The Complete Guide to Choosing and Using Portable Dishwashers

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Tired of washing dishes by hand but don’t have room for a built-in dishwasher? Portable dishwashers provide an convenient solution for compact kitchens. These freestanding units can be wheeled up to the sink for use, then tucked away in a corner or cabinet. Portable dishwashers deliver full-size cleaning power without the need for permanent installation.

This comprehensive guide will cover the best portable dishwasher models on the market, key factors in selecting the right one, and frequently asked questions about setup, use, and maintenance. Learn how integrating a portable dishwasher can save time and hassle in small kitchens and get tips for keeping it running smoothly for years.

An Introduction to Portable Dishwashers

Before diving into specific products, let’s look at what sets portable dishwashers apart:

  • Compact size: Smaller units fit in tight spaces and can be moved as needed. Perfect for small kitchens.
  • Rollaway design: Freestanding dishwashers roll to the sink on casters and do not require permanent installation.
  • Fully featured: Portable models offer the same wash cycles, capacity, and performance as built-in dishwashers.
  • Water hookup: Attach to the faucet or sink with an adapter hose for easy water supply access.
  • Drainage options: Drain into the sink or a floor drain with a discharge hose. No plumbing needed.

With the convenience of a rollaway dishwasher combined with full-size function, portable models provide flexibility for renters, small homes, or temporary situations.

The Best 4 Portable Dishwashers

Many reputable brands now offer portable dishwashers suitable for any space and needs. Here are four top-rated options:

SPT Countertop Dishwasher

This compact model fits neatly on the counter for occasional dish loads.


  • 6 place settings capacity
  • 6 wash cycles
  • 49.5 dB quiet operation
  • Stainless steel interior tub
  • Faucet hookup with adapter

Dimensions: 21.6” x 19.7” x 17.2”

Pros: Affordable, small footprint, quick washes

Cons: Limited capacity and cycles

Price Range: $250 – $300

Danby DDW621WDB Countertop Dishwasher

Danby’s portable dishwasher takes on bigger loads with versatile cleaning.


  • 8 place settings capacity
  • 6 wash cycles including specialty cycles
  • 51 dB noise rating
  • Electronic controls with LED display
  • Rinse aid dispenser

Dimensions: 21.9” x 21.7” x 17.2”

Pros: Quiet, spacious, specialty wash options

Cons: More expensive, bulky on countertops

Price Range: $400 – $500

Farberware FDW05ASBWHA Complete Portable Countertop Dishwasher

This versatile model features a compact footprint with an adjustable top rack.


  • 5 place settings capacity
  • 7 wash programs including express wash
  • Adjustable top rack
  • LED indicators and electronic controls
  • Caster wheels and faucet adapter included

Dimensions: 19.7″ x 21.7″ x 17.2″

Pros: Movable, quick cycles, adjustable rack

Cons: Limited capacity for large households

Price Range: $340 – $400

EdgeStar DWP62SV 6 Place Setting Energy Star Rated Portable Dishwasher

This freestanding unit combines efficiency and quality cleaning.


  • 6 place settings capacity
  • 7 wash cycles with 5 options
  • Energy Star certified
  • Stainless steel tub with rinse aid dispenser
  • Hard food disposer

Dimensions: 21.6” W x 19.6” D x 17.4” H

Pros: Energy efficient, stainless interior, disposer

Cons: Manual controls, small capacity

Price Range: $300 – $400

With options suited for countertops or freestanding, and capacities from 4 to 8+ place settings, a quality portable dishwasher exists for every space.

How to Select the Best Portable Dishwasher

Beyond comparing models, these are the key factors to consider when choosing a portable dishwasher:

Installation Space

  • Countertop models can fit snugly on existing counters or carts when needed. Measure width and depth.
  • Larger freestanding units require dedicated space but offer more flexibility to move as needed.

