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RV Dishwasher: Indispensable? Or a Waste of Water?

RV Dishwasher: Indispensable? Or a Waste of Water?

Some may think that wanting to have an RV dishwasher while you’re camping is a bit much.

But for some travelers, including those of us who live full-time in our RVs, having access to most traditional home appliances enhances our lives.

Still, there are certain things that need to be considered where an RV dishwasher is concerned. How much water do they use compared to washing dishes by hand? Do they consume a lot of power? Should you get a built-in model or a portable dishwasher?

What exactly is a countertop RV dishwasher and how does it work? If you don’t already have a built-in RV dishwasher, can you install a compact dishwasher in your RV?

Do They Make Dishwashers for RVs?

Lots of people ask this question, and that’s understandable. As RVers, we’re typically eager to conserve water and power, especially those of us who prefer boondocking as much as possible.

But they do make RV-style dishwashers, and we’ll show you several later in this post. Some high-end rigs come with built-in dishwashers, while others are offered as an option.

If you have an RV that didn’t come with a dishwasher but you want one, there are a couple of options. You can have one permanently installed or buy a portable dishwasher. Some of these are countertop models, and we’ll look at those, too.

Is an RV Dishwasher Worth It?

The answer to this question really depends on your style of RVing. If you’re traveling with family and are usually connected to city water and shore power, you may really want an RV dishwasher.

If you only boondock and are rarely hooked up, you might be less likely to find a dishwasher worth having. Being full-time RVers who like both styles of RVing, both of our motorhomes have had a dishwasher.

Our first, a 2002 Fleetwood Bounder Diesel, had an apartment-sized dishwasher (narrower than a standard household model). We didn’t order it that way. It just happened to have it.

The kitchen of our first RV, a Fleetwood Bounder Diesel

Here’s the kitchen of our first RV, an ’02 Fleetwood Bounder Diesel. To the left is our apartment-size dishwasher.

When we upgraded to our Mountain Aire, we selected the factory option for the Fisher-Paykel single DishDrawer in the spot where an RV oven would’ve been. (It’s an RV dishwasher, drawer-style.)

While it’s very water efficient, we’ve only ever used it when we’ve been parked at a full hook-up site. We use it all the time when we’re hooked up for longer stays. For us, it really adds to our RV’s home-like feel.

The interior of our Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer

This is the interior of the Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer installed in our current RV, a 2005 Newmar Mountain Aire. The capacity of this RV dishwasher is perfectly adequate for two people.

So, the answer to whether an RV dishwasher is indispensable or a waste of water depends on your style of RVing. How (and how long) do you travel? And how do you want to wash your dishes? If you find washing dishes by hand a particularly annoying task, having a dishwasher can be a real treat.

How Much Water Does an RV Dishwasher Use?

The answer to whether having a dishwasher in an RV wastes water is a bit more complicated. That too depends on your style of camping, but it also depends on your particular dishwasher.

Camper dishwashers vary in the number of gallons of water they use. A full-size dishwasher will use more than a smaller portable countertop dishwasher, for example.

Our Fisher Paykel DishDrawer uses between 2.4 and 4 gallons of water for one load of dishes, depending on how dirty they are.

But remember, we have a 2005 RV, so our dishwasher is pushing 20 years old. Newer models can use as little as 1.98 gallons for the “Small Load” cycle, and just 2.4 gallons for a “Normal” cycle.

Assuming you don’t use too much water rinsing the dishes in preparation for running them through the dishwasher, we’d guess most RVers use at least 2 gallons of water to wash the same amount of dishes & silverware that fit into our DishDrawer. So a dishwasher can easily use less water than washing by hand.

One way we conserve water is by wiping dishes clean with our napkins before hand washing. But at 2 gallons to wash an entire dishwasher load, we’d be hard-pressed to use less water for an equivalent number of dishes when washing by hand. We do resort to paper plates for long boondocking trips, but avoiding excess paper waste is also high on our list of priorities.

