Talk me out of an 18" dishwasher. (or into it)

I am currently redesigning my kitchen in a 1930’s Midwestern USA house. The kitchen has a decent floor area but the floor plan is oddly restrictive.

My space next to the sink is such that I can either have a standard 24" dishwasher next to the sink and a slightly weird cabinet adjacent to it, or I could have an 18 inch dishwasher at 45 degrees flanked by two small but reasonably sized cabinet doors (or drawers), although the 45 degree plan would dictate a somewhat shallow custom counter depth on the flanks (like 18-20 inches).

I think I would be more proud of the accomplishment of building the angled design, and I think the ergonomics would be optimal.

But I’m not sure about the smaller dishwasher. I have never used a smaller one. It seems like it would be enough for my small family and still plenty helpful for gatherings.

EssentialNPC ,

I would strongly encourage you to get standard-sized appliances, especially for ones that slot into a specific space like a dishwasher.

We recently needed to buy a new refrigerator. Our opening could not take a standard 36" French door fridge - or must be either a single-door 36" or a French door 33". Neither of those are the current standard. While on the surface there are several models that could work in this space, it quickly became clear that we have virtually no options. Fancy ice maker? Not available. Door-in-door? Nope! Multiple interior layout options? Hah, no!

It turns out that companies only make significant options in the most common size. Thinking that you do not care about those options? I believe that you do not want them now. That may well change in the future, and then you will be stuck. A family’s needs change as everyone ages, and the things that feel great now may not be good choices for you later. Flexibility is king when it comes to long term planning.

ikidd , avatar

Dishwashers have become terrible for longevity and parts quickly become obsolete; be able to replace it inexpensively by sticking with a standard size.

recapitated OP ,

I’m “borrowing” a 20-something-year-old Maytag (24in) that I bought from habitat restore, to test my kitchen mock up, and honestly it works great.

I’ll probably just polish it up and fix a door pulley and call it a day.

CosmicGiraffe ,

I’d question whether the 45 degree option will really be optimal ergonomically. It’ll mean that it’s harder to get at the dishwasher racks from the sides while they’re pulled out (since there’s a cabinet door at a 45 degree angle to them). Particularly for loading the back of the rack, that’ll mean reaching relatively far.

I have a dishwasher next to the sink, and I tend to load it from the side standing in front of the sink. If it was at 45 degrees the door would open so that I couldn’t stand in front of the sink while it was open.

Obviously I haven’t seen your floor plan, so there’s maybe something I’m missing, but I don’t see how a 45 degree angle could make the ergonomics better.

recapitated OP ,

Yeah this is a really excellent point thank you. I was actually thinking about ergonomics of the workspace above, but the bending, twisting and reaching is going to be an issue.

I can see how the 45deg plan could make the racks less accessible, especially for the shorter armed members of my house.

Even if loading from the front was equivalent to loading from the side, my plan would encourage you to load from the corner, which is probably not great.

z00s ,

Look… Don’t do it man. I know it seems like the only option but just think of your family. There’s lots of people that love you and you have a lot to live for. Just put down the dishwasher and we can talk about it

Mike85k ,

We only had an option to add an 18" to our kitchen. We’re a family of 4 and it works well enough for us. We run it most days and twice on particularly heavy days. For us it was absolutely worth it and prevents constant arguments about having to hand wash dishes. 18"s are definitely less common than 24", but it’s not like it’s an obsolete or custom size, your going to be able to find them if needed.

TheBest ,

We were almost literally in the exact same scenario and era of home. We went with an 18", our first dishwasher in 8 years.

My girlfriend and I cook a LOT, so we make way too many dishes. On a bad day I fill up the dishwasher before my sink is empty and have to hand wash a few extra plates. I usually avoid putting pots and pans in there, honestly it doesn’t fit well with much else in the bottom row if you have that utensil thing in place.

If you only use a couple plates and a mug or two a day, its really easy to just put it in the dishwasher Instead of the sink and when full just hit CLEAN.

Was it worth it… I guess? How much do you hate dishes. Anything more than 2 people probably go bigger.

redcalcium ,

Which one would you use the most, the dishwasher or the cabinet?

recapitated OP ,

That is a great angle for a design question.

I think I, the person, will open the dishwasher door and interact with its contents more frequently than any base cabinet. But any cabinet that has stuff in it is being used perpetually.

So I think the question is where is the best equilibrium of value; volume of dirty dish space or volume of clean stuff space.

The way I see things now is that my family of three produces one drying rack worth of hand washed dishes per day, which is a smaller volume than an 18inch dishwasher.

