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Photo of the day: Whirlpool dishwasher utensil tray

A few years ago I went out with a guy who made me dinner in his apartment. I’m going to refrain from saying what I thought of the food. But at the end of the meal as we brought the dishes into the kitchen, I noticed that his dishwasher had a unique design that I’d never seen before. Though I didn’t even have this blog at the time, I took some photos knowing that one day I’d want to share them with the world.

What I thought was so cool about the dishwasher, a Whirlpool Quiet Partner I, was that the utensil tray sits on the door instead of where you normally see it, on the side of the bottom rack. This leaves more room for dishes, and skips the step of having to pull open the rack every time you need to throw in a piece of silverware.

Interestingly, the tray can actually be detached from the door and hung on the lower rack:

In this position gravity helps keep the silverware from shifting around every time you open the door, but it does kind of block your access to inserting or removing dishes from the bottom rack without having to pull it open. I suppose that’s why this guy kept his attached to the door.

Anyone out there ever seen one of these? What position did the owner keep the utensil tray in? The idea that Whirlpool wanted to try to innovate in this area is interesting to me. Do you guys think it was a success?

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  • http://www.inathought.com Chris

    That is pretty awesome. I've never seen them either, but I'm wondering why we don't see more of this type. Certainly more usable, though the cost might go up a bit for more materials.

  • http://www.twitter.com/sjaa sjaa

    I have that dishwasher & actually am really happy with the utensil tray for the reasons you stated. I leave mine attached to the door. I didn't actually know it could attach to the bottom rack like shown, but I like mine where it's at.

    I also think it's great that the utensil rack opens via the little blue tab shown in the first picture. Easy access to get stuff out when it's all clean.

  • http://www.twitter.com/tehawesome tehawesome

    You just blew my mind.

    I've had this dishwasher for about a year and a half and never knew the utensil tray could be attached to the door. When I moved in to my apartment, the tray sat at the end of the bottom rack and until just now, when I ran into the kitchen and moved it to the door, I never knew it could fit anywhere else.

    Since I can't speak for how the utensil tray works on the door, I can tell you that it doesn't always work very well sitting on the edge of the bottom rack. It's supported by two short little arms, so sometimes removing a bigger utensil from the tray can nudge it just enough to make it fall off the bottom rack. And while spilling a few forks onto the floor of your dishwasher is no big deal, knowing the tray is capable of falling pretty easily has made me approach my utensil tray with an odd level of caution.

    I'll keep track of how the utensil track works on the door. I should not be as excited as I am, but hey, the dishwasher does a new trick! Hooray!

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog Whitney Hess

      So happy that you learned something from my blog! Let us know how/if things
      change with the utensil tray attached to the door.

  • http://www.jayfanelli.com Jay Fanelli

    Removing the utensil tray offers the user nearly unfettered access to the entirety of the bottom rack's real estate. It doesn't much affect things when you're dealing with dishes only, but attempt to wedge a roasting pan in there while trying to negotiate the utensil island conveniently placed in the middle. Good luck.

    Like tehawesome, I've also had this dishwasher for a while and never knew about the “hook it onto the lower rack” feature. Just goes to show you how important design affordances are.

    There are usability lessons everywhere…

  • Eric Wiley

    I have it too. Didn't know it could hang on the rack.

    I'd always been jazzed about the fact that, once everything's clean, I could just pull the entire container-full of silver out; put it on the counter above the silverware drawer and make a quick transfer.

  • lindawadman

    Got one over a year ago. Love it. Can fit lots more than my old dishwasher and the utensils actually come clean.

  • LynneP

    We had one like this when I was growing up. We liked it because you could remove the silverware tray/basket and haul the whole thing across to the other side of the kitchen where the cutlery drawers were to unload it. The kitchen wasn't well designed, but thankfully the dishwasher was! :)

  • http://hilker.tumblr.com hilker

    we have one very similar to this, too. even better than saving room is the ability to take the silverware container with me around the kitchen as i put away silverware, baby spoons, & other utensils in various corners of the kitchen. a downside: if i want to unload the silverware last & i leave the container in place, the water still left in the dishes will fall directly onto my clean forks & spoons.

    i've never thought to hang it on the front of the bottom drawer; i'll have to look into that.

  • http://www.mathewsanders.com Mathew Sanders

    Here in New Zealand we're (well, at least I am) pretty proud of a company called Fisher & Paykel who make some pretty innovative products.

    One is the Dish Drawer which instead of having a door that folds down and trays you pull out just has two independently operating draws that can be stacked on top of each other or side-by-side.
    http://www.fisherpaykel.com/press/photos/dishdr

    This allows you to run a half wash that saves water and power, and in my opinion is just easier to use and avoids the flimsy trays you often get on dishwashers that fall off their rails.

  • http://crocolyle.blogspot.com Lyle

    Have had a dishwasher like this for about 6 years…never knew it didn't have to go on the door. Can you say “lack of affordance” or “non-intuitive?” I thought you could. :-)

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  • Lorraine

    Hmmmmm, just bought one of these dishwashers used… installed it and was griping about the floppy utensil tray that didn’t seem to fit anywhere! Googled images to see if I could figure out how old this dishwasher was, and saw your post. So, the tray goes on the door or exterior shelf huh? Cool!

    • http://www.whitneyhess.com/blog whitney

      How awesome is it that you randomly found this blog post and it helped you to use your dishwasher?!? So glad I could be of some small service to you :)

  • Bruce

    I had this dishwasher at my last house and we really liked it. The only issue was the plastic tab on the utensil holder broke, so we flipped the bale without it. When we upgraded to stainless, I just bought a new front panel and control panel for way less than a new dishwasher and installed them myself. Does Whirlpool still make these? I’m looking for one for my current house.

  • Barb

    We have had this Quiet Whirlpool for years and love it except that there is always water on the door behind the silverware tray when the drying cycle is finished. Some of our stainless utensils have rust spots from the excess water. Thanks for the tip to hang the silverware basket on the lower rack. We will try it. It takes 2 hours to run a load. Does everyone have this problem?

  • Redondo Tom

    Thanks! Your photo helped me put the blue tab on the silverware basket back on. Don’t know what made it come off. But fixing it was easy once I knew it is up when closed as in your photo. I keep the basket on the door by the way. And I do like the feature. I remove it full of clean silverware when sorting the clean ones back into the drawer. Also when loading a bunch of dirtys. For a few, I just leave it on the door.