What We Like
Superb cleaning performance
Accommodates a wide variety of dish sizes
Large load capacity
What We Don't Like
Top rack feels a little flimsy
Sensitive control panel can lead to accidental cycles
Long run cycles
When it comes to time-saving kitchen tools, there may be no appliance more ubiquitous than the dishwasher. Doing the dishes is a daily chore for most of us, but an effective and easy-to-use dishwasher can make this tedious task a bit more manageable. To find out if the Maytag MDB4949SHZ Dishwasher was worthy of your hard earned cash, we tested one out over a period of three weeks to learn about its performance, design, and how it measures up to the competition.
Setup Process: Easy if your dishwasher isn’t hardwired
We opted for expert installation from technicians at a big box store, but it turned out that our old dishwasher was hardwired rather than plugged into a grounded outlet. Because the installation team didn’t have a licensed electrician on staff, we had to postpone the installation and have a grounded outlet installed prior to the dishwasher’s installation.
The technicians left the new dishwasher at our house and once we had an outlet installed, we decided to forgo professional installation and do it ourselves so we wouldn’t be without a dishwasher for any longer. If you’re going to install your own dishwasher, you can hardwire it to save time, but we decided on a grounded outlet to ensure future installations and repairs would be easier.
Typical dishwasher installations shouldn’t take more than an hour or two, but because our wonky, 110-year-old house has many slanted surfaces, it took us quite a while to get the dishwasher exactly level, which is essential for proper performance. Once we successfully installed the dishwasher, we scheduled the delivery team to come back and pick up our old dishwasher, which they did free of charge.
The Maytag MDB4949SHZ does not disappoint. We’ve run it more than a dozen times and the dishes come out spotless each time without any residue or hard water spots. Every so often, one of the dishes on the top rack holds a small amount of water, but it’s easy enough to towel dry the dish and move on.
We’ve always been a ‘clean the dishes before the dishwasher cleans them’ household, but the Maytag dishwasher has changed that. To put this dishwasher through its paces, we loaded it full of unrinsed toddler sippy cups, plates caked in lasagna, and knives covered in peanut butter. Whether we used PowerBlast®, the most aggressive cycle, or stuck with the Normal cycle, the dishes came out spotless round after round.
We’ve always been a ‘clean the dishes before the dishwasher cleans them’ household, but the Maytag dishwasher has changed that.
The only downside to loading very dirty dishes is that it extends the cycle time of an already slow-performing machine. For example, the PowerBlast® cycle can take nearly 4 hours to complete and the Normal cycle averages around 3 hours from start to finish. These long run times are fine if you’re in the habit of running your dishwasher at the end of the night, but we can see it being a bit of a hassle for bigger families that may need to run the dishwasher more than once a day. If you find yourself in a time crunch, you can use the Quick cycle, which is good for medium-soiled dishes and only takes about an hour to complete. However, if you were to rely solely on the Quick cycle, you’d reduce the energy efficiency of this dishwasher.
After the first few loads, we went back to our old ways of rinsing the dishes before loading them into the dishwasher, but it’s nice to know that if you’ve had a dinner party and don’t want to be bothered, you can load completely filthy dishes, no scraping or pre-rinsing required.
Design: Beautiful inside and out
The Maytag’s exterior has a beautifully simple design. We opted for the fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish which is a highly versatile option for kitchens with dark or light cabinetry and countertops. The dishwasher’s control panel is seamlessly integrated and allows you to select your cycles, choose optional features, and keep an eye on your current cycle. When you select a button, all of which are soft touch, a corresponding white light turns on (and stays on) to confirm your selection. The exterior of the dishwasher is so easy to keep clean and only requires a wipe down with a damp cloth.
As for the dishwasher’s interior, the tall tub design makes a remarkable difference when it comes to fitting large cutting boards and pots and pans. Many dishes that had been relegated to ‘hand-wash only’ because of their size are now easy to place in the bottom rack. Along the right-hand side of the bottom rack is the flatware section. We like the flatware slots which allow you to place just one spoon, knife, or fork in each slot. These slots take up 90-percent of the flatware compartment, but there’s also an open section in the middle where you can place spatulas, toddler spoons, and other items with wider handles. Of course, if you prefer to add flatware in a more casual manner, the slot dividers can be removed. As a note, you can lift the entire flatware basket out of the dishwasher after it’s done running. This made the process of putting away utensils a lot easier on our backs.
Simply put, this dishwasher is spacious and holds a ton of dishes. Its large capacity has reduced the number of times per week that we run the dishwasher.