On the other hand, the layout with the 24" washer and 90 degree cabinet configuration wastes less space than the 18" one at a 45 degree angle, but it also has less aesthetic (and ergonomic) appeal.

Another consideration is the cabinet design is hugely simplified in the 24" option, and as a “beginner” “cabinet maker” (ie someone who will do it exactly once in their life), that might be a less risky bet.

redcalcium ,

I got the feeling that the other commenter is right, that you’ll hate it, every day going forward:

Choose dishwasher over cabinet: every time you don’t use the dishwasher’s full capacity, you’ll wonder why you didn’t go with extra cabinet space instead

Chose extra cabinet space over dishwasher: every time your dirty dishes are too much for your dishwasher, you’ll wonder why you didn’t go with bigger dishwasher instead

Nougat ,

If you choose any dishwasher, spend the extra money and get one that's quiet. The cheapest ones are so loud that you can't really enjoy anything else while they're running. I'm willing to bet that quiet 18" dishwashers are pretty hard to come by.

recapitated OP ,

On the concern of replacing an 18" dishwasher if it fails - I see a variety of brands and models from a variety of retailers that are available within the week. The 18" size is not standard but it is also not so rare that I think replacement would be a concern.

I’m sure this will change when I get used to it, but I see a dishwasher as a luxury, I don’t think I’ll be too upset if I have to wash dishes for one week.

I think my main concern is really limited to whether the size is large enough and whether the machines available are of an acceptable quality.

tjhart85 , avatar

Dishwashers are a luxury, but they also use a LOT less water than you'll use manually washing dishes and (as long as you clean their filters and use the right detergent) generally do about as well as a bored person doing the dishes will do (ie every now and then you'll find one with gunk but not too frequently).

Personally, my household has 3 adults and I would go for the full size dishwasher and figure something else out for storage ... It's also possible the smaller ones might be perfect for baking sheets and whatnot. If you haven't, try to do a mock layout with painters/masking tape and see what you can make fit in that space to try and help with planning, if you can.

With all that said, worst case scenario if no one wants to manually wash dishes, you have to run it twice in one day, every now and then, which doesn't seem horrible.

OhmsLawn ,

We are two people and run the dishwasher every 2-3 days, but it’s really nice to go lazy and throw a pot or pan in there, along with a few plates. You’re not gonna get away with that if you go with the little dishwasher.

Also, you’re basically using the same amount of energy and water either way. Probably less for the larger one if you compare them full.

JoMomma ,

You’ll hate it, every day

recapitated OP ,

Every day? Why do you say that?

JoMomma ,

Because it will fill up, every day

mipadaitu ,

If it was me, I’d go with a cabinet install that allows for a 24" dishwasher. That’s the standard size, and you might have trouble replacing a broken 18" dishwasher in the future.

NewNewAccount ,

18” dishwashers are still very easy to get ahold of. I’ve recently replaced one and while I had more limited options compared to 24”, there were still dozens to choose from.

MashedPotatoJeff ,

I’ve gotten some good deals on lightly used 24" dishwashers. I’ve never seen an 18" come up, though I’m sure they’re out there. I think I paid about 50% of MSRP on my current one that has been very good to me.

I see lots of people saying there are plenty of 18"s, and I’m sure that’s true if you buy them new. I guess I just wanted to agree with you and share my experience.

bigbadmoose ,

I recomend going with standard sizes. Take a quick look at local 2nd hand marketplaces. I have a hunch it would be harder to replace in a pinch

wildbus8979 ,

We’re only two people in our household… We we easily run the full size dishwasher every two to two hand a half day. When we have gatherings of friends and family here, we often have to do two if not three loads. YMMV

recapitated OP ,

I think I imagine myself running the washer daily, and washing a couple oddball dishes here and there.

I’m in my 40s and I’m getting my first dishwasher, so I’m used to needing to do a load at the sink for a half hour a day.

If I understand things right, my drying rack seems like it would be smaller than an 18" washer, so for the day to day operations (the time that really stacks up fast), running daily would still be a major improvement.

That said, I know how convenience is compelling, so the big question is do I want the added luxury of 6 inches wide haha… I don’t know.

cestvrai ,

The apartment we bought came with an old 18” dishwasher.

We run it daily with two adults and it works great. Even though you need to run it more often, it’s takes less time to empty than a full size.

For our current layout it makes a lot of sense but would want a full size if the family grows.

If I was single I would prefer the smaller format. I find it kinda nasty to have my dirty dishes standing for many days.

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