Home Kitchen

Finding the Right Dishwasher for the Small Kitchen

It’s easy to look at a small kitchen and think “Oh great, I’ll just never cook again. Or have friends over for dinner.” It does not have to be like that. Your small kitchen can have any of the things that large kitchens have. You just can’t have all the things that big kitchens have. But if you really want a dishwasher, there are more options than you might think, and you don’t have to empty your savings account.

So, let’s talk about dishwashers (regular size dishwashers) before we narrow our focus to the little ones. A standard size dishwasher is 24 inches wide, 24 inches deep, and 35 inches high. Any dishwasher 18 inches or less is considered small. A standard dishwasher can wash 12 place settings at a time, and this same size is considered large enough for a family of four.

Before you buy a dishwasher of any size, you need to make sure there is room to install it, even if it is only 18 inches wide. Dishwashers should almost always be installed next to a sink. But even if your kitchen is set up so oddly that you can’t fit a dishwasher next to the sink, you can still opt for a countertop dishwasher. More on that in a moment.

So now that we’ve defined the standard, let’s talk small. Small dishwashers (dishwashers 18 inches or less) are pretty common these days. Amazon.com has a few for sale, as do Sears, Best Buy, Lowes, and others. You can get them for $400 or less. The thing to keep in mind is how tall they are. If the dishwasher you want is a different height than your counter, it’s not the end of the world, but you’ll have to make some adjustments if you want your counter to stay level. It’s easy if the dishwasher is shorter than the counter: the installer simply places the dishwasher on a small platform to level it. But if it’s taller than the counter, you’ll have to get used to having a bit of counter space a few inches higher.

The ideal size for a small dishwasher is whatever the width of the cabinets next to the sink. Standard cabinet widths are 12, 15, and 18 inches. There are plenty of 18-inch dishwashers for around $400 each. They typically fit eight plate settings, which would work for a family of three. 15-inch dishwashers are very few among them, none of the major retailers carry one. So if the cabinets next to your sink are 15 inches or less, you might want to skip an undercounter dishwasher and try one of the newer dishwashers instead.

Countertop dishwashers are also called “portable dishwashers.” If you’re working in a really small kitchen, it might be nice to be able to pack up the dishwasher and store it in a cupboard when not in use. Otherwise, you’ll have to sacrifice some of your already tight counter space for the dishwasher. The good news is that these countertop dishwashers are around $250 and typically fit four place settings, which is enough for two people. So if you can find even 24 inches of counter space in your small kitchen, you can still get a dishwasher.