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A countertop dishwasher has a smaller form factor than other types of dishwashers but promises to deliver hands-off cleaning power for plates, glasses, silverware, and more. Like a full-size model, these appliances use hot water from internal spray arms with dishwasher detergent (and, in some cases, the power of steam) to clean your dishes to a sparkling finish.
These niche appliances won’t do everything that a larger dishwasher can, like wash a dinner party’s worth of dishes or clean up oversized pots and pans, but they can be a great helper for individuals or small families who need to lighten the load of chores. Before you make a buying decision, Melanie Gnau, a small-space expert and coach, offers this advice: “Small space dwellers should really consider how painful doing dishes is for them, and consider questions like: Will it be able to wash all your dishes in a single load? How much time will it actually save you?”
Our best overall pick is the hOmeLabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher, because it offers a variety of cycles, enough space for six place settings, and a quick-connect system to attach to your kitchen faucet easily. It's also Energy Star-rated, and it operates with minimal electric and water usage.
Here are the best countertop dishwashers to consider for your small living space.
Best Overall: hOmeLabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher
Fits underneath most cabinets
Energy Star certified
No drying cycle
Only comes in white finish
Get a helping hand with dish duty by choosing a tried-and-true countertop dishwasher, like the Compact Countertop Dishwasher from hOmeLabs. You'll give up a little counter space, but this handy machine will clean up to six place settings in a single session. We also recommend this model as the best overall countertop dishwasher for its six cycle options, easily accessible front control panel, and durable stainless steel interior.
Similar to a full-size dishwasher, the hOmeLabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher has a dish rack and silverware basket to make the most of its small footprint. This model sits on your kitchen counter, close to your sink, for water supply and discharge. However, you can also put it on a kitchen cart and wheel it over when it's ready for use. The front control panel and digital display feature intuitive icons representing settings like Heavy, Normal, Glass, and Soak, or you can activate a two-, four-, or eight-hour delay. The multiple wash functions help to ensure that you're using the best setting for each load of dishes. Note that this model is also Energy Star-rated, making it a good option for conservative energy usage.
The fact that the interior of the dishwasher has a stainless steel wash tub is a major plus for durability. Stainless steel interiors are less likely to crack, corrode, or develop an odor than dishwashers with plastic tubs. The biggest drawback is that this model doesn't have a drying cycle, which means that dishes will be wet when the cycle first finishes. However, the manufacturer advises using a rinse aid for faster drying results. Users agree that this strategy works well, and the overall performance of this countertop dishwasher is stellar enough to outweigh the hassle of damp dishes at the end of a cycle.
Best Budget: RCA RDW3208 24 in. White Electronic Countertop Dishwasher
Stainless steel interior
Removable silverware basket
Limited cycle options
The RCA RDW3208 Countertop Dishwasher is a great choice for a budget model. It has a basic appearance and simple controls, but this option fulfills its simple mission of cleaning your dishes. Standout features of this affordable dishwasher include a stainless steel interior, room for six place settings, and a silverware basket.
Measuring about 22 inches wide and 17 inches tall, this countertop dishwasher takes up more space than more compact popular models. The size is something to consider when deciding whether this budget dishwasher is the right pick for your kitchen. However, if you have the space, this model fits up to six place settings, but keep in mind that the capacity depends on the diameter of your plates.
The spray arms are located only on the bottom of the wash tub, but if you load the dishwasher properly, you can still expect solid cleaning performance without spending big bucks for a more full-featured dishwasher. There are only three wash cycles (Normal, Heavy, and Speed), but these options are sufficient for the cleaning routines of most households.
Best with Water Tank: Farberware FDW05ASBWHA Portable Dishwasher with Built-In Water Tank
Doesn’t need to be hooked up to the faucet
Holds up to 12-inch plates on an angle
Must fill water tank for each use
Not compatible with rinse aid
Many countertop dishwashers must be connected to a faucet for operation, limiting where you can put them. By choosing a countertop dishwasher with a water tank, however, you have more options for placement. The Farberware Portable Dishwasher is a tried-and-true option with a 5-liter water tank to power its wash cycles. It’s a great option for conserving water while washing dishes up to 12 inches in diameter (when loaded at an angle) with your choice of five wash settings.
This countertop dishwasher has a top-fill design, so keep in mind that you’ll need room to pour water down into the tank. It requires a steady hand and a slow pour to avoid splashing water on the housing of the dishwasher, but the appliance is quick to alert you once the water tank is full and it's ready to run. The cutlery rack is small, and large plates must be loaded at an angle, liming the capacity of this countertop dishwasher. However, wIth a light pre-rinse, it gives dishes a thorough clean with the help of a top and bottom spray arm.
