolux and Bosch, among others. That's something no amount of specialized cycles or customization options can really make up for.

Design & Usability

An attractive shell with many moving parts inside

Whirlpool WDT920SADM—Front
The Whirlpool WDT920SADM View Larger

The Whirlpool's stainless interior not only gives this machine a sense of style, but it also serves as good noise insulation and speeds up the drying process. The hidden control panel on the top of the door features bright blue indicator lights and a convenient digital timer display. There's also a small LED above the handlebar that lets you know if the dishwasher is active or idle.

This dishwasher’s cutlery basket can hang on the door or rest in the lower rack, freeing up more space for larger plates, pots, and pans. The basket's front swings open for easy silverware extraction, while fold-down slots keep your eating utensils separated during the wash.

Foldable tines on both racks, a pair of cup shelves on the top rack, and an easy-to-use height adjustment mechanism mean items of all shapes and sizes can find a home inside the WDT920SADM. We were able to comfortably fit eleven of our standardized place settings and a serving setting inside at one time.

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Features

Some unfamiliar faces

While the WDT920SADM has the usual Normal, Heavy, and 1-Hour Wash cycles, it’s also equipped with a Sensor wash, as well as Soak & Clean. The former uses internal sensors to calculate just how many wash and rinse cycles a load needs by detecting how dirty your dishes are.

Soak & Clean—which takes over seven hours—is meant to tackle the kind of tough, dried-on stains that even a Heavy wash can't handle. By constantly running water over the dishes before cleaning them—essentially adding a super long prewash—it's designed to save you from having to soak items overnight in the sink, only to load them into the dishwasher the next morning.

A small smattering of useful wash options round out the WDT920SADM’s list of features. Sani Rinse and Hi Temp Wash boost the water temperature of the final rinse and the wash cycle, respectively. Target Clean activates high-intensity spray jets located at the back of the tub. Heat Dry, which is on by default for most cycles, adds about 30 minutes of drying with the dishwasher’s exposed heating element.

Whirlpool WDT920SADM—Controls
The control panel has a bright blue digital display. View Larger

Performance

A less than thorough cleaning

Whirlpool WDT920SADM—Cheese Stain
Burnt cheese, a common by-product of American cooking, was too much for the WDT920SADM's Heavy cycle on default settings. This seems like a job for the Target Clean spray jets. View Larger

Across all the cycles we tested on the WDT920SADM, there was a noticeable redeposit problem. Usually the result of poor filtration, this is when food particles from one dish get spread to another during the wash. During our testing, we often found flecks of spinach on each dish—even on mugs and glasses loaded on the top rack far from where the spinach originated.

Redeposit issue aside, the WDT920SADM still failed to clean other stains perfectly. Scores for leftover meat bits—a very common food stain—weren’t particularly great, and even tea remained at the end of some the cycles. Also, the Heavy cycle couldn’t handle the burnt cheese test on its default setting. The dishwasher’s optional Target Clean feature should help improve the results, but may increase water usage.

In addition, the WDT920SADM isn’t particularly speedy. Other than the 1-Hour Wash—which, unsurprisingly, took an hour—the rest of the cycles last well over two hours. With an estimated annual expense of $31.24 a year, this dishwasher isn't outstanding when it comes to water and energy use.

Whirlpool WDT920SADM—Lasagna Stain
A bit of lasagna was left behind after a run in the WDT920SADM's Heavy cycle. View Larger

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

Before You Buy

Whirlpool WDT920SADM—Cutlery Basket
The cutlery basket's front can open completely, and the top has slots for keeping silverware separated. View Larger

Great features, but performance lags behind

It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles you put on a dishwasher. At the end of the day, it should be able to clean your dishes. Even though you can find the WDT920SADM on sale for as low as $714.60, there are other machines at or below this price that will serve you better.

Take, for example, the Electrolux EI24ID30QS, which you can usually find for around $700. It has even more cycles, features, and cleaning power compared to the Whirlpool. Alternatively, the Bosch SHX4AT75UC is an efficient option, and offers a great selection of customizable wash features.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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