Are Countertop Dishwashers Worth It for Small Households, RVs, Dorms?

Last Updated on March 27, 2022 by

Are Countertop Dishwashers Worth It? If you move to a smaller apartment with a kitchen not spacious enough for a built-in or portable dishwasher, a countertop is your go-to solution.

Worthy countertop dishwashers have high-quality interiors. Your dishes are made squeaky-clean. However, you do not get an additional rack, so you can pile high when necessary. You do not also get the low-pressure that comes from top racks.

Compact dishwashers eliminate waiting to run it since one load takes one meal of dishes, pot, cutting board, silverware, knife, etc.

The con is the size. If you use big pots, you would have handwash because pans alone take a full load. Ensure to measure countertop space in case you have to rig a mini table for it.

Are countertop dishwashers worth it?

Countertop dishwashers are worth it. A countertop typically requires lots less effort than washing dishes by hand. Tests show that a countertop cleans just well enough to result in desirable squeaks.

So, if you are freaky about how clean your dishes should be, a countertop dishwasher is the perfect solution for its price. Again, your dishes will not just be clean but squeaky.

Unlike full-sized and portable dishwashers, countertops are significantly economical and more efficient. A countertop dishwasher takes substantially less water, energy, space, and more. Let us consider the following countertop advantages:

  1. Place settings

A countertop dishwasher supports a few place settings, typically 4-6 place settings. This takes up about 3 gallons of water, which is largely economical.

In exchange, you have to manually handwash your large pans and pots and other large units that will not fit.

  1. Water consumption

A countertop dishwasher will take about use 2-3 gallons of water for each cycle compared to the 4 to 6 gallons on full-sized or portable models, and up to 27 gallons on handwashing. You get to save a lot on your water bills.

  1. Space

If you have limited storage space in the kitchen, you need a countertop dishwasher. Its small size means you can store it almost anywhere in the apartment until the next use.

Your counter space must be next to the sink because countertops need the sink to work.

  1. Compact size and weight

Note that a compact dishwasher is a smaller and more portable than a portable dishwasher. Suppose you would be moving your counter from one place to another. A countertop is just flexible enough for easier transportation.

Most compacts are lightweight, and range from around 10-50 pounds, which is about 4.5 to 22.6 kilograms. Even if you do not have to frequently move this dishwasher, think about the lightness it affords your countertop.

Some units measure about 22 inches in width and 17 inches in height. Nonetheless, there are slightly bigger units.

  1. Noise

Countertops are not the quietest, especially ones without surface insulation. The decibels can measure up to 55 decibels. These are the levels of a portable dishwasher and some built-ins.

  1. Water source

A countertop dishwasher uses a hose you attach temporarily to the faucet of your kitchen sink. The faucet of your kitchen sink needs to have a threaded spout for it to work.

A faucet with built-in sprayers may not have threaded faucet spouts.

  1. Energy

HomeServe, an independent home repair service provider, in their words, claims that a countertop dishwasher “run off about half the amount of electricity as full-sized units”. On average, full-sized units use up to 1800 watts of electricity per load.

Meanwhile, most compact countertop dishwashers are Energy Star-rated.

Can a countertop dishwasher go under the sink?

A compact dishwasher may look small but they are not really small. Some of the dishwashers are heavy and weigh up to 45 lbs. Water and dishes can add up the weight to more than 100 lbs. However, they are sizable enough for your kitchen countertop or a sturdy table.

A countertop dishwasher can possibly go under the sink but this is not recommended by manufacturers. You should only consider taking your countertop under the sink if you deem it absolutely necessary.

You have to tap it in with the plumbing if you must install a countertop dishwasher under the sink instead of using the faucet and sink. Unfortunately, the problem begins here.

A countertop dishwasher under the sink sits too close to the floor, making it much harder to load all dishes.

Dishwashers do not use a rubber hose as a hot water source installed permanently under the counter. Perhaps, the drain hose is okay.

The accessories arriving with the compact dishwasher are for temporary hook-up only. If you permanently hook the hose, it will be exposed to 24/7 water pressure in it, which can burst the hose.

Moreover, the solenoid (water control valve) in your compact dishwasher is designed for temporary use.

If you still consider mounting your countertop under the sink or counter, note the following:

  • Hose connections behind the compact unit are made of plastic, so no soldering.
  • You have to alter or get rid of the hoses. The discharge hose will not be connected to the disposal.
  • You have to install a shut-off valve for the hot water line. This is used when the dishwasher shuts off.

The best thing to do is to contact a licensed plumber who knows the steps to complete the installation. They may be against the idea of permanently installing the compact dishwasher under the sink.

Best compact countertop dishwasher

This section compiles the best compact countertop dishwasher for your small apartment or household. There are many options in the market but this guide helps you with your decision, or, at least to make an excellent decision.

Farberware FCD06ASWWHC Professional White/Glass Door Countertop Dishwasher

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FCD06ASWWHC is a Farberware masterpiece and a go-to solution for your compact dishwasher solution. It surprisingly matches the capabilities of some portables and even built-ins.

Below are the reasons Farberware FCD06ASWWHC is the dishwasher you need:

Place setting

Compacts use only a few place settings, and this model uses as many as 6-place settings. With this, you can wash a variety of dishes after the meal. This machine also features a cutlery basket and folding-down rack shelves.


