What to Look For
Just because you've got a small kitchen doesn't mean you can't have a nice dishwasher. Many options don't even require a permanent installation.
18-inch Dishwashers Popular in small kitchens, they're six inches narrower than a traditional 24-inch unit. Due to their small size, it may be necessary to run smaller washes more often.
Dish Drawers These half-height dishwashers can be installed where space is tight, though they only offer a fraction of the capacity of larger units.
Full-size Portable Dishwashers Available in 24-inch and 18-inch widths, these dishwashers are installed in a sturdy cabinet and therefore don't need permanent installation. They connect to a kitchen faucet and drain into the kitchen sink when in use. Because no wiring or plumbing changes are necessary, these are a good choice in apartments where a landlord won't allow structural changes to a kitchen. However, they can be much more expensive than their built-in counterparts and preclude the use of the kitchen sink for as long as they're running.
Countertop Portable Dishwashers These units can wash a few place settings at a time, usually up to four. Some easily store on a shelf or in a cabinet, while others can't be moved as easily and will probably take up valuable counter space. Most are larger than a microwave. Portable dishwashers usually use less water than hand-washing, and some even heat the water enough to sanitize the dishes.