The top rack feels a little flimsy when pulling it out of the dishwasher tub, but as gets filled, the weight of the dishes makes it roll more smoothly. On the far left, there’s a row for shorter items like coffee mugs and juice glasses, then in the center is a section for bowls and storage containers. The right-hand section is the tallest and easily fit our travel thermoses and wine glasses. Simply put, this dishwasher is spacious and holds a ton of dishes. Its large size has reduced the number of times per week that we need to run the dishwasher
The soap tray is intuitively designed and easy to fill. Whether you use a liquid detergent or a tablet, it’s easy to load into the tray and then slide the little door closed. The rinsing agent container is right next to the detergent tray and has a small round window that allows you to check if you need a refill.
We also love that the entire interior of the dishwasher is stainless steel (not including the racks), which means it can withstand higher temperatures than plastic and will be stain resistant.
Features: Carefully chosen and thoughtfully executed
The Maytag dishwasher offers six cycles: PowerBlast®, Auto, Normal, Light, Quick, and Rinse. We mostly use the Normal cycle for day-to-day dishwashing needs, but the PowerBlast® is useful for that sink full of dishes you forgot to load the night before. And, if you have dinner dishes that you don’t want to manually rinse as you load, using the rinse cycle will mitigate any stuck-on messes while you work on filling your dishwasher. As a bonus, the rinse cycle only uses 1.3 gallons of water, likely less than you’d use manually rinsing, and it doesn’t require any detergent.
Additional customizable options include High Temp, Sanitize, Heated Dry, and 4-Hour Delay. The Steam Sanitize Option kills 99.999-percent of food soil bacteria, which is a handy feature for homes with immune-suppressed family members or for anyone who wants to be extra diligent during cold and flu season. We’ve already thrown our kid’s germy toys in there after a suspected stomach bug. The 4-hour delay option is also a thoughtful feature. It’s particularly useful for those times when you’ve cleaned your kitchen right after dinner, but haven’t finished baths and showers for the night.
We loaded it full of unrinsed toddler sippy cups, plates caked in lasagna, and knives covered in peanut butter. Whether we used PowerBlast® … or stuck with the Normal cycle, the dishes came out spotless round after round.
The tap-to-activate buttons on the control panel are smooth and stylish, but they’re also very sensitive—so sensitive that we’ve bumped into the dishwasher and accidentally started a few extra cycles. Thankfully, tapping the buttons prompts a little beeping noise. These little beeps were a blessing as the dishwasher is so quiet that the extra cycles surely would have gone unnoticed. If the issue of accidental button selection persists, there’s a Control Lock button that when held for 3 seconds makes mistaken cycles a thing of the past. To turn off Control Lock, simply hold the button for another 3 seconds.
Noise Level: Whisper-quiet operation
The Maytag is a very quiet dishwasher. There are quieter units on the market, but at 50 decibels, a noise level similar to that of low-volume conversation, the Maytag is probably as quiet as most homeowners need. Plus, the noise you hear when the dishwasher is running isn’t a loud mechanical noise, just a gentle sloshing. If an open floor plan or sensitive hearing has you on the hunt for an especially silent dishwasher, Bosch makes a few that are renowned for their low decibels.
Price: Fair for so many features
With an MSRP of $750, the Maytag MDB4949SHZ is a moderately priced dishwasher that provides excellent value. As an added bonus, the dishwasher is Energy Star certified, so depending on where you live, you may be eligible for a rebate.
Competition: It’s hard to beat
GE Profile Front Control Dishwasher: If you’re looking for a dishwasher that is packed with features and options, the GE Profile is a front control dishwasher that boasts an advanced design and tons of choices. It has dedicated silverware and bottle jets to target tall glassware, fold-down tines for increased flexibility in dish placement, and wash zones allowing for half-loads to be completed. Operating at 45 decibels—five less than the Maytag dishwasher—it’s also an ultra-quiet option. As far as appearance, the GE and the Maytag look very similar, both are stainless steel with integrated control panels and handles in the middle. Perhaps the biggest difference is in price, as the GE Profile comes in at $1,119, nearly $400 more than the Maytag.
Whirlpool Front Control Built-In Tall Tub Dishwasher: If you’re on a strict budget, look no further than the Whirlpool Front Control Built-In Tall Tub Dishwasher. While the MSRP is $579, the Whirlpool is often available for under $500, making it a great budget buy. It won’t be as chock-full of features as the Maytag or GE Profile, but it still offers options like delay start, large capacity loads, and a stainless steel exterior. The Whirlpool is a bit louder than the Maytag, coming in at 55 decibels rather than 50 decibels, but the $200 cost savings may be worth it to price-conscious buyers.
- Product Name Front Control Built-In Tall Tub Dishwasher
- Product Brand Maytag
- MPN MDB4949SHZ
- Price $749.00
- Weight 54 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 23.88 x 34.5 x 24.5 in.
- Color Fingerprint-resistant stainless steel, black, white
- Operating Sound Level 50 dBA
- Warranty 10-year limited parts warranty on the racks, chopper blade and stainless steel tub