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Portable dishwashers are typically either mounted on wheels or designed to sit on a countertop, and they're a great option if you don’t have space for a built-in appliance. "A portable dishwasher might be a good choice for a tiny home," notes Johnathan Brewer, The Spruce's Home Improvement Review Board member, "due to its compact size." Additionally, older homes can benefit from this type of appliance, explains Ron Shimek, President of Mr. Appliance, since a major kitchen remodel isn't involved.
Our top pick, the GE 24-inch Portable Dishwasher, offers the convenience and capacity of a full-size dishwasher, yet it’s mounted on caster wheels and hooks up to a faucet for easy operation.
Here, the best portable dishwashers for clean dishes in any space, large or small.
Best Overall: GE GPT225SSLSS 24-Inch Portable Dishwasher with 12 Place Settings Capacity
Several finishes available
Built-in hard food disposer
Energy Star certified
No heated dry
What do buyers say? 1,900+ Home Depot reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
If you’re looking for the convenience and capacity of a full-size dishwasher, this 24-inch portable model from GE is the way to go. It can hold up to 12 place settings at a time thanks to its spacious interior, and it even has a hard food disposer that ensures solid pieces don’t clog up its arms or your drains. The dishwasher comes in three stylish finishes to match your kitchen, and it’s mounted on swiveling caster wheels so you can move it around your kitchen as needed.
This GE Portable Dishwasher is Energy Star-certified, meaning it uses less energy per cycle, and it easily hooks up to your faucet for operation. There are five wash cycles to choose from, including a heavy wash for big messes, an auto-sensing cycle that adjusts its settings to the soil level, and even a high-temperature sanitize option that reduces the amount of bacteria found on dishes. You can adjust the settings via the unit’s hidden control panel, and you can even delay its start time between one and 12 hours.
This portable dishwasher is on the quieter side, operating at around 54 decibels, and the top rack is adjustable to accommodate larger pots and pans on the bottom level. The only real downside is that the unit doesn’t have a heated dry setting, which means your dishes may come out somewhat wet. Overall, though, it’s an attractive, efficient, and well-priced option for any kitchen.
Best Design: BLACK+DECKER BCD6W Compact Countertop Dishwasher
Ideal for small spaces
Heated dry setting
Energy Star certified
Only fits plates up to 10 inches
Dishes need to be pre-rinsed
One of the most affordable portable dishwashers available today is this countertop model from BLACK+DECKER. The compact unit is designed to be placed on your kitchen counter, ideally near the sink, and it hooks up to the faucet using its quick-connect hose assembly. The appliance is just over 17 inches tall, so it will fit underneath most cabinets, and it can hold up to six place settings at a time—just keep in mind that plates must be smaller than 10 inches in diameter.
Despite its low price, this countertop dishwasher offers a wide range of wash settings, including heavy, normal, eco, glass, 90-minute, and rapid modes. It has both upper and lower spray arms in its stainless steel tub, and there are even high-temperature washing and heated dry settings. A three-part filter system helps to keep food out of the pump and wash arms, and the unit is even Energy Star-certified. However, you will want to pre-rinse dishes to remove any large particles or caked-on food, as this unit isn’t the most effective at getting tough gunk off.
Best Compact: BLACK+DECKER 18-Inch Portable Dishwasher
Multiple finishes available
Adjustable top rack
Energy Star certified
Dry setting isn’t the most effective
If you prefer a freestanding dishwasher but have a fairly small kitchen, this 18-inch model from BLACK+DECKER is a great compromise. It has a narrow form that’s compact enough to store in a closet when not in use (though, some people opt to use the top of the appliance as added counter space), but it can still hold up to eight place settings at a time. Plus, the upper rack is adjustable, allowing you to easily fit bulkier items on the bottom.
This Energy Star-certified dishwasher has six different wash cycles, including a high-temperature wash and heated dry options. However, the heated dry setting isn’t the best—your dishes will likely come out somewhat wet, but a rinse aid can help. The appliance has a quick-connect faucet connection, and it’s mounted on four caster wheels, two of which can be locked. The dishwasher has a durable stainless steel interior, and there are white and black finishes to choose from.
Best Large: Whirlpool WDP370PAHW 24 in. Front Control Heavy-Duty Portable Dishwasher
Heated dry setting
One-hour wash option
Top doubles as a work surface
Plastic tub interior
Hard to read control panel
Large households will appreciate the spacious interior of this portable dishwasher from Whirlpool. The 24-inch unit can hold up to 12 place settings at a time, and the top of the unit is outfitted with a wood surface that allows it to double as a workstation in your kitchen. You can choose between two finish colors, and the appliance is mounted on caster wheels that make it easy to roll into place when you’re ready to wash dishes.
