Life’s too short to spend any of it doing the dishes. However, not all of us are lucky enough to have the space for a standard size dishwasher while anyone in a rented property may prefer to choose one they can install without drastically altering the kitchen and even take with them when they move on.
If you have an area of work top to spare, a table top dishwasher – also called counter top, compact or portable – may be the answer to your washing up woes. Though they’re too small to clean bigger dishes and pans, they can certainly get your plates, cups and glasses sparkling. They also use a lot less energy than a full-size machine though performance is often just as good as the bigger version.
All these appliances will still need fresh water and a place to drain waste water. Some can be connected to a standard tap with a quick connect adapter while a second drain hose removes waste water into the sink.
In between uses, the dishwasher can be stored elsewhere although a plumber can also connect the machine to the drainage system for a more permanent solution, just as you would with a full-size model. Some machines also allow you to add water manually and drain waste water into a bucket so you can use the dishwasher anywhere you need.
Other features to look for include a drying function, a rinse aid dispenser to make sure your glasses come out squeaky clean and rapid or intensive cycles. Consider the number of place settings the machine can hold and make sure you measure carefully before buying as some models still take up considerable space on the worktop.
How we tested
We installed a range of tabletop dishwashers in our own home to see how they fared cleaning dirty dishes over several days, looking particularly for streak-free glasses, cups without coffee stains and plates that came out gleaming. These are the machines that really cleaned up.
The best table top dishwashers for 2022 are:
Best overall – Bosch serie 4 freestanding compact dishwasher SKS62E32EU: £509, Appliancesdirect.co.uk
Best for drying – Zanussi ZDM17301WA table top dishwasher: £429, Amazon.co.uk
Best for those living alone – Klarstein aquatica 54.5cm countertop dishwasher: £282.50, Wayfair.co.uk
Best for awkward spaces – Comfee mini plus dishwasher TD305-W compact table top dishwasher: £289.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best budget buy – ElectriQ freestanding mini table top dishwasher with glass front: £209.97, Appliancesdirect.co.uk
Best looking – Russell Hobbs RHTTTDW6B table top dishwasher: £259.99, Robertdyas.co.uk
Bosch serie 4 freestanding compact dishwasher SKS62E32EU
It’s not the cheapest option but this tabletop dishwasher from Bosch is just as good as other full-size models from the brand known for its reliable appliances. Though it needs connecting to a water supply, it’s simple to operate and we didn’t feel like we were getting the second-best option just because we’d opted for a smaller size.
It has a delay timer, adjustable plate spikes on the lower basket and a powerful jet action to remove burnt on food, plus the quick dry setting takes just half an hour if you’re in a hurry. There’s also rinse aid and salt level indicators while the automatic programmes calculate the right wash cycle for your dishes to save water and energy.
If you’d rather take control of the cleaning, there’s a pre-rinse setting, a glass programme and an intensive cycle that worked a treat on dried on scrambled eggs and bolognese stains. We were particularly impressed by the extra dry option which left our cups and plates cupboard-ready straight from the machine. This was easily one of the best drying cycles we tested and hands down the most impressive compact dishwasher overall.
Buy now £509.00, Appliancesdirect.co.uk
Zanussi ZDM17301WA table top dishwasher
This is on the large side compared to some of the most compact dishwashers we tested so it’s worth measuring carefully before buying if you’re short on space. It will also need connecting to the water supply. However, its performance is on a par with a bigger machine and it will look good in any kitchen with its digital timer and glossy white door.
There are five wash programmes including glass care and economy plus an intensive setting which really improved results. We were especially wowed by the quick wash setting which whizzes through a cycle in just 20 minutes, perfect if you need dishes in a hurry or have several loads to get through. The machine uses the heat created to get everything bone dry too and we were surprised this even worked wonders on those dishes that tend to collect water in nooks and crannies. We’d have loved a pre-rinse function to shift burnt on food but otherwise, this is a great all-rounder for any smaller household.
