The 7 Best Countertop Dishwashers
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in March of 2015. If you don't have much space in your kitchen, but you're tired of spending your evenings cleaning up after meals, then these countertop dishwashers will be of great interest. You'll likely have to rinse your plates off before running them through these mini-machines, but they'll still save you time compared to hand washing. They're highly portable, too, so great for RVs and cabins. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
November 05, 2020:
We removed the Magic Chef MCSCD6W3 because of potential technical issues, and replaced it with another 6-setting model, the Spt SD-2225DW. This model is nearly identical to its predecessor, but appears to be a bit more reliable. Its delay start feature allow you to start the cycle whenever you wish, whether that’s 2, 4, 6 or 8 hours in the future.
We also added the Novete Compact, another small-footprint option that would be ideal for small spaces like boats or RVs. Just like our existing option, the Farberware Portable, the Novete Compact gives you the option of two water supply options, either hooking it up directly to your faucet, or using its built-in water supply reservoir.
If these options are still too large for your kitchen space, or are out of your budget, you might want to consider a traditional dish rack. These require you to wash the dishes yourself, but take up less room, and these collapsible dish racks can even be folded up and stored away when not in use.
December 16, 2019:
Hand-washing dishes is notorious not only for being an unpleasant chore, but also for wasting a bunch of water. If you aren't able to install an under-counter dishwasher and don't have the floor space for a standard portable dishwasher, one of these countertop models might do the trick. While there's not a ton differentiating all the countertop dishwashers on the market, it's still important to make the right choice. One of the most popular and most capable is the Homelabs 010033, which comes with all the attachments needed to get it working and can clean place settings for an entire family without difficulty. The Farberware Portable is considerably different from most; it draws water from a removable a 5-liter tank rather than a faucet, making it perfect for RVs or homes with integrated sprayers on the end of the faucets. While it's pretty expensive, we think its added portability and convenience will really be worth the investment in certain situations.
The Black and Decker BCD6W and Danby 621WDB are both Energy Star certified, so you can be certain they'll minimize energy consumption as well as or better than most others. The Della 909 also promises to use very little water, and its long hose and included adapter set make it easy to get up and running. The Magic Chef MCSCD6W3, meanwhile, features collapsible plate holders that allow you to fit oddly shaped dishes, although extra-wide plates still might not fit. Another interesting feature from the Magic Chef is its auto-shutoff flow sensor that prevents floods in case of disaster while you're asleep or out of the house.
Dishwashing Made Easy
Let warm water and soap slowly soften and break up congealed messes.
Assuming you spend between 10 or 15 minutes hand washing the dishes each night, that means you will spend an average of around 75 hours per year doing the dishes. That's more than three entire days spent scrubbing away at plates, forks, bowls, and all the rest of it. Over the course of the average adult lifetime, that works out to be more than half a year spent washing dishes.
And that's assuming you only need 10 or 15 minutes, which is rather efficient cleaning for the cookware and place settings associated with the average family meal. Learning how to more efficiently clean the dishes means many hours back in your life each year. Here are a few tips to speed things along their way:
Start With The Cleanest Dishes - When it's time to do the dishes, save those greasy, food-encrusted pots and pans for last, first washing those nearly spotless water glasses and salad plates. Cleaning cleaner dishes first keeps your sponge and sink cleaner; cleaning greasy dishes of pots first can make other dishes even dirtier than the already are and eats up for time and effort.
Use Cold Water On Certain Stains, Foods - If you're trying to remove bits of rice or pasta, use cold water, as hot water will make them stickier. Milk, butter, and yogurt are also better cleaned with cold water than hot.
When In Doubt, Soak - Your time will be better spent submerging a dirty pot now and scrubbing at it for three minutes in an hour than scouring and screaming at it for ten minutes now. Let warm water and soap slowly soften and break up congealed messes.
And of course there's always your greatest ally in the kitchen: the dishwasher.
Choosing The Right Countertop Dishwasher
Keep in mind that in your small kitchen, the countertop real estate you sacrifice when you get a countertop dishwasher might be sorely missed. Are you sure you are willing to give up room on the counter to save ten or fifteen minutes cleaning dishes each night?
And if the answer is yes, that's certainly a fine answer -- remember that 75 hour statistic from earlier.
Some units are more energy efficient, but these options tend to be less thorough and their standard cycles often run long.
The standard height between a countertop and the upper level of kitchen cabinetry is 18 inches, thus the reason most countertop dishwashers stand just 17 inches tall. Take a moment to measure your kitchen to make sure it is designed according to these specs, but chances are that any standard countertop dishwasher will fit under your cabinets with ease.
Almost every countertop dishwasher on the market can accommodate all the flatware and cutlery associated with four place setting, and many can handle the dishes of six settings. You'll pay a bit more up front for the added capacity, but the energy and water used aren't much different, so consider that as you weigh your options.
Some units are more energy efficient, but these options tend to be less thorough and their standard cycles often run long. And keep in mind that most countertop dishwashers do not have a drying cycle; if this is important to you, it's going to narrow your search. Otherwise, just get a towel or two ready.
Countertop Dishwasher Use And Maintenance
It might seem counter-intuitive, but the fewer dishes you can put into your countertop dishwasher, the more dishes the unit will successfully clean. If you believe the wisdom that even full-sized dishwashers aren't "miracle workers" and should not be overloaded, this holds even truer with smaller countertop dishwashers. Load them, but don't jam in a single plate, mug, bowl or spoon more than can fit with ease. In order to do its job well, a countertop dishwasher needs to be able to spread soap and water over every square inch of the flatware and cutlery within itself; overloading makes this impossible.
Here's some additional food for thought: if space is indeed at a premium, a countertop dishwasher doesn't have to go on the countertop at all.
As far as the countertop dishwasher setup process, it will last all of a minute or two. Just place the unit on a level surface (like a countertop) and make sure both of its hoses are securely connected to its back. The outlet hose (AKA drain hose) must be lowered into a sink or a large container. The inlet hose will easily connect to most kitchen sink faucets. Once the hoses are securely in place, turn on the water, plug in the dishwasher, and punch in the wash cycle you need, using soap as specified by your machine's manual. That's that.
Here's some additional food for thought: if space is indeed at a premium, a countertop dishwasher doesn't have to go on the countertop at all. You can purchase extended hoses and tuck the unit away under the sink, under a table, or anywhere else you can allow for adequate drainage, you can reach a water source, and you can connect it to an outlet. And you can always just put the unit away between uses.