When space is limited, countertop dishwashers are a great alternative to bulky built-in models. The best models are quiet, energy efficient, and despite their diminutive size, loaded with impressive features comparable to their larger counterparts.
Their popularity is underlined by the wide variety available, but picking the right machine can be challenging. Manufacturers of these appliances may be less well known than big names like Whirlpool and GE, so it’s difficult to make decisions based on brand reputation. Specifications can be surprisingly diverse, and size and weight are also major factors.
We discuss many considerations in this guide and provide detailed descriptions of some of the best countertop dishwashers currently on the market. Shoppers are likely to find an ideal machine for their kitchen among these products.
- BEST OVERALL: Black+Decker BCD6W Compact Countertop Dishwasher
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: HomeLabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher
- BEST WITH WATER TANK: Farberware Complete Portable Countertop Dishwasher
- BEST QUIET: EdgeStar Portable Countertop Dishwasher
- BEST PORTABLE: Comfee’ Portable Countertop Dishwasher
- BEST APARTMENT: Novete Portable Countertop Dishwasher
- BEST ENERGY-EFFICIENT: Danby CounterTop Front Control Dishwasher
How We Chose the Best Countertop Dishwashers
To help consumers find the best countertop dishwashers available, we researched all the leading brands and compared the features of several dozen different machines. Specifications can be surprisingly varied. We found that a small portable dishwasher for an apartment, for example, isn’t necessarily the best mini dishwasher for RV use.
Whereas most built-in dishwashers are a standard size and weight isn’t usually an issue, with a countertop dishwasher, these are major factors. We also considered ease of use, wash settings, noise levels, and energy consumption.
While dishwasher cost is always important, buying based on price alone can be a mistake. Although we tried to find something for all budgets, ensuring performance and durability were our priorities. That said, all our top picks are considerably less expensive than even bargain full-size dishwashers.
Our Top Picks
The following selections are what we believe to be the best countertop dishwashers currently available. The variety we offer means there’s an ideal solution for just about every need.
From the well-known power tool brand Black+Decker comes a high-quality countertop dishwasher designed to tick all the boxes. It offers a comprehensive feature set, looks sleekly attractive, and is easy to use. Plus, the 59-inch Quick Connect kit makes it a breeze to attach the unit to an available faucet.
Its capacity is for six place settings, holding plates up to 10 inches in size. The wash cycles include Normal, Intensive, Eco, Glass, 90 Minutes, and Rapid & Soak. Cycles are selected and activated via the touch-sensitive LED display. There’s a delay timer of up to 24 hours in 1-hour increments as well as a child-safety lock. The Energy Star rating helps keep utility bills in check.
Noise can be an issue with some countertop dishwashers, and unfortunately Black+Decker does not provide decibel-level information. Retailer estimates vary from 49 to 60 decibels, and the latter figure is louder than most.
- Dimensions: 17.2 inches high by 21.7 inches wide by 21.5 inches deep
- Weight: 46.2 pounds
- Decibels rating: 49 to 60 (see description)
- With several wash settings, this unit can tackle all manner of dishwashing tasks
- Comprehensive LED display is easy to use and informative
- Capacity for 6 place settings; an adjustable rack maximizes the machine’s versatility
- There’s no decibel rating from the manufacturer, and retailer figures vary
- It is one of the largest and heaviest models in the countertop category
Get the Black+Decker countertop dishwasher at Amazon or Wayfair.
Buying a budget countertop dishwasher needn’t mean sacrificing appearance or convenience, as this sleek, feature-packed HomeLabs model proves. It boasts the capacity for six place settings and has straightforward, intuitive controls. It is Energy Star certified, and uses just 3.1 gallons of water per cycle.
There are six wash cycles—Heavy, Normal, Eco, Glass, Speed, and Rinse—but there is no drying mode. The manufacturer recommends using a rinse aid to speed the drying process, though dishes remain slightly damp. A delay timer can be set to 2, 4, or 8 hours. A quick-connect assembly is provided for a faucet. User feedback suggests the machine is fairly quiet, though HomeLabs does not provide a decibel level.
- Dimensions: 17.24 inches high by 21.65 inches wide by 19.68 inches deep
- Weight: 44 pounds
- Decibels rating: Not available
- One of the most competitively priced countertop dishwashers on the market
- Sleek, modern appearance boasts discreet yet easy-to-use controls
- Energy Star certification helps keep down household utility bills
- Lack of a drying cycle means dishes and flatware can remain damp
- Although many users consider it quiet, no decibel rating is provided
Get the HomeLabs countertop dishwasher at Amazon.
The compact Farberware Complete Portable Countertop Dishwasher will not only fit into small spaces like an RV or dorm, but it also has a built-in 5-liter (1.3-gallon) water tank so it can clean dishes even when a faucet is not available. A hose is also provided for faucet use, though an adapter may be required.
