Best Portable Dishwashers

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

12 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
119 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best portable dishwashers

Last Updated October 2019

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.

Using a rinse aid is a great way to keep your portable dishwasher from spotting glasses and flatware.

Key considerations

Design

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.

Capacity

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.

Durable stainless steel

While you will pay up for it, this Whirlpool portable dishwasher stands out for its durable and attractive stainless steel finish. It can hold eight place settings, and it features six wash cycles and a time delay.

Size

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.

Setup

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.

Effectiveness

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.

EXPERT TIP

If you are interested in an eco-friendly portable dishwasher, search for one that is Energy Star-compliant.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Wash cycles

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:

  • Quick/one-hour: Use this cycle to run a quick load.
  • Normal: For regular, day-to-day use, the normal cycle should be your go-to.
  • Heavy: Use the heavy cycle for excessively dirty dishes or hard-to-clean dishes.
  • Light: For dishes that require only light washing, use the light cycle.
  • High-temperature: This cycle is ideal for washing glassware, baby bottles, and other dishes that can benefit from a hotter wash.
  • China/crystal: Use this cycle for washing china or glassware.
  • Pots/pans: This cycle is for deep-cleaning cookware.
  • Energy-saver: The energy-saver cycle is an eco-friendly, low-water cycle.

Dry cycles

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

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

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.

Filter

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.

Power cord and hose

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.

Pick up a large cutting board to turn your freestanding portable dishwasher into a versatile food-prep island.

Portable dishwasher prices

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

Hand-washing dishes can use up to 27 gallons of water, while using a portable dishwasher for the same amount of dishes can use as little as two to three gallons.

Tips

  • Some portable dishwashers feature a soil sensor, which will adjust the wash cycle automatically to account for more food particles on the dishes.
  • The dry cycle of a portable dishwasher will likely be more effective if the machine’s interior is constructed from stainless steel.
  • If you have a kitchen remodel in your future, consider purchasing a convertible portable dishwasher. These can be used either as a freestanding machine or as a built-in dishwasher (you will need an additional installation kit).
  • While not standard, a hard food disposal element will grind up larger chunks of food so they can be flushed out of the dishwasher. This will keep debris from building up in the filter, but it can also result in a louder-running machine.
  • A countertop dishwasher uses around two gallons of water, while a freestanding model uses about three. Because of the larger capacities of freestanding models, they tend to be a more efficient choice in terms of water usage.
  • If your kitchen sink has a built-in sprayer head for a faucet, you may run into some problems hooking up your portable dishwasher.
  • Before hooking up the hose and running a dishwasher load, run your sink’s tap until the water is hot. This will help detergent to dissolve and leave your dishes cleaner overall.
  • You should regularly clean a portable dishwasher’s filter. While doing so, also inspect the sprayer arms to verify that they spin fully and that the holes in them are not blocked in any way.
  • If you have small children, consider purchasing a portable dishwasher that offers a child-lock feature.

Space-saving countertop convenience

This countertop portable dishwasher is perfect for singles or couples who need a dishwasher but lack the space for a conventional model. It fits on the countertops of both kitchens and RVs and can hold up to six place settings at a time.

Other products we considered

Portable dishwashers can be a pretty narrow category with few options, but there were several other models that caught our eye. The easy-to-load DELLA Compact Countertop Dishwasher features six wash cycles and a choice of colors to better fit your décor. The BLACK+DECKER Compact Dishwasher is also a countertop dishwasher, this one with seven wash cycles. Its special features include a child-safety lock and delayed start of up to 24 hours.

Noise is an important factor when purchasing a portable dishwasher as you won’t have cabinets to insulate it and dampen the sound.

FAQ

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.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katherine
    Katherine
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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