LG LDF5545ST review: LG Quad Wash delivers improved cleaning with smart extras
As it turns out, extra wash arms do make a difference. LG touted the Quad Wash feature on the company's latest dishwashers at CES this winter, promising better cleaning results in less time. Quad Wash is what it sounds like -- four arms at the bottom of the dishwasher instead of the usual two.
I admire LG's approach to dishwasher innovation -- one more focused on performance than flashy features like the admittedly cool ComfortLift dishwasher from AEG. That approach could have easily backfired if the performance scores didn't hold up to testing. Lo and behold, the $700 LG LDF5545ST uses Quad Wash to great effect and earned a terrific cleaning score in a relatively efficient time.
The LG LDF5545ST isn't quite as good of a performer as the $700 Kenmore 13699 I reviewed last year, but the LDF5545ST comes pretty close, and it has a lot more features than the Kenmore 13699. In fact, the LG LDF5545ST is the most feature-rich, mid-range dishwasher I've tested yet. You can find better cleaning power for less and more features at a higher price, but if you want a mid-range model, I heartily recommend the well-balanced $700 LG LDF5545ST.
Does Quad Wash live up to expectations?
You can buy the LG LDF5545ST now from most large appliance retailers such as Home Depot and Best Buy. Head to LG's site for vendors in your area. As usual for large appliances, you'll likely find the LDF5545ST for less than its $700 manufacturer price. Right now, Best Buy has it for $640.
Since the LG LDF5545ST isn't the best cleaner you can find for the price -- even the $500 Kenmore 13479 earned a slightly better score -- the Quad Wash arms might not seem worth the hype. However, compare the $700 LG LDF5545ST with a $700 LG model we tested last year (the LDS5040ST), and the effectiveness of Quad Wash becomes apparent.
Last year's mid-range LG earned a 73.8 percent on our cleaning tests (see the chart below for a visual of what that score means). The LDF5545ST with Quad Wash scored a much-improved 87 percent on the same tests. Those 13 plus points make a huge difference in terms of how you'll use your dishwasher. You have to rinse or scrape your dishes before loading them into the older model. The model with Quad Wash can handle whatever you throw at it with only minor blemishes from the toughest loads.
The difference between this LG model and the comparably priced Kenmores isn't as huge. The Kenmore 13699 earned a 90.6 percent, and the Kenmore 13479 barely edged this LG out with a 87.1 percent cleaning score. Quad Wash doesn't elevate the LDF5545ST enough to earn best in class cleaning scores, but it did earn great cleaning scores and dramatically improved LG's mid-range performance.
Stand out features
On the other hand, the LG LDF5545ST's features far exceed the extras offered by those Kenmore models. The LDF5545ST lacks stem holders, but otherwise, it has all the basics you'd expect for that price:
- Fold down tines
- An upper rack you can easily raise and lower
- A stainless tub to help with efficiency
- Room for 15 place settings
- A quiet 48 dB sound rating
- A countdown timer
- A nice mix of basic cycles: Auto, Heavy, Delicate, Normal, Turbo, Express and Rinse
- The usual extra options: High Temp, Extra Dry and Delay Start
Plus, the LDF5545ST has quite a few useful extras that elevate it above the mid-range competition:
- In addition to the usual cycles, it has a machine-clean cycle.
- Plus, you can download one of these four extra cycles: Pots and Pans, Casseroles, Glassware and Night Care.
- It supplements the basic options with one called Dual Zone which gently washes the upper rack while using more force on the bottom rack.
- It also has a Half Load option so you can just wash the top or bottom rack.
- A Night Dry option runs the ventilation fan periodically to get rid of steam if you're letting your dishes sit overnight.
- You can use LG's SmartThinQ app to troubleshoot the dishwasher and keep track of when to run the Machine Clean cycle.