This portable dishwasher only offers three cycles—normal, heavy, and one-hour wash—but it does have a high-temperature option and a heated dry setting. The unit has a four-hour delay option, as well as a control lock that prevents children from accidentally starting it, and the design is even Star-K certified as Kosher Consumer Friendly. Some people do find the buttons on the control panel hard to read, but there are only a few options, so you should be able to figure them out fairly quickly.
Best Countertop: hOmeLabs Compact Countertop Dishwasher
Fits underneath most cabinets
Energy Star certified
No drying cycle
Only comes in white finish
The hOmeLabs Countertop Dishwasher can be tucked right under your kitchen cabinets, and it’s a great alternative to a full-size model, especially in smaller homes. This dishwasher has a plain white design, and it can accommodate up to six place settings at a time. To operate this unit, you simply attach its quick-connect assembly to your faucet—it comes with both an inlet and drain hose, as well as a faucet adapter—and select one of its six wash cycles. Options include heavy, normal, eco, glass, speed, and rinse, and there’s also a delay button to postpone the beginning of the cycle.
This countertop dishwasher is Energy Star-certified, and it has a dish rack and silverware basket that allow you to fit more in each wash. The controls are simple to use, and the unit has a sleek appearance that isn’t an eyesore in your kitchen. However, there’s no drying cycle, which means your dishes might still be a bit wet when they come out of the dishwasher. A rinse aid can help get the contents drier, though.
Best for Environment: SPT SD-9263SSA 18 in. Stainless Steel Portable Dishwasher
Energy Star certified
Adjustable top rack
Not ideal for faucets with a side sprayer
No drying cycle
If you’re looking to minimize the amount of water and electricity you use, the SPT Portable 18-Inch Dishwasher is an Energy Star-certified option. Not only that, but it also has an eco-mode that uses less water—in fact, it can use as little as 2.6 gallons per cycle! The compact design has two levels, including an adjustable upper rack, and it can hold up to eight place settings at a time.
This dishwasher is mounted on caster wheels, and it comes with a faucet adapter that makes it easy to attach to your sink. There’s an automatic detergent and rinse agent dispenser on the inner door, and you can select from six wash programs, including heavy, normal, glass, 90-minute, and more. However, the manufacturer does note that the hose may leak if it’s attached to a faucet with a detached side sprayer, so this isn’t the best option if your sink is set up that way.
Best for Apartments: Farberware FDW05ASBWHA Portable Dishwasher with Built-In Water Tank
Built-in water tank
Fits plates up to 12 inches
Steam clean setting
Air exchange improved drying
Faucet adapter not included
Too tall to fit under most cabinets
The Farberware Countertop Dishwasher has a compact size, yet it’s still powerful enough to get your dishes squeaky clean. It stands apart from other countertop models thanks to its built-in water tank, which can hold up to 5 liters at a time. This allows you to place it somewhere other than your counter, as it doesn’t need to be hooked up to the faucet (though you can do that, as well). This makes it especially well-suited for apartments with small kitchens. However, keep in mind that this unit is more than 20 inches tall, so it likely won’t fit underneath kitchen cabinets.
This countertop dishwasher can hold up to six place settings at a time, and it can even accommodate 12-inch plates if you put them at an angle. There are five wash settings to choose from, including normal, rapid, and glass, as well as a baby care option that uses steam to sanitize bottles. The appliance has an air exchange function that helps to dry dishes after the cycle is complete, and the see-through window gives you a front row seat to watch your tableware being cleaned.
Best for Quiet Operation: EdgeStar DWP62SV Portable Countertop Dishwasher
Fits underneath standard kitchen cabinets
Energy Star certified
Only fits plates up to 10.5 inches
Loud when draining
Portable dishwashers are often noisier than built-in models, but you’ll barely be able to hear this countertop model from EdgeStar while it’s working. It operates at a quiet 52 decibels, and really, the only loud part is when the water drains back into your sink. This portable unit is designed to sit on your kitchen counter, and it’s just over 17 inches tall, meaning it will comfortably fit under most standard upper cabinets.
You can fit up to six place settings in this dishwasher, which features a dish rack, cup shelf, and utensil basket. Plates up to 10.5 inches in diameter fit inside the washing tub, and there are seven wash cycles to choose from, including heavy-duty, glassware, eco, and more. On a normal cycle, this unit only uses 2.85 gallons of water, and its quick-connect faucet adapter makes it easy to hook up to your sink when it’s time to clean the dishes.
If you’re looking for a full-size portable dishwasher, there’s no better option than the GE 24-inch Portable Dishwasher. It boasts a spacious interior that can hold up to 12 place settings, as well as hidden controls and a hard food disposer—all for a reasonable price. For something a bit cheaper, consider the BLACK+DECKER BCD6W Compact Countertop Dishwasher. It has a quick-connect assembly that hooks up to your faucet in a flash, and it even has a heated dry setting to remove lingering water from your clean dishes.
