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Whether you’re putting together a meal in a tiny apartment, an RV, or an older home without a built-in dishwasher, portable dishwashers can help clean up your messes so you barely have to lift a finger. This appliance is a total time-saver, keeps the eczema on your hands at bay, and allows you to kick up your feet after cooking a pasta dinner.
Lucky for you, portable dishwashers—typically sized between 18 and 24 inches wide—exist, and come with a variety of features including an eco-wash mode, essential rack space for up to 12 place settings, and tabletop design. After installing one in your space, you’ll be treated to sparkly pots and grime-free spoons regularly.
Here, the best portable dishwashers for your kitchen:
Best Overall: GE GPT225SSLSS 24-Inch Portable Dishwasher with 12 Place Settings Capacity
Type: Portable | Dimensions: 36 x 23.6 x 25.37 inches | Decibel Rating: 54 decibels | Capacity: 12 place settings | Cycles: 3 | Tub Material: Stainless steel | Control Location: Top control
Hard food disposer
Adjustable top rack
On the expensive side
Doesn't always dry dishes well
There are very few boxes this stainless steel portable dishwasher doesn’t check off. It’s sleek, powerful, and relatively quiet since it runs at 54 decibels, which is low enough to have a conversation over. The most notable feature this machine has is its sanitize setting, that’ll eliminate germs that inevitably linger on your dishes. This setting ensures your flatware is remarkably clean, and is one of three wash and dry options you can choose from.
The delay start setting gives you the option to run your portable dishwasher at a later time, and the high-temperature wash setting ensures you can run a cycle that’s powerful and fast-acting. Like a built-in dishwasher, this portable machine also has a hard food disposer and filter, which will ease any worries about your dishes coming out clean. Its interior can fit up to 12 place settings comfortably, and there is an adjustable top rack for when you want to sneak in a pot or two. Overall, it’s the full package for those looking for functionality and quality.
Best Budget: Farberware FDW05ASBWHA Portable Dishwasher with Built-In Water Tank
Type: Countertop | Dimensions: 17.3 x 16.5 x 17.3 inches | Decibel Rating: 62 decibels | Capacity: 2 place settings | Cycles: 5 | Tub Material: Plastic | Control Location: Front control
Rapid wash setting
Can use detergent pods
Can be very noisy
Has a plastic tub
If you’ve found yourself unexpectedly shopping for a portable dishwasher this year, look no further than this gem from Farberware. Although you’ll have to fill and empty its water tank with every use, it has five wash settings for cleaning everything from a plate with ranch dressing residue, to a baby bottle, and fresh fruit via its fruit wash setting. The rapid wash cleans your go-to cups and mugs in a speedy 29 minutes, so you’ll never find yourself without enough bowls for breakfast again.
Be warned: You will have to put up with some noise when this appliance is running in your tiny kitchen, as it runs at 62 decibels and well-over the silent mark. However, the versatility of this machine will cancel it out. You’ll toss a detergent pod into this portable dishwasher, and never look back.
Best Splurge: Whirlpool WDP370PAHW 24 in. Front Control Heavy-Duty Portable Dishwasher
Type: Portable | Dimensions: 37 x 24.13 x 26.5 inches | Decibel Rating: 64 decibels | Capacity: 12 place settings | Cycles: 3 | Tub Material: Plastic | Control Location: Front control
Effective soil sensor
Can fit up to 12 place settings
Can be very noisy
We know it’s incredibly frustrating and time-consuming to have to thoroughly rinse your dishes before placing them in your dishwasher. If this sounds like your current situation, the Whirlpool Front Control Heavy-Duty Portable Dishwasher might be a good fit for you. It’s convertible, which means you can take off its wheels and install it in a stationary spot. If you’re willing to overlook its noisy routine which is completed at 64 decibels, you’ll be rewarded with the functionality and feel of a built-in dishwasher.
Like a larger model, this dishwasher won’t leave leftovers on your plates. The soil sensor in this product detects how much grime is actually on your dirty pots, forks, and cups, so it can tailor its cleaning process. Hard food is filtered out without creating long-term damage. If you’re feeling hesitant about which pick to purchase, you might be comforted by having a well-known appliance brand like Whirlpool behind this model, which means you likely won’t have to repair this machine after a year of usage.
