If you don’t have the budget or space for a full-size dishwasher, but still don’t want to spend a lot of time scrubbing dirty dishes, you may want to buy a countertop dishwasher. While they look tiny, they can actually fit up to six place settings (where one place setting includes a plate, a bowl, a glass, a fork, a knife, and a spoon), and generally don’t require any additional plumbing other than access to your kitchen faucet.
We tested a bunch of countertop dishwashers to find out which one is the best; however, with the knowledge that most countertop dishwashers are made by a single company and rebranded later (more on that later), we weren’t expecting much. While we did end up having a favorite countertop dishwasher, the Danby DDW631SDB(available at Amazon), most of the products on this list are very similar to one another, and will work just fine in your kitchen.
Here are the ranks for the countertop dishwashers we tested, in order:
Magic Chef MCSCD6W5
Black & Decker BCD6W
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Out of all of the countertop dishwashers we tested, the Danby DDW631SDB had the best cleaning performance, hands down. While we noticed spinach redeposit on some of the dishes, the DDW631SDB’s stain removal was comparable (or better than) some of the full-size dishwashers we’ve tested. The Normal cycle time clocked in at about 100 minutes, which was similar to cycle times we saw on other countertop dishwashers.
We also liked that this Danby had eight cycles to choose from: Heavy, Normal, BabyCare, Eco, Glass, Speed, Rinse, and Mini Party. (We guess you can only have a mini party with a mini dishwasher?) With an extra drying option, a digital display, and a sleek-looking exterior, the Danby DDW631SDB is the best choice for a countertop dishwasher that will get the job done right the first time.
We have plenty of experience testing these products in the lab, but we’ve also used them like normal people would in the course of their daily lives, which means that we have a great sense for what appliances are bargains at their price points, and which appliances have really useful extra features (as opposed to the kitchen-sink approach to features).
With all this in mind, you can feel confident that when we recommend a product, we’re giving it our Reviewed stamp of approval, which means two things: firstly, this appliance performs well, and secondly, this appliance is easy to use.
We have already evaluated hundreds of dishwashers in our appliance test facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We assessed these countertops the same way we assess full-size dishwashers: cleaning performance, features, and usability. Because these countertop dishwashers are much smaller than a regular dishwasher, however, we reduced the number of stained dishes, and only tested the Normal cycle.
It depends. If you’re concerned about wasting water, a countertop dishwasher uses less water than hand washing. This makes it an especially attractive option for an RV or somewhere else where you don't have the space for a fully-installed or portable dishwasher.
Using a countertop dishwasher also requires a lot less effort than it does to wash dishes by hand, and our tests show that it does a much better job cleaning. If you’re a clean freak, buying a countertop dishwasher is a small price to pay to ensure that your dishes don’t just look clean.
However, you’ll still have to wash larger items in the sink; additionally, a countertop dishwasher can take up valuable space on your counter when it’s not in use.
Larger portable dishwashers, which also hook up to kitchen faucets and wheel out of the way when they’re not in use, can cost twice as much, but can also accommodate more, larger dishes.
How Do Countertop Dishwashers Work?
Nearly every countertop dishwasher works the same way: There are two hoses that join a “quick connect” mount that should attach to almost any faucet. One hose takes in fresh water, the other drains dirty water into the sink.
Inside, there's room for four full place settings in a single rack, a cutlery basket, a removable filter, and a stainless tub.
You can keep the dishwasher attached to your sink and press a bypass button to get fresh water, or you can disconnect it after use.
Be aware: Not every faucet works with a portable dishwasher. We had to purchase a small 15/16 inch to 55/64 inch faucet adapter at a hardware store. Stylish faucets with hidden “Cache” aerators may not fit a portable dishwasher at all.
It’s possible to hook up a sprayer faucet to a dishwasher—several online guides exist that explain how to do so—but it’s not recommended.
Who Makes Countertop Dishwashers?
After looking at bills of lading and other import data, we learned that nearly every countertop dishwasher sold in the U.S. is made by Midea.
