Where should your dishwasher really go? Expert top tips on this appliance's placement in the kitchen

We know it belongs in the kitchen for a start, but where exactly should your dishwasher go for your kitchen to function at its best?

Dishwasher placement in the kitchen
(Image credit: Future)

You might not give much thought to your dishwasher placement. Sure, we all know they belong in the kitchen, but when planning these appliances into your space, it's easy to think they can just be put anywhere. In fact, there is a lot to think about - the proximity to the sink; the opening of cupboard doors; how placement impacts loading and unloading for a start.

It might not be the most glamorous consideration for your kitchen refurb, but get this right and your kitchen will feel easier and more comfortable to use. We've spoken to the experts to find out just how to perfectly place a dishwasher in a modern kitchen.

Oonagh Turner
Oonagh Turner

Oonagh is a homes writer and editor with her ear to the ground for what's trending in the interiors industry. For this piece, she spoke to her kitchen contacts to find out their thoughts on dishwasher placement.

Should a dishwasher be placed next to the sink?

Ideally, you want your new dishwasher to be close to a kitchen sink. Firstly, this makes plumbing all the easier and less expensive to install. Secondly, it makes it more helpful for the process of cleaning up. ‘I tend to do a pretty thorough clean/rinse before placing things in the dishwasher so I want them as close to my sink as possible,’ adds interior designer Gideon Mendelson, founder of New York-based design studio Mendelson Group

'The placement of the dishwasher must always be next to a sink so that plates can be scraped into a waste disposal system and rinsed before being placed in the dishwasher,’ agrees Hugh Williams, lead designer at kitchen makers Blakes.  

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Consider how doors open in the space

A stainless steel kitchen

(Image credit: Sarah Jefferys Architecture + Interiors)

The other thing to be mindful of is what sits opposite the dishwasher, ideally, stay away from pull-out bins or cabinet doors as the drop-down door on a dishwasher would cause an obstruction. This kind of functionality and practicality is essential to any kitchen design and helps freedom of movement around the kitchen.

Try and visualize how you will walk around the kitchen in the planning stages and try not to position your dishwasher in a location that will block off a main walkway. 'Organize your fridge and hobs so they're not opposite the dishwasher as the dishwasher would impede access to those other areas of the kitchen that are frequently used,' says Hugh. In L-shape or U-shape kitchens, cabinet doors might not open very well in the space, but you should aim to have around a meter distance between your dishwasher and the storage areas opposite. This stainless steel kitchen is by Sarah Jefferys Architecture + Interiors, and the dishwasher placement takes into account its long and narrow design.

Think carefully about which side your dishwasher sits

A dishwasher to the left of a sink

(Image credit: Blakes London)

You also might want to mull over whether you put your dishwasher to the left or to the right of the sink. There is no real correct answer to this, but think about what feels more natural to you and whether you have a big or small kitchen.

‘The best dishwasher placement in the kitchen is directly to the left or right of the sink cabinet. Preferred placement would take into account a left or right-handed owner(s),’ says Matthew Miller, principal of New York design studio Studio LAB

A right-handed person might hold a dish in their left hand and use the right hand to scrape the dish, so it makes more sense to have a dishwasher positioned to the left of the sink. Think about what feels more natural to you. 

Alternatively, go for both sides. 'We increasingly place two dishwashers in kitchens,' says Hugh. 'For singletons and busy couples, we suggest dishwasher drawers. This offers more flexibility and the environmental economy as a couple will struggle to fill a standard-size dishwasher but will still wish to run a cycle regularly to avoid the build-up of smells in the home. For families, two standard-size dishwashers are also increasingly becoming the norm.'  

Is the dishwasher placement helpful for loading and emptying?

You also need to really consider the proximity to cupboards, shelves and where you store your dishes, crockery and glasses once they have been cleaned and dried. There is no use your dishwasher sitting near the sink if you have to walk them over to the other side of the kitchen for storing away.

'You don’t want it any further away since you’ll be dripping water on the floor when loading the dishwasher. It’s also nice to have your plates and drinkware storage above the sink and dishwasher for easy unloading,' says Matthew. Think about how you organize kitchen cupboards and how this helps your dishwasher process.

Should I put a dishwasher on a kitchen island?

A bright kitchen with an island in the middle of the room

(Image credit: Main Kitchen Co)

You might also want to have your dishwasher located on your kitchen island. The island naturally becomes a spot where dishes accumulate in a busy kitchen, so having a dishwasher here is a good option. 

You might have the plumbing installed so that the sink is on the island too - enforcing its role in your kitchen as an area for socializing, cooking and entertaining. Speak to your plumber to find out if you can have it plumbed accordingly to accommodate both a faucet and a dishwasher.

Should your dishwasher be on show?

Dishwashers don't tend to be the most aesthetic pieces of furniture in your kitchen. They are often not particularly design-forward and are clearly functional smart appliances. You might want to consider a dishwasher that is integrated, hiding cleverly behind a panel that matches your kitchen cabinets. You can either have a semi-integrated dishwasher where the top panel is visible, or a fully integrated dishwasher, with the lower part covered by clever disguising paneling. 

One final aspect to really consider is the gap between the kitchen countertop and the dishwasher. We advise having 1/2 - 3/4 inch gap between the dishwasher and countertop. This clearance will allow for airflow, stopping it overheating.

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.