Best Countertop: Danby DDW621WDB 22 in. 52 dBA Countertop Full Console Dishwasher
Type: Countertop | Dimensions: 17.24 x 21.65 x 19.69 inches | Decibel Rating: 52 decibels | Capacity: 6 place settings | Cycles: 6 | Tub Material: Stainless steel | Control Location: Front control
Comes with installation kit
Has a stainless steel tub
Can leave food debris on dishes
Can only fit up to 6 place settings
Setting the Danby 22-inch Countertop Full Console Dishwasher up in your home will be a breeze, because this appliance comes with an installation kit and drain hose. In addition to not having to shop for extra pieces, this item runs at the quiet setting of 52 decibels so you won’t be disturbed while watching a movie in your apartment or smaller living space. It can fit up to six place settings and has a stainless steel tub, which will prevent this piece from needing repairs or a full-on replacement in the near future.
At 17.24 x 21.65 x 19.69 inches, it’s also the perfect fit for a countertop that isn’t too cluttered with other items like a toaster, blender, or microwave. Install it near the sink, as you will need to scrape off the excess food on your plate before running a cycle. Once you do start one of its six cycles—soak, glass, rapid, economy, normal, and intensive—step away and feel comfort knowing that it’s not using any energy or water it doesn’t need.
Best for Environment: SPT SD-9263SSA 18 in. Stainless Steel Portable Dishwasher
Type: Portable | Dimensions: 35.63 x 17.64 x 23.63 inches | Decibel Rating: 52 decibels | Capacity: 8 place settings | Cycles: 6 | Tub Material: Stainless steel | Control Location: Top control
Has an eco-friendly setting
Has a stainless steel tub
Have to refill the rinse aid
No smart features
The best eco-friendly portable dishwasher is this appliance from SPT. It gets the job done without draining your time, effort, or the Earth’s resources. Its adjustable upper rack makes it easy to fit everything you typically use in one load, which cuts down on the number of times you’re running this machine in the first place. Eight place settings will easily fit in this portable dishwasher’s stainless steel tub, too.
Now, if you just made a pasta dinner and want to toss your pots and pans in this machine, you also can. There’s a heavy cycle which is made for these larger and heavier loads. The machine will clean them to completion, without going over its low, 52-decibel sound rating. After you’ve had this machine for a while and run its various cycles, you may need to refill the rinse aid so that it remains clean and powerful. Luckily, this particular dishwasher comes with a rinse aid warning indicator that’ll remind you to complete this necessary task.
Best Design: BLACK+DECKER BCD6W Compact Countertop Dishwasher
Type: Countertop | Dimensions: 17.25 x 21.65 x 19.68 inches | Decibel Rating: 54 decibels | Capacity: 6 place settings | Cycles: 7 | Tub Material: Stainless steel | Control Location: Front control
Delayed start option
Can only hold six place settings
Can leave food debris on dishes
As much as you’d like a portable dishwasher that’s functional, you’re also looking for a piece that’s stylish. We don’t blame you, and the BLACK+DECKER BCD6W Compact Countertop Dishwasher will be a sleek addition to your decor. This model, with its LED display and electronic controls, will make your home feel technologically advanced and treat you to the usual amenities, such as space to hold six place settings.
This portable dishwasher has a total of seven wash settings, a delayed start option, a child lock, and isn’t overly loud. Set it up next to the sink in a modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances for easy loading and unloading, and enjoy the extra time to relax.
Best for Quiet Operation: RCA RDW3208 24 in. White Electronic Countertop Dishwasher
Type: Countertop | Dimensions: 19.8 x 21.85 x 23.81 inches | Decibel Rating: 34 decibels | Capacity: 6 place settings | Cycles: 6 | Tub Material: Stainless steel | Control Location: Front control
Large selection of settings
Has a hard food filter
Can have trouble accommodating large dishes or cookware
Takes up a lot of space
Having a noisy dishwasher isn’t ideal if you’re living in a small space. The RCA Countertop Dishwasher will address this primary worry of yours, as it runs at an extremely low 34 decibels. You’ll barely notice a hum in the background of your home or RV, where you’re sleeping feet away.
