Thermador DHDW870WFM review

Dirty dishes are no match for Thermador's dazzling, disco-style dishwasher

Thermador’s Star Sapphire dishwasher makes doing the dishes feel like a party.
Thermador’s Star Sapphire dishwasher makes doing the dishes feel like a party.
Thermador’s Star Sapphire dishwasher makes doing the dishes feel like a party.

Highs

  • Shortest cycle thoroughly cleans tough dishes
  • Automatically pops open when cycle is finished
  • Racks and drawers are highly customizable
  • Colorful interior
  • A cycle indicator illuminates on the floor to tell you it’s running

Lows

  • Wash cycle times refer to how long the wash runs, not total time of cycle
  • Attracts some fingerprints

Washing dishes sucks. A run-of-the-mill dishwasher is a huge help, but there are limits to what a typical model can do. Homeowners seeking the ultimate in dishwasher technology have to turn towards more unusual models, and brands. Like Thermador’s Star Sapphire dishwasher.

With a brightly-lit, customizable interior, adjustable racks, more wash modes than you can remember, and a several unique interface tricks, this Thermador tries to set itself apart. These features aren’t inexpensive, however, and will seriously strain your budget. We had the $2,799 dishwasher installed in our test kitchen to see if it could convince us that a luxury dishwasher makes sense.

Sleek and Highly-Customizable

Like many appliances these days, the Thermador sports a minimalist stainless steel front. Those wanting a custom kitchen will appreciate that it can be outfitted with a custom front panel to match the rest of the kitchen cabinetry. If you opt for the stainless-steel model, there are a couple of things to note: the door isn’t magnetic, and it’s far from smudge-free (though it doesn’t take some effort to leave fingerprints).

The unit will fit in a space that measures at least 34x24x24 inches. The dishwasher controls are hidden on the top panel, and the Time Remaining Power Beam projects a small image on the floor that rotates between icons showing time left and the current. If you open it mid-cycle, simply shut it and washing resumes. The model runs pretty quietly unless it’s in the washing cycle, which sounds like, well the washing of dishes. In our tests during the wash cycle, we clocked an average sound of 62dB, which is about the equivalent of the standard audio level of background music. We needed to put an ear close to the machine to hear it in action.

Perhaps our favorite feature is the Sapphire Glow emotionLight. Open the dishwasher and you’ll see a purple light (reminiscent of the inside of Virgin American airplane) illuminating the racks. The effect gives off a vibe of waiting for your dishes to join a dance party. If you don’t like purple, you can change the color of the light to white, peach, or two types of blue.

Inside the dishwasher are three highly customizable racks: a top and bottom drawer with movable tongs, and a top drawer, called the Chef’s Tool Drawer. A little deeper than the standard utensil rack found in many models, it can fit tools with larger handles and smaller bowls, which is nifty. While you can remove the racks to deal with pots and pans, the bottom one is pretty secure—meaning it won’t easily roll off the door onto the floor.

The self-explanatory dishwasher controls are across the top panel, and a sturdy thick handle allows for hanging a towel. In addition to the power button, you’ll have options for: Pots & Pans (baked on food and grease that normally requires soaking), Auto, Normal, Glass, Hand Wash (accommodating super delicate items), One Hour, Star Speed (a hot wash in 20 minutes), Quick (30 to 35 minutes), and Rinse.

Open the dishwasher and you’ll see a purple light (reminiscent of the inside of Virgin American airplane) illuminating the racks.

There are a few other settings as well, including PowerBoost (uses more energy to reduce washing time), Half Load, Sanitize, and StarDry. A display sits in the middle of the panel, providing additional information about the dishwasher. The two Star options are unique to Thermador and are designed to optimize washing dishes. We do have one quibble about the time of washing cycles: the time doesn’t match up with what’s listed in the manual. For example, the Start Speed has a washing cycle of 20 minutes. But in our tests, it took about double the time to complete the cycle. To be fair, the actual time that the machine was washing dishes was 20 minutes. So essentially, calling a cycle only 20 minutes long is only sort of true.

If you can’t be close to the dishwasher, you can still control a few features with its We connected to the app without problem and were able to remotely start the dishwasher. But, like the apps that come with many major appliances, we’re not sure it’s a time saver. We still have to load the dishes into the machine…why not just hit start while we’re over there?

Powerful Performer

During more than a month of testing, we ran a variety of loads, trying out the different settings to see how well the Thermador performed. Overall, we were impressed with the results. Barely rinsed dishes came out sparkling. We particularly liked the feature that allows you to bump up against the dishwasher handle to get it to open — ideal for when your hands are full.

Thermador DHDW870WFM review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

To test the dishwasher, we smeared a variety of plates and bowls with Dijon mustard, sriracha, and maple syrup, and left them out a couple of hours. Just for good measure, we melted some cheese onto a plate. We placed them in the dishwasher without rinsing or scraping off the food residue. We ran the load on the 20-minute Star Speed. While the cycle lasted more than 20 minutes, just about every plate came out spotless. One of the dishes with the melted-on cheese had a tiny bit residue remaining, but overall, the machine gave us clean bowls and plates. Many dishwashers struggle to get dishes clean during quick cycles, but this was not the case with the Thermador.

Running the dishwasher on other cycles such as Normal and Half Load yielded similar results – the dishes weren’t just clean, but were sparkling clean, like you see in commercials. This is one of the best dishwashers we’ve tested in quite a long time.

Warranty information

The Thermador dishwasher comes with a two-year warranty that begins at the date of purchase. There is a five-year limited warranty on electronics (microprocessor or printed circuit board, for example) and the dish rack. Thermador owners will appreciate the lifetime warranty that covers stainless steel rust-through.

Our Take

The DWHD870WFM lives up to the Thermador’s reputation for creating high-end, high functioning appliances. The model is filled with thoughtful features and does an impressive job getting dishes clean. Though it’s more expensive than a lot of dishwashers, you do get what you pay for. This Thermador would be right at home in a high-end kitchen.

Is there a better alternative?

There are definitely more affordable alternatives available, including the Samsung DW80M9 Chef Collection dishwasher, that’s about half the cost. Check out our list of top dishwashers to buy in 2019 for more options.

How long will it last?

On average, dishwashers should last about nine years, but can make it as long as 13 years with proper maintenance.

Should you buy it?

Yes. At $2,799, the Thermador DWHD870WFM dishwasher is priced at the high-end of the market. If your budget allows for the expense, however, you won’t be disappointed.

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