How to Locate and Install Your Dishwasher

Your guide to this review is Rebecca Moses

Cute dog and dishwasher


How to Locate and Install Your Dishwasher

Dishwashers are designed to make our lives easier and give us more time in our day. Contemporary high-performance dishwashers have the added bonus of helping us to use even less water than hand washing our dishes.

When we’re making our kitchen space into the ultimate dream kitchen, it’s easy to get caught up in appliance models and elegant countertops while forgetting about the design elements that make our lives easier.

In this case, we’re talking about a dishwasher’s ideal placement and location.

For some, this is a question of whether the dishwasher should be on the left of the right of the sink.

For others, this is a question of whether or not to put the dishwasher in a center island, or in a raised cupboard.


Best Placement for a Dishwasher in the Kitchen

The placement of your dishwasher needs to perform two functions.

It needs to make loading and unloading a breeze, while not blocking pathways or workable areas.

Freedom of movement is another important question for most homeowners when it comes to their dishwasher, since it is an appliance with a wide door that stays open for periods of time.

If a dishwasher is crowding your space or crowding out other tasks that you need to be doing, as it would if it were right under the sink, it nullifies its own convenience.

To fix this, consider how your dishwasher door will open and what it might block before installation.


Locating Your Dishwasher Where It’s Easy to Load

Most kitchen designers recommend placing the dishwasher next to the sink.

This is by far the easiest and least expensive option when it comes to running plumbing, since your water and drainage lines already run to your sink.

This location also gives you the advantage of the “scrape, rinse, load” method for your dishwashing.

Having everything in one place will make for fewer steps, as you scrape food remains into your trash or compost can, rinse your dishes in the sink, and then load them into the dishwasher.

This is also a good placement for those who like to use a soaker sink for tough dishes or long cooking processes. Drippy dishes will then need to cover less space when transferring between the sink and dishwasher.

That still leaves the question of whether to place the dishwasher to the left or the right of the sink. Most kitchen designers will base this on whether you are left- or right-handed.

left or right - choice

Another consideration is what configuration you’re used to from a previous residence or layout. Many people prefer to keep routines like this familiar, meaning if you have always had your dishwasher on the right side, you might want it to stay that way.


Making Your Dishwasher Easy to Unload

easy loading and unloading of a dishwasher

Loading the dishwasher isn’t the only process you need to consider.

For many families, unloading the dishwasher is a slower and less desirable practice than loading it.

If your family is slow when it comes to unloading the dishwasher, it’s a good idea to check where your dish and cutlery storage is in comparison to the dishwasher.

Locating your dishwasher near cabinets and cupboards where you store most of your daily-use dishes adds an important aspect of convenience.

Rather than asking yourself whether the dishwasher ought to be “across from” or “opposite” the sink, most designers measure the convenience of a dishwasher’s placement in terms of steps. Ideally, you don’t want your cabinet storage to be more than a step or two away from your dishwasher.


Where to Find Room for a Dishwasher

Installing a Dishwasher in the Island

dishwasher in a kitchen island

Locating your dishwasher in a center island can solve a lot of your access problems.

Center islands allow for a quick collection of dishes and tend to put your dishwasher where it is only a few steps from all parts of the kitchen.

However, if you do not already have a sink in your center island, you most likely don’t have water running to it. This makes an island dishwasher installation into a tricky and expensive process that will most likely require you to hire a plumber.


Walk-In Pantry

Walk-in pantries are becoming more popular in building plans lately.

Those who don’t have room in their kitchen or want to hide away their dirty dishes from guests will sometimes plan out a butler’s pantry with a sink and dishwasher.

While this does help to hide your mess, it can cut down on the convenience aspect of daily dishwasher use. It requires dish storage to also be in the butler’s pantry, in most cases making the cooking process take more than a few steps, especially for those who still plan to cook in their kitchen.


Build Your Dishwasher into a Tall Cabinet

Raised dishwashers can save your back from bending down all the time.

In this case, you can utilize the space below and above the dishwasher for storage or even other appliances such as a stand-alone oven.

This option is most convenient when it keeps your dishwasher near to the sink and also helps to integrate the dishwasher into the surrounding storage space for quick unloading.


Integrate Your Dishwasher

For homeowners with open floor plans, where much of the kitchen can be seen from the living space, it can be preferable to hide the dishwasher, whether from your own view or from the view of guests.

This can be done by integrating the dishwasher. Integrated dishwashers have panels on them that blend into the rest of your cabinets.


Dishwasher Location Rules

view from within a dishwasher

  • Don’t have the dishwasher’s door open out directly in front of one of the three work triangle appliances: the sink, the stove, and the fridge.
  • For the sake of convenience, put your dishwasher within arm’s length of the sink and within a step or two of your major storage cupboards and cabinets.
  • If you are right-handed, the dishwasher can be on the right side of the sink. If you are left-handed, the dishwasher can be on the left side, to make it easy to handle and transfer dishes.
  • Make sure the dishwasher won’t collide with another door. When it comes to cabinets this might be inevitable, but be careful with doors to a pantry or other part of the home.
  • When placing a dishwasher near a corner, allow at least 20 inches space from the corner for ease of access.
  • Allow for standing space in front of the dishwasher for unloading.
  • To prevent services, including water, electricity, and drainage, from making the dishwasher stick out further than the counters, put them in a cabinet, either under the sink or beside or below the dishwasher.


How to Install a Dishwasher Where There Was None

When to Call Your Electrician or Plumber

Your dishwasher requires three services:

  • Clean water
  • Power
  • Drainage

In most cases, you will want specific dishwasher hookups for these. If you are living in an older home that has never had a dishwasher before, you may need to hire professional to install these services properly. If you’re moving into a newer home, however, chances are you already have these hookups available.

If you don’t have the kind of electrical and water hookups you need, then it’s time to consider hiring an electrician and a plumber. These professionals will sort out your under-the-cabinet situation so that you have the proper hookups coming from your sink and circuit box.


Adding your Dishwasher

1) Identify your ideal location. This might mean knocking out some cabinets or working to install the dishwasher within a cabinet.

Know the dimensions of your dishwasher model, or check out our dishwasher shopping guide if you’re still looking for the perfect model. Most dishwashers require a 24 inch opening below your counter.

2) If you are locating your dishwasher next to the sink, drill a hole through the cabinetry for the hookups.

If it’s further away, then you will need to strategize how to run your services through the cabinetry to reach your dishwasher location. This will often mean, drilling holes between the cabinets and running the services through the very back of your cabinets.

3) Hookup your electrical, water, and drainage before inserting the dishwasher under the counter.

4) Mount the dishwasher to the underside of the countertop or cabinet. For those with stone countertops, use epoxy resin to attach wood to where you would secure the dishwasher to the countertop. Then, drill into the wood to secure the dishwasher. This is a necessary step since the movement involved with most dishwashers could cause damage to cabinets and floors if not secured.


Ultimately, your dishwasher is meant to make your life easier and more organized. Designers agree that this means it should be accessible from the kitchen sink and storage while not blocking important workspaces, especially your stove (perhaps a newly installed one) and fridge. The rest, such as whether to integrate it into the cabinetry or elevate it, is up to you and your own habits.


  • Depending on the day, you’ll find Rebecca in a well thought-out ensemble that she handcrafted herself, or in hiking and rock climbing gear. An avid outdoorswoman, cyclist, and cat lover, Rebecca reminds us all on the Groom+Style team just how much we need to get outdoors. She’s worked in spas and salons off and on before going full-time with the G+S team.