Product: Haier HDC1804TW Price: $180 Rating: Weak Recommend* For three years I was lucky enough to live in two apartments that had full size dishwashers. As you can imagine, I got spoiled very quickly. I hardly ever washed anything in the kitchen sink, which was both great for me and the environment. You see, dishwashers end up using less water than washing by hand. When we moved, though, our new apartment was dishwasher free and there wasn't much space in our kitchen to install one. That's when I started researching countertop washers, including the Haier HDC1804TW.
The Haier is a miniature automatic dishwasher that's small enough to stand on a counter or fit within a large cabinet -- it measures 22.6-by-18.9-by-17.2 inches. It can fit roughly four place settings, along with silverware, and while it's not Energy Star compliant, it uses a fraction of the amount of water you would use if you hand washed. A recent study found that to hand wash 12 place settings it takes 27 gallons of water. The Haier uses about 8.25 gallons for the same amount of dishes -- 2.75 gallons per cycle. Like most countertop washers, the Haier connects to your kitchen sink water line. The instructions suggest that you connect the water intake hose straight to your kitchen faucet, but this means that you have to uninstall the line every time you want to use your sink. We decided to create a more permanent solution, by connecting the intake hose straight to the hot water supply under the sink. In order to do this, first we checked if our water pipes were copper or iron (what you have determines what type of hardware to get). Once we knew they were iron, we headed to the hardware store to buy a dual-supply/dual shut-off stop valve and a 48-inch dishwasher supply line. We then shut off our main water feed to our sink, put a small bucket under our hot water valve, turned on the faucet to relieve pressure, and then removed the faucet hookup and the existing valve. Next, we applied teflon tape to the exposed pipe threads after removing the old tape and attached the dual shut-off valve. Then we attached our dishwasher line to one end of the dual valve and our sink line to the other, again applying teflon tape to any visible threads (male side only). Finally, we turned on our house water and checked for leaks. Grey water needs to go somewhere as well, so we decided to collect it in a bucket in order to water plants outside (we use a mild Trader Joe's detergent that doesn't harm plants). We simply placed the drain hose into a five gallon bucket, and now make sure to empty it after each use.
Once fully connected, the Haier has a bit of a learning curve to work properly. First, there's the issue of the actual rack. It takes a few dozen washes to figure out the perfect placement for plates and glasses and how much you can cram in there while still getting everything clean. The rack is designed to accommodate four dinner plates, four soup plates, four dessert dishes, and a few glasses. Since we don't really use soup plates, and rarely use small dishes it took some finagling to fit what we have. In the end I'm able to get seven dinner plates in, plus stemless wine glasses (or in the case of the photo below, four dinner plates, three dessert plates, a jar, mug, and vase, and a large tupperware). But that's when the second hiccup occurred.
For the first few weeks we found that plates, glasses and silverware were coming out of the rack with residue (both food and detergent). After a chat with the Haier rep, I discovered I needed to rinse plates and glasses before putting them in (my previous full size only required me to scrap food off and into the compost). And on top of that, I needed to make sure the hot water was actually running hot before starting up the washer. So, I came up with a system in which I would fill up the washer with plates, glasses, and silverware, and before starting up the washer, I would wash pots, pans, and other large items in the sink in order to get the water warm enough. This did the trick, though on occasion I still find mugs and glasses with debris in them. I have a feeling the water sprayer, located on the bottom of the washer, just doesn't have enough power to shower inside glasses properly.
The Haier has a removable food catch, that you must clean after every wash. The catch truly does catch everything, as I've yet to find pieces of food and debris anywhere else in the washer. Two glasses have broken in the washer since we started using it, but I think that was my fault as I tried to squeeze too many things in it at once.
A wash cycle takes about 2 hours and is a bit loud. If you live in a studio apartment, I recommend turning it on when you're heading out for a few. I've had to take phone conversations to another room and raise the volume on the TV a few bars to hear over the whirl of the machine. The Haier can handle three types of washes, but I'll be honest, I've only used the normal wash cycle and it did well on both fragile items and heavily soiled items. Pros: Compact and easy to install freestanding dishwasher makes it possible for apartment dwellers or renters to get the benefits of a dishwasher without having to sacrifice space. Plus, if you don't use that many dishes on a daily basis, you'll be stoked to be free from dish washing duty. Cons: Takes a big learning curve to figure out how to make this washer work just right. If you eat more than one meal at home a day, you may get frustrated with how small this washer is. Has a hard time cleaning out glasses. Our Ratings: Strong Recommend Recommend Weak Recommend* Don't Recommend Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.