So often when people think of tiny homes and off-grid living, they imagine an outdoor shower, sink and a composting toilet.
But what about all the items that need cleaning in the kitchen?
No one wants to be hand-washing their dirty pots and pans forever. That’s where tiny house dishwashers come into play.
Here we’ll share some information to help you decide whether you need a dishwasher for your small space, where you can fit it in your kitchen, how to tackle them when you live off the grid and four crucial considerations you must make before buying one.
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Do you need a tiny house dishwasher?
Tiny house dishwashers are amazing appliances if you do a lot of cooking or frequently entertain in your small space.
We’ve found that many tiny house owners on websites and forums find a lot of value in their dishwashers, even if they only live with one other person.
If you live on your own and believe that you can handle all your washing up by hand, and have the right tiny house kitchen sink, water pressure, easy to use faucet and a convenient dish drainer for your tiny kitchen, then you of course won’t need a full-size dishwasher.
And if you do find that you could use a helping hand to do the dishes one day, you could always consider buying a portable, countertop dishwasher like this one from Faberware.
They can also help conserve water in your tiny home as they use less water to clean dishes than hand washing them. However, keep in mind that they do require electricity to run.
Where do you put a dishwasher in a small kitchen?
Larger size dishwashers in tiny houses will fit under your countertop, in the place of cabinets.
However, if you opt for a portable tiny house dishwasher then it’s up to you where you keep it. You may find it has a permanent home on the countertop, or you tidy it away in a cabinet or storage space when it’s not in use.
Can you put a dishwasher in a cupboard?
Yes, it is possible to put a dishwasher in a cupboard.
Dishwashers can fit under your countertop, instead of cabinets. As long as your countertop is deep enough, you will be able to place your dishwasher underneath and have it in a cupboard that can open and close.
If you’re looking to fit a dishwasher in a cupboard that is higher up, you will need to use a compact dishwasher. These are generally less than 18″ in width and length, so can fit in cupboards that are elevated from the ground.
The last option is to use a portable, countertop dishwasher and store it in a cupboard. You can either keep it in there when it’s not in use, or you can let it work its magic and clean your dishes while still in the cupboard, as long as it doesn’t require a water hookup to run.
Can you fit a dishwasher under a sink?
Fitting a dishwasher under a sink is a little more tricky than under a countertop, in the cabinet or cupboard space, but it is still possible.
Again, you can fit smaller, compact dishwashers in the space underneath the sink, as long as the sink itself does not take up the room all the way down to the ground.
With some designated space, a compact dishwasher can have a permanent home there, or where a portable one can be kept.
Can you have a dishwasher off-grid?
Yes, you can have a dishwasher when you are off-grid.
You have to take into account how much water you have available and how much washing you expect to do in your tiny house kitchen.
Larger dishwashers are more water-efficient than smaller, compact dishwashers. When you’re off-grid and need to keep an eye on your water supply, then consider how big you are willing to go. If you have a considerable amount of items to wash each day, then a compact dishwasher will have to run more cycles and use more water than a larger one.
However, if you only have a small number of items to wash each day, then a compact dishwasher will be best for your off-grid tiny house as you will only need to fill it up once.
You may be thinking you can save water by just washing up your dishes by hand, but unless you wash up with superhuman speed, this won’t be the case.
If you need to fill your sink up more than once and run your faucet for more than a few minutes to rinse your dishes, then you’ll almost certainly be saving water by switching to a dishwasher. Efficient dishwashers tend to use 4 gallons of water per cycle, whereas washing dishes by hand can be more than double.
What to consider when choosing a tiny house dishwasher
In this section, we cover four important considerations you must make before deciding on a tiny house dishwasher.
1. Size and dimensions
The size and dimensions of tiny house dishwashers can vary considerably: it all depends on the amount of free cabinet space you have to work with.
Most tiny houses won’t have space for a full-size dishwasher, which are 24″ wide and 34″ tall on average.
Therefore, many people opt for either slimline, compact or portable dishwashers that can easily fit underneath countertops and in cupboards.
What is the smallest dishwasher?
The smallest dishwasher we could find was the HISSUN countertop dishwasher that measures just 17.32″ long by 16.25″ wide by 16.69″ tall.
You can discover the current price of the HISSUN countertop dishwasher here.
The next largest we were able to find was by Faberware and measures 17.3″ long by 16.5″ wide by 17.3″ tall. Although this is a difference of 240 cubic inches, when you’re dealing with very compact dishwashers, the small differences in width and height are hardly noticeable.
Being this small means that the portable dishwashers can fit neatly into many storage spaces in your tiny house kichen when not in use.
They even still offer features such as different washing settings, space for a cutlery rack and a steam option. If you’re thinking about any additional space that a water hose may require, the portable dishwasher from Faberware gives you the choice to fill the built-in tank so no hookup is needed.
Compact vs slim vs full-size dishwashers
As mentioned before, regular full-size dishwashers measure approximately 24″ wide and 34″ tall.