Keep in mind that this portable dishwasher doesn’t need to be connected to a faucet for operation, but it will need to drain at the end of the cycle. You can position the hose to drain into a nearby sink or bucket.
Best Design: BLACK+DECKER BCD6W Compact Countertop Dishwasher
Modern exterior appearance
LCD control panel with seven wash settings
Holds up to six place settings
Diameter of plates is limited to 10 inches
Given the size of these appliances, it can be hard to hide a countertop dishwasher. "Small-space dwellers will have to consider the physical space that a countertop dishwasher takes up," advises Gnau. "And they'll also have to consider if the dishwasher will be an eyesore." Most often, people store these machines in plain sight. If that is your situation, and you want a design-conscious choice, we recommend the Black + Decker Compact Countertop Dishwasher.
A shiny stainless steel handle accents the dishwasher's white housing and black face. Taking on the form factor of a standard built-in dishwasher, this model could look right at home on your kitchen counter. Its appeal isn't limited to aesthetics, though. The Black + Decker Compact Dishwasher includes functional design aspects, like the fully integrated LCD control panel with electronic touch controls to operate its many functions.
This appliance comes equipped with seven wash functions, which is more than most models we researched. The options include specialty cycles like Glass and Eco. You can wash up to six place settings at a time, but you should know that the plate diameter is limited to 10 inches.
Best Mini: Comfee WQP4-2601 Mini Portable Dishwasher
Built-in water tank
Variety of cycle options
Only holds two place settings
Plastic interior may be prone to wear
Countertop dishwashers have a smaller form factor when compared to portable or built-in dishwashers, but dimensions can vary considerably among models. "Small spaces have such limited counter space, and every appliance needs to be worth its weight in gold," says Gnau. The Comfee' Mini Portable Dishwasher keeps things compact and is our pick for a small countertop dishwasher. It's a great choice for kitchens with limited countertop space or other small living arrangements, like a tiny house or RV. This version also has a built-in water tank, giving you more options for where to run this dishwasher (as long as you arrange for it to discharge water into a bucket or other container).
This mini countertop dishwasher measures only 16.5 inches wide, which may save 5 inches or more of countertop space when compared with larger models. Its smaller size translates into more limited capacity—expect only to wash about two place settings in each load. Despite being compact, this mini dishwasher offers plenty of wash-cycle options. Choose from six settings, including modes for glassware, steam, or cleaning fruit and produce. An air-circulation function helps to dry dishes more efficiently at the end of the cycle.
Another benefit of picking a mini countertop dishwasher is that it weighs less than larger models. The Comfee' Mini Portable Dishwasher weighs about 31 pounds, compared to 45 to 60 pounds for larger models. If you plan to move the dishwasher frequently or store it away when not in use, a mini version like the Comfee' is lighter to lift and carry.
Best for Quiet Operation: Comfee WQP6-3602H Countertop Portable Dishwasher
Variety of cycle settings
Option for extended drying cycle
49-decibel noise rating
Normal cycle takes 110 minutes
Whether you work from home, have a napping baby, or prefer quiet surroundings, you may be looking for a countertop dishwasher with minimal noise output. Countertop dishwashers usually operate for nearly two hours on a standard wash setting, so keeping in mind how loud or quiet a model is may be an important consideration. If you want a quiet model, we recommend the Comfee’ Countertop Portable Dishwasher, rated for 49 decibels according to the manufacturer.
For perspective on operation noise, this countertop dishwasher is about as quiet as an average conversation (50 decibels). It’s quieter than a typical household refrigerator (55 decibels) and quieter than a washing machine (70 decibels).
In addition to quiet operation, this portable dishwasher offers an impressive number of cycle options—eight in total—to clean your dishes, silverware, pots and pans, or glassware. If you need to speed up the process, you can use the Rapid wash setting to clean a full load in just 45 minutes, compared to the Normal cycle setting, which is 110 minutes long. While this model lacks a dedicated drying cycle, you can accelerate drying by opening the door at the end of a cycle so that your dishes come out with less residual moisture.
Best for Dry Dishes: COSTWAY FP10017 Countertop Dishwasher
Keeps dishes fresh up to 72 hours
LED touch controls
Holds up to six place settings
Reports of installation complications
A countertop dishwasher offers a hands-free way to clean your dishes, but many models will leave your plates, glasses, and flatware with residual moisture that must be dried off. If you dread having to dry each item after the cycle is over, consider a model with a drying cycle, like the COSTWAY FP10017 Countertop Dishwasher. This model stands out, since it has an extended refresh cycle that keeps dishes dry and ready to go for several days.
