Dish Drawer Vs. Dishwasher: What Are The Major Differences?

Matthew Mountain
by Matthew Mountain

Every homeowner knows that cleaning dishes is something that has to be done every day, but that doesn’t mean you only have to clean dishes by hand. This is why dishwashers are such a useful appliance.

But the standard dishwasher may sometime soon give way to the dish drawer, a more modern take on the traditional dishwasher. In this article, the dish drawer and dishwasher will be compared, and by the end you’ll know which appliance is best for you.

The dish drawer is more space-saving than the standard dishwasher, but it doesn’t have as much capacity as the latter appliance. For this reason, two dish drawers will be needed to match the capacity of the standard dishwasher. Dish drawers are more expensive than dishwashers, but they do consume less water and energy.

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What Is A Dish Drawer?

If you have a small kitchen, then the single dish drawer may be for you. They only occupy a small bit of cabinet space, and they’re usually between 24 and 36 inches wide while being only 19 inches tall.

But if your dishwasher needs are considerable, you may be better off with two dish drawers. Combined, they take up about as much space as a standard dishwasher, and each drawer is independent.

One advantage of this configuration is that you can wash a small load and not use a lot of water but then use plenty of water for a larger load. If you’re someone who cares about water consumption, then the dish drawer should be considered. It’s also going to consume less energy.

Moreover, you can run different cycles at the same time, so maybe you wash delicate glasses in one drawer while using a powerful wash cycle for dinnerware in the other.


If you want to get really precise, the dishwasher drawers will take up less space than a pulldown dishwasher, and with the dish drawer you don’t have to worry about a huge amount of space being taken up by an open door. The drawer can be taken out to the extent you need, and this is why they are ideal for smaller kitchens. If you have a floating island, dish drawers can enhance the overall look.

Who Makes Dish Drawers?

Right now, Fisher & Paykel is the only company manufacturing dish drawers. They’ve been making these since the mid-2000s. They were the first to come to market with these, and still they are the only company manufacturing these drawers.

There were other efforts to get into this space, and even KitchenAid, Maytag, and Kenmore through their hats in the ring. But all these businesses eventually abandoned working on dish drawers.

As long as demand is there for these drawers, Fisher & Paykel will be there to meet this demand. These dishwashers will be around for awhile, and perhaps one day they will rival the dishwasher.

Downsides Of Dish Drawers

Dish drawers are great appliances, but they aren’t without flaws. For example, some don’t like that dish drawers are only 13 inches tall. If you have to clean a big tray, then you’ll probably have a difficult time fitting this in the drawer. With a normal dishwasher, this would be no problem.

There is a solution here. Fisher & Paykel is now manufacturing tall drawers. These have more interior capacity, and that’s because they utilize better insulation. They are engineered to be space-saving, and with more room a pair of drawers will be more efficient than a standard dishwasher.

Needing Repair Often

While these systems provide a lot of utility now, they used to get damaged quite easily. According to experts in the industry, the drawers being made today are a lot better, as they utilize technology which makes them more functional. With repair rates down, and consumer ratings up, it makes sense to assume that dish drawers will only gain more popularity as time goes on.


Dish drawers can be pricier than standard dishwashers, and this is because they utilize special technology and often have difficult installation requirements. However, if you have the money to spend on a dish drawer, you may use less water and energy in the long run, and that would mean that dish drawers are, overall, more cost-effective than a traditional dishwasher.

But if your system does need repair often, then this can raise the overall operating cost quite quickly. If the system is well maintained and used properly, then there’s a good chance you won’t need any major repairs—at least not until many years down the road.

Getting Advice From A Professional

If you want to get a dish drawer installed in your kitchen, then get in touch with a professional plumber, as they’ll be able to make your home suitable for this appliance. However, you may need help from other contractors as well. No matter what: don’t go through with a dish drawer installation unless you know your space fulfills the requirements.

How Does A Standard Dishwasher Work?

Generally speaking, a dishwasher cleans and rinses dirty dishes, and it does so faster than a human being can clean dishes by hand. All one has to do is add detergent, select the desired washing cycle, and then the dishwasher can accomplish a whole series of functions by itself. These are listed below:

  • It’ll add the right amount of water.
  • It’ll heat the water to an appropriate temperature.
  • It will automatically dispense detergent at the right time.
  • It’ll shoot water from the jets with high pressure so the dishes get clean.
  • It’ll drain dirty water.
  • It’ll spray water to rinse the dishes off.
  • It will drain again.
  • If this function is selected, it will heat to dry the dishes off.

The dishwasher will also monitor itself, and it will do this to make sure that everything is running properly. A dishwasher includes a timer that determines the length of each cycle, and it will also have a sensor which detects the air and water temperature; this is there so the system doesn’t overheat and damage itself and/or the dishes inside.

The Pros And Cons Of The Standard Dishwasher

The standard dishwasher has many advantages, but it does have some downsides as well. In this section, the standard dishwasher will be examined, and then later on it will be compared to a dish drawer.

Pro: Time-Saving

If you don’t want to wash dishes by hand, then the standard dishwasher will be ideal for you. It cleans dishes much faster than a human can, and it cleans dishes with hot water that the human hands could never withstand.

If you have to do a huge load of dishes in the dishwasher, they’ll all get cleaned within an hour. If you washed this same load by hand, you could be looking at a job which takes more than an hour. A dish drawer is useful for this same reason, and both it and the standard dishwasher provide a lot of utility.

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Pro: Consuming Less Water

If you don’t want to consume a lot of water, then you should use the dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. A dishwasher will save you a lot of water in the long run, and that’s why these are preferred by those who value eco-friendliness.

Moreover, you don’t have to worry about the dishwasher having a high energy cost, as these only consume energy when they’re running.

Con: Costly

Dishwashers make hand-washing dishes unnecessary, but for a price. A dishwasher will be worth several hundred dollars, and installation will cost a few hundred as well. The cost of running the system over time will be a factor too. Overall, it may cost a lot to run the dishwasher, but this cost may be worth it if you don’t like washing dishes by hand.

Matthew Mountain
Matthew Mountain

Matt loves everything DIY. He has been learning and practicing different trades since he was a kid, and he's often the first one called when a friend or family member needs a helping hand at home. Matt loves to work with wood and stone, and landscaping is by far his most favorite pastime.

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