A portable dishwasher is a smaller, lighter, and more versatile unit than a full-size built-in dishwasher. While this type of dishwasher often finds a home in an RV, campsite, dorm, or apartment, a portable dishwasher can save space in every kitchen. They typically come with hoses and attachments that connect directly to the kitchen faucet and are mounted on wheels, which allows them to be moved to the kitchen faucet as needed. Some models also can be filled manually, which is ideal if you don’t plan to move it.
The best portable dishwasher for your home depends on the number of people living in the home, how often you wash dishes, and the space available for a dishwasher. We’ve gathered all the factors to consider in this guide, so keep reading. But first look at some of the best portable dishwashers, selected for product efficacy and overall value.
- BEST OVERALL: BLACK+DECKER BCD6W 6 Place Setting Compact Countertop
- RUNNER-UP: Farberware Complete Portable Countertop Dishwasher
- UPGRADE PICK: SPT SD-9263W: 18″ Energy Star Portable Dishwasher
- BEST COUNTERTOP: SPT Compact Countertop Dishwasher
- BEST STAINLESS STEEL: EdgeStar DWP62SV 6 Place Setting Energy Star Rated
- FASTEST OPERATION: Farberware Compact Portable Countertop Dishwasher
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Portable Dishwasher
Before you start shopping for a portable dishwasher, consider some of the most important product characteristics in the best portable dishwashers.
Before shopping for a portable dishwasher, figure out the size of the area in which you plan to install the dishwasher. Look around your kitchen to determine the various locations for a dishwasher, keeping in mind that you likely will need access to a sink.
Use a tape measure to measure the height, width, and depth of the available space. Also factor in the extra space needed for the dishwasher door to open and the clearance space for the hose to connect at the back to the faucet, which usually varies among appliances. With these measurements in-hand, it’s easy to determine the maximum size of a portable dishwasher that will fit.
Although portable dishwashers are constructed from a variety of materials, they’re typically made from durable plastic or stainless steel. Stainless steel also is commonly used in the interior tub.
- Plastic is budget-friendly and long-lasting. It usually outlasts many of the other internal parts, which could wear out within 12 to 16 years. However, plastic can be susceptible to impact damage, and if it’s not regularly cleaned, it may absorb odors, oils, and other stains that make the dishwasher smell bad.
- Stainless steel usually costs more, but it’s more durable than plastic. Stainless steel frames protect the dishwasher from possible impact damage when moved. Stainless steel interior tubs typically don’t retain odors or food debris. Plus, the smooth, non-porous surface is easy to clean.
A dishwasher’s internal space measurements don’t represent the actual space available for dirty dishes. To better communicate the capacity of their product, manufacturers usually describe space in terms of the number of place settings that the dishwasher can hold. One place setting includes a large dinner plate, small snack plate, saucer, bowl, coffee cup, drinking glass, knife, two teaspoons, a dinner fork, and a small salad fork.
Most full-size dishwashers hold between 12 to 16 place settings. A portable dishwasher’s capacity typically ranges from two to eight place settings, which is more than enough space for the dishes produced by a small family, couple, or an individual.
Standing vs. Countertop
Based on size and installation location, the two primary types of portable dishwashers are standing and countertop portable dishwashers.
- Standing portable dishwashers typically have wheels to move them around the kitchen and feet that prevent the appliance from moving when it’s flat on the floor. Tilting the unit to one side allows for easy movement from place to place. With an efficacy similar to that of a countertop portable dishwasher, a standing dishwasher has a greater capacity because of its larger size. However, standing models usually cost more.
- Countertop portable dishwashers are smaller than both standing portable and regular dishwashers. Designed for smaller kitchens and apartment spaces with little available floor space, they work as well as standing dishwashers, but with a smaller capacity. Moreover, they usually don’t have wheels, and, since they weigh between 40 to 80 pounds, they’re difficult to move around on your countertop. Position them in a location near the kitchen faucet. Additionally, most cannot wash pots and pans.
A portable dishwasher needs a water source for its multiple pressurized jets to clean your dishes and cookware. Portable dishwashers also must have a permanent water source, similar to a standard dishwasher.