Midea, based in Guangdong, China, is one of the largest appliance companies in the world. It owns vacuum-maker Eureka, has the rights to use the Toshiba name on small appliances, and manufactures hundreds of products for companies like GE Appliances and even the Instant Pot.
It makes sense that these products are imported from China, and not just because of lower manufacturing costs. Countertop dishwashers are much more popular in China, and it’s a lot easier to import these rectangular, easy-to-ship boxes from an existing factory than to set up production in countries where they’re more of a niche product.
Other Countertop Dishwashers We Tested
There’s a lot to love about the Farberware FDW05ASBWHA countertop dishwasher. One of our favorite features is that you can use either the kitchen sink hookup or the separate water tank as the dishwasher’s water source; the water tank is a great option if you have difficulty attaching and securing water hoses, or if you want to wash dishes far from a sink. This dishwasher comes with six cycles: Baby Care, Glass, Fruit (where you can use the removable basket to wash your fruits), Normal, Rapid, and Air Refresh. Perhaps the coolest feature is that this dishwasher has a little glass window so that you can watch the food stains get cleaned off your dishes in real time.
Speaking of clean dishes, this portable dishwasher does a great job of removing stains, including really difficult baked-on stains like chopped spinach. While there were some minor instances of redeposit, it’s nothing that wouldn’t come off with a quick rinse in the sink. Furthermore, almost all of the cleaned dishes came out bone dry. If you’re looking for some flexibility when it comes to washing dishes in a small kitchen space, you’ll appreciate the performance and thoughtful design of the Farberware FDW05ASBWHA.
The Danby DDW621WDB is the model that’s one step down from our favorite countertop dishwasher, the Danby DDW631SDB. As such, it’s not surprising that the dish cleaning performance was pretty good, but not quite as good as that of the DDW631SDB.
This countertop dishwasher has six cycles: Heavy, Normal, Light, Glass, Speed, and Rinse. With its simple white plastic finish and button-operated control panel, the Danby DDW621WDB is a great option for those who don’t need the bells and whistles of more expensive countertop dishwasher models.
As it turns out, the hOmeLabs HME010033N is nearly identical to the Danby DDW621WDB. It has the same cleaning performance, the same cycles (although one cycle is called “Eco” rather than “Light”), and similar cycle times. Its exterior looks a bit more modern than that of the DDW621WDB, but if you’re interested in buying this flavor of countertop dishwasher, we recommend buying whichever of these two products is on sale that day.
The cleaning performance of the Magic Chef is fine; while it struggled a bit with some of the tougher stains in our tests (such as spinach), it will be able to tackle most dirty dishes without breaking a sweat. The Magic Chef countertop dishwasher has six cycles (Heavy, Normal, Light, Speed, Glass, and Rinse).
While the other countertop dishwashers on this list have delay options of 2, 4, or 6 hours, the delay option on this Magic Chef runs from 1 to 24 hours, and can be set in 1-hour increments. This allows you to set dishwasher cycles to start at a later time either for the sake of convenience or to save money by not using electricity at high-demand times, like after dinner. If that kind of time flexibility appeals to you, then the Magic Chef MCSCD6W5 is the right countertop dishwasher for you.
Finally, a product from a brand you recognize! Again, the cleaning performance for this countertop dishwasher was pretty comparable to that of the others on this list, although we noticed that the spinach redeposit left some dishes a bit dirtier than we expected. In addition to the same six cycles that most of the countertop dishwashers on this list have, the BCD6W also has a 90-minute BabyCare cycle. Like the Magic Chef, the Black & Decker also has a 1- to 24-hour delay feature.
One aspect that separates the Black & Decker countertop dishwasher from the competition is its looks—with its stainless steel handle finish and its touchscreen user interface, it’s easily the best-looking dishwasher on this list. If you have a more modern-looking kitchen, and don’t want a white box on your countertop to ruin its visual appeal, you won’t regret choosing the Black & Decker countertop dishwasher.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.