But again, we’re talking about small dishwashers like our drawer-sized unit that use a minimum of water. Let’s also talk about a full-size or even an 18″ dishwasher in an RV kitchen.

Dishwashers used to use a lot more water than they do today. In fact, a standard dishwasher manufactured prior to 1994 would use as much as 9-14 gallons of water per load!

However, most standard-sized RV dishwashers in 2023 are Energy Star compliant. That means they generally use about 4-6 gallons per load, depending on which dishwasher you have. But many Energy Star dishwashers use less than 4 gallons per load. (Our DishDrawer is especially good at making the most use out of a minimum of water.)

And let’s face it — some RVers are better than others at conserving water while washing anything.

Whether you want to use your dishwasher while boondocking or not, a “blue-boy” portable RV waste tank can help extend your stay.

Camco Rhino 28-Gallon Portable Camper / RV Tote Tank - Features Large Heavy-Duty No-Flat Wheels & Built-In Gate Valve - Removable Steel Tow Adapter, 3’ RV Sewer Hose & More RV Accessories (39004)
  • SIMPLIFY RV WASTE DISPOSAL: Make waste disposal hassle-free with Camco's portable waste tank. Easily transport waste from your RV black water tank to...
  • EFFORTLESS TRANSPORT: Haul your waste with ease with no-flat wheels built for any terrain, an oversized handle for easy maneuvering, & a steel tow...

Overall, the use of water in an RV that isn’t connected to a city water source is always a concern. Not only could a dishwasher drain your fresh water tank more quickly, but it could also fill up your gray tank. It may also require more battery power than you care to use while boondocking (if your dishwasher is even wired through the inverter). You may even have to run your generator to use it.

So, whether or not an RVer cares to have a dishwasher onboard is a personal decision that revolves around your style of camping and how badly you don’t want to do your dishes by hand when you’re camping.

There’s no right or wrong here. The best way is the one that works best for you and your style of RVing/camping.

Can I Have a Dishwasher Installed In My RV?

Yes. If your RV didn’t come with a dishwasher and you want one, you can install one or have one professionally installed.

You’ll have to carefully plan the water, drain, and electrical components, as well as any cabinet/woodwork that may be needed to install the unit, but it can be done.

If you’d rather not go through that process, a countertop model may be a better choice since it basically requires no installation. Some even have a built-in water tank, so they don’t need to be connected to a water source.

Let’s look at a few RV dishwashers that can be purchased for installation as built-in units and a couple of popular countertop units as well.

Built-In RV Dishwashers

You can install an RV dishwasher as a built-in unit either as a DIY project or hire a professional. Installing a built-in unit yourself will require some plumbing and carpentry skills.

The following models are all built-ins that can be installed in an RV, as long as you have the space available, and can access electricity, plumbing, and a drainpipe.

Fisher & Paykel 24″ DishDrawer

As mentioned above, we opted to have a Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer included as an option on our Mountain Aire when we ordered it. We only use it when we’re parked at a site with full hookups, and we love it.

This Fisher Paykel drawer-style dishwasher (model DD24SAX9) is obviously much newer. It’s a 24″ stainless steel dishwasher with the capacity to hold the equivalent of 7 place settings.

This is a full console dishwasher with adjustable racks, which are great for accommodating various sizes of cookware. The dimensions are 22.57″ D x 23.57″ W x 16.13″ H, so you’d need a space a little bit larger than that available for the installation.

Six wash cycles are available in this 60-pound drawer-style dishwasher, and operation is a quiet 45 dB.

If you’d like to see a Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer RV dishwasher being installed in a fifth wheel, check out this video:

Frigidaire 18″ Dishwasher

This 18″ dishwasher from Frigidaire comes in black, white, or stainless steel. Installation requires a space slightly larger than its overall dimensions of 22.5″ D x 18″ W x 35″ H.

This one holds 8 place settings (interestingly only one more than the much smaller drawer-style unit highlighted above – a testament to efficient Fisher & Paykel design). This Energy Star unit is ADA-compliant and NSF-certified to sanitize.