What to Look for in a Portable Dishwasher
There are two types of portable dishwashers: countertop and freestanding. As its name suggests, a countertop model sits on your kitchen counter and hooks up to your sink. It can fit six place settings at a time and usually has a pull-out rack or drawer design. A freestanding model is more spacious and has the look and feel of a full-sized, built-in dishwasher. This type of dishwasher usually has caster wheels to change its location or is convertible—meaning you can remove the caster wheels to give it a more permanent home. A freestanding model is suitable for larger families and households since it can fit up to 12 place settings at a time.
The amount of noise a dishwasher produces during a cycle is measured in decibels (dBA). A standard dishwasher can be as quiet as 40 dBA or as loud as 62 dBA, which will require you to go into another room if you're trying to have a conversation. If you live in a smaller space, you'll want to find a model with a low decibel rating that won't disturb your household. Many units on the market fall in the 52 to 54 dBA range, which is quiet enough for a conversation.
A portable dishwasher doesn't typically have as many specialty settings as a full-sized, built-in dishwasher. If you opt for a countertop model, your cycle options are usually normal, intensive, glass, and soak. However, some portable dishwashers come with extra features like a delayed start, which will push back your cycle for up to 24 hours, and eco-mode, which will ensure your appliance doesn't use more resources than it needs to. These selections may cost more upfront but save you time and money down the road.
If a portable dishwasher is convertible, that means you can install it like a built-in model at any time. A convertible dishwasher has removable caster wheels that can be used to roll the appliance into a convenient spot of your home or taken off so you can place the appliance in one place. This versatile design is most helpful for households that want their machine to be long-lasting and suitable for many different living situations.
Stainless Steel Tub
A stainless steel tub is more durable than a plastic dishwasher tub. If you opt for a stainless steel tub, the interior will look stylish, and it won't show wear and tear as quickly as a plastic version since it's much less likely to develop stains from food debris left on your dishes. Also, since metal is more conducive to heat, this type of tub can help effectively dry your dishes, especially when paired with a fan or a steam function.
Hard Food Disposer
Hard food disposers help eliminate food debris from your dirty dishes. After a water jet releases the debris from your cups and plates, it falls into this disposer and is filtered out of the water that will continue to circulate and clean your dishes. This feature is key to keeping the interior of your portable dishwasher free of odors and bacteria. It's also handy for households who are in a rush or don’t want to take the extra step of rinsing their dishes before loading them.
Do portable dishwashers work well?
A portable dishwasher works as well as a full-sized dishwasher but may have capacity limitations. You may only be able to wash six or eight place settings, as opposed to 12. In addition, you likely won't be able to wash bulky items like strainers and cookware. However, most portable models are still very powerful and have a collection of strong water jets. You'll still be treated to features like an adjustable rack or hard food disposer that'll leave your dishes very clean.
To get the best experience out of yours, be sure to not overload the machine and clean it about once a month.
Can you run a portable dishwasher overnight?
It's not recommended that you run a portable dishwasher overnight. While this appliance doesn't need constant supervision, it requires a temporary hook-up to your sink. Once your cycle is done, you'll want to follow your user manual's instructions for unhooking the dishwasher and storing it. You'll also want to make sure there weren't any leaks. This process may be inconvenient but will ultimately keep your household safer and mess-free.
How does a portable dishwasher drain?
A portable dishwasher drains into your sink and down the disposer with the help of a hose, a faucet adaptor, and an essential connection piece called a unicouple. The unicouple ensures the drain is not overpowered and that the appliance has the water it needs to operate. When water needs to be drained from the appliance, it'll travel through the hose and into your sink's disposer.
If your model isn't draining, you may have a clog. If this happens, make sure the sink's disposer and the hose are clear and follow any additional troubleshooting tips in your user manual.
Can you hook up a portable dishwasher permanently?
Yes. Portable dishwashers can be connected permanently to a water source and drain. Depending on if the dishwasher is top or front loading and where the controls are located, you might be able to permanently install it under the counter. Be sure to purchase a dishwasher installation kit for your unit’s make and model in order to change the water and drain fittings for permanent use.
Can you attach a portable dishwasher to a pull-down faucet?
If you connect a portable dishwasher to a pull-down faucet, there is a risk of pressure fluctuations occurring during operation that may cause the hose to rupture. But some portable dishwashers come with an adapter that allows you to hook up the unit to a pull-down faucet. This will require you to remove the faucet’s aerator, install the adaptor, and then connect the hose.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. While researching portable dishwashers, she spoke with Ron Shimek, President of Mr. Appliance, for tips on selecting the right dishwasher for your home, including the most worthwhile features for different types of homeowners. When comparing various portable dishwasher models, she considered factors such as their capacity and features, ease of setup and operation, and noise level. She also prioritized Energy Star-certified models since they use less energy and minimize operating costs.