Unlike a built-in dishwasher, portable and countertop dishwashers don't need to be installed in your kitchen. They don't require you to make any modifications to your home's plumbing, either. That's why these appliances are perfect for small kitchens (you can store them in a closet and take them out only when needed).
When the time comes to clean your dishes, simply position your portable or countertop dishwasher next to your kitchen sink, attach its faucet adapter to the tap and you'll be washing dishes without ever having to get your hands wet. Once your dishes and cutlery are clean and put away, all that's left to do is store your dishwasher away. What's not to love?
After spending some quality time making dirty dishes and then running them through a bunch of portable and countertop dishwashers, we found the best portable dishwasher is the GE GPT225SSLSS(available at Home Depot for $597.60) because of its top-notch dish cleaning performance.
Here are the best portable dishwashers we tested ranked, in order:
Magic Chef MCSCD6W5
Black & Decker BCD6W
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Portable vs. Countertop Dishwashers
How We Tested
Other Portable and Countertop Dishwashers We Tested
This 24-inch full-size dishwasher is convertible; you can either keep the castor wheels on and roll it around, or remove the wheels so that it sits flat on the kitchen floor. Even better: if you have tighter size constraints, the GE GPT145SSLSS is the 18-inch version of the GPT225SSLSS, and it cleans dirty dishes nearly as well as the full-size version does. For those with a flexible budget, limited space in the kitchen, and lots of dirty dishes, the GE GPT225SSLSS won’t let you down.
Out of all of the countertop dishwashers we tested, the Danby DDW631SDB had the best cleaning performance. While we noticed spinach redeposit on some of the dishes, the DDW631SDB’s stain removal was comparable (or better than) some of the full-size dishwashers we’ve tested. The Normal cycle time clocked in at about 100 minutes, which was similar to cycle times we saw on other countertop dishwashers.
We also liked that this Danby had eight cycles to choose from: Heavy, Normal, BabyCare, Eco, Glass, Speed, Rinse, and Mini Party. (We guess you can only have a mini party with a mini dishwasher?) With an extra drying option, a digital display, and a sleek-looking exterior, the Danby DDW631SDB is the best choice for a dishwasher that takes up a minimal amount of counter space that's capable of getting job done right, the first time.
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 or countertop dishwashers. Make sure you know the difference when you're shopping.
Portable dishwashers — These models 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.
We have plenty of experience testing these products in the lab, but we've also used them like normal people would in the course of their daily lives, which means that we have a great sense for what appliances are bargains at their price points, and which appliances have really useful extra features (as opposed to the kitchen-sink approach to features).
With all this in mind, you can feel confident that when we recommend a product, we're giving it our Reviewed stamp of approval, which means two things: firstly, this appliance performs well, and secondly, this appliance is easy to use. We're always reviewing new products, so stay tuned for our reviews and roundups of the latest products in laundry, refrigerators, dishwashers, and vacuum cleaners.
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.
We test portable models 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.
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
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.
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.
Its laminate top provides additional counter space
As it turns out, the hOmeLabs HME010033N is nearly identical to the Danby DDW621WDB. It has the same cleaning performance, the same cycles (although one cycle is called “Eco” rather than “Light”), and similar cycle times. Its exterior looks a bit more modern than that of the DDW621WDB, but if you’re interested in buying this flavor of countertop dishwasher, we recommend buying whichever of these two products is on sale that day.
The cleaning performance of the Magic Chef is fine; while it struggled a bit with some of the tougher stains in our tests (such as spinach), it will be able to tackle most dirty dishes without breaking a sweat. The Magic Chef countertop dishwasher has six cycles (Heavy, Normal, Light, Speed, Glass, and Rinse).
While the other countertop dishwashers on this list have delay options of 2, 4, or 6 hours, the delay option on this Magic Chef runs from 1 to 24 hours, and can be set in 1-hour increments. This allows you to set dishwasher cycles to start at a later time either for the sake of convenience or to save money by not using electricity at high-demand times, like after dinner. If that kind of time flexibility appeals to you, then the Magic Chef MCSCD6W5 is the right countertop dishwasher for you.
Finally, a product from a brand you recognize! Again, the cleaning performance for this countertop dishwasher was pretty comparable to that of the others on this list, although we noticed that the spinach redeposit left some dishes a bit dirtier than we expected. In addition to the same six cycles that most of the countertop dishwashers on this list have, the BCD6W also has a 90-minute BabyCare cycle. Like the Magic Chef, the Black & Decker also has a 1- to 24-hour delay feature.
One aspect that separates the Black & Decker countertop dishwasher from the competition is its looks—with its stainless steel handle finish and its touchscreen user interface, it’s easily the best-looking dishwasher on this list. If you have a more modern-looking kitchen, and don’t want a white box on your countertop to ruin its visual appeal, you won’t regret choosing the Black & Decker countertop dishwasher.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.