In all other ways, this unit runs like a normal dishwasher. Digital controls allow easy selection of five wash cycles: Normal, Rapid, Glass, Fruit Wash, and Baby Care (the last mode uses steam to ensure kids’ items are sanitized). An air-exchange system can be used with any cycle to speed up drying. While it only has the capacity for a few place settings, it can accommodate dishes of up to 12 inches in diameter when they are laid at an angle.
- Dimensions: 17.3 inches high by 16.5 inches wide by 17.3 inches deep
- Weight: 36.4 pounds
- Decibels rating: 62
- Built-in water tank means it can run without attaching to a faucet
- Despite compact dimensions, it can accommodate 12-inch plates (on an angle)
- A Baby Care cycle uses steam to sanitize bottles and toys
- Manufacturer cautions against using rinse aid and some detergent pods
- Although only a few owners complained that it is noisy, it is louder than many competitors
Get the Farberware countertop dishwasher at Amazon or The Home Depot.
Having a noisy dishwasher in a small living space can soon get frustrating, but with a rating of just 52 decibels, this EdgeStar Portable Countertop Dishwasher may just go unnoticed. Quiet operation doesn’t come at the expense of capacity, though. There is space for six place settings, and dishes up to 10.5 inches can fit inside.
The EdgeStar countertop dishwasher has easy-to-read digital controls and offers seven wash cycles: Heavy, Normal, Light, Glass, Baby Care, Speed, and Rinse. Start can be delayed up to 24 hours in 1-hour increments, and there’s a child lock for safety. The machine is also Energy Star certified. A 5-foot hose is provided for faucet attachment, though an adapter may be needed. The manual cautions against using detergent pods, which can cause overflowing.
- Dimensions: 17.3 inches high by 22 inches wide by 19.6 inches deep
- Weight: 44 pounds
- Decibels rating: 52
- With a decibel rating of just 52, it’s comparatively a very quiet machine
- Capacity and wash cycles are on a par with leading rivals
- It’s available in white, silver, or black to suit a variety of kitchen decor schemes
- Detergent pods should not be used as they can cause overflowing
- Hose connection is not universal, so an additional adapter may be needed
Get the EdgeStar countertop dishwasher at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Wayfair.
We’ve looked at portable dishwashers before, and they can vary in size considerably. This model from Comfee’ is among the smallest and lightest we have seen, making it a snap to transport it from home to RV or to lift it from a tabletop to a cupboard when not in use. The inclusion of a 5-liter water tank means it only needs a convenient electrical outlet, or even a generator, to operate, though a connection hose is included for faucet use.
Simple digital controls make operation easy. With a capacity of only two place settings, the interior isn’t huge, but it does offer five wash cycles: Normal, Rapid, Fruit, Glass, and Steam. With the capability to hit 192 degrees Fahrenheit, this Comfee’ dishwasher has better cleaning and sanitizing power than many competitors, though detergent quantities should be checked for maximum performance.
- Dimensions: 17.1 inches high by 17.1 inches wide by 16.5 inches deep
- Weight: 30.8 pounds
- Decibels rating: 58
- Compact size and modest weight make this a very portable choice
- With a 5-liter tank included, it doesn’t need to be attached to a faucet, though hose is also provided
- Maximum temperature of 192 degrees Fahrenheit ensures thorough cleaning and sanitation
- Plastic interior isn’t as durable as those with stainless steel tubs
- While not particularly loud, there are quieter countertop dishwashers available
Get the Comfee’ countertop dishwasher at Amazon.
The Novete is similar to many of the most compact countertop dishwashers in having its own 1.3-gallon water tank with a hose option (an adapter may be required). It is among the quieter models, and the plastic interior helps keep weight to a minimum for easy portability.
Where it truly differs from most small-space dishwashers is its capacity. Rather than only two place settings, which many mini models have, this Novete dishwasher accommodates up to four, making it a viable choice for small families. There are five wash cycles (Normal, Speed, Soft, Baby Care, and Fruit) plus a drying mode. It also benefits from automatic ventilation to prevent the buildup of unpleasant smells.
The Novete does come with something of a premium price tag, and a small percentage of buyers have expressed difficulties dealing with warranty issues. Nevertheless, it is a very efficient and flexible option for apartment, dorm, or RV use.
- Dimensions: 18.1 inches high by 16.9 inches wide by 16.8 inches deep
- Weight: 28.6 pounds
- Decibels rating: 50
- Small enough to fit almost anywhere, yet large enough for 4 place settings
- Low decibel rating makes it easier to live with in modest spaces
- Upper and lower spray arms provide more thorough cleaning action than some models
- Although a hose is included, an adapter may be required for some faucets
- Small percentage of buyers have experienced reliability or support issues
Get the Novete countertop dishwasher at Amazon.
With utility bills rising all the time, saving energy is increasingly important. According to the official US government EnergyGuide label on this Danby dishwasher, the unit costs just $29 per year when supplied with hot water from an electric heater, and a mere $19 per year if supplied by gas. What’s more, it uses just 3.1 gallons of water for a normal wash cycle.
Capacity is an ample six settings, with a folding cup rack and removable flatware basket for versatility. There are six wash settings: Intensive, Normal, Economy, Rapid, Glass, and Soak. A delay timer can be set for 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours. However, the digital controls aren’t the most intuitive, and unfortunately there is no dryer mode.
