Opening a dishwasher that’s just finished a wash cycle to find crusty cups can be pretty gross. A truly good cleaning machine is more important to many, even if it doesn’t come in the a package adorned in bells and whistles. The fingerprint-resistant Maytag Top-Control Dishwasher doesn’t sport the sleekest design, but it is one of the quietest and most powerful models we’ve tested to date. This machine operates so quietly, you’ll hardly hear it running.
Substance over style
The Maytag top control dishwasher is fairly non-descript. There is a small pinhole towards the top right corner of the front panel. When the unit is running, the pinhole emits a blue light. Similar models have the “on” light as part of the top control panel, which can make it hard to see. Breaking up the door’s silver face is the large pocket handle that spans almost the width of the front panel.
The 24-inch Maytag measures 33.5 inches tall, 25.25 inches wide, and 23.88 inches deep. You’ll need a clearance area of 49.5 inches when the door is opened 90 degrees. Inside you’ll find an adjustable upper rack with one fold-down wire cup shelf and a lower rack with a removable silverware basket. The machine lacks spray jets on the top of the machine; however, there is a spinning spray jet mechanism beneath the top rack. While the spray jets do a phenomenal job, they do take up some space, making it difficult to place unusually large items in the dishwasher. For example, we couldn’t get an over-sized cookie sheet to fit. However, you can easily fit 14-place settings in the dishwasher.
The model we tested came in a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel, and we can confirm it really didn’t attract any fingerprints. If you don’t like stainless steel, you can always opt for a model adorned in black or white.
The dishwasher controls are concealed on the top of the machine, conveniently hiding them when the door is closed. We did appreciate how intuitive these were to use, meaning you’ll only need to crack open the manual if you want to get a ton more details on each cycle and how to accurately fill the rinsing agent dispenser. There are five washing cycles: rinse (11 minutes), quick (59 minutes), normal (one hour and 51 minutes), auto (two hours and 3 minutes), and PowerBlast (3 hours and 28 minutes). Since this is an Energy Star product, it’s no surprise the run times are a bit longer than usual. However, the good news is that in our tests, the quick setting did a phenomenal job of getting food and grime off our test dishes.
What the Maytag lacks in style it more than makes up for with cleaning power.
Of course, there are options that can be added to each cycle. Those settings include delay (can set the cycle to start anywhere from 1 hour to 24 hours later), high-temp (good for food that’s tough to remove), heated dry, and sanitize/control lock. While control lock disables the other settings, the door can still be opened and closed during a wash cycle. In addition to these settings, Maytag also includes a set of Start and Cancel buttons. As with many dishwashers, you’re limited by what options will work with each cycle. For example, you can only select high-temp or sanitize for PowerBlast, Auto, and Normal. It has NSF certification for its sanitization cycle, meaning it reduces bacteria by 99.999 percent and reaches a final rinse temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit (65.55 degrees Celsius).
The machine also allows owners to add Heated Dry to the end of the PowerBlast, Auto, Normal, or Quick cycles, which also increase cycle time anywhere from 12 to 46 minutes. In our tests, we added it to the Quick cycle, which took the typical 59-minute wash an hour and 39 minutes to complete. Was it worth the extra 40 minutes? Well, the dishes barely had a drop on them, and when we opened the door and looked inside, our glasses immediately filled with steam. The cleaned items were extremely hot to the touch, and we needed to wait for the dishwasher to cool down before removing them. If you’re going to add the heated setting, run it before you go to sleep so the items inside have plenty of time to cool down by morning. You may also want to be careful about what plastics you put in the machine with the heated dry, as well as the sanitize cycle.
What the Maytag MDB8959SFZ lacks in sophistication, it more than makes up for with cleaning power. Best of all is that it runs extremely quiet. The specs say the machine runs at a low 47dB, which is equivalent to a quiet conversation at home. In our tests, we clocked the noise level at 41dB (closer to the sound of a library) and 45dB at its highest sound. The only time we could really hear it was when the tub was draining — which does occur a few times during a longer cycle. These results make this dishwasher ideal for a home with an open floorplan.
We ran multiple cycles during the time we had it in our test kitchen, but to really test the dishwasher’s capabilities, we made some dishes downright sticky. We smothered our dishes and silverware with Sriracha, peanut butter, a cooked egg yolk, grape jelly, honey, and yellow mustard and let them sit out for an hour-and-a-half before putting them in the dishwasher. Aside from our gunky plates, the load also contained an assortment of standard cups, dishes, and silverware. We ran it on the quick cycle and almost all the dishes came out sparkling. Any dishes with a bit of grime left on them were run once more on a normal cycle, which proved capable of providing a proper clean.
Another bonus is there was no food residue at the bottom of the stainless-steel tub. This was likely due to Maytag’s four-blade stainless steel chopper, which pulverizes food during a wash. Maytag says this means you don’t need to scrape your dishes before you put them in the machine, and it does act like a sort of garbage disposal for the dishwasher.
This model comes with a 10-year limited parts warranty. However, damage from freezing isn’t covered by the warranty.Our Take
The Maytag Top-Control dishwasher has some features that make it stand out from the competition, like its food chopper, sanitization setting, and heated dry. Not only does it do its job thoroughly, it does it quietly.
Is there a better alternative?
Maytag has a similar model, the MDB8969SDM, that’s a bit more attractive but costs more and still has the long wash cycles. There’s no doubt the Samsung DW80J9945US is much more stylish but to really get dishes spotless, you’ll need to run the longer cycles using the Zone Boost Feature. While this Maytag dishwasher may not turn a lot of heads with its utilitarian design, it does a solid job of cleaning dishes and is about half the cost of more tricked-out models.
How long will it last?
According to Maytag materials, this dishwasher should last at least 10 years, if not 20, since it has such a powerful motor. Maytag generally has plenty of replacement parts if needed, so this model should be able to go the distance. Perhaps in 10 years Maytag might offer a model capable of loading itself.
Should you buy it?
If you want a solid dishwasher that cleans well and runs extremely quiet, this model is worth it. Best of all it’s a lot less expensive than more-stylish models that run a bit louder. Concerning the long wash cycles, nearly every Energy Star-compliant dishwasher available today features these similarly grueling wash times. The beauty of this model, however, is that it gets most stains off dishes when it’s operating in its quick cycle — a setting that clocks in at about an hour. It also has a great heated-dry feature that leaves glasses bone dry and hot to the touch.