An 18-inch dishwasher might be an excellent option for you if you have a cozy kitchen in your apartment. Some people even consider small dishwashers for a secondary kitchen in the bar or pool area. These compact dishwashers are designed to fit under the counter and do the same job as their full-size counterparts. Several brands now feature space-saving, small dishwashers with premium features.
Just like full-size (a.k.a., 24-inch) models, small dishwashers come in multiple styles. Design forms include those with visible controls or hidden panels, towel bar fronts, or sleek and seamless profiles. Some products even have customizable panels to blend in with your surrounding cabinetry. Stainless steel, black, and white finishes are all available.
18-inch dishwashers vary widely in their features and functionality. So how do you find the perfect compact dishwasher for your unique needs, and which brands are offering the best compact designs on the market? In this review, we will highlight the essential elements of small dishwashers. We’ll also outline the best dishwasher brands and list stand-out models we think you’ll love.
How to choose a small dishwasher?
When it comes to choosing a dishwasher, the important features are mainly the same, whether you go with a small 18-inch or full-size design. Let’s take a look at what you’ll want to look for and the most important features you’ll want in a compact dishwasher.
Quiet operation has quickly become an essential feature in any quality dishwasher. Usually, the dishwasher is installed in one of the most-used areas of the house. Loud operation can disrupt conversations and cause uncomfortable situations. So how do 18-inch compact models stack up with the quietest full-size designs?
Fortunately, they stack up pretty well. Recent models of 18-inch dishwashers are receiving quietness ratings comparable to some of the quietest full-size models available. But when you start getting into decibel levels with numbers and figures, it can be a bit confusing. So let’s take a look at some reference points you can use to understand just how quiet your dishwasher will be.
The best dishwashers on the market achieve quietness levels at around 45dB, which is roughly the volume of a quiet library. A normal conversation is about 60dB in volume, while the sound of light traffic outside your window is usually around 50dB. Designer Appliances recommends anything between 44-48dB, as this will be quiet enough to keep from interfering with your day-to-day activities around the appliance.
For more info about on this topic, visit our earlier post on quiet dishwashers which provides an easy to follow guide.
Water Softeners for Spotless Results
Designed to help combat water spots, built-in water softeners remove minerals from the water that can be hard on dishes overtime. If your neighborhood or area has hard water, you may want to consider a model with a built-in water softener.
ADA Height for Shorter Countertops
ADA stands for “Americans with Disabilities Act.” It signifies products and environments that are designed to be easy for disabled individuals to use and operate.
In the context of ADA compliant dishwashers, the certification says more about dishwasher height than anything. Raised floors or countertops that are not built with regular standards in mind pose a challenge for home owners for dishwasher fit. Fortunately, nearly all compact dishwashers are ADA compliant to help alleviate this problem.
Since there are not as many 18-inch units (compared to their full size cousins) manufacturers pack more in them. Such as ADA compliance, so that they fit universally.
Prices for compact dishwashers can range anywhere from $600 to $1,500. You can expect higher prices for high-end features like quietness, a flexible third rack, or water softener. If you’re looking for an ultra-quiet dishwasher, anything under 48dB, you can expect a price of $700 or more. Add a water softener and you’ll see prices rise to $750 and above, and you can add a panel-ready design to blend seamlessly with your kitchen for a bit higher price tag.
Considering how popular compact, 18 inch dishwashers have become, the market has become saturated with a wide range of brands, styles and designs. Fortunately, we’re here to help you wade through the many products to find the best options for you.
5 Best Small Dishwashers Ranked
Towel Bar Design 18 Inch Dishwasher, Quietest at 44 dB
This Bosch 800 series design features everything outlined in our write-up of its cousin above, as well as an even more modern and stylish look with hidden-top controls and a full 2dB lower noise level (44dB). That’s impressive, plus an InfoLight which projects a small red point onto your floor to alert you from afar when the dishwasher is running.
This Bosch model also boasts a 3rd rack with more space to arrange your dishes, as well as Eco and Express wash cycles to combine efficiency and time management to take care of lightly soiled dishes. Panel-ready and visible-control options are also available for this model.
Traditional Front Control Dishwasher, 46 dB
Bosch is a major player in the dishwasher market, and for good reason. They’ve built a reputation for high-quality construction, beautiful designs and powerful features that make dishwashing easy and effective. They’re also known for creating designs in a wide range of budgets, making them a versatile brand for any consumer.
This Bosch model is found as part of their 300 Series. We’ll highlight some of its best features below, but you can also check out our Bosch Dishwasher Review to get an in-depth look at Bosch dishwashers and their respective series.
This Bosch model features a quiet noise rating of 46dB. You’ll also appreciate the RackMatic stacking system and EasyGlide upper rack, which allows you nine possible rack positions for fully adjustable arrangement of your dishes for more efficient washing.