Another key feature is its hard food filter, which aids the cleaning process and leaves your dishes sparkly. In addition, a heated drying system ensures you won't need to dry off your newly clean dishes. Now, there may be some water droplets leftover, since this countertop model doesn't work like a full-size one would. However, this portable product will be easy to use and operate otherwise, as it has many settings. Find a spacious spot, begin the installation process, and you'll be good to go.
Best Compact: SPT SD-2224DS 22 in. Tabletop Portable Dishwasher
Type: Countertop | Dimensions: 17.24 x 21.65 x 19.69 inches | Decibel Rating: 55 decibels | Capacity: 6 place settings | Cycles: 7 | Tub Material: Stainless steel | Control Location: Front control
Smaller than other countertop models
Residual heat drying system
Has a delay start function
Water pressure can be low
Can have trouble accommodating large dishes or cookware
Living small? No problem. The SPT 22-inch Tabletop Portable Dishwasher has your back, with its universal faucet adapter, tiny frame, and residual heat drying system. It’s a one-stop shop for your dish-cleaning needs, and will support you and your family members during your kitchen endeavors.
It has a three-step filter system that recycles wash water during a cycle. That makes it a great pick if you're trying to reduce your carbon footprint or limit water usage in your home. You may have a little trouble fitting larger pots or plates into this tabletop piece, as it's only a little over 19 inches deep compared to other pieces that are almost 22 inches deep. However, day-to-day dishes will fit in fine.
Whether you're shopping for a portable dishwasher for an RV or small apartment, you can't go wrong with the GE GPT225SSLSS (view at Lowe's). This appliance features a hard food disposer and filter, an adjustable top rack, and a sanitize setting. If you're hoping to spend a lot less, the Farberware FDW05ASBWHA (view at Home Depot) requires a bit more hands-on maintenance, since it has to be emptied after every use. However, this model provides a variety of helpful settings, including a 29-minute rapid wash.
What to Look for in a Portable Dishwasher
There are two types of portable dishwashers: countertop and freestanding. A countertop model, as its name suggests, 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 so you can change its location, or is convertible—meaning you can remove the caster wheels to give it a more permanent home. It's suitable for larger families and households, since it can fit about 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 silent 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're living in a smaller space, like an apartment or RV, 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 to have a conversation over.
A portable dishwasher doesn't typically have as many specialty settings as a full-sized, built-in one. Especially if you opt for a countertop model, your cycle options are usually normal, intensive, glass, and soak. However, some portable dishwashers come with extras like delayed start, which will push back your cycle for up to 24 hours, and "eco" which will make sure your appliance doesn't use more resources than it actually 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 it can be installed like a built-in model at any time. It has removable caster wheels that can be used to roll the appliance into a convenient spot of your home or RV, or taken off so you can place the appliance in one place. This versatile design is most helpful for households that want their piece to be long-lasting, and suitable for many different living situations.
Stainless steel tub
A tub made of stainless steel, opposed to plastic, prevents the interior of your portable dishwasher from developing wear and tear as quickly. It’s much less likely to develop stains from food debris that’s left on your dishes, and is also a stylish option. Since metal is more conducive to heat, this type of tub can also help effectively dry your dishes, especially when paired with additional fans or a steam function.
Hard food disposer
Hard food disposers help to eliminate the 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, and is 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, 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 super 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. For more, see our guide on how to clean a dishwasher.
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 does require 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 wasn't any leaks in the process. This 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 very important 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. You'll want to make sure the sink's disposer and the hose is clear, and follow any additional troubleshooting tips in your user manual.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written and updated by Marisa Casciano, who is the large appliance expert for The Spruce. Throughout her career, she's researched the ins and outs of air purifiers, dishwashers, cooktops, and more in the home and lifestyle space. Having lived in multiple apartments, she knows the difference that having a functional and quiet dishwasher can make.