Thread Number: 71137  /  Tag: Vintage Dishwashers
Legends of Dishwashing: Whirlpool PowerClean
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Post# 941627   6/3/2017 at 19:22 (322 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

The year is 1980, and Whirlpool just filed a patent to change their entire dishwasher lineup. When the patent was filed for this new dishwasher pump, Whirlpool was selling their pump design (which I scoured the Super Searchalator and forums for the name, for which I cannot remember.) which carried over from top load machines of the 60s. Although an advanced design where its centrifugal separation carried over in to the new pump design, but when compared to GE, Maytag, and Kitchen-Aids offerings, it wasnt on par. But after years of R&D, the PowerClean pump was born which would last well in to the twenty first century with small adjustments to its design. Reliable, powerful, unique, and a long lasting production run make this line of dishwashers, even in Kenmore offerings, truly legendary.

This post was last edited 06/03/2017 at 20:14

Post# 941629 , Reply# 1   6/3/2017 at 19:28 (322 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

The heart of the dishwasher is its pump. And while GE was using rudimentary and simple filtering, and Maytag and Kitchen-Aid using more advanced methods, Whirlpool decided to design a system that mimics high end industrial centrifugal separation. Just like Filter-Queen or Vacuuflo vacuums, the PowerClean module uses centrifugal force to throw out the particulate in the wash water. Click the below link to see the patent, and watch the YouTube video to get a complete explanation of this design.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO potatochips's LINK

Post# 941631 , Reply# 2   6/3/2017 at 19:33 (322 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Also carried over from the previous generation was the door loaded cutlery. Once you use this style of cutlery holder, you will NEVER want to go back to rack-held baskets. This buys the user a LOT of room on the lower rack. Even with a wash tower fixed directly in the middle of the lower rack, loading limitations are few. Unfortunately, the tines are quite high which can make loading bowls, even in the front/back configuration like I demonstrated on the GE, somewhat difficult. Difficult, but manageable. On this model, it has the first iteration of the upper rack which forces the cups to be angled in towards the upper spray arm. 

Post# 941633 , Reply# 3   6/3/2017 at 19:41 (322 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Lets just get to the bad things about the PowerClean so we can go back to all the good. The biggest complaint, which when you search the forums high and low, reveals that many say the in door cutlery basket acts as a second filter, holding large particulate behind it which are only revealed when you remove the cutlery holder to unload it.

The second, well, maybe its just me, but I have a hard time dealing with the final position on the lower rack. Whether or not you chose to load the plates all facing one way left to right, or have them face the centre, youre left with the dreaded final position decision! What DO you do? Do you load the last plate facing the tank wall to never have it properly cleaned? Or do you load two plates facing each other which reduced the amount of room the spray arm can get through? Ive found that the two places facing each other is the best option.

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Post# 941635 , Reply# 4   6/3/2017 at 19:46 (322 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

The machine is well designed and thought through. Check out this bar on the upper rack which prevents high dishes from being loaded. This means the upper rack spray arm cannot be blocked from moving.

The in door cutlery basket with a door means you can unload all the items on your countertop in the laying down/flat manner. This completely removes the risk of scratching or denting your countertop from knives and forks.

Furthermore, the detergent dispenser is the only one on the market with a foam seal on the wash cup to prevent premature dispensing, and its kept clear of the cutlery basket so the detergent wont damage the silverware. Finally, its the only dishwasher to offer some way to measure the detergent you put in as the cups have detents in them. This can either allow you to gauge how much you need based off of water hardness, or for when you can reduce the amount of detergent you need for light loads.

Post# 941636 , Reply# 5   6/3/2017 at 19:52 (322 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Lower rack loading is, well, best on the market next to Kitchen-Aid. The possibilities are endless as the tines do not restrict you what so ever to a certain loading pattern. Like I said earlier, they are higher than competitors which can make mixing bowl loading annoying. One thing to note is, always load plates in the front. This means the cutlery basket is guaranteed to get cleaned, and you can utilize the space gained on the side of a row of bowls. Otherwise, if you put bowls in the front and then loaded plates or more bowls on the side, the cutlery basket has a high chance of being ignored (see the pie plate photo, or the photo with the side loaded bowl as an example). With the endless possibilities of loading options, often I find myself running out of dishes with plenty of space to go.

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Post# 941637 , Reply# 6   6/3/2017 at 19:55 (322 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

The second generation top rack is leaps and bounds better than the first generation. However, if you play your cards right, you can make this thing spend when its working you. The biggest issue is the rows are narrow at the top, and the tines are spaced in a manner which forces cups and mugs to sit in an exact spot. Simply put, this means that with the tines on the upper rack, you lose space for one cup in each row. The upper rack is also a little high which means desert plates cannot fit up top. On this particular machine, there is no centre tower to provide a third level of wash action.

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Post# 941638 , Reply# 7   6/3/2017 at 20:02 (322 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Whirlpool Dishwashers

combo52's profile picture

Hi Kevin, Great topic, and very timely.


When I installed my dream kitchen in late 1988 I installed Two WP PC DWs, model DU8000XR-1, they worked great. Around the year 2000 I got a free TOL new KA TT DW, it was quieter and held a few larger items, and that is about all I can say good about it. I kept it about 1 year and tried a TT GE, again a poor overall performer, then I tried a TOL standard tub GE and it did work better but it only held 7 dinner plates and had many other loading faults.


Then I installed a KA KUDSS-20 kept it for 10 years, but finally got tired of the poor top rack cleaning, poor drying [ on air-dry ]and stinky smell from the filter and dampness from the poor drying.


Then a NEW GE TOL DW, I kept it two years and while dishes looked clean it always smelled bad and the DW had many other faults.