Buy now £429.00, Amazon.co.uk
Klarstein aquatica 54.5cm countertop dishwasher
Don’t think living alone means you’re doomed to always have to wash up after you’ve eaten. This weeny appliance would sit neatly in any kitchen and is perfect in student accommodation, camper vans and flats where space is tight. There’s no need for a fixed water connection either as water can be manually filled and drained if it’s not possible to connect to the supply. Height adjustable feet means it can sit almost anywhere too.
It comfortably fits in two place settings and we were impressed by how clean and dry everything came out, especially when we used the intensive mode to ensure every last scrap of dirt was washed away. There’s also a fast mode and an eco setting, which rinses at lower temperatures and saves energy. Using just 5l of water per wash cycle makes this a particularly economical machine all round though. Just be warned it’s not the speediest, taking nearly two and a half hours on the standard programme.
While this washer is not available at the moment, you can sign up to be notified when it’s back in stock.
Buy now £282.50, Wayfair.co.uk
Comfee mini plus dishwasher TD305-W compact table top dishwasher
If you’re renting, have a caravan or need a dishwasher somewhere it’s not possible to fiddle with the pipework, this is a great option. Even if there’s no water supply available, it can be filled manually from a jug or attached to a kitchen tap while waste water can be drained directly into a sink or even a bucket.
We were surprised just how much it fit inside given its teeny size too. There’s a large rack to fit plates up to 27cm and an adjustable cup rack so we comfortably squeezed the promised three place settings, without compromising on cleaning quality. It looks neat out on the counter top thanks to the glass window on the front and an easy-to-use control panel and has some impressive functions we didn’t expect in such a diddy machine. There’s a 24 hour delay timer, a 58 minute quick wash cycle and a delicate glass care setting which brought ours up super shiny. The 72C hygiene cycle is also ideal for heavily soiled items and baby’s bottles while the door pops open at the end for efficient drying.
Buy now £289.99, Amazon.co.uk
ElectriQ freestanding mini table top dishwasher with glass front
The great price of this titchy appliance doesn’t mean you have to skimp on functions. Though it’s so tiny it easily fits on a worktop or squeezes into the smallest cupboard, it still has three wash programmes including eco, one hour and rapid for when you just can’t wait. Even more impressively, there’s a steam function, a baby care programme to sterilise bottles and even a fruit wash programme if you’re being super lazy and can’t be bothered washing your own fruit.
It would be ideal for a couple or someone living alone and can be used almost anywhere as it’s possible to fill the tank manually rather than connecting it to the water supply – it even comes with the jug to do it. It’s a little on the noisy side and drying takes a long time but we were delighted by its reliable washing performance which never failed to get our dishes clean.
Buy now £209.97, Appliancesdirect.co.uk
Russell Hobbs RHTTTDW6B table top dishwasher
Dishwashers may not have the most exciting appearance but this sleek black Russell Hobbs model was easily the best looking of all we tested. Fitting up to six place settings, it must be connected to the water supply and is larger than some models so requires a decent amount of space, but definitely earns its stripes once there.
There are six programmes to choose from including a rapid half an hour wash and a glass setting if you want everything sparkling. We tended to stick to the universal setting which was powerful enough for dried on food but also brought our glasses up a treat. It even managed to deal with bowls used for porridge – every dishwasher’s biggest challenge. There’s a rinse aid and salt indicator so you can be sure you’re always getting the best performance and the delay timer is handy for setting the wash to start whenever suits you.
Buy now £259.99, Robertdyas.co.uk
The verdict: Tabletop dishwashers
The Bosch serie 4 freestanding compact dishwasher SKS62E32EU is a top-performing investment that will put an end to the dreaded sink of dirty dishes forever. If you live alone and would prefer a cheaper model that takes up less room, go for the Klarstein aquatica 54.5cm countertop dishwasher instead.
For larger spaces, we’ve also reviewed the 10 best standard dishwashers