To make your dishes clean and dry, this model from COSTWAY has five cycles that end with a hot-air drying function. The appliance circulates hot air at 158 degrees Fahrenheit to eliminate moisture and sanitize the load. What really sets this countertop dishwasher apart is that it will automatically engage the drying function every two hours for up to 72 hours. So even if you can't unload your dishwasher right away, your dishes will be dry and ready to be put away for up to three days after you've washed them.
While some users report issues with installation, most say the process is simple. Once it's in place, you can enjoy the COSTWAY FP10017's 360-degree cleaning power from the top and lower spray arms. It also holds up to six place settings, with the help of a silverware basket and a small shelf for cups or compact items.
Best for Apartments: Magic Chef MCSCD6B5 6 Plate Portable Countertop Dishwasher
Energy Star rated
Stainless steel interior
Delay start option
May require an adaptor for some faucets
A countertop dishwasher for an apartment should be compact and well-equipped since it will take up valuable counter area. We recommend the Magic Chef Portable Countertop Dishwasher for this space. This popular pick is basic by design, but it gets the job done with six various wash cycles, including Speed, Normal, and Glass.
For apartments with small sink capacity, you can even load your dishes and use the Rinse option until you’re ready to run the dishwasher. Plus, the Delay Start offers the most flexibility of the models we researched, allowing you to set the dishwasher to run anywhere from one to 24 hours after your cycle selection.
Dimensions are another critical consideration when picking a countertop dishwasher for an apartment. This version from Magic Chef isn’t the most compact option, but it’s also not the most space-consuming. It strikes a balance between space requirements and capacity, measuring 21.7 inches wide but with room for up to six place settings.
Best for Baby Bottles: Baby Brezza One Step Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer
Includes sterilizing and drying functions
Keeps bottles sterile for up to 24 hours
30-, 45-, and 60-minute drying cycles
Only designed for baby bottles and accessories
Keeping up with the task of washing baby bottles is no small job, and most dishwashers recommend only top-shelf placement for these items. As an alternative, consider the Baby Brezza One-Step Bottle Sterilizer and Dryer.
While it’s not a true countertop dishwasher, it serves a similar function by cleaning and sanitizing baby bottles with the power of steam. It has a slim, space-saving design and keeps the bottles sterilized and ready to go for up to 24 hours.
Inside the Baby Brezza version of a countertop dishwasher, you’ll find enough space for six bottles plus pump parts, pacifiers, and other baby feeding accessories. You can pick among 30-, 45-, and 60-minute drying cycles, making this option much faster than a typical countertop dishwasher for baby bottles. The drying function is optional but reduces the need to wait for items to drip dry or place them on a separate drying rack on your counter.
For a well-equipped countertop dishwasher, we recommend the hOmeLabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher. It has a durable stainless steel interior that can hold up to six place settings and offers six wash cycles to ensure that your dirty dishes get a thorough, efficient clean. If you're looking to spend even less and don't mind a more basic model, consider the RCA RDW3208 Countertop Dishwasher. This model offers only three cleaning cycles, but it's effective and holds plenty of dishes and glassware.
What to Look for in Countertop Dishwashers
Size and Capacity
Size is an essential consideration when choosing a countertop dishwasher. You should note each model's height, width, and depth and then measure your available counter space. Be sure to measure how much clearance you have below your cabinets, to ensure that the dishwasher will fit underneath. Keep in mind that countertop dishwashers usually weigh 40 to 50 pounds, with some models weighing a few pounds more or less. Be sure to factor this in when deciding whether you will regularly store it away or keep it on a rolling cart.
Manufacturers usually indicate the capacity of a countertop dishwasher by the number of place settings it can hold. Most models offer enough room for six place settings, but remember to verify the diameter of the plates that can fit inside. A basket for cutlery or a shelf for small items can help you make the most of the limited interior space.
Just like a full-size dishwasher, countertop models typically offer a variety of cycle settings. A standard wash cycle is a given, but other options may include a shorter rapid wash cycle, an eco-friendly cycle that uses less water, or a glass care cycle that reduces water spots on items like water cups and wine glasses. In addition to the wash cycles, some models will dry your dishes. An internal fan circulates hot air and speeds up the drying process so you can leave your dish towel hanging on the rack when it’s time to unload.
Despite being more compact, countertop dishwashers do produce noise during operation. The quietest models put out less than 50 decibels, which is equivalent to a quiet conversation or a bird call. Other models are on the noisier side, producing up to 60 or more decibels. For reference, 60 decibels is about as loud as an office environment or an air conditioning unit from a distance of 100 feet.
For most people, these noise levels aren’t enough to cause concern. However, if you work from home in close proximity to your kitchen or plan to run a dishwasher at night, it may be in your best interest to look for a model with a low noise output.
