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What are the types of dishwashers?

With so many different types of dishwashers available, it can be overwhelming to find the one that’s right for your household. Look for a dishwasher that offers the features you need in a style that fits your home. Below, we cover many of the different types of dishwashers and their benefits, so you can find a dishwasher that best fits your needs.

Different types of dishwashers by installation Different types of dishwashers by installation

Types of dishwashers by installation

Your standard, built-in dishwasher is typically installed using a permanent connection to your home’s plumbing. However, you can also find portable dishwashers that don’t need a special connection and just use the kitchen sink faucet. Read our guide on the differences between portable vs. built-in dishwashers to learn more.

Select a type of dishwasher to learn more:

Built-in dishwasher Built-in dishwasher

Built-in or undercounter

Built-in or undercounter dishwashers are the most common type of dishwasher. They typically come in two different sizes, the standard 24-inch dishwasher, and a more compact 18-inch wide variety. They come with unfinished sides, because they typically slide in between cabinets underneath a countertop.


  • Takes up no counter space and minimal floor space 

  • Usually have more features than portable models such as specialized washing and drying settings, larger capacities than portable options, and sometimes even a third rack

  • You can use your kitchen sink and run your dishwasher at the same time because they do not require a faucet connection

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Portable dishwashers

Great for people who live in small spaces like city apartments, trailers or RV’s, portable dishwashers are best for when kitchen space is limited. They don’t require their own plumbing connection, instead they rely on a faucet adapter that connects to the sink. There are different model sizes available, including the standard 24-inch, a more compact 18-inch, as well as smaller countertop models. Learn more about how a portable dishwasher works.


  • Since they don’t need a permanent setup, you can take your portable dishwasher wherever you move
  • Can provide additional countertop space as many portable dishwashers have a wooden butcher block-type surface 
  • Typically offers a lower price point than their built-in counterparts

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Integrated or panel-ready dishwashers

Another built-in style, these types of dishwashers let you add a more personalized look to your kitchen. Panel-ready dishwashers are compatible with customized exteriors that you can match to cabinetry for a more streamlined look than traditional dishwashers. They do require plumbing installation, so they need a permanent space within your kitchen.


  • You can create a cohesive look with existing cabinetry 

  • Can soften up your space because they don’t have the more industrial look of typical dishwashers

  • Typically offer similar features as other built-in dishwashers so you can find one that fits your family’s needs

 Kitchen with dishwasher showing width measurement range  Kitchen with dishwasher showing width measurement range

Types of dishwashers by size

When purchasing a new dishwasher, you’ll want to consider the size of your household as well as the space that you have in your kitchen. While the standard size for portable or built-in dishwashers tend to be 24 inches wide, you can also find more compact sizes like 18-inch wide models or smaller, as well as oversized and tall tub dishwashers for larger capacities. To learn how to measure the space for your new dishwasher, this guide to dishwasher dimensions will show you what size dishwasher you need. To explore other considerations when choosing the right appliance, read about quiet dishwashers.

Select a dishwasher size to learn more:

Standard size dishwashers

The standard size for a built-in dishwasher is roughly 24 inches wide by 24 inches deep and 35 inches tall. You’ll find various models that offer different features like delayed start, quick cycles and even third racks.


  • As the most common size for dishwashers, you’ll find plenty of variety in features, finishes and price points  

  • Ideal for bigger families that go through dishes quickly and cook often 

  • While you may sacrifice on under cabinet space, you’ll keep counter space intact

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Small or compact dishwasher

For small spaces that don’t have a ton of room, compact dishwashers can be a good option. They can still offer the same features as full-capacity dishwashers, but with a smaller footprint. Measurements for compact dishwashers are typically 18 inches wide, 24 inches deep, and 35 inches tall, though it may vary by model.


  • Though there isn’t as big of a selection as standard-sized dishwashers, you can still find them in a variety of styles and finishes 

  • Depending on model and features, compact dishwashers may be priced lower than some full-sized models

  • They provide the functionality of a standard-size dishwasher, without having to sacrifice as much lower cabinet space.

