Decent cleaning ability
Countertop dishwashers are popular with apartment dwellers. They're small, inexpensive, portable and don't require the sort of plumbing work that would forfeit a security deposit. While compact appliances generally get positive user reviews, there has yet to be any independent, scientific tests of their performance. Until now.
We purchased a SPT (also known as Sunpentown) SD-2201W and put it through the same rigorous tests we use for full-size dishwashers. While it couldn't clean up after a dinner party for twelve, the little Sunpentown held its own, leaving dishes cleaner than many built-in units—and certainly cleaner than you could ever get them by hand. If you've got a small apartment and $250, it's time to stop hand washing your dishes.
Dishes emerging from the Sunpentown SD-2201W were as clean as they’d be coming out of a full-size model. Just make sure not to load the very back corners of the rack, as those items sometimes don’t get a full cleaning.
Hook it up anywhere there's a faucet, provided it fits.
It's nearly identical to all other compact machines we've tested.
Sunpentown’s front door also houses the control panel. There are two hoses that join a “quick connect” mount that should attach to any faucet. One hose takes in fresh water, the other drains dirty water into the sink. Once we purchased a small 15/16 inch to 55/64 inch faucet adapter at a hardware store, we had no problem hooking up ours.
Inside, there's room for four full place settings in a single rack, a cutlery basket, a removable filter and a stainless tub. It's nearly identical to all other compact machines we've tested.
Does alright for a compact
Loaded correctly, the Sunpentown SD-2201W does a good job getting dishes clean. We found that the dirtiest dishes should be placed toward the center of the rack with their filth facing forward. On every cycle, a milk glass at the back corner of the rack remained just as gross as it was when we put it in, a sign that it didn’t get washed. Therefore we’d advise against placing anything there, because it just won’t get cleaned.
Remember that for the purposes of our tests, we apply a standardized amount of filth to each dish that’s greater than you’d ever put in a dishwasher. If you prewash or even just scrape your dishes, chances are yours will end up cleaner than any dish in our test loads.
The quick cycle—labeled “Speed” on this unit—did well enough for lightly soiled dishes. On our test load, it left behind more meat and oats than the other cycles, but it did pretty well on everything else. After the normal cycle, dishes emerged relatively clean. Because we couldn’t fit our burnt lasagna, baked on cheese and hardened dessert pans in with other dishes, we modified our Heavy Duty test a little for a compact dishwasher and washed only pots, pans and serving dishes. It got off everything but cheese, which is tough to wash off even in the best dishwashers.
Its small size is its greatest feature.
Five cycles are on offer, ranging from heavy duty to quick. There’s also a rinse option, which might come in handy if you’re storing the dishwasher after a wash and don’t want it to smell like food residue.
It's quieter than your significant other's complaints about the dishes piled up in the sink.
As it’s devoid of most soundproofing, you’ll know when the Sunpentown SD-2201W is working. There’s a distinct hum when the pump is pushing water out of the drain, and a whooshing noise when cleaning is underway. Still, it's quieter than your significant other's complaints about the dishes piled up in the sink.
Much more efficient than hand-washing
The Sunpentown SD-2201W was more efficient than most other dishwashers we’ve tested, though it didn’t get water as warm as more feature-filled units.
It used between 0.25 and 0.5 kWh of electricity per wash. Much of that savings comes from using hot water from the tap, which means the washer itself doesn’t have to heat water very much internally. That does result in lower overall water temperatures, however.
The Sunpentown SD-2201W used between 2.42 gallons of water for a quick wash cycle to 4.16 gallons for a heavy duty wash cycle. It’s almost certain you’d use many times that amount of water if you were hand washing.
As good as dishwashers three times its size
Cycles on this Sunpentown are pretty quick, ranging from an hour and 51 minutes for a Heavy Duty cycle to just 49 minutes for the “Speed” cycle. The Normal cycle takes an hour and 15 minutes.
After the Normal cycle, dishes emerged relatively clean. The only noticeable problem the Sunpentown had was reaching stained dishes at the back corners of the rack. The Speed cycle did almost as well, in less time. On Heavy Duty, messy lasagna and dessert pans emerged entirely clean, though some cheese remained. That’s nothing a little pre-washing wouldn’t cure, though.
The Sunpentown SD-2201W is an Energy Star rated appliance, and lived up to its classification. We calculated that the total yearly cost of running the Sunpentown SD-2201W would be $17.49, and individual washes would run between six and eleven cents each.
Big cleaning power with a little footprint
If you’ve got limited space and can’t redesign your kitchen to install a dishwasher, the Sunpentown SD-2201W is an ideal choice. It’s small, energy efficient and actually gets your dishes clean. If you can spare $250, say goodbye to dishpan hands, and get one of these in your kitchen today.
Meet the tester
Former Editor in Chief, Reviewed Home
Keith was the Editor in Chief of Reviewed's appliance and automotive sites. His work has appeared in publications such as Wired, Car & Driver, and CityLab.
See all of Keith Barry's reviews
Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.
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