The next option are slim dishwashers which are for tiny kitchens where space underneath the countertop is a little limited. They can be the same height as regular dishwashers, but are slimmer and therefore not as wide. Rather than a 24″ width, slim dishwashers are typically 18″ or less.
Perhaps you have a fridge, washer-dryer, sink and cabinet space already built-in, so you can only spare room in your tiny kitchen for an 18″ wide dishwasher.
Of course, these dishwashers don’t have the same capacity as regular dishwashers. They are also less cost-effective and use more water per item to wash. However, this shouldn’t matter too much unless there are many people needing to use the dishwasher consistently.
The last option is a compact dishwasher. These can either be in-built or portable.
They are the smallest option available to tiny homeowners and generally have a similar width to slim dishwashers, but are not as tall.
We’ve spoken about the absolute smallest compact dishwashers, but they are normally less than 18″ in width and height and have more square dimensions. This makes them slightly larger than appliances such as toaster or microwave ovens.
This means they will fit well into a tiny house kitchen, either below the countertop in an in-built or hybrid set-up, or on top of the counters. They can connect to a faucet in your kitchen for their water supply.
2. Built-in vs free-standing
One important choice you have to make for your tiny house dishwasher is whether you want it to be in-built, free-standing or a mix of the two. This mainly affects how your dishwasher interacts with your kitchen in terms of its look and accessibility.
In-built or “integrated” dishwashers are where the machine has been incorporated into the kitchen design. This means it is in a designated cabinet where the front of the dishwasher looks like the other cabinet doors in your kitchen.
Having an in-built tiny house dishwasher will make your tiny kitchen look more visually pleasing (unless you prefer the look of a dishwasher below your counter) as your dishwasher is hidden behind the cabinet door.
If you go for this option, you will need to make sure you choose the right size dishwasher or cabinet dimensions for it to all fit into place.
One disadvantage is that it may be hard to tell whether the dishwasher has finished its cycle, as you will have to open the cabinet door (the front of the dishwasher) to find out.
Some tiny house dishwashers avoid this problem by shining red dots onto the floor, or by making a noise to let you know it’s finished. Hybrid dishwashers also have a way of solving this problem, as we will come on to later.
Free-standing dishwashers are the most common in tiny homes, for a variety of reasons.
They are easy to install, move and maintain. They are generally cheaper than in-built options as they are not bespoke and more widely available. You can pick up free-standing dishwashers from online stores easily.
Free-standing dishwashers in tiny houses can fit in cabinets, which means they are easy to access and pull out to either clean behind or perform maintenance on.
You could even put them in a cabinet with a door, giving the same effect as in-built dishwashers (they would not be visible unless the door is open).
Hybrid dishwashers are not fully integrated nor free-standing, hence the name.
Hybrid dishwashers in tiny homes are similar to in-built (integrated) dishwashers, in that they blend into the fixtures and give your kitchen a more streamlined look.
However, the key difference is that the very top of the dishwasher (with the control panel) is visible. This can be great news for tiny house owners, who like the look of an in-built dishwasher but want to be able to easily see how much time is left on the screen.
This means, however, that it does not entirely hide the washing machine and people will know what is behind the cabinet door.
Dishwashers now come with many handy features which set them apart from other models.
Some don’t seem useful, but they’re worth considering now (before you need them).
Cutlery rack or basket
Do you find yourself using a lot of different cutlery during cooking and mealtimes? If you live with one, two or more other people in your tiny home this can certainly be the case.
Most dishwashers (including countertop ones) have space for one cutlery rack. However, the very smallest portable dishwashers may not. Be sure to double-check this before buying.
Also, some dishwashers offer more space for cutlery than others and may offer more than one basket or rack. Baskets tend to be able to fit more than racks.
Some add-ons that can be found in more expensive dishwashers are things like wifi connectivity and adjustable settings based on how dirty your dishes are.
These can make washing dishes more convenient as you can start/stop your dishwasher with an app on your smartphone, for example.
Color and design
Of course, you want your dishwasher to look aesthetically pleasing in your kitchen. Most dishwashers come in black or stainless steel colors, however you can look around for other colors such as red, pink, blue if that’s what you prefer.
4. Cost to purchase and run
Dishwashers for tiny homes can vary in price quite considerably.
Regular dishwashers can range from $300 up to $2,000, depending on which smart features are included.
However, since many tiny homes don’t incorporate a full-size dishwasher, you probably won’t need to budget $2,000 for your dishwasher.
High quality 18″ (slim) dishwashers are less expensive compared to full-size models. They can range anywhere from $250 to $1,000.
Lastly, compact dishwashers (in-built and portable) are the least expensive, however, they are the worst value for the price. They’re priced only slightly less than 18″ slimline dishwashers, at between $200 and $500, but have considerably less space inside.
You pay more per inch for compact dishwashers, but they do have unique advantages, such as being portable.
Compact dishwashers are also less water-efficient than slim and full-size dishwashers as they use up more water per item washed.
However, they will use less water in total just because they are considerably smaller than other dishwasher models. They’re also a better alternative to washing dishes by hand, so if your water supply in your tiny home is limited, then consider using a dishwasher.