Some portable dishwasher models also have a tank that can be filled manually. They don’t need a pressurized source of water, which means the dishwasher can be used without connecting it to a faucet. This is ideal for camping or to use away from the kitchen sink.
Water and Energy Consumption
When considering new appliances for the home, conserving natural resources may be an important consideration. This is especially true for dishwashers and washing machines that consume both water and electricity. While some people maintain that washing dishes by hand conserves more water than a dishwasher, the opposite is actually true. A dishwasher is contained in a sealed box that uses only a specific amount of water for each program or cycle it runs.
For more efficient water and energy consumption, choose a portable dishwasher with an energy-saving mode. Individuals or couples likely don’t need a standing portable dishwasher that uses up to 3 gallons of water and about 1 kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity per cycle. A countertop portable dishwasher uses about 2 gallons of water, 0.7 kWh of electricity per cycle, and saves floor space, while still providing cleaning results similar to both standing and regular dishwashers. Either machine is a better choice than a standard dishwasher, which uses up to 4 gallons of water and 1.5 kWh of electricity per cycle. And any type of dishwasher is better than washing by hand, which uses approximately 27 gallons of water.
Every portable dishwasher features an assortment of wash cycles. Each cycle changes the flow of water from the jets, adjusts the time spent washing or drying, and alters the water temperature output. The different settings allow the dishwasher to more efficiently address specific cleaning tasks, such as scrubbing pots and pans.
Typical wash cycle options include light, normal, and heavy, with most cycles lasting between 80 to 150 minutes. However, some portable dishwashers may offer additional cycle options, including an energy-saving cycle, a rinse cycle, a pots-and-pans cycle, and a speed- or quick-wash cycle.
Manufacturers have begun to develop quieter portable dishwashers, so they are more appropriate for small homes, dorms, apartments, or anywhere that noises must be kept below a certain level. Noise level for portable dishwashers is measured in decibels (dB); most models have a decibel range from 45 to 60 dB.
To put this in perspective, a standard vacuum cleaner or hair dryer has a noise level of about 70 dB, while a normal conversation can range between about 60 to 70 dB. A refrigerator hum is about 50 dB, and the noise level of a whisper measures generates about 20 to 30 dB. To ensure that your portable dishwasher doesn’t affect your ability to have a conversation in your home, consider a product with a low noise level.
While these dishwashers are portable, the degree to which they are truly portable differs for each product. For a dishwasher that moves with ease, consider a number of factors: the weight of the portable dishwasher, whether it has handles or easy-grip locations, and if it has wheels or just feet on the bottom.
- Weight can range significantly. It depends on the material used, the size of the motor, and the size of the portable dishwasher. Countertop dishwashers weigh less than standing dishwashers, but they aren’t light. Most countertop dishwashers weigh at least 40 pounds.
- Handles and easy-grip locations on the portable dishwasher can make it much easier to lift, carry, and move. However, even with handles, some units may be too heavy for one person to handle alone.
- Wheels are a feature typical to standing portable dishwashers, so the machine can move around the room easily. This feature is beneficial for standing dishwashers that normally weigh more than 100 pounds.
Most portable dishwashers have one or more features that can make washing the dishes easier and safer, such as a safety lock, sensor wash, anti-flood protection, and a baby care function.
- Safety locks prevent your little ones from opening or operating the portable dishwasher. Locks also eliminate the risk of burns from hot steam or that your child can access knives, forks, and other cookware.
- Sensor wash-enabled portable dishwashers scan your dishes with an optical sensor and change the wash cycle to meet the level of cleaning needed for that specific load.
- Anti-flood protection is a simple system that monitors the level of water inside the portable dishwasher. It can shut off the water intake automatically if the water rises above a certain level, which can happen if the drain hose gets clogged. This prevents the portable dishwasher from overflowing and flooding your home.
- Baby care functions allow you to super-heat the dishes with a powerful steam to kill viruses, bacteria, and other microbes. Use this setting to wash and sterilize baby bottles and accessories, and it’s also useful for cleaning glassware.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about the various features available on portable dishwashers, start shopping. Here, we’ve compiled our top picks for some of the best portable dishwashers for each category.
