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5 Best Countertop Dishwashers In 2020

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.

Sleek and stylish, this Farberware model sports LED digital touch controls and offers a wide assortment of features and options that rival some full-size models we’ve tested.  It’s got seven wash cycles — including a 45-minute speed wash and a baby care cycle for bottles and other baby items — and there’seven a self clean cycle to keep the inside of the dishwasher free of deposits and hard water stainsDrying is a challenge even for large dishwashers and this model adds extra heat to the final rinse to help improve drying and minimize spots. And no worries if you are running low on rinse aid or water isn’t making its way into the dishwasher, there are lights on the control panel to alert you. At just under 22 inches wide, it claims to hold up to six place settings of dishes that are 10 inches in diameter and has folding cup shelves and a removable flatware basket.

  • Energy Star certified
  • Self clean cycle
  • Temperature boost for better drying
  • Child lock
  • Has digital time, cycle time, and temperature display
  • Control panel uses icons instead of words
  • Small capacity

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. 

  • High temperature boost option
  • Energy Star certified
  • Control panel has icons instead of words

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.  

  • Has its own water reservoir
  • Takes up little counter space
  • Uses only about 1.3 gallons of water per cycle
  • May be a bit loud

This Black + Decker is so stylish it could almost pass for a mini oven. At 21 1/2 inches wide, it claims to hold six place settings and dinner plates up to 10 inches in diameter. There are seven wash programs from intensive to rapid to rinse only and even a 24-hour delay start option for you to load it up and run the cycle at a time when you’re not using the kitchen. The detergent and rinse aid dispensers look and work just like those of full-size models and the child lock assures that little fingers can’t accidentally start it. With its curved stainless steel handle and black glass window, it will blend seamlessly with the other appliances in your kitchen.  

  • Two folding cup shelves
  • Dedicated flatware basket
  • Energy Star certified
  • Some reviewers complainted about slow customer service
  • Control panel uses icons instead of words

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. 

  • Quiet
  • Energy Star certified
  • Available in white or black
  • Control panel has icons instead of words

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 gueststhat 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.

  • 20-minute Mini-Party cycle
  • 45-minute Speed cycle
  • Not Energy Star certified
  • Only comes in gray

Just like portable washing machines, countertop dishwashers fill from a nearby faucet and drain into the sink. And just like with a full-size dishwasher the temperature of the water going in needs to be at least 120ºF to get good cleaning results. Most of these mini models have heaters to boost the temperature of the water for even better cleaning, rinsing, and drying performance and use about three gallons of water per cycle. Check the faucet connections included with any model to be sure you have the necessary parts to attach it to your faucet. Keep in mind they don’t attach to faucets with pull-out sprayers.

Countertop dishwashers range in width from about 16 to 22 inches wide and 17 to almost 20 inches high, so be sure to take measurements before you buy so you know the model you’ve chosen will fit in the space between your countertop and upper cabinets. And capacities are small, so an oversized platter or a large pot likely won’t fit inside. But most reviewers give them high praise for being real work and time savers.

All models have filters that require cleaning and some recommend a regular vinegar rinse to remove deposits and mineral build-up. While you shouldn’t have to pre-rinse your dishes, it is a good idea to scrape or wipe off excess food before loading. And when it comes to choosing which  detergent to use, packets, tablets, powders, and gels are all fine in the countertop models. And while virtually all the machines have detergent and rinse aid dispensers that look and work like the usual ones, most brands caution against using packets or tablets for the short cycles as they may not fully dissolve.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when buying a countertop dishwasher:

• Overall size: While how much counter space you’ll be giving up is an important consideration, a model’s height is even more important. You can usually squeeze in space on the sides for a wide unit, but a tall one that won’t fit between your countertop and upper cabinets means it won’t work for you.

• Capacity: While most countertop dishwashers claim to hold up to six place settings, the dinner plates they can accommodate can vary from 10 to 12 inches. Make sure any model you are considering can handle the plates you use most often.

• Energy efficiency: All countertop dishwashers carry yellow Energy Guide labels, so you’ll be able to compare approximately how much they will cost you per year to run. But only some are actually Energy Star Certified meaning that they are the most efficient models.

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