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Tired of doing dishes by hand, but can’t sacrifice cabinet space? Not to worry, you have alternatives! Aside from appliances with wheels, certain dishwashers intended to go under your counter can also be situated somewhere in your kitchen and hooked up without dedicated installation. When you’re done, you can roll it away until you need it again. But what do you need to know before you purchase yours, and how can you spot the option that suits you better? This and more, is what we cover further down. These are our reviews of the best portable dishwasher.
See also: Thinking about upgrading your kitchen? These are our favorite under mount sinks, reviewed!
Special requirement: Water Supply
While a built-in dishwasher is hooked directly to the water supply, a more mobile appliance will take up your sink in order to receive water and drain it. The latter is fairly easy, all you need to do is use the sink’s own drain. For water intake, however, it gets tricky: your faucet spout has to be threaded (like this one), otherwise the hose cannot latch on. If yours has a sprayer, you might be able to remove it, but it is best to check with the manufacturer first so you don’t risk permanent damage. There’s a lot to consider when looking for the best portable dishwasher.
Best Faucets For Portable Dishwashers
In case your adapter doesn´t work as it should, or it goes missing, here are a few options that perform quite nicely:
Certified to work with JC Penney and Whirlpool appliances, but it is known to be compatible with SPT dishwashers and Haier washing machines.
360-degree swivel ball joint, so that your hose of choice won’t tangle all the time. Snap style installation, works with both dishwashers and washing machines.
Compatible brands include: Sears, Kitchen Aid, Montgomery Ward, and RCA Whirlpool portable dishwashers.
Same Mission, Different Perks
So many dishwashers out there, how to know which is the right one? There are several defining features that may make a difference depending on your taste, budget, space and average use. Below we go over them, one by one to find the best portable dishwasher.
When you tuck your dishwasher under your counter, the surrounding cabinets help reduce the noise generated as the appliance goes about its work. When it is in the open however, you don’t get this benefit. The more silently your appliance runs, the better. Every dishwasher we list here will include mention of its sound levels in decibels (dB)
There are three categories: full size, (about 85cm x 60cm x 60cm), able to fit over 100 items between cutlery, pots and pans; slimline (to the tune of 85cm x 45cm x 60cm), with average capacity just shy of 100 items; and compact, small enough to safely rest on top of your counter, and with just enough space for 60 items or so. The options we are covering here will be either full or slimline.
Choosing optimal size may be tricky: it will depend on the capacity you need, and on how much space you are willing to sacrifice both when using and putting away your dishwasher.
Similar to how a microwave may have preset settings for, say, thawing meat or cooking popcorn, dishwashers can come with programs for certain sorts of loads, such as half load, glass only, heavy soil and so on. 3 programs is fairly standard for most units, although some options will feature more. Certain choices will even have sensors to adapt the cycle on the go depending on the level of soil present in the load.
Sometimes you may want to run the dishwasher at a later time, such as while you’re at work or sleeping. If this is your case, you may want to focus on options that let you set the start of the cycle for later.
Your dishes will be dried in two possible ways. If they use hot air, they will be consuming extra electricity since they have to channel power through a heating element. A more economic but possibly less effective way is using the residual heat from the washing cycle to dry the load.
Adjustable racks and baskets
Some times you will be washing a full dinnerware set after a party. On occasion, you may be looking to clean up after several batches of cookies. Since your situations (and item size) will vary, being able to readjust position of your racks and baskets should prove quite handy.
Certain dishwashers will feature a sensor at the end of the inlet pipe that will detect changes in water pressure, triggering a safety valve that shuts off the flow of water. This way, your machine will not get overfilled.
The more wash levels the better, and how powerful the arms are is also relevant, as it will directly affect how clean your dishes come out.
A feature that is not universal but may provide some peace of mind. Similar to a garbage disposal, a blade rotates at extremely high speed to pulverize food particles and keep them from clogging the arms.
Many dishwashers come with Energy Star certification, which is a trusty way to verify your chosen dishwasher won’t be running your utility bill too high.
Our Top Picks
Big, not so big, budget friendly: here are our chosen appliances, categorized.
Best 18-inch Portable Dishwasher: SPT SD-9263W
This unit spends up to 5 gallons of water per cycle, and its performance is among the most silent, at 52dB. Its modern design gives it a neat look, and it includes several useful features. You can choose from 6 programs the one that better suits the load, such as heavy, rapid or glass. You can set the machine to begin its work with a delay of 1 to 24 hours. 8 place settings. It may not be the best portable dishwasher, but it’s a great space-saving solution.
- Plenty of nice features, such as delayed start, rinse aid warning and more.
- A good fit for a small kitchen.
- Cord can turn out too short.
- By design it may present leakage if faucet features a detached sprayer.
Best Price Portable Dishwasher: Danby DDW1805EWP – 18”
Set your silverware apart in its own basket, and get your dishes cleaned in any of 8 place settings available; its adjustable upper rack gives you margin for items of more variable sizes.
