If you have a small kitchen and don't have the room to install a built-in dishwasher, you may think you have no other choice but to wash dishes by hand. And since nothing makes a kitchen look messier then a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, keeping up with it all turns into a never ending task, not to mention all the water and energy hand washing dishes consumes. But even if you have limited space, a countertop dishwasher can be a time- and energy-saving solution worth considering.
These mini machines sit on the countertop next to your kitchen sink and hook up to the faucet. Most hold up to six place-settings of dishes and glassware—and like their full-size counterparts— offer multiple cleaning cycles and heating elements along with helpful features, like fold-down cup shelves, flatware holders, touch controls, detergent dispensers, pull-out racks, and more.
Best Overall Countertop Dishwasher
With five washing programs, this compact dishwasher can handle your most delicate items to those with stubborn messes. Plus, it can reach temperatures of up to 160 degrees, which makes it a great choice if you need to disinfect things like baby bottles.
Best Value Countertop Dishwasher
The Danby sits at almost 22 inches wide and uses a combination of electronic and mechanical controls on its panel for those who are fans of plain push buttons. But even at this affordable price, it doesn't skimp on features. It offers six wash cycles from intense to soak plus a two-, four-, or eight-hour delay wash option and a high-temperature boost to do a better job on cookware or especially dirty items. Fold down cup shelves and a removable flatware basket add to its loading flexibility and a light on the control panel conveniently tells you when it's time to add more rinse aid.
Best Countertop Dishwasher for Small Spaces
Like other models, this mini machine from Farberware comes with hoses to connect it to the kitchen faucet but what sets it apart is its built-in five-liter water tank, so it can be operated without tying up your faucet. At just over 16 inches wide it has the smallest footprint of our picks, and claims to accommodate dishes up to 12-inches in diameter. There's also a small fold down shelf for flatware and cutlery. Its wash programs include normal wash, a 29-minute rapid wash, baby care and glass cycles to steam clean bottles, nipples, drinkware and even toys and an air refresh cycle that brings in outside air to speed drying. There's even a dedicated cycle and a basket included for washing fresh fruit.
Sleekest Countertop Dishwasher
Sleek and compact, this portable dishwasher can hold six sets of tableware, six glasses, and the cutlery and utensils as well. With an recessed handle and brushed stainless steel surface, this one will fit right in with any updated kitchen.
Quietest Countertop Dishwasher
At almost 21 3/4 inches wide, this Magic Chef is among the widest countertop models and sports many of the amenities found on full-size appliances. A separate flatware basket and two flip down cup shelves help it hold up to six place settings. At only 52 decibels, it's one of the quietest countertop models we've found, a real plus in a small kitchen. For reference, other countertop brands reported decibel levels of 60 or higher and the quietest full-size dishwashers are usually around 40 decibels. The six wash programs here include everything from intense wash to rinse only, plus there's a 24-hour delay wash option.
Fastest Countertop Dishwasher
Sunpentown, or SPT, is a brand with its roots in commercial cooking appliances. This mini dishwasher is simple to use with just three buttons and a row of cycle lights on its control panel. Inside, if offers the same rack configuration, flatware basket and cup shelves as the others, but if you do a lot of entertaining and need glassware and lightly soiled items in a hurry, this model fits the bill. With two speedy cycles (one 20 minutes and one 45 minutes) you'll always have wine goblets and appetizer plates ready for guests that need them. And, you'll be able to keep dirty dishes from piling up in the kitchen for less cleanup once guests go home. At 55 decibels, it's louder than some but quieter than others and at just under 22 inches wide, it claims to hold six place settings.
Carolyn Forte, a consumer products expert, is the director of the Home Appliances & Cleaning Products Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. With a Bachelor of Arts degree in Family and Consumer Science from Queens College, CUNY, Carolyn began her career almost 40 years ago as a textiles analyst for the Montgomery Ward Company. Today she oversees all GH Institute testing, research, and editorial production involving cleaning appliances and products, like vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, detergents, and more. She writes Good Housekeeping's monthly cleaning advice column, "Ask the GH Cleaning Lab", is the author of several Good Housekeeping books and special interest publications, including Simple Cleaning Wisdom and Get Organized in 30 Days or Less!, and is the stain-removal guru behind the genius advice on Good Housekeeping’s Amazon Alexa skill. Even in her personal life, Carolyn makes cleaning a priority: She hates dirty windows so much that she’s been known to take a vacation day to stay home and clean hers.
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