Place Settings Capacity

  • Compact dishwashers accommodate 4-6 place settings for 1-2 people
  • Larger models fit 8-10+ settings for families or roommates

Wash Cycles and Options

  • Cycles like heavy, normal, and light determine wash intensity
  • Look for quick options like express washes
  • Specialty cycles tackle pots, pans, and baked-on foods

Noise Rating

  • Portable models operate quietly from 45-60 dB, about the volume of a conversation
  • Sound insulation helps mask noise if located close to living areas

Installation Requirements

  • All portable dishwashers require access to:
  • Hot water line – attach to faucet or sink
  • Drainage – drain hose directs water into sink or floor drain
  • No extensive wiring or carpentry needed

Rack Adjustability

  • Adjustable upper racks better accommodate larger pots and pans

Control Display

  • LED or digital displays indicate cycle status
  • Models with manual dials keep costs down

With an understanding of your needs, space, and budget, you can hone in on the ideal portable dishwasher.

Frequently Asked Questions About Portable Dishwashers

Considering a new portable dishwasher? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

How do you hook up a portable dishwasher?

Most portable dishwashers use a snap-on faucet adapter to connect to the sink hot water line. For drainage, run the dishwasher hose to the sink either secured on the edge or through an installed air gap.

What maintenance is required for portable dishwashers?

Rinse and clean the filters monthly. Remove hard water buildup and limescale as needed. Use dishwasher cleaner monthly to remove grease and odors.

How long do portable dishwasher wash cycles take?

Normal wash cycles run 60-90 minutes. Quick washes finish in under 30 minutes. Some models have an express cycle completing a light load in just 15-20 minutes.

What kinds of detergent can be used in portable dishwashers?

Use standard automatic dishwasher detergents, either powder, liquid gel, or tablet/pack form. Avoid hand washing detergents which will create excess suds.

Do portable dishwashers require special dishes or loading?

Dishes must be dishwasher safe. Load dishes properly without blocking wash arms. Angle dirty surfaces to face the center and avoid nesting items.

How much water do portable dishwashers use?

Standard size portable dishwashers use 4-5 gallons of water per normal cycle. Compact countertop models use closer to 2-3 gallons per load.

Are stainless steel or plastic tubs better for portable dishwashers?

Stainless steel tubs resist stains and rust better long-term. Plastic tubs reduce weight but can become stained or warped over time.

What should you look for in a portable dishwasher rack?

Seek adjustable tines to fit various dishes, fold-down racks for larger items, and sturdy wheels that smoothly roll out the rack. Removable racks simplify loading.

What are the best tips for loading a portable dishwasher?

Strategically load dishes so water reaches all surfaces. Keep glasses, cups, and bowls on top racks. Angle dirty plates and pans toward the center spray arm. Avoid nesting or overlapping dishes.

How do you clean a portable dishwasher?

Wipe gaskets and interior surfaces regularly. Remove and rinse filters monthly. Run an empty vinegar cycle monthly to remove grease and limescale. Replace hard water buildup with dishwasher cleaner.

How do you remove odors from a portable dishwasher?

Eliminate smells by running a vinegar rinse cycle monthly. Wiping down gaskets prevents mold. Check for trapped debris under the filters. A dishwasher cleaning product also removes odors.

What are troubleshooting tips for a portable dishwasher not cleaning properly?

Check the water temperature, spin of the arms, condition of the filters, proper detergent use, and loading of dishes. Adjust as needed. Deep clean if necessary.

What are the benefits of buying a portable dishwasher over a built-in model?

Portable dishwashers don’t require permanent installation, offer flexibility in placement, work in rented or temporary housing, and accommodate small kitchens. They provide the same cleaning benefits without built-in restrictions.

What should you do if your portable dishwasher is leaking?

If your dishwasher leaks, first check door seals and gaskets for cracks. Verify the drain hose is secured properly without kinks. Make sure filters are clean. Tighten water connections.

How can you get replacement parts for a portable dishwasher?

Check with the manufacturer or an appliance parts supplier using your model information to order replacements like racks, hoses, motors, etc. Watch for error codes indicating the failed part.

Bring Effortless Clean to Small Spaces

Tackling dishes is made dramatically easier by letting a portable dishwasher do the hard work. Their rollaway convenience combined with full-size features allow even the smallest kitchens to benefit. Use this guide to choose the right capacity, cycles, and features to match your entertaining and cleaning needs. Then take advantage of the flexibility portable dishwashers provide through easy setup and mobility. With the selection of models now available, there are more options than ever to wash dishes practically anywhere.

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