The very first dishwasher patent dates all the way back to the 1850s and involved a hand-turned splashing device attached to a wooden tub. Things have gotten slicker since then—an estimated 75 percent of American households now have a dishwasher and compact designs mean even the smallest homes can get in on the act. Here’s what you need to know.

This compact cleaner accommodates six place settings and you can program the cycle to wait to begin for up to eight hours. Comes with hoses and faucet adaptor to fit standard North American faucets. Amazon

The first thing that you need to know about compact dishwashers is that although they’re small, they’re still pretty mighty—both in terms of their efficacy and features, but also in terms of how much you can fit into them. Most have a wide selection of programs, as well as capacity for up to six place settings, so while they’re half the size of a traditional dishwasher, you still get the full service.

Family-Friendly Design

Multiple cycles, including a fast option, self clean and extra dry make this a versatile mini-unit. The controls can be child locked to prevent children accidentally operating it. Amazon

Your dishwasher can be used for more than just simply getting crockery clean, and saving time on the washing up. As well as a regular cycle and a rapid cycle, some models also include a baby care cleaning cycle which generates steam that can be used to sanitize baby bottles, and even a fruit wash cycle that allows you to clean fruit and vegetables in a dedicated basket and serve them straight from the machine.

Ideal For RVs

Smartly designed with LED digital controls, this model accommodates dishes up to 12” in diameter and doesn’t need to connect to a faucet. Amazon

Although you will always need electricity to run your dishwasher, you might not realize that you don’t always have to have a plumbing point nearby. Although many of the machines can be hooked up to your plumbing, usually into existing piping under your sink, most can simply be hooked up to the faucet via an adapter. However, some have an integrated tank that you can fill so you can use the dishwasher without needing to have access to running water.