Different Types of Dishwashers: An In Depth Guide


If you’ve ever been shopping for a dishwasher, you know that the process is a little more complicated than most think. While you might look at your dishwasher and think that it is the ‘standard’ model, the truth is that there are several different types from among which you must choose. If you are stuck trying to decide which is right for you, you’re in luck – this article will help you figure out which one is the right fit for your life.

We are going to take a quick look at the seven major types of dishwashers:

  1. Freestanding dishwashers
  2. Underbench dishwashers
  3. Drawer dishwashers
  4. Slimline dishwashers
  5. Compact dishwashers
  6. Benchtop dishwashers
  7. Integrated dishwashers

We’ll look at how they work, what makes them worth looking at, and ultimately for whom these dishwashers work best.

Freestanding Dishwashers

What is a Freestanding Dishwasher?

A freestanding dishwasher also known as a portable dishwasher is somewhat similar in design to a washer or dryer. Unlike some of the other units listed here, you don’t need to have this kind of dishwasher built into your home – as the name suggests, it’s a freestanding unit.

This type of dishwasher can be work as a standard home unit or used for smaller spaces. What’s important to note is that you can install it pretty much anywhere that has the right water connections. These units are popular among those who just want a dishwasher and who don’t care about how their appliances fit into the decor.

They also normally have wheels under the unit. This allows you to easily maneuver the unit throughout your space.

Typical Dimensions of a Freestanding Dishwasher

Freestanding dishwashers have a fairly wide range of potential sizes.

Height (inches): 37

Width (inches): 24

Depth (inches): 26

Portable units are, as you might expect, much smaller. most freestanding units are, however, around the same size as most other standard dishwashers.

Advantages of Freestanding Dishwashers

  • Very easy to hook up
  • Relatively easy to move
  • No worries about uninstalling if you move

Disadvantages of Freestanding Dishwashers

  • Tend to be a little smaller
  • Physical design might be lacking in comparison to other dishwasher types
  • Slightly feature-poor compared to some other units

Underbench Dishwashers

What is an Underbench Dishwasher?

Most people who buy dishwashers intend to place them in the kitchen, generally underneath their cabinets. The underbench dishwasher is a dishwasher built specifically for that purpose, to the degree that it has neither a top nor sides. This unit is made to be surrounded by the other surfaces of your kitchen, disappearing into the design of the space. Though it’s not always the most common design, it’s one that makes a great deal of sense for some homes.

Typical Dimensions of an Underbench Dishwasher

Like most dishwashers, underbench dishwashers do tend to vary in size. On average, though, they usually have the following measurements

Height (inches): 35

Width (inches): 25

Depth (inches): 25

This standard size is meant to fit snugly underneath benchtops without requiring the sacrifice of too much cabinet space. There are, however, models that are much smaller or much larger, usually designed to fit specific types of spaces.

Advantages of Underbench Dishwashers

  • Fits in great with most kitchen decor
  • Doesn’t take up any extra space in the kitchen
  • Still has plenty of room for dishes
  • Fairly common, so repairs are typically standardized

Disadvantages of Underbench Dishwashers

  • Requires having the right kind of underbench space
  • Exposed internals can be problematic in some spaces
  • Very difficult to move
  • Installation and removal can be more complicated

Integrated dishwashers

What is an Integrated Dishwasher?

Even the nicest-looking dishwashers tend to stand out a bit in the kitchen. If you are very style-conscious, you might want to invest in something that disappears into the rest of your decor. This is the goal of the integrated dishwasher. They are designed to mix incredibly well with cabinetry once it is installed. Most of the camouflage work is done here by moving the control panel of the unit to the inside of the dishwasher, sacrificing ease of access for aesthetics. The controls are hidden on the top lip of the door. If your goal is to have a streamlined kitchen, though, it’s going to be very difficult to beat this kind of unit.

Typical Dimensions of an Integrated Dishwasher

The goal here is to ensure that the unit can fit comfortably in the kitchen, so too much of a change in the size of the dishwasher will generally be avoided by the manufacturer.

Height (inches): 34

Width (inches): 24

Depth (inches): 25

Advantages of Integrated Dishwashers

  • Simple and clean aesthetics
  • Installation fits in easily with most set-ups
  • Easy to use for most homeowners

Disadvantages of integrated dishwashers

  • Control elements are all inside the unit
  • Somewhat more difficult to repair than the average dishwasher
  • Does require careful measuring and placement to get the most aesthetic value.

Drawer dishwashers

What is a Drawer Dishwasher?

One honest truth about the standard dishwasher is that it isn’t terribly friendly to those who use them. Dishwasher design has been fairly standard throughout the years, and that means that the person who has to load and unload the dishwasher has always had to bend down to put dirty dishes in or to take clean dishes out. The drawer dishwasher, fortunately, does offer a solution to that problem.