It’s somewhat louder while operating than the Fisher & Paykel unit at 52 dB, but offers a dual spray arm, sanitizing cycle, heated drying, and 6 cleaning cycle options, including energy saver, heavy wash, and rinse.

Sale
Frigidaire 18 in. ADA Compact Front Control Dishwasher in Black with Dual Spray Arms, 52 dBA, includes room-of-choice delivery
  • DUAL SPRAY ARM SYSTEM: Our top and bottom rack dual spray arm system gives you a thorough clean every time
  • SANITIZE CYCLE: National Sanitation Foundation Certified Sanitize Cycle removes 99.9% of common household germs

EdgeStar BIDW1802BL 18″ Dishwasher

This 18″ model from EdgeStar also comes in black, white, or stainless steel and has a capacity of 8 place settings. Like the Frigidaire unit above, it operates at a noise level of 52 dB. Dimensions are 17.63″ D x 22.44″ W x 32.5″ H and it weighs 52.9 lbs.

The EdgeStar offers 6 wash cycles, including heavy, normal, ECO, glass, rapid, and rinse. Additional cycle options include sanitize, high-temp, and heated dry. A nice feature of this model is the sensor that automatically shuts off the water flow if a leak is detected.

EdgeStar BIDW1802BL 18 Inch Wide 8 Place Setting Built-In Dishwasher
  • Accommodates up to eight (8) place settings and features a silverware basket and cup tray
  • Six (6) Wash Cycles: Heavy, Normal, ECO, Glass, Rapid, and Rinse; Three (3) Options: Sanitize, Hi Temp, Heated Dry

If you’d like to see an 18″ dishwasher being installed in a 5th wheel, check out this video:

Fotile Sink Dishwasher

A new option that takes an interesting approach to having a dishwasher onboard your RV is the new Fotile Sink Dishwasher. This model uses a top-loading dishwasher that’s built into the space a second, side-by-side sink would occupy. It’s smaller than some other options, but may be the best choice for your RV.

We have a whole article dedicated to this option, so check it out: Fotile Sink Dishwasher: Is This Space-Saving Combo Good For RVs?

Countertop RV Dishwasher Options

Now let’s take a look at a couple of countertop models that are popular with RVers. With these units, you’ll obviously need adequate counter space, so we’ll again include the dimensions of each model.

COMFEE’ Countertop Dishwasher

Amazon’s #1 best-seller in countertop dishwashers, this COMFEE’ unit has a 5-liter built-in water tank which means you can either connect it to your faucet or use the built-in water tank itself.

Compact and affordable, this little dishwasher holds up to 10-inch plates and a total of approximately two place settings, depending on how it’s loaded. Dimensions are ‎16.5 x 17.1 x 17.1 inches, and it weighs in at 30.8 pounds.

The COMFEE’ uses only 5 liters of water per wash cycle and is estimated to use only around 0.35 kilowatt-hours per year with regular use. It offers 6 wash cycles, including normal, rapid, steam (192°F), glass, and even fruit washing! It also has an air refresh extra drying mode. It also features a see-through window, a child lock, and leak protection.

COMFEE’ also offers a newer model of their compact countertop dishwasher, which offers a bit more room (3 full place settings as opposed to 2).

COMFEE' Countertop Dishwasher, Portable Dishwasher with 5L Built-in Water Tank, No Hookup Needed, 6 Programs, 360° Dual Spray, 192℉ Steam& Air-Dry Function, Mini Dishwasher for Apartments& RVs, White
  • Please make sure the distance between your countertop and wall cupboard is more than 19.6" [【No Installation Needed】: Adding water manually in the...
  • [ Ultra-Compact Design ]: The compact dishwasher can wash 30+ items (Max to 10" plates) at a time while occupying a small space (16.5 x 17.1 x 17.1...
COMFEE' Portable Dishwasher, Countertop Dishwasher with 3 Place Settings, Mini Dishwasher with More Space Inside, 6 Programs, Auto-Open Drying, Touch Control, White
  • [No installation needed ]: With a portable Bucket, you can put the dishwasher in any suitable place. Besides, You can also be hooked to the kitchen...
  • [Slim Body with ‎3 PlaceSettings ]: With a slimmer body, the tabletop dishwasher takes up less countertop space and is perfect for tiny kitchens....

EdgeStar DWP62SV

This EnergyStar-rated countertop RV dishwasher from EdgeStar is among the better-reviewed compact dishwashers. It’s a larger unit that holds 6 standard place settings (plates up to 10.5″ in diameter), and includes a dish rack, cup shelf, and cutlery basket.

It features 7 wash cycles, a bright digital display, a noise output level of 52 dB, and a durable stainless steel interior. With a quick-connect adapter, it fits most standard-sized kitchen faucets.

With dimensions of 19.63″ D x 21.63″ W x 17.31″ H, this model weighs 44 pounds and is available in silver, black, or white.

EdgeStar DWP62WH 6 Place Setting Portable Countertop Dishwasher - White
  • Six (6) standard place setting capacity / Includes dish rack, cup shelf, and cutlery basket
  • Holds plates up to 10.5" in diameter / Seven (7) wash cycles / Quick connect adapter fits standard sized kitchen faucets / Beautiful digital display

Do You Have an RV Dishwasher?

If you have a dishwasher in your RV, we’d love to hear about it. How frequently do you use it? Are you typically connected to a city water source and a power source when you run it? Which dishwasher do you have, and have you been satisfied with it?

Did your RV come with a dishwasher, or did you have it installed (or do it yourself)? Leave a comment below with the details.

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Gay RV Enthusiast (Jason)

Tuesday 13th of June 2023

I think a dishwasher can be a good thing. If you have family and friends visiting, and you want to use utensils and coffee mugs, you'll need to be able to clean them. If you're not going to use it for such purpose, you could always use it for storage and just use paper plates and plastic cups and utensils. As usual, it's up to the individual or couple.

Archie Phlegar

Sunday 11th of June 2023

Our first MH, a Discovery LXE had a Paykel built in. We really miss it. It held at least two loaves of bread and several bags of potato chips. Never washed a single dish in it. Out new MH does not have a dishwasher, it’s much harder to store bread and chips but we don’t miss the washer function.

Jackie A,

Sunday 11th of June 2023

I have the Comfee white countertop dishwasher in my apartment, and will bring it with me in the RV. It takes very little water - perhaps a gallon and change, to do a full load. Does it fit pots and pans? No (unless they're small and you don't load much else) but it saves me from having to do silverware and other things. I HATE washing dishes so it's worth it to me to have it.

I'm not 100% sure where I'll keep it stored in the RV. I have to do a little work to make it fit under the kitchen sink but it's light enough to keep in the shower and move it to use.

Gay Travel Enthusiast (Jason)

Sunday 11th of June 2023

I like the idea of a dishwasher. Sure it uses water. But that's what it takes to clean. If used sparingly, you might be able to save water when you don't need to use it.

Smitty

Sunday 11th of June 2023

Yes, actually YES! To F&P's drawer dishwasher. We use it while both boondocking and on shore power. Main reason is it consumes less water. Our current 07 Country Coach Magna, has not been setup with Solar or Lithium Batteries, yet. But, it does have X's 6 FullRiver 8D's for House supply. While boondocking, which is now ~10% of our current traveling mode. We'll run the dishwasher while doing a generator run to charge the battery bank. Usually we'll do this every three days, as our house bank is down to ~65% by then. And while boondocking, paper plates are used more, so that works out to a full load for us. (On our 6th day of boondocking, we'll usually go dump & refill water. But before doing so, we also usually run our Splendide 2100xc too.) And of course while on full hook up's, we use them both as needed. While we are not full timers, traveling 8-9 months a year is our norm. And when we shifted from our Allure to the Magna, the F&P was high on my list. My wife was not sure, but after a few months of adjusting to the new 'old' coach - she now highly recommends them to others! This is our 'home' for such a large part of the year, well - we like the comforts of a Stick & Brick's while traveling:)! Cheers:)!

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