Soil sensor automatically determines if the normal wash cycle should be adjusted to ensure dishes come out clean. Features room for 12 place settings. High-temperature wash option is great for baby bottles. Offers a 4-hour time delay.
Some users complained it has a subpar dry cycle.
Suitable for small apartments, dorms, and RVs/campers. Stainless steel interior. Fits 6 full place settings with 10-inch dinner plates. Seven wash programs include heavy-duty, speed wash, self-clean, and baby care. Offers a child lock.
Hookup needs adapter for nonstandard faucets.
Designed for countertop use. Can also fit in cabinets. Offers quick connection to many faucets. Fits 6 full place settings. Offers 6 wash settings including heavy, speed, and soak. Has rinse dispenser and delay function.
Does not dry the dishes well.
Has both upper and lower racks. The 24-inch interior is stainless steel. Auto-senses soil level to adjust wash time. Boasts food disposal for grinding solids. Fits 12 place settings. Set on 4 swiveling casters for ease of movement.
Requires standard dishwasher hookups.
Built-in tank allows operation without direct faucet hookup. Notably tiny form factor; can fit in cramped quarters. Five wash programs including baby care and fruit wash. Upper and lower spray arms.
Suitable for only 1-2 place settings at a time.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Dishwashers are not only a convenient way to clean up after a meal, but they can also save a considerable amount of water compared to washing dishes by hand. Unfortunately, not everyone can install a traditional dishwasher. Some don’t have the space for a larger machine or the piping to easily install a built-in dishwasher. For others, the price is prohibitive.
Portable dishwashers offer a more compact footprint – some even fit on the countertop – and a plumber-free installation. They’re ideal for smaller households that don’t produce a full load of dishes, and they also usually cost much less than traditional machines.
While portables are similar to traditional dishwashers, there are still a number of factors that set them apart. This guide examines those differences in addition to the other factors and considerations to think about before purchasing a portable dishwasher. In the matrix above, you’ll find our suggestions for the top portable dishwashers currently on the market.
The first thing you will need to decide is if you want a freestanding portable dishwasher or a countertop model.
Freestanding portable dishwashers usually have wheels, allowing you to easily move them out of the way when they are not being used. They are most often constructed from plastic, although some feature stainless steel exteriors or interiors, which can improve their overall appearance and durability.
As the name implies, countertop models sit on the counter. The majority of these portable dishwashers are constructed largely from plastic.
The majority of portable dishwashers can hold six to eight place settings, although some of the larger models can hold up to 12 place settings. Aim for a higher capacity if you have a larger family or tend to go through dishes frequently. Note, though, that a machine with a larger capacity will also take up more physical space. Countertop models usually offer less capacity than freestanding portable dishwashers.
Portable dishwashers tend to be on the compact side. The majority of models are around 18 inches in width, with larger machines topping out around 24 inches. A longer width allows you to not only fit more dishes in the dishwasher but also larger pots and pans. (A countertop model may not be able to fit pots and pans at all.) A larger portable dishwasher will take up more room, which can be an issue if your available space is limited.
Setting up a portable dishwasher should be fairly simple. Right out of the box, you will probably need to install the wheels on a rolling model, and that should largely be it.
Your kitchen faucet may be another matter. Your portable dishwasher will have a hose that must be connected to your sink faucet for the dishwasher to run. For the majority of faucets, this will not be a huge issue as the dishwasher should ship with a few adapters for fitting the hose to your faucet. However, in some cases, you may need to make a trip to the hardware store for the proper adapter.
Does a portable dishwasher leave dishes clean, meaning free of food and detergent residue? Will it leave spots on glasses and flatware? Check out the product’s online reviews to make sure the model you’re considering cleans dishes thoroughly.
Like traditional dishwashers, the majority of portable dishwashers feature a number of different wash cycles tailored to different types of dishes or cleaning concerns. Some of the more popular wash cycles include:
Dry cycles allow you to quickly dry your dishes after they are washed as opposed to letting them air dry. Not all portable dishwashers have a dry cycle, and even rarer is a heated dry cycle. This is a great cycle to have if you’d rather not wait around for dishes to air dry, but it will cost you more to run the dishwasher.
Time delay allows you to set the portable dishwasher so that it will run in the future. Some portable dishwashers can only be delayed for up to four hours, while others can be delayed for up to 24 hours.
Wheels, or casters, allow you to more easily move your portable dishwasher out of the way when you’re not using it. These are standard on freestanding portables but not on countertop models.
A portable dishwasher should have some form of filtering system to filter out larger food particles. A filter should be easy to pop out and clean. While rare, some portable dishwashers come with self-cleaning filters.
The portable dishwasher’s power cord and hose need to be long enough that you can hook them up to an outlet and your faucet but not so long that they are difficult to store when the dishwasher is not in use.
While generally less than traditional dishwashers, portable dishwashers can still set you back. Portable models start out at around $200 and go up to $700 or more. That said, the median price for portable dishwashers is $300.
Below $300, you will find lower-capacity machines, largely countertop models. Over $300, expect to find increased capacity, expanded cycle options, and extras such as a heated dry cycle. The build and durability will be better with higher-priced models.
Q. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a countertop model over a freestanding portable dishwasher?
A. Countertop units generally take up less space, and they take up no floor space at all. They are effective if you wash a small number of dishes, but they may prove too compact for families of more than two. They are also usually not large enough to wash pots or pans. You will lose counter space with a countertop model, unless it ships with some way to mount it. Freestanding portable dishwashers can actually increase your counter space by introducing another work surface to your kitchen.
Q. Do I need a special installation kit to hook up my portable dishwasher?A. If a manufacturer offers to sell you an installation kit in addition to your portable dishwasher, it will probably be for permanent installation of the dishwasher, which you will not need if you plan on using your machine as a freestanding unit. Dishwashers that hook up to your faucet should ship with everything you need to start using the machine right out of the box.
Q. Do portable dishwashers need to be placed higher than the sink to work?
A. No. Portable dishwashers use a pump to drain the water. Since they don’t rely on gravity for drainage, your machine does not need to be higher than the drain.
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