Shop Whirlpool® Compact Dishwashers

Large capacity dishwashers

While most standard-sized dishwashers can fit an average of 12 place settings, larger capacity dishwashers can usually fit at least 14 place settings, if not more. While some are the standard 24 inches in width, others come in oversized widths ranging from 30-42 inches wide.


  • Can come with a third rack option that allows for more dishes and utensils to be loaded into the dishwasher, like Whirlpool® 3rd Rack Dishwashers that that fit extra mugs and bowls

  • Best for larger families or if you entertain often 

  • Since they can fit more, you could potentially run your dishwasher less often and fit oversized serving platters

Shop Whirlpool® Large Capacity Dishwashers

Dishwasher options by location of controls

Dishwashers typically come in two different styles based on the location of the control panel: front control dishwashers and top control dishwashers. They both offer different features and benefits and the one you pick is purely a personal preference.

Select control location to learn more:

Close up of front control dishwasher panel Close up of front control dishwasher panel

Front control dishwashers

Front control dishwashers are, like the name suggests, dishwashers that have their control panels facing frontward so that you can see all the buttons and screen at first glance. They typically have a recessed or integrated pocket handle below the controls of the dishwasher, as opposed to a front-facing handle.


  • Cycle indicator screen or light is usually visible, so you don’t have to open the dishwasher to see how much time you have left 

  • Can be more budget friendly than top control dishwashers 

  • Buttons are more accessible

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Close up of top control dishwasher panel Close up of top control dishwasher panel

Top control dishwashers

Top control dishwashers are designed with control panels hidden away on top of the dishwasher door. The control buttons are not visible when the dishwasher door is closed for a minimal, sleek look.


  • Some offer handles that also double as towel racks 

  • Gives a more seamless and integrated look to your kitchen 

  • Panel-ready models are available in this style

Shop Whirlpool® Top Control Dishwashers

Dishwasher types by features

Besides capacity, one of the most important parts of picking a dishwasher is the features it offers. Depending on the model, you may find dishwashers that feature third racks, stainless steel tubs or even soil sensors, among others.

Select a dishwasher feature to learn more:

Third rack dishwashers

Dishwashers that offer third racks can boost the number of items that you can wash in one cycle. They can also have adjustable second racks for items that are taller or bulkier like pitchers, serving ware or cookware.


  • The convenience of a third rack allows you to place silverware, serving utensils and other awkwardly-shaped items into the dishwasher more comfortably

  • Some models have deeper third racks that can give you additional room for small bowls or mugs 

  • They are becoming increasingly popular, so you may be able to find a dishwasher with a third rack within your budget

Shop Whirlpool® Third Rack Dishwashers

Stainless steel tub dishwashers

While standard dishwashers usually have a plastic tub, higher end models can come with a stainless steel tub. Stainless steel tubs are a durable option for heavy usage.


  • Stainless steel is a durable material  

  • Retains heat better, so may be more efficient in cleaning and drying dishes

  • Runs a quieter wash cycle than standard plastic tub dishwashers

Dishwasher options by finish

As varied as dishwasher features and sizes are, there’s even more variety to be found among dishwasher finishes. You can find them in black, white, stainless steel and black stainless among other options, so you’re bound to find a dishwasher that not only satisfies your kitchen needs but also your aesthetic.

Click to view different dishwasher finishes:

Click to explore dishwashers by finish

Black dishwashers

  • A classic choice that’s always in style

  • A versatile color that complements various styles 

  • Helps ground lighter kitchens

Click to explore dishwashers by finish

White dishwashers

  • A popular color with many options across price points

  • A neutral option that integrates well with a range of styles

  • Brightens up your kitchen

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Stainless steel dishwashers

  • Goes well with just about any material or finish

  • Available in a variety of shades and tints to match your style

  • Fingerprint resistant finishes available from Whirlpool brand for an easy-to-clean option

Click to explore dishwashers by finish

Black stainless dishwashers

  • A contemporary take on a classic finish

  • Offers a softer feel than traditional stainless steel

  • Fingerprint resistant finishes available from Whirlpool brand for an easy-to-clean option

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