When picking a countertop dishwasher, the installation requirements of each model are important to consider. Most countertop dishwashers are intended for single-use connection, meaning you’ll need to hook up the water hose to the faucet each time you use it. However, most have a quick-connect system that makes the process fast and simple. Some models can be permanently connected to your water supply and even installed into a cabinet space for a built-in look.
A countertop dishwasher with a built-in tank has no installation requirements. Instead, you fill these models with water before each cycle. That might sound tedious, but it’s a small price to pay if you need to run your dishwasher in a location other than next to a sink or if your sink faucet won’t accommodate the adaptor to connect the water hose, which is an issue with many pull-down kitchen faucets. Keep in mind, however, that the dishwasher will need a place to drain water. The drain hose must be able to reach your kitchen sink or a utility sink or bucket.
Energy Star Certification
Compared to full-size dishwashers, compact dishwashers use less energy and water per cycle. However, the energy savings in particular may not be as significant as you would think, based on the size difference between the appliances. Still, if you want to prioritize energy savings, look for a model with Energy Star certification. These appliances will provide you with an estimate of the annual energy usage. For countertop dishwashers that meet this criterion, most have projected energy costs of less than $30 per year.
Delay Start Function
Choosing a countertop dishwasher with a delay start function gives you more flexibility over when to run your cleaning cycle. Most models give you pre-set delay options of two, four, or six hours. However, some let you set the delay in one-hour increments up to 24 hours. This is true of the Magic Chef Portable Countertop Dishwasher, our Best for Apartments recommendation.
Despite the fact that dishwashers are cleaning appliances, they still need periodic maintenance to remove soap scum, debris, and grime. Some countertop dishwashers have a self-cleaning setting that will give you a head start on maintenance. However, for a deeper clean or for models that don’t have a self-cleaning function, you can clean the dishwasher using vinegar, baking soda, and some elbow grease.
Start by accessing the hard food dispenser and screen. Remove any stuck food or debris using a soft-bristle brush if necessary. Depending on how dirty the dishwasher is, you may also want to lightly scrub the walls, seals, and other surfaces with the same soft-bristle brush dipped in vinegar. Then, run a cleaning cycle by placing an open container with a half cup of distilled vinegar in the dishwasher rack. After the cycle finishes (no need to use the drying function), sprinkle a light layer of baking soda over the bottom of the dishwasher tub.
Run a second cycle, keeping in mind that you can choose a rapid cycle for this step. Be sure never to mix the vinegar and baking soda in the same cycle, because it will froth. Allow the dishwasher to air-dry to complete the cleaning process.
Are countertop dishwashers efficient?
When compared to handwashing dishes, countertop dishwashers are very efficient. They save substantial water and time while using a modest amount of energy. Estimates show that handwashing dishes uses as much as 27 gallons of water, while most countertop dishwashers use only 2 to 3 gallons at most. Options with a built-in water tank, like the Farberware Portable Dishwasher, require even less water for a cleaning cycle—typically 5 liters or 1.32 gallons.
Can you put a countertop dishwasher under the sink?
You should avoid installing most countertop dishwashers underneath the sink. The hoses and connections of these models are not designed for permanent installation and may be subject to leaks or bursting. However, you can install countertop dishwashers approved by the manufacturer for built-in use under the sink. The COSTWAY FP10017 Countertop Dishwasher is one model that includes instructions for permanent installation in the user manual. If you are unsure about a countertop dishwasher's specifications or plumbing needs, consult with a plumber before proceeding with the built-in installation.
What’s the best type of detergent for a countertop dishwasher?
Powder, gel, or liquid dishwasher detergents will all work well in a countertop dishwasher. The key is to use the right amount for the size and soil level of the load. With this in mind, dishwasher detergent packs are usually not a good choice for countertop dishwashers, since there is more detergent than necessary within each pack. By using powder, gel, or liquid dishwasher detergent, you can dispense the appropriate amount needed for your appliance and the load size.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Erica Puisis, a freelance writer with expertise in researching and testing home appliances. To combat the daily dish toll in her own home, she uses the Farberware Portable Dishwasher to clean plates, glasses, silverware, and more. After more than a year of daily use, she has no regrets about sacrificing counter space for her favorite appliance! To find the best options for countertop dishwashers, Erica researched the most popular models based on capacity, features, noise output, and installation requirements.
Erica also interviewed Melanie Gnau, a small-space living expert and coach at A Small Life. Since sacrificing kitchen space for a countertop dishwasher can feel like a big deal in a small space, Melanie pointed out the factors to consider when evaluating whether this type of appliance is a practical choice for your living situation.