Best 18-inch, built-in dishwasher
Small, 18-inch dishwashers are more compact built-ins
Compact, 18-inch dishwashers are common in Europe and in smaller American dwellings, although some people like them because they help maximize kitchen work and storage space even in larger homes. Although small, these dishwashers can be as fully featured as their larger, 24-inch siblings. However, there are not as many models available, and they usually cost more than 24-inch dishwashers that are otherwise identical.
While there are few expert reviews of 18-inch built-ins, blogger Steve Sheinkopf rounds up a few of the best for a post at Yale Appliance, including our top pick, the Frigidaire FFBD1821MS (Est. $700). While Sheinkopf doesn't give much feedback on this dishwasher, merely noting that it's the best value of the five he lists, plenty of owners do. Most love its very good cleaning performance and say it's surprisingly spacious for such a small dishwasher, even accommodating larger plates and platters on the lower rack. However, many also note that it's very important to read the owner's manual for the proper loading procedure, and that doing so will maximize the FFBD1821MS's capacity.
The Frigidaire FFBD1821MS is both attractive and packed with features. It's stainless steel inside and out, and has six wash cycles, including Light, China & Crystal and Heavy Wash cycles. There is also a delay start that is popular with users. The FFBD1821MS is very energy efficient, costing an estimated $30 per year to run, but there is also the option to turn off the heat dry to save even more energy. Users say it's a top performer both in washing and drying, although a few complain that plastics don't get dry -- a common problem with all dishwashers. While the stainless steel exterior is popular, this dishwasher also comes in white as the Frigidaire FFBD1821MW (Est. $650) and in black as the Frigidaire FFBD1821MB (Est. $650).
Another good, albeit pricier, choice in this category is the (Est. $900). It's also included in Sheinkopf's roundup, There, he calls out its quiet, 44 dBA operation (compared to the 59 dBA of the Frigidaire) and its layout, which, he says, "adds up to 30% more capacity."
The Bosch SPX68U55UC is just one offering in Bosch's popular 800 series of dishwashers, and, like its 24-inch siblings, features the popular third rack options that can be used for smaller items that can be awkward to place, like ramekins or extra-long utensils. Many owners say they use that third rack instead of the silverware basket, which is also included. The middle rack is adjustable to three different heights. There's also a half load option that a number of reviewers say they thought they wouldn't need, and now don't know how they did without it. Like all Bosch dishwashers, a red light shines on the floor to let you know the dishwasher is running.
While we didn't see a lot of owner reviews for the Bosch SPX68U55UC -- not unusual for an 18-inch dishwasher -- what is out there is very positive. There are a few quibbles about how poorly it dries, but we see that with all dishwashers. On unique feature that people who live in areas with hard water really like: the SPX68U55UC has a built-in water softener. You just need to add dishwasher softening salt. Of course, if you don't have hard water, you don't need to use it. The SPX68U55UC only comes in a stainless finish, but most say it's attractive and quite a few say they bought it as a second dishwasher for a basement wet bar or vacation condo and are very pleased. It has a traditional, pull style handle and hidden digital controls.