With a six-place setting capacity, this countertop portable dishwasher is sized for a small- to medium-size family. It weighs 46 pounds, and it contains all the necessary water hoses and connections for immediate use. Its 60 dB noise level means it operates relatively quietly.
This portable dishwasher has seven wash programs, including intensive, normal, eco (energy-saving), glass, 90 minutes, rapid, and soak, allowing you to choose the best program for each load. It also has the option to delay the start of a cycle by up to 24 hours, and it comes with a child lock.
The Farberware Complete Portable Countertop Dishwasher contains a 5-liter water tank that can be connected to a faucet for automatic or manual filling, which makes it useful for camping. Most portable dishwashers weigh at least 40 pounds, but this dishwasher comes in at only 35 pounds. Even though it’s small, it has a pull-out dish rack and cutlery rack. The portable dishwasher can wash two place settings, and it includes a baby care function to sterilize baby bottles.
The SPT Energy Star Portable Dishwasher standing portable dishwasher has a large eight-place setting capacity and six wash programs, including heavy, normal, eco (energy-saving), glass, 90 minutes, and rapid. It includes a drain hose and adapter to connect to a faucet. The interior tub is made with stainless steel, and it contains an upper and lower rack as well as a cutlery rack. The dishwasher has a quiet, 52 dB noise level and weighs 118 pounds. It’s easy to move on its built-in front wheels.
Living in an apartment or a home with a cramped kitchen can make it difficult to use a standing portable dishwasher. Instead, save space and still clean the dishes with this compact countertop portable dishwasher that weighs only 43 pounds. The portable dishwasher comes with the necessary hoses and connectors, and it has a universal faucet adapter.
This SPT portable dishwasher has a stainless steel interior, a six-place setting capacity, a slide-out rack, and a utensil rack. It also has six wash cycles and operates at a noise level of 55 dB, so your conversations won’t be disrupted.
Suited perfectly for a modern kitchen, this countertop portable dishwasher from EdgeStar has a stainless steel interior, and it comes with a dish rack, cup shelf, and cutlery basket. It contains an internal water heater to raise the water temperature up to 149 degrees Fahrenheit that not only cleans dishes, but sterilizes them as well.
This portable dishwasher has a six-place setting capacity. It operates at just 52 dB, weighs 44 pounds, and has seven wash cycles. The portable dishwasher also comes with the hoses and adapters needed to connect to the faucet and an easy-to-use digital display.
This Farberware portable dishwasher comes with six dishwashing programs, including a speed-cleaning cycle that can wash dishes in 45 minutes, making it a good choice for those who often need clean dishes fast. At less than 45 pounds, it’s a good choice for small kitchens, apartments, dorms, or larger RVs.
The portable dishwasher has a white exterior and an easy-to-clean interior tub. It holds up to six place settings on its fold-down rack shelves and in the cutlery basket. This portable dishwasher also features an additional drying function that adds extra heat to the final rinse to enhance drying results. It has a child lock and comes with all its hoses and adapters.
FAQ About Portable Dishwashers
If you still have questions about portable dishwashers, keep reading to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Q. How do you connect a portable dishwasher?
Use these steps to connect a portable dishwasher to your faucet:
- Remove the aerator (the screw-on fitting on the end of the faucet), the aerator screen, and the washer from the faucet to reveal the faucet’s threads.
- Connect the dishwasher hose to the back of the dishwasher.
- Connect a faucet adapter along with the washer and screen to the dishwasher hose. The adapter typically comes with the dishwasher, but not always, so make sure that you have one.
- Connect the hose with the adapter to the faucet and test it to ensure no leaks occur.
Q. Can you use a portable dishwasher without connecting it to a sink?
Yes, some portable dishwashers allow you to manually fill the tank so that they can be used without a faucet connection. Alternatively, if you run a water line, a portable dishwasher can be connected permanently to a home’s water system.
Q. How do portable dishwashers drain?
Portable dishwashers drain using a fitting called a “unicouple” that attaches to the kitchen faucet. Two hoses run from the unicouple to the dishwasher: One is used to fill the dishwasher, and the other hose drains water back into the sink.