Where to Put a Dishwasher in a Small Kitchen – Places Picked by Professionals


Installing a dishwasher in a small kitchen can seem daunting, but with some strategic planning, it is very possible. The key is finding the right spot that won’t disrupt workflow or make the space feel even more cramped. Professional kitchen designers have clever solutions for fitting dishwashers into tiny kitchens in optimal ways.

This article will cover the top recommended spots for placing a dishwasher in a small kitchen, as chosen by interior designers, contractors, and architects. We’ll look at the pros and cons of each location, along with tips for installing and maximizing space. Read on to discover the best places for your dishwasher in a small kitchen!

Under the Sink

One of the most popular spots for a dishwasher in a compact kitchen is right under the sink. This location keeps the appliance tucked neatly out of the way without protruding into the limited floor space.


  • Utilizes unused space under the sink plumbing
  • Keeps floor clear of appliances
  • Dishwasher is close to water hookups


  • Requires custom cabinetry work
  • Stooping down to load lower racks can be uncomfortable

If your current sink cabinet is standard size, you will need to have it modified to fit your dishwasher. Opt for a panel-ready model with afront controls so that the dishwasher door can be covered with a cabinet panel for a seamless look. Consider lowering the countertop slightly if the sink’s plumbing allows for this.

Many homeowners find this extra work worthwhile for the floor space and storage gained. This spot also makes unloading clean dishes convenient since they are right by the cabinets. Just be mindful of bending down often when using a dishwasher positioned below the sink.

In a Base Corner Cabinet

Tucking a slim dishwasher into a corner base cabinet is another smart workaround often used in small kitchens. This location saves precious floor area and keeps the appliance hidden behind a cabinet door when not in use.


  • Frees up floor space
  • Concealed by cabinetry when not in use
  • Permanent installation; no need to roll out


  • Limited capacity dishwasher sizes
  • Not easily accessible

The key to this approach is selecting an apartment-sized dishwasher (typically 18″) that will fit into a standard corner base cabinet. Look for models with a front control panel and choose a low-profile handle to maintain a streamlined look when installed. The cabinets will need some minor customization for proper ventilation and to secure the dishwasher into place.

While not as convenient to operate as a full-size, standalone unit, an 18” dishwasher tucked into a corner maximizes room for other appliances and furniture. Just be prepared to open the cabinet door to access your dishwasher.

Between the Fridge and Wall

For galley kitchens, installing a dishwasher between the refrigerator and wall is an optimal use of tight space. The skinny area next to the fridge is often underutilized and can neatly fit a slim dishwasher.


  • Makes use of awkward gap next to fridge
  • Leaves floor and countertops open
  • Easy to access


  • Limited capacity size
  • Can make fridge difficult to move/replace

A standard width fridge paired with an 18″ dishwasher allows for sufficient clearance between the two appliances. You’ll gain a conveniently located dishwasher without losing any precious prep or storage areas.

Just note that the dishwasher will need to be installed securely and plumbed into place. This makes moving or replacing the refrigerator more challenging down the road. But if you don’t anticipate doing so anytime soon, then this is an ideal spot to tuck away your dishwasher.

On Top of Base Cabinets Against Wall

Installing a portable dishwasher on top of lower cabinets against a wall is a quick fix for small kitchens. The dishwasher can be rolled out of the way when not running, freeing up floor space.


  • Frees up floor area when not in use
  • Movable and removable
  • Fits with standard cabinet height


  • Must connect/disconnect hoses to use
  • No custom paneling option
  • Not as secure when running

Look for portable dishwashers designed for countertop use that include rollers, a quick connect faucet adapter, and secure straps. When ready to use, the dishwasher can be rolled out and hooked up to the kitchen faucet. Hoses and electrical cords stay neatly tucked away the rest of the time.

While not as permanent a solution, setting a portable dishwasher on your cabinets allows you to keep floor space clear. Just take care to properly brace the dishwasher when running so vibrations don’t cause it to tip or scratch your countertops.

Built Into Tall Cabinetry Against Wall

For a more permanent option than a portable model, consider installing a countertop dishwasher into added tall cabinetry against a wall or galley end. This custom solution makes use of vertical space instead of horizontal.


  • Doesn’t take up counter or floor space
  • Can customize cabinetry to fit
  • Provides added storage


  • Requires cabinet modifications
  • Stooping down to load
  • Professional installation needed

Having a contractor build floor-to-ceiling cabinets with your dishwasher installed into them is the ideal built-in solution. Opt for a countertop dishwasher with front controls so that the cabinet door can conceal it. Include shelves above and below for storing dishes, soap, towels, etc.

