The Best Portable Dishwashers of 2019By Cindy Bailen, Jonathan Chan, Julia MacDougall, and Matthew Zahnzinger, Updated July 05, 2019
In our experience, washing your dishes by hand is a huge waste of water and time. But what should you do if your rental doesn't come with a built-in dishwasher, or if your kitchen is too small to fit a standard-size dishwasher? Forget remodeling: Let us introduce you to the world of portable and countertop dishwashers. These dishwashers have a plumbing attachment that attaches to your kitchen sink. Conveniently, when you're not actively going through wash cycles to make your dishes clean, you can roll or carry a portable dishwasher away to be stored in a cupboard or garage.
At the Reviewed testing labs, we've spent many, many hours testing dishwashers, so we know what makes a dishwasher great: strong stain removal, great dish drying, and useful features like soft food disposers. These attributes hold true for portable and countertop dishwashers as well; a top-notch portable dishwasher should clean your dishes as well as a standard dishwasher does—the only difference is that a portable dishwasher holds fewer dishes. Additionally, a good portable dishwasher should be just that: portable. If it's not easy to wheel or lift, then it's probably more trouble than it's worth.
After spending some quality time making dirty dishes and then running them through a bunch of portable and countertop dishwashers, we're recommending the SPT SD-9241W (available at Amazon for $450.95) because of its excellent cleaning power.
Here are the best portable dishwashers we tested ranked, in order:
- SPT SD-9241W
- Kenmore 14652
- Danby DDW1801MWP
- Danby DDW621WDB
- Whirlpool WDP370PAHB
- hOmeLabs HME010033N
- GE GSC3500DWW
SPT SD-9241WBest Overall
Without question, the SPT SD-9241W is the best portable dishwasher, turning out spotless dishes in just under two hours. In our tests, this 18-inch-wide model sprayed away stains that stymie many full-size dishwashers, plus it even has a stainless steel interior for quieter washing. User reviews don't mention anything about reliability issues, although some mention finding it hard to fit odd-shaped dishes in the racks.
With a simple interface and six cycles to choose from, the SPT is a snap to use and surprisingly versatile. As long as you don’t mind doing a bit of hand-drying for plastic dishes and utensils—the SPT has no heated dry option—this is as good as gets.
Portable vs. Countertop Dishwashers
If your kitchen doesn't have a cutout for a standard 24-inch installed dishwasher, there are two alternatives to giving up and washing everything by hand: portable dishwashers and countertop dishwashers. Make sure you know the difference when you're shopping.
Portable dishwashers — Portable dishwasher are typically on wheels so you can roll them up to the sink when they're in use and shove them in a corner when they're not. They're typically 18 inches wide, though you can also find 24-inch-wide models. Because they're about the same height as a standard dishwasher, the two racks can hold quite a few dishes.
Countertop dishwashers — If floor space is limited, or you just don't need to wash that many dishes, a countertop dishwasher may be a better choice for you. Countertop dishwashers typically cost about half as much as a portable dishwasher. They can't fit many dishes into them and can take up a lot of counter space, but you'll still save a lot more water and time than you would if you always wash your dishes manually.
Note: If your kitchen faucet lacks a removable aerator (the fitting at the end of the faucet that contains a gasket and a small screen), you may have some issues with installing countertop or portable dishwashers. Examine your kitchen faucet carefully to ensure that it's capable of having a hose attached before you purchase a portable or countertop dishwasher.
How We Test
Testing dishwashers is a dirty job, and we're happy to do it. We test portable dishwashers the same way we test full-size, fully-installed dishwashers—on Performance, Features, and Usability.
• Stain removal — We put the three major cycles on a dishwasher (Quick, Heavy, and Normal) to the test by baking food and beverage stains—including milk, spinach, egg, oatmeal, meat, and more—onto 15 to 20 dishes that are then loaded into the dishwasher per the manufacturer's loading directions. At the end of each cycle, we determine how much stain has been removed from each dish. Ideally, each dish is 100 percent clean, but that level of cleaning perfection can be harder to achieve in real life.
• Redeposit — Redeposit is the term for when, during the course of a dishwasher cycle, water jets remove bits of food from one dish, only to accidentally get it stuck on a second dish. Any dishwasher that shows little to no evidence of redeposit is a winner in our book.
• Number of dirty dishes — After a dishwasher cycle has finished, we count the number of dishes that are not 100 percent clean; if your dishwasher can't clean most of your dishes the first time, it's not doing its job correctly.
• Cycle time — Dishwasher cycles can run the gamut from 30 minutes to four hours. Shorter cycle times are much more convenient, especially when it comes to large dinner parties, where you may need to reuse dishes from dinner when it's time for dessert.
• Drying — Whether it's accomplished with rinse aid, a built-in heater, or a built-in fan, customers expect their dishes to be dry as well as clean. We penalize the dishwasher every time a dish comes out wet, whether it's sopping wet or just covered in a few water droplets.
