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Benchtop Dishwasher for A Small Household or Apartment Living

Lady Rain works as a daytime stock trader and writes about crafts and hobbies. She likes travelling and making papercraft models.

This benchtop dishwasher has a place setting of 6. Plenty of dishes and cups can be washed in one full load.

This benchtop dishwasher has a place setting of 6. Plenty of dishes and cups can be washed in one full load.

The benchtop dishwasher

Benchtop dishwashers are ideal for small kitchens, small households and apartment living. The dishwashers are about the same size as a large microwave oven. These portable dishwashers do not require permanent installation or plumbing, and they can be placed on the kitchen counter and attached to the sink faucet. They are becoming increasingly popular in rental properties because they are so portable and there is no need for plumbing works to use the dishwashers. Busy homeowners with small families and small living spaces find them useful, too.

What's a place setting?

One place setting include one of each of the following items:

  • dinner plate
  • dessert plate
  • soup bowl
  • a glass
  • tea cup
  • tea cup saucer
  • dessert spoon
  • soup spoon
  • teaspoon
  • knife
  • fork

Capacity of a benchtop dishwasher

The place settings range of a benchtop dishwasher is from 4 to 6. It means the dishwasher has a capacity for all the dinner plates, side plates, bowls, cutlery and glasses required for a standard three course meal for one to two persons.

The maximum dinner plate size that can fit on the dish rack is not more than 27cm in diameter for a more expensive model. In general, most benchtop dishwashers can hold dishes up to 25cm.

Benchtop dishwasher in use.

Benchtop dishwasher in use.

Energy rating

Like all household appliances, benchtop dishwashers have energy ratings. The more stars, the more energy-efficient. Energy-efficient appliances will have reduced running costs, at the same time it reduces the impact on the environment.

Water Rating

The same with its water rating: the more stars, the more water-efficient is the dishwasher. Benchtop dishwashers use as little as 8.7 litres of water per normal load, in fact, they use less water than handwashing the dishes. If you handwash your dishes in a sink filled with water, you could be using around 15 litres of water, that's more water than a water-efficient benchtop dishwasher. You actually save more water with a benchtop dishwasher.

Wash cycles

A typical benchtop dishwasher has around six wash cycle options, ranging from a quick wash for lightly soiled loads to intensive for heavily soiled loads.

The dishwasher washes at temperatures from 45°C to a scalding 75°C, with a drying option for different selected cycles. Drying cycles use additional energy. If you do not want to go through the drying option to save on energy, you should leave the door slightly open after the washing is complete. This will help the dishes dry on their own with the residual heat when the water evaporates. I usually turn on the dishwasher after dinner and when the wash cycle is over, I leave the door slightly open. In the morning, the dishes are all dry and ready to be kept in the cupboard.

As with most dishwashers, plastic containers do not seem to dry in a dishwasher!

Detergent and rinse aid

Dishwashing detergent and detergent tablets can be used for washing. The use of detergent tablets is recommended for longer wash cycles because some tablets take longer to dissolve leaving detergent residues that do not get washed off.

The dishwasher uses less detergent than what is required in hand washing dishes. Adjust the amount of detergent you use accordingly to the wash load until you are satisfied with the outcome.

The use of rinse aid is to prevent water droplets from leaving spots and streaks on the dishes.

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The benchtop dishwasher has separate dispensers for detergent and rinse aid.

DIY eco-friendly detergent and rinse aid

Gently boil 100g of soap nuts in five cups of hot water for 30 minutes. Let the liquid cool before straining. Discard the used soap nuts. Add two tablespoons of vinegar to the cooled soap nut liquid and store the soap nut detergent in a container to be kept in the fridge. Use 1-2 tablespoons of soap nut detergent for each load of wash in the dishwasher.

Replace commercial rinse aid with vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser of the dishwasher.

Cleaning the filters

Big chunks of food on the dishes should be discarded before putting the dishes in the dishwasher. Food residues are normally rinsed off during the pre-wash cycle. The filter in the dishwasher needs to be emptied and washed regularly. Otherwise, your dishwasher will start to stink.

Delayed start function

Benchtop dishwashers have delayed start function. You can set the dishwasher to wash at the time you prefer. Some people like the dishwasher to wash at night, so that they'll have clean dishes for the following day. A good benchtop dishwasher should not be noisy to keep everyone awake at night. As a comparison, some washing machines have higher noise levels than dishwashers during spin cycles.

Where to put the dishwasher

Benchtop washers are meant to sit on the benchtop, ideally next to the kitchen sink and near a power socket. The water inlet hose and drainage hose are about 1.5m long so the machine cannot be located elsewhere unless you change the hoses. It does not require plumbing in order to be functional.

The only challenging thing in setting up the dishwasher is connecting the water inlet hose to the sink faucet. Depending on the size of your existing kitchen faucet, an adapter might be required for the faucet in order to connect it to the inlet hose. The price of such adapter ranges from a few dollars to around $20.

What to look for when buying a benchtop dishwasher.

  • Quiet performance - Benchtop dishwashers are not as noisy as washing machines. The most audible noise a dishwasher makes is when it is filling up the water and draining away the dirty water into the kitchen sink. The washing action is rather quiet. Some manufacturers do provide a noise rating for their product if you are after a really quiet dishwasher.
  • Stainless steel tub interior - The benchtop dishwasher is more or less self cleaning when it does the washing. Having a stainless steel interior makes it easy to stay clean and it will not rust.
  • Digital display - Most new models of benchtop dishwashers have digital displays that let you know how much time is left for each wash. They are pretty cool to look at.
  • Maximum plate diameter - This is a very important factor when buying a benchtop model. A lot of cheaper benchtop dishwashers can only hold plates with smaller diameters of less than 26cm. Remember to measure your largest dinner plate and check the dishwasher specifications before buying. Otherwise you could end up tossing out all your existing dinner plates and buying a new set of smaller plates!
  • Washing cycle options - The minimum cycles should include rapid, normal and heavy washes. Additional cycles are soak wash, rinse and intensive wash.
  • Energy and water ratings - The more stars, the more energy-efficient and water-efficient, the better.

Question Time

Energy and water consumption of a typical benchtop dishwasher

Wash CycleEnergy in KwhWater in litres



















If you are having trouble connecting the water inlet hose to the kitchen faucet, the following video might be helpful.

Overview of a bench top dishwasher

© 2015 lady rain


Suzanne Day from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on April 23, 2015:

This looks rather handy and I don't know why my landlord didn't get one instead of doing the full size one, where you break your back bending over constantly to put dishes in and out. Voted useful!

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on April 06, 2015:

What a great option for smaller homes! Thanks for sharing.

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