If you’ve got a small kitchen, navigating the tiny space can be overwhelming especially when prepping food or washing dishes. That’s why essential appliances have to be scaled down otherwise it’ll overwhelm what’s left of the limited space.
For example, dishwashers are convenient to have around, not only because they make dish washing easy and quick, but they also function as storage for clean dishes. But a standard built-in model is too bulky and will swallow up space.
That’s why a portable dishwasher should be on your shopping list. It’s lighter and compact but still has the same robust capabilities of full-sized models. And because it’s portable, you can bring it anywhere which is useful when you’re a renter or on the move frequently.
There are two types of portable dishwashers: the countertop and the floor models. Countertops are popular for campsites, RVs, or dorms because they don’t occupy too much space. Floor models come with wheels so that you can just roll them in and out of the storage cabinet when needed. But some just place them next to the counter to function as an extension of counter space.
Both types use the kitchen sink as both a water source and drain. As such, they come with hoses and attachments that easily connect to the kitchen faucet. They're also water and energy efficient like their built-in counterparts. The best ones are Energy Star rated and use only 3.1 gallons of water per load on average.
They’re typically made from hard plastic or stainless steel. Both materials have their own merits; plastic is more affordable but can absorb odors and oils if its not regularly cleaned. Stainless steel is more expensive but it’s non-porous so it’s easy to clean and won’t retain odors or food debris. It’s also more durable than plastic; a stainless steel-framed washer is less likely to have impact damage when it’s moved.
The biggest advantage of a portable washer is that it gives you more options on how to use the space in your kitchen. A floor model can be placed right next to the counter to extend your prepping space. Some models also come with laminate tops that can be used to store pans. A countertop, meanwhile, can function as a cabinet for your clean dish.
And even if you’ve got a big kitchen with a full-sized dishwasher, a portable dishwasher is still a handy thing to have because you can use it to clean extra dishes especially when you’re cooking for a party.
In this post, I’m featuring dishwashers that perform well but are also affordable. Here are my top picks for the best portable dishwashers online.
The Best Portable Dishwashers
- SPT Compact Countertop Dishwasher with Delay Start – Portable Dishwasher 6 Place Settings
- Farberware Complete Portable Countertop Dishwasher with 5-Liter Built-in Water Tank,
- Danby 18″ Portable Dishwasher
- Sunpentown 18″ Portable Dishwasher, Energy Star
- GE Portable Dishwasher in Stainless Steel with 8 Place Settings Capacity, 52 dBA
1. SPT Compact Countertop Dishwasher with Delay Start – Portable Dishwasher
This countertop dishwasher has a stainless steel interior and comes with a faucet adapter for easy and quick installation with any kitchen. The adapter fits any standard-sized aerator opening for both male and female connections.
This model can load up to 6 place settings. It has a LED display that features easy touch buttons for convenient control. It also has 2 indicators that monitor when the faucet is not turned and when the rinse aid needs to be refilled.
It has 7 wash cycles, from Light, Normal, Heavy, Mini-party, Speed and Soak. A special feature is its Delayed Start that you can set for 2, 4, 6, or 8 hours.
This unit includes an automatic detergent and rinse agent dispenser. It carries a 1-year warranty.
- Delayed start function
- Small and compact
- 55dB noise level
- No Energy Star certification
2. Farberware Complete Portable Countertop Dishwasher with 5-Liter Built-in Water Tank
This is a portable countertop dishwasher that’s best for RVs/campers or small-sized households who don’t cook food regularly. It can hold 12 standard sized dishes and is equipped with lower and upper spray arms for deep cleaning.
This model has a built-in water tank so you use this outside of your kitchen. There’s a water hose included in the package in case you decide to hook it up directly to your faucet.
It has five water cycles: Normal, Rapid, Fruit/Vegetable Wash, Baby Care, and Glass. It’s also equipped with an automatic air circulation feature that speeds up the drying process.
It has an LED display and also features a Delay Start function and LED indicators to monitor the water level inside the washer.
Also included in the unit is fruit basket accessory and an automatic detergent /rinse agent dispenser. This product comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Sterilization setting for glassware and baby accessories
- Wash setting for fruits and vegetables
- No drying cycle function
- Small capacity
3. Danby 18″ Portable Dishwasher 18 in. Wide Portable Dishwasher in White with 8-Place Settings Capacity
This is a free standing dishwasher model that features a durable stainless steel spray arm and interior. It has built-in casters so you can easily move it around the kitchen. It also has a quick connect feature that makes it compatible with any standard kitchen faucet.
It’s compact and small but it can hold an 8-place setting. The first rack is removable, the second rack is adjustable and the third rack contains a silverware basket for washing cutlery.
It has 6 wash cycles: Economy, Normal, Intensive, Rapid, Glass and Soak settings. It’s also Energy Star compliant with low water consumption, using only up to 3.5 gallons of water per wash cycle.
This unit uses an LED control display and an automatic detergent dispenser and rinse-agent dispenser. This product comes with a 12-month warranty on parts and labor with in-home service.
- Easy to use
- Energy Star rated
- Some comments on poor customer support service
- Unit is very heavy according to users
4. Sunpentown 18″ Portable Dishwasher, Energy Star
This is another floor type portable dishwasher that has a stainless steel interior and an adjustable upper rack for to maximize space for larger plates. It also comes with a faucet adapter that fits most kitchen faucets for easy connection.