Speaking of reliability, this compact is powerful and durable. It uses an enduring stainless steel heavy-duty interior tub that withstands your daily dish cleaning.

User-friendly controls

The controls are easy-to-use. Its thoughtful LED digital controls provide the desirable clear picture-view for your wash controls.

Use the rinse aid or water supply failure indicator lights to tell when this compact countertop is low on rinse.

Washing programs

With up to 6 washing programs, you get the sense of using a full-sized dishwasher in a compact countertop. All 6 washing programs include baby care, self-clean, heavy, light, speed, and normal.

For instance, the self-clean effectively cleans the dishwasher itself while the speed wash cleans dishes quickly. The speed wash cycle is designed to wash your utensils in 45-minutes. Of course, you still get the squeaky-clean outcome.


This FCD06ASWWHC compact countertop has an extra-drying function that adds additional heat to your final rinse to improve the drying outcome. This function does not work for the self-clean program.

Cleaning detergent

You can use pods, powder, or liquid detergents for your dishes in the FCD06ASWWHC. Only use detergent tablets if you intend to run long cycles so that the tablets fully dissolve.


Child lock

The child lock feature allows you to lock the control panel buttons to keep children from accidentally starting this countertop dishwasher.

Compact design

Its compact design ensures a convenient 6-place setting capacity. This is the reason for its appearance for small households, RVs/campers, dorms, and boats.

Quicker installation

Installations have never been quicker. This countertop features a quick connect assembly with the needed adapters and accessories for your faucet connection.


Custom door panel

This countertop is not custom door panel ready.

Dry options

There is no dry option cycle.

Energy efficiency

There is no CEE tier rating for this dishwasher.


It runs at a 52 dBA rating. Not too loud but above 40+.


Obviously, the tub is not tall.

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RCA RDW3208 24 in. White Electronic Countertop Control 600120-volt Dishwasher with 6-Cycles

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Spray arms

This is a 2 low-spray arm countertop dishwasher that delivers full cleaning coverage despite the dishwasher fully loading it.

Water sensor

A compact dishwasher with a water sensor flow meter that helps to get the perfect amount of water to dispense during a cleaning cycle.


Notwithstanding its compact size, this dishwasher provides the desired space and ensures flexible loading to accommodate its 6 place settings.

Wash programs

Uses 2 programs, including normal and heavy wash cycles for exceptional squeaky-clean dishes and other kitchen utensils marked for “dishwasher use”.

Smart dispenser system

Apart from its interior space generosity, you also enjoy a smart dispenser system with indicator functions.

The dispenser system ensures the perfect amount of detergent and rinse aid while the indicator tells you when to refill the rinse aid dispenser.

Drying system

This countertop dishwasher uses a residual drying system that can collect and reuse residual heat from the warm water to dry your dishes. Note that this is perfectly hygienic.

Water flow prevention

Get to experience an anti-flood floating switch function that prevents water from overfilling and damaging the interior of your unit.



Comes with a warranty, just 1 year though, similar to most other dishwashers.


The noise is surprisingly 34 dBA. This is quieter than most dishwashers, whether countertop, portable or built-in. You have to give it to RCA on this one.

Energy Star

This compact dishwasher is Energy Star-rated. You save more year-round energy and money-saving.


Like other dishwashers, RCA RDW3208 has its downside:

Energy efficiency

It is not CEE-rated.

Finish resistant

This dishwasher is not fingerprint-resistant. Obviously, no use of a special coating to make cleaning easier.

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Do countertop dishwashers heat the water?

Some countertop dishwashers can heat the water, just turn the hot water on if any. Traditional dishwashers use both built-in access to hot and cold water but countertops do not.

Countertops have to heat the water internally. Some models rely on external source of hot water source from your kitchen faucet to heat the dishes.

You would have to hook the kitchen faucet with your water supply for use during its cycles. Thus, depending on your countertop model, access to a hot water source may be required if it does not heat internally.

Things to look for in a compact countertop dishwasher

There are a number of factors to consider before you buy a compact countertop dishwasher. There may be no have-all countertop, so you invest in the one that can do the perfect job in your household.

  • Size. This is the most significant factor and reason for other limitations in a compact dishwasher. Countertops are available in a variety of small sizes, so ensure to pick the best fit for the tabletop in your apartment, RV/camper, or dorm.
  • Noise level. While some countertops are noisy, others are quieter. Some countertops are as low as 34 dBa (decibels) while some are as high as 55 decibels. For an RV, you want something quieter, within 30 to 40. 50+ dBa is okay for your small kitchen.
  • Interior design. Countertop interiors are available as plastic or stainless steel. The stainless-steel models cost more but you can save more money investing in a plastic interior.
  • Capacity. Being compact does not mean a dishwasher should not give you space. A thoughtfully-designed countertop can be space-generous, so include this in the checklist. The countertop should be able to afford at 4 or up to 6 place settings depending on what you want.
  • Pump. If you intend to place the countertop dishwasher below the sink, buy a model with a pump.
  • Weight. Countertops weigh up to 50 lbs. If you would be moving the dishwasher frequently, invest in a lightweight model. Lighter units are more compatible with RVs.

Final Thoughts on Are Countertop Dishwashers Worth It ?

Regarding durability, investing in a quality brand, as in this compilation, will afford a longer lifespan over a period of frequent use. Essentially, a good countertop should perform optimally and last at least 7 years on daily use. Make sure to employ a reasonable maintenance culture.