While this is one of the more expensive and labor-intensive options, the results are a seamlessly integrated dishwasher and extra storage. Just account for needing to squat down to load and unload your dishes.

On Wheels to Roll Out of Sink Cabinet

For a movable but hidden dishwasher solution, choose a model with wheels that can easily roll in and out of a base sink cabinet. Keep it stowed away when not in use, then simply unlock the wheels and slide it out during dishwasher running times.


  • Concealed behind cabinet door
  • Doesn’t take up permanent floor space
  • Quick and easy to roll in/out


  • Must kneel down to load lower rack
  • Can be tricky maneuvering out
  • Potential for leaks if not connected properly

Look for roll-out dishwasher drawers that are designed to fit under standard kitchen sinks. They should have easy-rolling wheels, a customized panel front to match cabinets, and short but sturdy hoses for pulling out.

This setup gives you a hidden dishwasher that’s easily accessible. Just be very careful when pulling it out so hoses don’t get kinked or wear down over time, avoiding leaks. Kneeling mats can make unloading the lower rack more comfortable.

Undercountertop Models

Finally, for very small kitchens, installing a compact undercounter dishwasher that fits below your countertop and next to the sink is an excellent solution. These tiny models are specifically designed for small spaces.


  • Very small footprint to tuck into tight spaces
  • Convenient undercounter installation
  • Affordable compact models available


  • Limited capacity and cycle options
  • Undercounter installation required

Look for undercounter dishwashers around 17″ high that can fit below most standard counter heights. They should have customizable panels to match your cabinets seamlessly. Stick to basic models, as higher-end ones with too many bells and whistles won’t be necessary.

While they hold fewer dishes per load and have limited settings, these petite models are the perfect size for small kitchens. You’ll gain function without compromising your precious space.

How to Make the Most of Your Small Kitchen Dishwasher

Once you’ve determined the optimal spot, use these tips to make the most out of your compact dishwasher:

  • Select the right size: Carefully measure your space and purchase the appropriately sized dishwasher to suit it.
  • Customize with panels: Opt for panel-ready models that can blend seamlessly with cabinet fronts for a built-in look.
  • Consider your needs: Do you need a permanent install or portable version? Lots of cycles or a basic model? Be realistic about which features you require.
  • Adjust racks as needed: Raise or lower racks to accommodate larger cookware items. Look for adjustable or customizable rack designs.
  • Don’t overload: Only run full loads and use suggested dish configurations to maximize cleaning in a smaller machine.
  • Keep sink clear: Maintain open sink space for easy handwashing; don’t clutter with a dish drying rack.
  • Air dry dishes: Utilize cabinet space or install extra shelving for dish drying to keep the small countertop clear.
  • Clean often: Frequently wipe out interior, clean filters, and de-lime to keep the dishwasher fresh and prevent buildup.

FAQs About Installing Dishwashers in Compact Kitchens

Q: Can you put a dishwasher in a small kitchen?

Yes, absolutely! With some smart planning and strategic positioning, there are many great options for fitting a dishwasher even in a tiny or galley kitchen. The key is selecting the right sized model and finding a spot that works with your space and storage needs.

Q: What is the smallest dishwasher size?

The smallest standard dishwashers are 18 inches wide, known as apartment-sized models. Even more compact are countertop dishwashers that can be as small as 17 inches high to fit below most counter heights. Portable dishwashers are also very small options.

Q: Should I get a portable dishwasher?

Portable dishwashers that can roll around on wheels or be stored on countertops when not in use are great options for small kitchens. They free up valuable floor space and can easily be moved in and out of tight spots. Just be aware that hooking up to the sink is required for each use.

Q: Can you put a dishwasher next to the sink?

Yes, a dishwasher can be installed right next to the sink base cabinet. This is a convenient option for quick unloading and access to water lines. Just be sure to measure that you have adequate room for the dishwasher door to open without hitting the sink or other appliances.

Q: Should I get a dishwasher drawer?

Dishwasher drawers that pull out from below sink cabinets offer another good option for small kitchens. They roll out when you need them but tuck away out of sight when closed. The separated upper and lower racks also make loading and unloading easier.

Final Takeaways

Maximizing limited space when installing a dishwasher in a small kitchen takes strategic planning and positioning. But hidden spots under and inside cabinets, narrow gaps, portable models, and mini sizes make it very achievable.

Focus on selecting the right dishwasher size and features for your specific small kitchen layout. Then utilize professional tips, like the locations covered here, for the optimal placement. With some customization and compromise, even the tiniest kitchen can benefit from a space-saving dishwasher.