It can hold about 8-place settings and has 6 wash cycles: Normal, Eco, Heavy, Rapid, Glass, and 90 min. It’s energy and water efficient.
It has a Time Delay Feature that allows you to set it in advance by as much as 24 hours. There is also an Error Alarm that displays fault codes. LED light indicators on its full panel display will monitor the level of water and the rinse stage.
This unit also includes an automatic detergent and rinse agent dispenser. It comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Heated dry function
- Energy Star certified
- Cord is not long enough
- Uneven quality of available inventory
5. GE Portable Dishwasher in Stainless Steel with 8 Place Settings Capacity, 52 dBA
This is a stainless steel floor type dishwasher model that capable of washing 8 place settings and comes with an adjustable top rack.
It is equipped with powerful wash arms that make short work of any dirty dishes. It has a 3-level wash and includes the Piranha Hard Food Disposer which uses stainless steel blades that rotate at 3,600 RPM to pulverize food particles and prevent large particles from clogging the wash arms.
There’s also the Autosense Cycle where a beam of light measures soil levels and water temperature to adjust the cycle times. It also has a high temperature rinse setting that can disinfect bacteria in dishes by 99%.
It also has a Delayed Start option that’s good for up to 12 hours. This product comes with a limited 1-year warranty.
- Energy Star, NSF certified
- Sanitize feature
- Relatively expensive
- California Prop 65 label
Buyers Guide to Choosing the Best Portable Dishwasher
Countertop or Rolling Type
Countertop dishwashers are ideal for kitchens that don’t have enough floor space or for families who don’t cook frequently. When placed next to the kitchen sink, they can also function as a storage cabinet for clean dishes. They are also more affordable than the free-standing wheeled types. Some models will have built-in water tanks so you don’t have to keep one attached to the faucet permanently. This is useful for camping or for washing away from the sink.
Rolling types will cost more but they have a larger capacity which makes them useful for washing pots and pans. And because these free-standing types come in wheels, you don’t have to carry them to move them around. They can also function as an island or as an extension for your counter space.
A dishwasher’s capacity is measured by the number of settings it can hold. A 1-place setting is usually equivalent to a large dinner plate, a small snack plate, a bowl, a saucer, a coffee cup, drinking glass, a knife, two teaspoons, a dinner fork, and a small salad fork.
In general, portable dishwashers range from 2-8 place settings. But the range may vary per type.
Countertop diswashers, because they’re designed to be compact, will only be able to hold up to 6 place settings. And that’s with a bit of creative loading. Pick the ones that have removable shelves so that you can maximize the interior space according to your washing needs.
Floor models, however, can hold more. A typical 18 inch rolling type can accommodate 6-8 place settings which should be more than enough for a big family.
Energy and Water Consumption
When checking its energy consumption, it always helps to look for an Energy Star rating label. Energy star appliances are certified by the US Department of Energy to use anywhere from 10-50% less energy per year. This means that your appliance will have less impact on greenhouse emissions because it uses energy efficiently.
Similarly, look at how many gallons a dishwasher uses per cycle. For example, a full sized washer will require 4 gallons of water and 1.5 kilowatt hour per cycle. But a countertop will only use 2 gallons and 0.7 kWh while a floor model will generally use 3 gallons of water and about 1 kWh.
One useful feature to look for is an energy and wash saving mode. Some brands will name this Eco Wash or Quick Wash. This will allow you to reduce water and energy wastage even more than the usual wash mode.
The more wash cycles a dishwasher has, the more convenient it will be to use for specific cleaning tasks, like scrubbing pots and pans or cleaning vegetables and fruits.
A standard dishwasher will have four wash cycles: light, normal, heavy, and economy. Each cycle will range from 80-150 minutes. But some will have seven or more wash settings. Depending on your needs and your budget, you can opt for a portable dishwasher that has a lot of washing functions.
Some high end models are even equipped with sensor technology that can automatically choose the proper cycle for you.
Look for useful operational features that make your dishwashing experience easy and efficient.
One example would be a safety lock function that will prevent your kids from playing with the dishwasher settings. Another useful feature is an anti-flood protection which prevents the dishwasher from overflowing and flooding your kitchen.
If you’re raising a baby, you might want to look for a dishwasher that has a baby care feature. This function can be used to sterilize baby bottles and accessories or for cleaning glassware because it uses very hot steam to kill bacteria and other microbes.
Dishwashers are noisy machines especially when they’re cycling water. So if you’re sensitive about sound levels, pick one that’s quieter than the rest. Most models in the market have a decibel range of 45 to 60s decibels (dB).
Just for contrast, a refrigerator hum will be about 50 dB while a hair dryer will have about 70 dB. If you can find a dishwasher that has a noise level lower than 45, then that’s a good buy.
Most brands will carry 1-year warranties for their products but there are some who will offer more. If you’re getting a very expensive portable dishwasher, you might want to consider getting an extended warranty. Professionals recommend getting one for any appliance that costs more than $800.
It's also important to pick a brand that has reliable after sales service. Having responsive and prompt customer service will go a long way towards reducing the hassle of dealing with any factory defects with your portable dishwasher.