Is an Under Sink Dishwasher the Right Solution?

An under sink dishwasher uses the often-awkward space under the kitchen sink.  Here we bring you the results of our research into this type of small dishwasher…

An under sink dishwasher is different from an in-sink dishwasher.  The second type fits in the bowl of the sink. 

Unfortunately this type of apartment size dishwasher is no longer available.

There are online forums where people say putting a dishwasher under a sink just isn’t possible.   The usual reaction to the concept is: “You must be NUTs thinking you can install a dishwasher in that tight spot”. 

They’ve obviously never heard of the Spacemaker product range available from GE.  Or some of the other alternatives we discuss below. 

Compact Dishwasher for a Small Space

As far as we can find, GE is the only manufacturer who makes a dishwasher specifically designed to go under the sink.  

So, what are some useful things to know about these products?

  • Firstly, they are smaller than standard size models.  They are designed with a ‘cut out’ area to make room for the sink pipe fittings.  Right after opening of the door, the roof drops down about 5 inches, and then about half way back it drops down another 5 inches or so. 
  • The dishwashers sit flush with the bottom of the countertop.  The ‘inset dip’ isn’t visible from the front, so it has a standard door and looks like a normal dishwasher (see picture).
  • The top rack is flat at the back where it goes under the sink.  Consumers have reported that it’s fine for large utensils or shallow containers. 
  • You’ll need to order one of these dishwashers specially.  They are readily available from online retailers, but most appliance stores don’t have them in stock. 
  • If you want one, measure, measure and measure again!  You must be accurate with the depth of your countertop and sink.  GE says the under sink dishwasher fits under the shallow side of a standard sink.  However, there’s a lot of variation in ‘standard’ these days; some users have reported it will only fit under a shallower than usual sink.

All in all, this dishwasher from GE is a great idea to maximize cabinet space in a small kitchen.  And if you have no size lee-way in a tiny apartment, you may have few other options. 

However, there are some things to think about before you decide this is right for you:

  • Finding someone who knows how to install one of these dishwashers may not be straightforward.  We found a comment online from a dishwasher installer that he went 25 years without seeing these GE under sink dishwashers, and had no idea they were out there.        
  • You need to carefully consider your sink requirements.  A farmhouse sink isn’t possible … nor is a really deep sink.  GE sells a compatible sink model with the dishwasher if you want to be certain your sink and dishwasher will work together. 
  • GE says the Spacemaker models can only be installed under sinks and not under other appliances like cooktops.

If you still really want a dishwasher under the sink, before you head out to buy one of the GE models, it’s worth considering a few other options …

Other Mini Dishwasher Alternatives

First, you could use the under-sink space for a single drawer dishwasher.  Typically this will come at an extra cost to modify your plumbing.  We’re not plumbing experts.  However, we read on one website that you need to have the waste pipe from the sink p-trapped to inside the wall or into an adjacent cabinet, which may not be cheap.   And drawer dishwashers aren’t low in cost either.  

However, many people who have this style of dishwasher report being very happy with it – the general opinion seems to be that it looks great and is a good option for kitchens where the only place for a dishwasher is under the sink.  One reviewer indicated she has a large drawer between the sink and the single drawer dishwasher, which sounds like a great solution for storing detergent and other supplies.

The other option is to install a table top dishwasher under the sink.  However, please be aware that this is likely to void the manufacturer’s warranty (see Edgestar tech support article).  We think this is because your plumber may need to modify the countertop dishwasher to build it in, as they aren’t designed for permanent installation.  So ask lots of questions if you want to do this to be sure it works correctly. One Q&A we read online said most counter tops can be put under a sink, with the usual arrangement being to drain to the garbage disposal.  But there is a requirement to make sure the unit you buy comes with an internal pump that is strong enough to dispel the drainage water high enough to drain into the garbage disposal.

A Practical Perspective

So there you have the main options for under sink dishwashers. 

Our last word on the topic is to think about the practical aspects of using the dishwasher.  Often people load a dishwasher via the sink.  That is, they rinse plates and silverware under the tap first.  If this is how you like to work, how are you going to rinse dishes in the sink and load the dishwasher if you are standing in front of the door?  Standing to the side of the dishwasher to load could be difficult.  Because of this, some users have reported that an under sink dishwasher is neither convenient nor useful. 

Having a dishwasher beside the sink is certainly better ergonomic design.  However, if your choices are between a compact dishwasher, or no dishwasher at all due to space limitations, an under sink model may be just perfect for you. 

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