- Dimensions: 17.2 inches high by 21.7 inches wide by 19.7 inches deep
- Weight: 46.3 pounds
- Decibels rating: 52
- Energy Star certified; has comparatively low water consumption
- Capacity is for 6 place settings, with versatile rack and larger-than-average flatware basket
- Auto-detergent and rinse-aid dispenser features help allow for streak-free dishes
- Control panel isn’t the clearest, and it may take a while to learn how to use it
- There is no dryer mode, so dishes come out damp
Get the Danby countertop dishwasher at The Home Depot.
What to Consider When Choosing a Countertop Dishwasher
Compact dishwashers share numerous features with built-in models yet are small enough to sit on a kitchen countertop. However, key technical and operational differences can have a major impact on choice. Shoppers will want to read up on these important factors and features below so that they can make an informed choice when shopping for the best machine to meet their needs.
Size and Capacity
While these machines are typically called “countertop” or “tabletop” dishwashers, unlike built-in models, there are no standard sizes. As a result, dimensions should always be checked. It’s also worth noting the model’s weight, particularly if the dishwasher is likely to be moved frequently.
Capacity can vary considerably. Six place settings is common, though other units are described as being suitable for three or four people, and more than one tiny dishwasher we looked at can only accommodate two place settings. Even with such descriptions, it is worth looking at racks and flatware trays to see how items can be arranged inside the machine. Some manufacturers give a detailed breakdown of the type and size of items that will fit, but this is by no means common.
Controls and Cycles
The type and variety of controls normally associated with large built-in dishwashers are also available on countertop models. Almost all have either push buttons or touch-sensitive panels. Digital displays are common, but the amount of information they give can be very different. Some machines have delayed-start or timer functions as well as child locks, but the usefulness of these features should be balanced against overall cost.
The number of wash cycles also varies, though most offer five or six and can provide anything from a light rinse to a glass-specific program to heavy grease removal. Drying cycles can also differ, or may not even be included.
Those looking to keep utility bills down should consider a countertop dishwasher’s energy efficiency. Users can control this to some extent, using shorter programs or lower temperatures where it is practical to do so. But Energy Star-certified countertop dishwashers have been independently certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as meeting certain standards that should help users save money. Non-Energy Star products may also achieve these levels of efficiency, but individuals have no reliable way to verify this.
When buying a dishwasher for small kitchen or apartment use, noise levels are likely to matter a great deal. The sound produced by household appliances like these is measured in decibels and, fortunately, many countertop dishwashers are pretty quiet at around 50 to 55 decibels.
To put that into context, the Centers for Disease Control states that a whisper is roughly 30 decibels, normal conversation is around 60 decibels, and a motorcycle engine is about 95 decibels. Another comparison often made is that the noise from most countertop dishwashers is about the same as made by a modern high-quality refrigerator.
Without professional plumbing and electrical skills, the installation of built-in dishwashers can be expensive. This is not the case for most countertop dishwashers. All that’s usually required is a power outlet, a faucet to attach the input hose, and somewhere for the water to drain (usually into the sink).
Some portable dishwashers have a built-in water tank that can be filled from a jug, so they don’t even need to be attached to a faucet. While these models tend to have a smaller capacity, each of the machines we looked at in this category include a hose and fittings so they can be run in faucet mode if desired.
The article above provides ample info on the technical aspects of countertop dishwashers, but anyone who still has questions should check out the answers to some of the most common inquiries consumers have about these appliances.
Q. Are countertop dishwashers long lasting?
According to manufacturers’ care and maintenance suggestions, there appears to be no reason a countertop dishwasher shouldn’t be as long lasting as a built-in dishwasher. High-quality machines have a life expectancy of about 7 to 10 years.
Q. What is the difference between a built-in and a countertop dishwasher?
A built-in dishwasher sits under the kitchen countertop, requires the same space as a standard cabinet, has a capacity of between 12 and 16 place settings, and is connected permanently. As the name suggests, a countertop dishwasher usually sits on top of the counter, is only connected when needed, and may be stored elsewhere when not in use. Capacity is usually six place settings or less. Check out our article on dishwasher dimensions here.
Q. Can you put a countertop dishwasher under the sink?
It may be possible, but it’s not generally recommended. Sink and faucet plumbing means there is often very little space. Even if the dishwasher will fit, it can be very difficult to arrange power supply or draining. However, most will fit inside standard kitchen cabinets.
Q. How do you clean a countertop dishwasher?
The manufacturer may provide instructions, and these should always be followed to prolong the life of the machine. Generally speaking, exterior surfaces can be wiped with a soft cloth. The inside can be cleaned with warm, soapy water or diluted white vinegar. Our dishwasher cleaning article provides full details.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.
Researcher and product specialist Bob Beacham has been writing consumer advice articles for national publications for more than a decade. He covers a wide variety of home- and garden-related subjects, and is known for providing information that is thorough yet easy to understand.