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The Pros and Cons of Different Dishwashers

Dishwashers are invaluable appliances that free up time in the kitchen and help guarantee squeaky clean dishes. Several types of dishwashers exist. Familiarizing yourself with the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of dishwasher helps you make the best choice for your home.


Built-in dishwashers are the most common type available. Permanent fixtures in the kitchen, these models are installed under the counter and have a hinged, drop-down door. Built-ins are generally 24 or 18 inches wide.

Pros: As the most common type of dishwasher available, built-ins come in a wide variety of models at various price points. Available finishes include stainless steel, black and white, and some even allow for the installation of custom panels so that the appliance blends into surrounding cabinetry. Built-in dishwashers save floor space and don’t require the use of the kitchen sink for operation.

Cons: Built-in dishwashers take up cabinet space and require their own power and plumbing connections.


This version of a built-in dishwasher features single or double pull-out drawers. The drawers can be set to wash simultaneously or separately. Drawer models are installed under the counter within cabinet space. The average width of this type of dishwasher is 24 inches wide.

Fisher & Paykel drawer dishwasher
Source: Fisher & Paykel

Pros: Drawer dishwashers give you flexibility and energy savings, as each of the drawers have separate controls offering a variety of wash cycles. You can wash one heavily soiled load while doing another quick load, or just wash one load at a time. These dishwashers also offer extra storage space for your dishes and cutlery.

Cons: Drawer dishwashers tend to be expensive and only a few brands are currently available. These models are lower in height than standard built-ins, which means some tall items won’t fit. They require their own power and plumbing connections.


Possessing the same features and capacity as standard built-ins, portable dishwashers are movable and when in use just require a temporary location in the kitchen. You plug the unit into a standard electrical outlet and attach connecting hoses to your kitchen faucet. Such units are usually 24 inches wide and 36 inches high.

Portable Dishwasher
Source: GE

Pros: Portable dishwashers are a good choice when you don’t have room in the kitchen for a built-in, and they work well for those individuals who change residences frequently. Such models also provide additional counter space, as many have a butcher-block top. If you do want a built-in at a later date, some portable dishwashers offer the opportunity to convert.

Cons: While they don’t take up storage space in the kitchen, you must find a place in an adjoining room to store the dishwasher. Moving the dishwasher into position and hooking it up makes operation less convenient than your standard built-in models.


Countertop dishwashers are small, portable machines resembling a microwave that are operated from the counter near the sink. Running them requires plugging into a standard electrical outlet and hooking the machine up to the faucet with hoses. Most countertop models wash up to four place settings at once.

Countertop dishwasher

Source: Danby

Pros: Countertop dishwashers work well when floor or cabinet space is limited. These units suit a family of one or two and adapt well to small apartment or condominium kitchens, as well as recreational vehicles. They are also energy efficient.

Cons: Due to their small size, countertop dishwashers can only wash a small amount of dishes at one time. If you have too many dishes, you need to wash them by hand or do another load. These models also take up counter space.

Armed with everything you need to know about dishwashers, you can now choose the model that’s just right for your kitchen.

By Julie Bawden-Davis

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