The drawer dishwasher is, at least in terms of usage, similar to a drawer refrigerator. Instead of opening out and pulling down, you simply roll out the drawers. You can fill up each of the drawers individually with different kinds of dishes and close them when you are done. This makes it easier to clean loads of varying sizes and definitely helps those who have bad backs.

Typical Dimensions of a Drawer Dishwasher

One thing you’ll notice is that in terms of sheer size, these dishwashers tend to be fairly small. This makes them an ideal fit for some spaces, but it should be noted that the small size doesn’t actually mean giving up much in the way of cleaning capacity.

The size will change if you have a single drawer dishwasher or if you have a double drawer dishwasher.

Height (inches): 34

Width (inches): 24

Depth (inches): 23

Advantages of Drawer Dishwashers

  • Fairly energy-efficient
  • Very ergonomically friendly
  • Looks very modern

Disadvantages of Drawer Dishwashers

  • Tend to be less durable than their more common counterparts
  • Repairs can be very time-consuming and expensive
  • Significantly more expensive than most other dishwashers
  • Relatively little in the way of brand choice

Slimline Dishwashers

What is a Slimline Dishwasher?

Dishwashers are typically made for homes with large kitchens. Unfortunately, those who have smaller living arrangements might not have enough free space available to dedicate to a dishwasher. That’s where the slimline dishwasher comes in – freeing up some much-needed space by cutting down the width of the unit.

While these dishwashers are smaller, they still pack the cleaning power of their larger cousins. Ideal for smaller spaces, these machines are typically installed in such a way that they don’t take up precious square footage in a kitchen. Though not quite as small as a portable machine, this dishwasher is still one of the best when it comes to space usage.

Typical Dimensions of a Slimline Dishwasher

The slimline dishwasher is all about its smaller size. The depth is typically fairly similar to that of the average unit, but you’re still removing a significant amount of the machine’s bulk by cutting down a single dimension (the width).

Height (inches): 32

Width (inches): 18

Depth (inches): 23

Advantages of Slimline Dishwashers

  • Takes up much less space than a typical dishwasher
  • Ideal for smaller loads of dishes
  • Opens up a number of intriguing decorating options

Disadvantages of Slimline Dishwashers

  • Smaller size means a smaller dish capacity
  • Not very water-efficient – you’ll use more water to do more loads
  • Also not very energy efficient, even though the size is smaller

Compact dishwashers

What is a compact dishwasher?

There are some situations in which even a slimline dishwasher is just too big. If you need something that you can easily move around or that can fit in a drawer, you’re going to have to go quite small – and that’s the role of the compact dishwasher.

A term used to identify a wide range of different machines, these are all the smallest dishwashers out there. Easy to move around or to keep hidden in a kitchen, they tend to be useful for those who only need to do relatively small loads of dishes at one time.

You could categorize a slimline dishwasher as a sub category of compact dishwashers.

Typical Dimensions of a Compact Dishwasher

As you might expect, compact dishwashers come in a fairly wide range of sizes. There are a few that are quite a bit bigger, and some tend to be a bit shorter. The goal with all of these units is to minimize their size while still allowing the user to wash a few dishes, so most are at least large enough to fit a plate standing on its size.

Height (inches): 17

Width (inches): 22

Depth (inches): 19

Advantages of Compact Dishwashers

  • Takes up far less space than any other category of dishwasher
  • Very transportable
  • Able to be hidden away with ease

Disadvantages of Compact Dishwashers

  • Very small compared to virtually anything else
  • Not as water or energy friendly as most might like
  • Repairs tend to be time-consuming and expensive
  • Relatively limited number of models

Benchtop Dishwashers

What is a Benchtop Dishwasher?

What do you do if you need a permanent dishwasher but you can’t make any changes to your kitchen? If you’re low on space and you can’t have a freestanding unit, a benchtop dishwasher will be your best choice.

As the name implies, these dishwashers sit on top of your kitchen cabinets, taking up about the same amount of room as a convection oven or large breadbox. Though they still must be connected to your water supply in order to work, these are among the easiest dishwashers to install if you are not able to make any permanent changes to your kitchen.

These dishwasher are kind of synonymous with compact dishwashers.

Typical Dimensions of a Benchtop Dishwasher

Benchtop dishwashers tend to have similar dimensions to compact dishwashers.The goal with these dishwashers tends to be to keep them short enough to avoid hitting any cabinets that are on the kitchen wall.

Height (inches): 17

Width (inches): 22

Depth (inches): 19

Advantages of Benchtop Dishwashers

  • No demolition involved with installation
  • Easily hooks up to the water system
  • Doesn’t take up too much space in the kitchen
  • Typically fairly easy to use

Disadvantages of Benchtop Dishwashers

  • Not as power-friendly as some might hope
  • Still needs access to a water line
  • Can only fit a few dishes at a time
  • Does still take up valuable counter-space

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