How to Select the Best RV Dishwasher

RV Owners

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to skip the time-consuming process of hand dishwashing while out camping? Are you sick of dining on paper plates? Believe it or not, there’s a solution — RV dishwashers are available, and they actually work quite well!

Buying a dishwasher for your RV is not a crazy idea. In fact, today there are a wide variety of compact models which are easy to install and retrofit many recreational vehicles. This article will help you discover the right RV dishwasher for your personal rig.  

Your first consideration is your usage:

  • How often will you use an RV dishwasher?  
  • Will you wash pots and pans in it?  
  • Do you need room for multiple place settings?  
  • Are you concerned with counter space or water usage?
  • Do you want to air dry or heat dry your plates?  
  • Will you be washing china or glassware?

Having a clear understanding of when and how often you will use a dishwasher will help you choose the right one. There are several things to consider when choosing an RV dishwasher, including size, location and water consumption. RV dishwashers fall into three categories — countertop, compact, and the popular RV dishwasher drawer. Now, let’s consider each style to find the best fit for your personal RV.

Types of RV Dishwashers

There are three basic types of RV dishwashers to choose from, and each one has its own pros and cons:

#1- The Countertop Dishwasher

The countertop dishwasher is great for RVers because it’s tiny. That said, its tiny size can also be considered a hindrance if you plan to wash a lot of dishes or if you like to wash bulky items (such as pots and pans) in the dishwasher.

As the name suggests, this particular appliance sits on the countertop. It can be quickly and easily hooked up to a sink for access to water and a drain. Unfortunately, moving the heavy dishwasher is not quite as easy, meaning you’ll either need some serious muscles before and after every use, or you’ll have to give up some of your RVs counter space permanently.

Pro’s:

  • Easy to use and place just about anywhere you have water access
  • Can be placed right next to your sink to easily connect with hot/cold water and for drainage
  • Affordable and easy to connect for the do-it-yourself owner
  • Easy to store — you can assume a countertop dishwasher will be about the size of a large microwave

Con’s:

  • Takes up precious counter space (which can be hard to come by in an RV)
  • Heavy — it may be difficult to move or store when not in use.  Be sure to have a clear storage plan
  • Small wash load size. Washing bulky items may be difficult.

#2- The Compact or Slim Line Dishwasher

Small, but not quite as small as the countertop dishwasher, a compact dishwasher is often a great solution. This appliance is very similar to a traditional dishwasher, but is much smaller in size.

It does consume quite a bit of water, but people who camp with full hookups may not mind this. The other thing to keep in mind is that these kinds of units almost always require professional installation, especially in tight kitchen spaces.

Pro’s:

  • Functions just like a traditional, in home unit
  • Quiet and will fit in a narrow space (only takes up about 18 inches) — you may be able to remove a section of drawers or cabinets within your kitchen area of your motorhome to create space
  • Can hold multiple place settings at one time

Con’s:

  • Uses more water
  • Needs to be wired and plumbed into your unit
  • Requires a discharge into the grey tank

#3- The RV Dishwasher Drawer

A “drawer” is a trendy, space-saving appliance featured in many of the new, higher end recreational vehicles. Dishwasher drawers are wonderful because they use a limited amount of water, saving you valuable H20 as well as tank space while camping without hookups. Besides all that, they also hold a surprising number of dishes.

Still, no appliance is perfect, and this one has its faults. For one thing, it is quite a bit bigger than some of the other options out there. Additionally, not every RV has the connections needed for a drawer dishwasher.

Pro’s:

  • Uses a limited amount of water— no more than 4 gallons of water to get your dishes both clean and dry
  • Drawer will hold up to 6 place settings
  • Can be conveniently installed at counter height — requires little to no bending to load/unload
  • Sleek design and ultra-quiet
  • Doubly serves as dish storage when driving

Con’s:

  • Professional installation required
  • Your RV may or may not have the space and the connections necessary to host a dishwasher drawer
dishes drying next to a sink

Where To Buy Your RV Dishwasher:

There are a variety of places you can purchase an RV dishwasher, both online and in-store. The most popular model is the Vesta RV Dishwasher, which offers both drawer and countertop models. Camping World sells the Vesta RV Dishwasher and offers installation for a fee. Amazon and eBay also sell a variety of RV dishwashers, but be sure to read the reviews and return policies before buying.

Creative, Low-Cost Options:

If an RV dishwasher is not in your immediate future here are a few tips and tricks for dealing with dirty dishes in a small kitchen space.

1. Label your cups and glasses and reuse them throughout the day.

2. Use disposable utensils whenever possible. Wooden utensils are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic cutlery

3. Avoiding paper plates? Consider using Corelle dishware. Corelle is almost unbreakable and its slick surface makes it easy to clean.

4. Spray your pots, pans and plates with a bit of water and Dawn dishwashing soap. Dawn will begin breaking down the grease allowing for a quick and easy clean up later on.

5. Purchase wax paper liners (the kind used at burger joints) and use them under toast, burgers and sandwiches.  They are quick and easy to use, not to mention affordable.

dishes piled up to dry on a drying rack

Final Considerations:

An RV dishwasher uses power and water every time you run it. This means you must have enough water in your source tank and enough waste space in your gray tank. If you plan to boondock or dry camp, a dishwasher may eat a lot of off-the-grid power.

Always check to make sure your generator and/or inverter can handle the watts required to run an rv dishwasher. Don’t forget! If you plan to store your RV in the winter, prepare your dishwasher just like any other water-consuming unit in your vehicle.  Dishwashers can freeze if water is left in them.

Lastly, you should always talk to an installer before you buy any RV dishwasher unit. And when making your final purchase, be sure to do your research and read reviews from people who currently own the same model.

Washing dishes on the road doesn’t have to take up your beloved vacation time — get your rig a dishwasher and thank us later!