The spray arm and interior are made in stainless steel, and operation is both low on noise (52 dB) and water usage (3.5 gallons). Detergent and rinse aid are dispensed automatically, and the controls are electronic with display light. Energy Star certified.
- Easy to use controls.
- Quick connect feature is compatible with most faucets.
- Hoses can break with relative ease.
- Lower in features: only 4 washing cycles, and no delayed start function.
Best Full Size (24-inch) Portable Dishwasher: Whirlpool WDP370PAHB
Low-noise (55dB) and with performance generally met with praise, this unit comes with a decent level of functionality. Controls are electronic and, although you only have 2 cycles to pick from, the built-in sensor will make adjustments during the cycle to suit the current load’s needs. The heavy wash cycle will add time to work on dishes with heavy soil, and the high temperature option helps with baby bottles, glassware and similar items.
If you would rather use dishes straight out of the machine, you can use the Heated Dry option; this comes at an additional energy consumption costs.
- Known to be thorough at cleaning dishes.
- Operation is fairly straightforward.
- Star-K certified: kosher friendly to customers observing Sabbath (with some limitations)
- Normal and heavy cycles can take a long time.
- Rinse aid required for optimal performance.
For the DIY-oriented: Turning a Built-in Into a Portable
If you do have the threaded faucet, another possibility opens up: a conventional, built-in type dishwasher that hooks up and works like a portable. It’s not exactly simple, but it is doable. Here’s what it will take:
- Castor wheels, or a furniture dolly, so the unit can be moved around.
- Heavy-duty hose, the type that can endure constant pressure and hot water, for attaching to the machine’s intake. The end that will hook onto the faucet should have a Y-adapter attached, to relieve pressure after the machine is done washing the dishes.
- Another length of hose for the drain. This one doesn’t have to be as strong as the one for the intake, as it won’t be under pressure so often; but, getting a sturdy one doesn’t hurt either. Garden variety hose should do the trick.
- Faucet adapter, so the hose can latch onto your threaded spout.
- A power cord, to weave the washer’s electric wiring into. It will often includes wire nuts, but you can get them separately if needed. Unless the manufacturer says otherwise, the scheme is simple: green goes with green, white attaches to white, and black matches with black.
- Hose clamps, to secure a length of hose to another. Teflon tape is also recommended, to help prevent leaks.
- When you’re looking for the best portable dishwasher, the center of gravity will be a factor. Whereas a built-in is usually held by the counter where it is installed, a free roaming appliance can tip over when you open the door and slide the racks out.
- Hose lengths should be kept to a reasonably minimum length. The shorter the hose, the easier it is for the pump to work.
- Drain hose should be held high, about mid height of the machine, so the water won’t build up within or stream back.
- The area where wires are joined, should be kept off the floor and protected so any leaks will not affect it.
A Few Good Convertibles
Below you will find a selection of appliances that, while intended for undercounter installation, should be suitable for converting into portables.
Silent, affordable and Energy Star rated, perhaps the main drawback of this appliance is that you have to invest work in it if you want it to be portable. Its sound level is 52 dB, rather low for an appliance of its category. The leakage sensor shuts off water flow when necessary in order to prevent any issues with water damage.
A dedicated basket will hold your silverware, and you have 6 cycles and 3 additional option (sanitize, hi temp, heated dry) to tailor the washing process to the load’s particular needs.
Admits rinse aid usage. 3 colors to choose from.
- Low priced and overall economic.
- A decent amount of added functionality.
- Lacks automation found on many other similar units, such as dispensing of detergent and rinse aid.
Use the sanitize cycle if you are worried about bacteria. The “Hi Temp Wash” option, usable with all cycles except rinse, heats the water within to 140°F, which helps remove grease and makes drying easier.
Their proprietary DishSense technology monitors the load in real time to make adjustments. Cycle start can be delayed for up to 6 hours, in 2-hour increments. Previous cycle is memorized, which can save time when washing the same sort of load day after day.
As big as it is, it operates without too much noise, at 54dB. Includes hot air element for thorough moisture elimination, though you can turn it off if you feel like saving some energy.The overfill protector ensures water levels stay reasonable.
Energy Star and NSF certified.
- Rather functional, with a good amount of features.
- Body is not very solid, it can bend easily.
- Cycle delay range is very short compared to other similar appliances.
This full size unit comes with versatility to match: its 12 place settings should be able to handle almost any sort of load you have sitting in your sink, be it after an afternoon baking or the morning following a big party. Designed by General Electric, it features its proprietary “Piranha” food disposer, consisting of a blade that rotates at high speed during the washing cycle to chop away at any errant food particles so they won’t clog the washing arms.
Use the Water Saver cycle for everyday loads, and set it to heavy when your cookware presents higher concentration of grease and soil.
- Available cycles and options help customize the cleaning process as needed.
- Solid build.
- Reliable temperature monitoring and control.
- Sound level is higher than many other alternatives offer.
Looking for more appliance reviews?: Check out our favorite toaster ovens, here!
Whichever way you go, you can rest assured: aside from the convenience, you will be saving a fair amount of water! Let us know which one is the best portable dish washer for you!