Last weekend Jason helped me install another WP DU8000XR DW again, I am a happy camper again.


Pictures to follow of a typical load, I do at least 4-6 loads that look like this every week, the work gets split between both DWs.

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Post# 941640 , Reply# 8   6/3/2017 at 20:09 (322 days old) by potatochips (Nova Scotia)        

Ahh lets talk about the noise. In the second generation of the PowerClean, Whirlpool added a tuning weight to reduce the noise generated from the pump cavitating on the drain portion of the cycle. Personally, I love the noise. I wouldn't have it any other way. The loud vibrating grumble is specific to this machine, just like the reverse rack is specific to Maytags.

This is the only machine on the market with a massive built in food disposer. Much bigger than GEs and much more effective. Cleaning? I dont need to mention much because, well, no news is good news. Usually one piece of cutlery is rejected per load, BUT, its understandable and forgivable considering where the basket is. Excellent cleaning ability. Couple it with the high temp wash option on higher end machines and you have one unbeatable machine in your tool kit. I would place money on this machine during a competition of all four legendary machines. Im sad to swap this out soon for another machine because its quite enjoyable.

This machine has excellent loading, excellent cleaning, and excellent noise. Verdict? Legendary.

Post# 941643 , Reply# 9   6/3/2017 at 20:15 (322 days old) by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Other Thoughts On These Great DWs

combo52's profile picture

WP did not introduce the PC DW till around 1985 in the US, this coincided with WP starting to build Kenmore DWs, All WP built KM DWs were PC style machines.


I totally agree that the In-Door Silver Ware Basket is about the best idea since DWs were invented, I do not see the need for the upper cutlery basket however, as you can see from my pictures you can put tons of tall things in the regular basket if the upper one is not there. I also almost never see anything between the basket and the door after a cycle.

Post# 941655 , Reply# 10   6/3/2017 at 22:52 (322 days old) by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

I'm lucky enough to have one of these in my basement collection.  I truly believe it could strip paint of just about anything,  I use it from time to time and am always impressed.


I'm pulling a what I believe is a late 80's version out of the house I'm flipping, any market for it in Mid MI?  I'll check the model number the next time I'm working there.

Post# 941658 , Reply# 11   6/3/2017 at 23:12 (322 days old) by kb0nes (Burnsville, MN)        

kb0nes's profile picture
I remain quite pleased with the KitchenAid KUDS24, but I miss the door mounted silverware basket the old Whirlpool had. I always thought it really made sense to have it there. I always removed it to return the flatware to the drawer, I can't recall any significant problems with with debris being behind it.

Recently the KA seemed to lack cleaning power and I realized the lower wash arm bushings were nearly completely gone. I machined new ones from some PTFE laced Delrin and it is working great again.

Post# 941659 , Reply# 12   6/3/2017 at 23:13 (322 days old) by peteski50 (New York)        
Whirlpool Power Clean!

peteski50's profile picture
By far the best DW I ever had - I had bought it used for $50
This was the portable I had from 1992 - so simple to use and ran quickly and always with amazing results! Like a fool I gave it up in 2001 when I updated the kitchen!

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Post# 941667 , Reply# 13   6/4/2017 at 00:40 (322 days old) by washdaddy (Baltimore)        

washdaddy's profile picture
When I lived in my last apartment I had moved into an old Brownstone and the owner didn't use the third floor except for storage. We converted it into an apartment for me and when we put the kitchen together he purchased a Kenmore badged Whirlpool PC DW.

I absolutely loved that machine. The only drawback was the central stationery tower in the lower rack for the upper spray arm. You could still pack that machine to the gills and provided the wash arms could rotate freely everything came out clean no matter what you threw at it.

Absolutely the best DW that I have had the pleasure of using. I lived there for 12 yrs. and never had a problem with it.

Post# 941699 , Reply# 14   6/4/2017 at 07:53 (322 days old) by Jetcone (Schenectady-Calrods,Monitor Tops,Toroid Transformers)        
He does my KUDS 25SHBL1

jetcone's profile picture
Have the PC UNIT under it ?

Post# 941706 , Reply# 15   6/4/2017 at 09:18 (322 days old) by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture

Jon, yes your KUDS25 has PowerClean module. 

Post# 941708 , Reply# 16   6/4/2017 at 09:35 (322 days old) by appnut (TX)        

appnut's profile picture

I personally dislike ITD flatware.  I prefer the bull-nose bottom rack design.  With INT, I'm always mindful to not put huge bowls, 9 x 13 (or bigger) rectangular casseroles and such right in front of the door to make sure water isn't blocked (and we all know I can do that when needbe.)    With Kenmore versions, I can always find something to slide in right in front of the bottom rack and then slide plates back in those casserole dishes and such and things still come out clean. And I can put small things on top of items in the flatware basket when it's in the rack.   Either rack design,  I think you can still accomplish getting the same bulky items in, just in different places.  My partner has a TT WP and when I load it the way I would if the basket was in the bottom rack, there was flatware that had to be rewashed because water was somewhat blocked. 

Post# 943516 , Reply# 17   6/14/2017 at 21:33 (311 days old) by agiflow2 ()        

I have the portable version still going strong after 27 years. Model DP8700. Never had a dishwasher before that. This model has cleaned beautifully just using the normal cycle with hi-temp wash and no heat dry. The silverware basket is a very good design and yes it does get some yibbles behind it, depending how dirty the load is, but the silverware always comes out clean.

I will be very sorry when this thing dies or rusts out. There is no modern portable that can touch it as far as I can see .

Wish Whirlpool would make portables with SS tubs and doors.

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