Features and Usability
While all of the features in the world can't make a bad dishwasher better, they can really add the finishing touch to a dishwasher that does a killer cleaning job. We look at the various cycles, cycle options, and dishwasher specs and assess both a) how useful the features are, and b) how easy it is to actually use those features.
For example, a third rack that primarily holds cutlery can often be a game-changer when it comes to freeing up valuable real estate in the bottom rack. However, if the third rack is rickety, doesn't slide smoothly, or prevents the dishwasher from actually cleaning the cutlery, we would penalize the dishwasher, rather than reward it just for having a third rack. The whole point of a dishwasher is to save you from having to spend time scrubbing every dirty dish by hand; if a particular feature isn't going to make the process of using a dishwasher better or easier, then we don't want it.
The best dishwashers have short cycles, superior stain removal and drying power, and features that make the experience of using a dishwasher a painless one.
Other Portable and Countertop Dishwashers We Tested
Where To Buy$529.99 Sears Buy
The 18-inch Kenmore 14652 is also a great dishwasher. The 14652, which has a stainless steel interior, was able to get our test dishes nearly 100% clean. It also had great debris filtration, which cuts down on redeposit. You also get a China Delicate cycle for fragile dishes and a Quick Rinse for fast touch-ups. User reviews report a high level of satisfaction with the machine.
With all of this in its favor, you might wonder why this Kenmore isn't the winner. In a word? Price. The 14652 is more expensive than many full-sized dishwashers. Again, we can’t praise this Kenmore enough, but the fact that it's more than the comparable SPT portable dishwasher makes it tough to justify the cost. If you can find it on sale, though, don't hesitate.
The Danby DDW1801MWP is another 18-inch portable dishwasher with a stainless steel interior. The overall cleaning performance was very strong, although dishes on the top rack had some issues. Danby’s unusual control design, completely devoid of text, may also take a while to get used to.
A number of disgruntled reviewers mentioned leaking, incompatible faucet adapters (the dishwasher's hose connector is male), easily-broken castor wheels, a confusing user manual, and poor customer service. Happier customers reported that the DDW180MWP worked perfectly, although there is evidence that the drying cycle's effectiveness lessens over time. While we didn't have any of these problems, there's one-star enough online reviews that it's worth exercising caution when considering the Danby DDW1801MWP.
Where To Buy$224.99 Amazon Buy $329.00 AppliancesConnection Buy $224.99 Abt Buy $229.99 Best Buy Buy
If you have smaller space constraints, Danby also makes countertop dishwashers, one of which is the Danby DDW621WDB. While this countertop dishwasher looks small, it can fit six place settings, where each place setting involves plates, a bowl, a glass, a tea cup, and some cutlery. You won't be able to fit a spaghetti pot in there, but that's true for any countertop dishwasher. With a wide variety of cycles to choose from (including Intensive, Normal, Soak, Economy, Rapid, and Glass), you shouldn't have a problem getting difficult stains off your dishes.
This countertop dishwasher also has options to delay the start of the dishwasher cycle for 2, 4, or 8 hours, as well as water and rinse aid notification lights. It may take you a bit of time to get used to the control panel, but once you understand what the icons mean, the Danby DDW621WDB is a breeze to operate, and at only 22 inches wide, it won't take up too much space on your counter either.
Where To Buy$714.10 AppliancesConnection Buy $719.10 Home Depot Buy $719.00 Abt Buy $719.99 Best Buy Buy
The Whirlpool WDP370PAHB is a full-sized, 24-inch portable dishwasher with three cycles and a sturdy metal cabinet that won’t embarrass you when you roll it toward the sink. Another plus: This model’s laminate butcher block top provides additional counter space for your kitchen. The WDP370PAHB has a plastic interior, and it’s relatively noisy for a dishwasher at this price point. However, most owners were very happy with their purchase.
In our tests, this model dried well and cleaned the dishes passably, with its best performance on the Heavy cycle. Its issue is with redeposit of food particles onto otherwise clean dishes, which is not something you want to see when you unload your dishes at the end of a cycle. If you're only washing dishes with relatively light food loads, then you don't have to worry much, but this dishwasher has a tougher time tackling baked-on stains or food detritus that can easily migrate to other dishes.
Where To BuyClick for price Amazon Buy
We loved the sleek look and more intuitive control panel of the hOmeLabs HME010033N countertop dishwasher. Good design counts in a small kitchen. Other than that, though, there's very little to distinguish this dishwasher from the Danby countertop dishwasher. It has the same cycles, the same delay options, and similar status lights.
If you don't mind paying a little extra for its looks, this countertop dishwasher will get the job done with no extra fuss.
The GE GSC3500DWW is a convertible dishwasher—simply buy an inexpensive kit and you can take it off its wheels and permanently install it in your kitchen.
Unless that convertible option appeals to you, however, we don't think this GE offers any benefits over the 24-inch Whirlpool. Its cleaning performance was noticeably worse than any other machine on our list; it was unable to perfectly clean almost every stain we threw at it. Unless you're a particularly heavy dishwasher user, we'd suggest spending less money on a more compact model.