Dishwasher Buying Guide: The Basics

We have compiled this dishwasher buying guide in order to provide with you the basic things you should look for when buying a compact dishwasher. We hope you find some benefit from this shortlist of ours.

A countertop dishwasher, also known as a compact or portable dishwasher, is a small to a medium-sized dishwasher that can be placed on top of a counter or any suitable level surface.

Even though it is small in size, you’ll find that it has many of the same features and functions as a full-size dishwasher.  Apart from being compact and portable, they use less water and electricity.

Installing these units is a cinch. Typically, these dishwashers use a quick-disconnect adapter that can be temporarily installed on a standard kitchen faucet for the necessary water supply.

The adapter will also have a connection for a drain line which is on the back of the dishwasher. This lets the water drain back into the sink during the wash cycle and final rinse.

Countertop dishwashers are modestly priced between $200 to $300 dollars. If you go for a portable size washer, they can run double that amount.

Either way, you will not sacrifice performance for the price and you will be pleased to know that many of these units clean just as well as the bigger models.

Another benefit to countertop dishwashers is that they are just as equally quiet as the upscale versions, with many having a noise threshold of 55db’s.

Our Dishwasher Buying Guide Basics

Below are a few standard items you should consider before running out and purchasing a countertop dishwasher. 

When you’re done, you can read our reviews of the many brands and models on the market today. We’ve even included a how-to section to help you get the most out of your countertop dishwasher.


The size of many countertop dishwashers measures about 24 inches in width. For portable dishwashers, the width is approximately 18 inches with a height of about 3 feet.

Definitely something to consider when deciding on which type of dishwasher you will buy.

And before you head out to your local appliance store or go to your favorite online shopping site, take measurements of your intended space (don’t forget to bring a tape measure if you go to a store) and have these dimensions available before you make your final decision.


Previously we discussed dimensions in the previous sections, but that was focused on the outside of the dishwasher. Capacity refers to the inner depth of the tub or cavity of the dishwasher.

In the case of a small dishwasher, this is about 20 inches. For portable units, this is generally 26 inches. What this means to you is how much can you put inside to wash?

That will primarily depend on the dish rack that the unit comes with. You will find that when buying a countertop dishwasher you will see the term ‘6 Place Setting’ often use.

This doesn’t necessarily equate to six dish items it means the arrangement that can be accommodated for dishes. Check out the diagram in our review of the EdgeStar DWP61ES Compact Dishwasher. 

For the portable or built-in models, the ‘8 Place Setting’ often use with the main difference being an additional rack included. The SPT SD-9241SS Portable Dishwasher is another good example.

Tub Composition

Generally, dishwashers of all shapes and sizes are made out of stainless steel. Stainless steel is the number one metal used for most appliances manufactured throughout the world.

The main reason for this is because it does not easily rust, is easy to clean, germ resistant and easy to match any décor.

Washer Controls

Countertop and portable dishwashers will have the controls built into the door or front panel. These will be either digital with touchpads or dials to select the different wash cycles.

For the display, either a digital readout or LED’s are used to for cycle-time or any other wash pertinent information.

Most portable countertop dishwashers come with a variety of wash cycles. Typically there is an average of six different wash cycles. You’ll have to carefully consider the features you can live with or without before making your buying decision.


As with the energy and water consumption differences between certain dishwasher units, the noise levels also differ.

You’ll find that many of the units we review on the site are rated at 55 decibels; this seems to be the standard across many models.

To give an idea of what the noise differences are between dishwashers, check out the video below to hear them:

Video Demonstration

Energy and Water Efficiency

Just like the different wash cycles offered on various dishwasher models, water and energy consumption also vary.

Check the manufacturers’ website for their dishwasher energy guides or use the Enervee website to check out the energy guides.


The maintenance of a portable dishwasher is pretty simple. The owner’s manual will detail the preventive maintenance you can do.

For example, do not overload the dishwasher, clean off any caked-on foods or residue, and keep utensils from falling/blocking the spray arms.

These simple let steps will go a long way to preventing unnecessary repairs.


Hopefully, you have learned a few things from our dishwasher buying guide and now have an idea of what to consider when buying a countertop dishwasher.

Check out the rest of the site to see what we recommend as safe options for your purchasing decision. Good luck and happy shopping!


  1. Hi,

    I’m looking for a dishwasher for myself. The countertop dishwasher is rather interesting because it’s just me at home. I’m sure the countertops can save a lot of water too.

    What model and make can you suggest for me in Canada?

    • Monica,

      Thanks for you feedback. I would recommend the SPT SD-2201S. It has many positive reviews from users and it is made by one of the industry leaders, Suppentown International.

  2. Hi James,

    Great article.

    I have only recently bought a dishwasher, the first one I have ever owned.

    Do you have any recommendations on how to keep it maintained etc?

    All the best,


  3. The countertop dishwasher seems to be handy , plus it’s great for individuals who lives alone. I will love to have one.

  4. New to your blog. Stumbled upon it browsing the web. Keep up the great work. I am hoping you update it regularly.

  5. This is a excellent blog, would you be involved in doing an interview about just how you designed it? If so e-mail me!

  6. I am definitely bookmarking this website and sharing it with my acquaintances. You will be getting plenty of visitors to your website from me!

  7. New to your blog. Stumbled upon it browsing the web. Keep up the great work. I am hoping you update it regularly.

  8. I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your blog and check again here often. I’m quite sure I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

  9. I really like your article. It’s evident that you have a lot knowledge on this topic. Your points are well made and relatable. Thanks for writing engaging and interesting material.

  10. This information is magnificent. I understand and respect your clear-cut points. I’m impressed with your writing style and how well you express your thoughts.

  11. The countertop dishwasher seems to be ideal , plus it’s suitable for someone who lives alone. I will love to have one.

  12. Great post. I just recently bought a dishwasher, the first one I have ever owned.Do you have any suggestions on how to keep it maintained etc?

  13. You posted quite a few nice points there. I did a search on the issue and found nearly all people will have the same opinion with your blog.

  14. I don’t doubt the ability of a modern dishwasher to clean encrusted dishes. I doubt the willingness of people to deal with smelly dishwashers after a couple of days of food going bad inside of them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *