At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is a Drawer Dishwasher?

Terrie Brockmann
Terrie Brockmann

A drawer dishwasher follows the concept of a filing cabinet rather than the traditional dishwasher. Instead of opening a door and pulling out the racks, a person opens a drawer and loads the dishes from the top. Drawer dishwashers may have one drawer or two drawers, wherein each drawer runs independently. An advantage of a drawer dishwasher is the ability to run smaller loads of dishes, saving energy and utility costs. One of the disadvantages is that the drain hoses are more likely to develop leaks than in traditional dishwashers.

Many people consider the top-loading feature to be one of the greatest advantages of the drawer dishwasher. Ergonomically, it is advantageous to people with back problems. Other people find that it is quicker to rinse the dishes at the sink and slip them into the machine without having to bend down. Most of the machines have the same features that traditional dishwashers have, such as adjustable racks, removable baskets, and fold-down tines, making loading easier and quicker. The drawer and rack slide out simultaneously, also conserving time and motion.

A traditional dishwasher features a single door that opens and racks that can be pulled out.
A traditional dishwasher features a single door that opens and racks that can be pulled out.

The drawer dishwasher is an innovation of a New Zealand company, and it markets the dishwashers worldwide under several brand names. One of the problems of the newly introduced design was that Americans generally use larger dinner plates, and they did not fit in the machines. Some designs offer taller drawers to add versatility. Another added feature is the food disposer that grinds and flushes food particles. Buyers need to research which models offer these features.

Although some people find that the drawer design limits the size of the loads, other people do not experience this problem. Many users find that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. One example of the drawer dishwasher's versatility is that a two-drawer machine allows Orthodox Jewish people to wash meat and dairy utensils in separate drawers. In smaller kitchens, a small drawer dishwasher may fit under the sink, conserving space.

Often technicians can install a one-drawer unit into the top half of a custom-built cabinet. Manufacturers offer the same appliance fronts for drawer dishwashers that they use for traditional dishwashers. This includes white, black, and custom fronts like wood grain. Many homeowners install a drawer dishwasher in their bar areas and recreation rooms. Users need to be extra cautious when loading items such as stemware because the stems may drop through the rack, jamming the agitator.

People who entertain frequently or have large parties often install two dishwashers: a traditional dishwasher and a two-drawer one. Having the two drawers of the drawer-style dishwasher function independently of each other has several advantages. One is that a user can run one load on a light wash, such as crystal glassware, while the other runs on a heavier pots and pans setting.

Generally, drawer dishwashers have some issues that designers are attempting to remedy. One of these is that the drain hose receives more wear than in traditional dishwashers because the hose flexes each time a user opens and closes the drawer. This excessive movement may cause the hose to leak. Usually technicians must pull the unit out of the cabinet area to work on it. Owners often report that the repairs are more costly than with traditional dishwashers.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


Thank you for your input. As I said in my article, designers are trying to debug the washers. I am surprised that it does not have water heating elements, since that is almost standard on American washers. Some (more expensive) washers have food disposal systems, but I have read they have other issues, too.

I believe one of the best uses for the drawer washer is for party glassware and very lightly soiled items.


I have a two drawer dishwasher purchased at Sears, it is a Kenmore but is manufactured by Fisher Paykel in New Zealand. I will never recommend a two drawer dishwasher to anyone. This unit has been nothing but trouble and Sears refuses to help us replace it because of their policy.

It has no garbage disposal, does not heat the water, has no drying element, does not clean the dishes and we've had to have it reinstalled twice and both pumps have gone out twice.

Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A traditional dishwasher features a single door that opens and racks that can be pulled out.
      By: mitev
      A traditional dishwasher features a single door that opens and racks that can be pulled out.