Efficient Dishwashers for Tiny Kitchens

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Shiny kitchen design brochures may have you drooling over high-tech, large-capacity dishwashers, only to gaze at your own cramped kitchen in despair, wondering if a dishwasher could even fit.

Did the eco-friendly decision to move into a tiny house or closet-sized urban apartment doom you to a lifetime of wasting water hand-washing dishes? Never fear: Many of the greenest dishwasher manufacturers make narrow dishwashers, and there is one dishwasher that can fit almost anywhere.


In the United States, a standard dishwasher is 24 inches wide, 25 inches deep, and about 34 inches tall with adjustable legs. Integrated panel dishwashers, which look like a normal base cabinet, are slightly shallower. Two feet is not a lot of real estate for most kitchens, but if you live in a tiny house or an apartment measured in hundreds of square feet, every inch counts.

Compact Dishwashers

Compact built-in dishwashers (sometimes marketed as narrow or slim) share the height and depth dimensions of a standard dishwasher, but are only 18 inches wide.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program defines a compact dishwasher as one with a capacity of fewer than eight place settings.

Energy Star standards for compact dishwashers are ≤ 203 kWh/year and ≤ 3.10 gallons/cycle. Dishwashers with a capacity for eight or more place settings, regardless of the width of the machine, are subject to standards of ≤ 270 kWh/year and ≤ 3.5 gallons/cycle.

Beko


Number three on Earth911’s dishwasher list, Beko makes four narrow dishwashers. Despite their slim width, they hold eight place settings, so two of them qualify for Energy Star as standard dishwashers. The Beko brand only entered the U.S. market in 2016, so it is unfamiliar to most U.S. consumers. But parent company Arçelik A.S. is highly regarded for its environmental practices worldwide.

Blomberg

Blomberg follows Beko on our greenest dishwasher list. Like Beko, they are owned by Arçelik A.S. and make four compact dishwashers that hold eight place settings. All four meet Energy Star’s efficiency standards for a full-sized dishwasher. 

Smeg

Smeg makes only one compact dishwasher, but they do it very well, fitting 10 place settings into an 18-inch wide, Energy Star rated machine.

Fisher and Paykel

Fisher and Paykel did not make our original top 10 manufacturers list, but no consideration of compact dishwashers would be complete without them. Rather than taking the usual approach of squeezing a traditional dishwasher into a narrower space, Fisher and Paykel redesigned the appliance as a set of drawers. Their DishDrawers can be purchased singly or in pairs to hold either seven or 14 place settings.


Although they do not reduce energy and water use in equal proportion to their decreased size, DishDrawers dominate Energy Star’s compact dishwasher list.  

Portable Dishwashers

What if you have more room on top of the kitchen counter than under it? Or the only available space for storing a small dishwasher is too far from the kitchen to be useful? Several companies, like Whynter and Danby, make wheeled, portable dishwashers or squat countertop models that qualify for Energy Star ratings. At 18-22 inches wide, they are not narrower than built-in compact dishwashers. But one could be a lifesaver for small-space dwellers with truly unique design issues.

 

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Gemma Alexander

Gemma Alexander has an M.S. in urban horticulture and a backyard filled with native plants. After working in a genetics laboratory and at a landfill, she now writes about the environment, the arts and family. See more of her writing here.

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