One of our favorite features is the AquaSensor, an advanced technology that immediately stops a load when there’s any indication of leaks in order to prevent flooding. It provides a peace of mind that few other dishwashers can match. A built-in water softener also keeps hard water from damaging your dishes.
Please note that this dishwasher does not have a 3rd rack for silverware.
All Bosch dishwashers feature a stainless steel interior (except the Ascenta series), which offers improved condensation drying and longer-lasting durability that you can depend on for years to come.
Hidden Control Dishwasher, 47 dB
This GE design features modern features combined with traditional must-haves for a wonderfully effective compact dishwasher. Its 47dB noise level is whisper-soft, so you don’t have to worry about it disrupting your kitchen space.
GE still makes dishwashers with traditional heating elements. This feature makes this GE Profile outperform its competition in drying (as long as you are careful with plastics).
Meanwhile, this model also features a built-in hidden top control and pocket handle design. The front panel comes in black, white or stainless steel, so it’s perfectly compatible with your existing décor. It also features silverware baskets with individual slotted covers, plus a fixed lower rack and completely adjustable upper rack for custom spacing. It also boasts a Piranha™ Food Disposer and NSF Certified sanitize option for destroying germs and bacteria.
Hidden Control Dishwasher, 47 dB
With three wash cycles including Auto Sense, Heavy and Light, this GE creation boasts all of the flexibility of its larger counterparts—plus a high-temperature and delayed wash and a sleek look with pocket handle. This allows you to perfectly customize the design to your kitchen.
In addition to its robust features, it also boasts a 47dB quietness rate on top of a stainless steel design that ensures sanitary, effective cleaning as well as improved drying and longer-lasting durability in the interior tub.
An adjustable upper rack ensures that you can make space for all of your dish types and your unique needs—a much-appreciated feature in a compact model. You’ll also enjoy the Piranha™ Food Disposer that grinds up food particles to keep them from blocking the dishwasher drain and causing damage. The NSF Certified Sanitize option is also present here, perfect for eliminating bacteria to keep you and your family healthy and safe.
Dimension Series, Small Dishwasher, 46 dB
No list of high-quality dishwashers would be complete without a Miele product. This high-end brand has been creating top-of-class dishwashers for years, and their highly qualified and durable construction approaches result in long-lasting machines with a flair for style.
In compact-size models, they offer the Eco-Flex series that offers all of the features of their full-size designs aside from setting capacity. That includes the 3rdRack Cutlery Tray, an insanely helpful feature for saving space on the bottom rack. The Auto-Open door is a great feature, cracking open the dishwasher door at the end of a cycle so that it can ventilate and dry more quickly.
The 46dB quietness rating is impressive, as are the water softener, Leak Prevention System, and QuickIntenseWash system that offers a fast and powerful wash cycle when you’re in a hurry. Other features include a China and Crystal cycle for delicate dishware.
We highly recommend you check out our video on Miele dishwashers, which will help you get a full picture of what this impressive product line from Miele has to offer.
If you're considering buying a new 18-inch dishwasher, you can't go wrong with any of the brands and products mentioned above. They're all reliable brands with a history of dependable products.
In the mid- to high-price range, both Bosch and Miele offer outstanding quality and design that's built to last. For those with a slightly lower budget, GE is absolutely a quality pick that won't let you down. In some cases, your kitchen design might not allow for a built in dishwasher installation and you may need to opt for a portable dishwasher instead.
In general, you want to pick a small dishwasher that will suit your own unique needs, so be sure to do your research and get an understanding of the features you want most. You'll be rewarded with the perfect compact dishwasher for your home.
How wide is an apartment sized dishwasher?
A compact dishwasher measures smaller than a traditional-sized dishwasher. Measuring at 18 inches wide, there’s a 6-inch difference between a compact dishwasher and traditional dishwasher. Small dishwashers are often used in spaces with limited capacity such as apartments, studios, RVs or bar areas.
Do you have a general buying guide for dishwashers?
Yes, we published a comprehensive dishwasher buying guide and we keep it up to date with the latest product releases.
Are there different sizes of dishwashers?
Most major appliance manufacturers have standard sized dishwashers which are 24 by 35 inches; however, compact dishwashers measure about 18 inches.
What is the smallest dishwasher?
Compact dishwashers (also known as space saver dishwashers ) are smaller than the traditional 24-inch size. These dishwashers usually measure 18 inches. You can also opt for a single drawer dishwasher with 24-inch width and 17-inch height.
What is the standard opening for a dishwasher?
The standard size of a dishwasher is 24 inches wide and 35 inches high. Openings in cabinetry for standard-sized dishwashers are usually 24 x 35 inches. Compact dishwashers, which measure around 18 inches wide, can accommodate small spaces.