Note that the LG LDF5545ST isn't actually a Wi-Fi enabled dishwasher. I initially thought it was when I saw it was compatible with SmartThinQ, LG's smart appliance app. But it's only equipped to talk to the app through NFC (near field communication), so you can download cycles or troubleshoot the dishwasher by touching your phone to the top of the door.
I liked the NFC as a bonus feature. You can only have one extra cycle equipped to your Download Cycle button at a time, but it's easy to switch them out and check your dishwasher status by tapping your phone on the dishwasher. Still, keep in mind that since it's not a Wi-Fi enabled dishwasher, you can't use your phone to keep track of the time remaining in a cycle while it runs.
This dishwasher is missing some features you'd find on more expensive models. The LDF5545ST lacks a third rack. It also has the control panel on the front as opposed to the popular style of hiding it on the upper lip. It doesn't have quite the feature list of a high-end model, but it comes pretty close, and a lot of its features are thoughtful additions instead of just tacked-on extras. I like the large list of cycles and options in particular.
Going back to the comparable Kenmore models, the $700 Kenmore 13699 also has a nice mix of cycles and specialized jets for casserole dishes, but that's pretty much it in terms of features. The $500 Kenmore 13479 offers even fewer features.
Previously, I'd called the $600 GE GDF610PMJES the most feature rich mid-range model. It has wine stem holders, room for 16 place settings and a flexible silverware basket. But it's louder than the LDF5545ST at 51 dB, and has fewer cycles and options.
We test dishwashers using the Normal cycle with no extra options. Head here for the full procedure, but know that we intentionally stress both a dishwasher's cleaning power and its filter with a mixture of sticky and bulky foods that we've let sit on our dishes for 24 hours.
The LDF5545ST didn't miss any spots and it was able to get peanut butter, eggs and the like off of every dish. The filter held up under most of the bulk, but what dirt we did find was from redeposit. We found a few flecks of redeposited spinach on the large plates and occasional flecks elsewhere that had been pinned to the dish by the tines.
Mostly, the dishes came out of the cycle looking clean. Given the rigor of our tests, 87 percent is a great score that beats models that cost twice as much. Practically, the score means you can throw almost anything at the LDF5545ST and it'll be able to handle the work, just be a little careful not to overload it with bulky foods. Give large, extra dirty loads a quick scrape, and the LDF5545ST will take care of the rest.
The LDF5545ST didn't fare as well at drying during our normal tests. Given that we don't add any drying options during these runs, we don't expect perfect results, but 12.2 percent is still a lackluster score. Even worse, the low score was more often caused by cloudy dishes and splotchy water marks than the occasional missed drop.
I didn't dock the performance score of the LDF5545ST too much for these drying results, even though they were admittedly bad, because the results with the Extra Dry option enabled were much better, and some of the best power dry scores we've seen. The LDF5545ST earned a 67.7 dry score with Extra Dry turned on, and kept water marks to a minimum.
Even the glasses looked spotless after an Extra Dry run -- a tough test for any dishwasher. Both with and without Extra Dry, the LDF5545ST struggled the most to dry off the silverware. Without extra dry, I found water marks everywhere. With it, I still frequently found marks where the silverware rested on the basket.
Still, the LDF5545ST is a great overall performer because it can dry if you allow it time, and it can clean almost anything you throw at it.
For $700, the mid-range LG LDF5545ST gives you almost everything you'd ask for in a high-end dishwasher. Its cleaning ability is in the upper echelon of models we've tested. It dries well with the Extra Dry option enabled. It offers a ton of cycles and options while keeping the noise down and providing plenty of room for your dishes.
But the dishwasher's not quite whisper quiet at 48 dB, the control panel isn't integrated and it doesn't have wine stem holders or a third rack. Still, the LG LDF5545ST walks the walk of a dishwasher that could cost $1,000 or more, so $700 is a very fair price. The LDF5545ST gives the Quad Wash feature a good name, but it's all the other thoughtful touches that make this model a great mid-range option.