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Where and How to Buy a Portable Dishwasher

Updated on January 5, 2013

There are certain situations where dealing with a full size dishwasher just doesn't make sense. When space is a commodity or when you just don't feel like dealing with installing a regular appliance, a portable unit might be just the answer you are looking for! A portable dishwasher is great for tight spaces such as dorm rooms or small apartments.

They are easy to set up right out of the box and do not require any special technical know-how to get them up and running. Most units come with a handy retractable hose that attaches to the faucet on your kitchen sink meaning you don't need any special connections to use them.

The used water drains out into your kitchen sink after the washer has completed its cycle and you can store the unit wherever it's convenient. This article will give you a detailed buyer's guide and some suggestions that will help you buy one that you'll be satisfied with for years to come.

Portable Countertop Dishwashers

There are two major types of machines you can choose from. Portable counter-top units are generally about 20 inches wide by around 20 inches tall and designed to be placed in a fixed position. Depending on which model you buy, they can hold between 4 and 6 place settings complete with dinnerware, glasses, flatware, and cooking utensils. I bought my first one for use in a vacation condo and have been really happy with it. It easily handles everything from a dinner for four with room to spare.

It is important not to get confused when evaluating the size of one of these units. Having the capacity to hold four place settings does not mean that you can only fit four plates per cycle, you will actually get several more slots of available space. The manufacturers typically account for side plates and other items as well so keep that in mind as you compare potential choices.

I've found that these are great for your smaller, everyday dishes and I've had no trouble fitting all but the largest of my pots and pans. There are several respected brands on the market including Haier, Edgestar, and Koldfront ranging in price from around $200 to as much as $500 depending on the features it includes.

Rolling Portable Dishwashers

This is another unique option for situations where counter space is also limited or if you need to be able to reposition your machine for commercial use such as event catering. These washers are usually taller than counter-top models and sit on a set of four wheels. One of the major advantages to the rolling models if you have the space is that they can easily be rolled away into a closet and hidden completely out of sight when you aren't using them.

They come in a variety of colors and finishes ranging from standard white to black or even stainless steel. The major brands you will want to consider here include GE, Whirlpool, Maytag, and Frigidaire. For those of you who are looking for a stainless steel portable dishwasher, Avanti will likely be your best choice as they seem to get excellent reviews based on my research. The extra capacity leads to prices that run a bit higher than counter-top units. The price range for rolling models will usually be somewhere between $300 and $600.

Consumer Buyer's Guide

There are several important factors to consider when making a buying decision, some of which might not be things you would normally think of until it's too late. The single most important factor is obviously going to be size and capacity. You will want to take an honest look at the size of your average dish-washing load and make sure that the model you choose is sufficient to get the job done. This can be somewhat of a balancing act at times as you will also want to consider how much space you have to store it. At times, you may end up compromising a little in the way of capacity, instead opting to do dishes a little more frequently to save valuable space.

While not as obvious, the next thing you will want to look at is the amount of noise the machine produces. Nobody likes to listen to a loud and annoying dishwasher competing with a movie or a good conversation, especially in a small living area. Models with a noise rating fewer than 70 decibels are usually a pretty good choice. Maytag portable dishwashers are known for their quiet operation and make for a good choice if noise level is an important consideration to you. Another way to deal with this issue is to look for a model that has a programmable start or a delayed operation setting in the control panel. That will allow you to set a specific time for the washer to run such as while you are at work or our running errands.

Next, be sure to look at the washing power of the unit you are considering. Because these compact models have to pack a lot of dishes into a small space, the number of jets becomes a key feature to getting your dishes clean the first time around. One feature that may be worth investing in here is a hot-start option which ensures that the water temperature reaches an appropriate level before the actual wash cycle begins. No matter which model you end up purchasing, you will quickly find that owning a portable dishwasher offers a number of advantages.

If you live in a small apartment or have been hand washing you dishes, the time savings alone makes it well worth the price of buying the appliance. They are excellent for saving space and are perfect for cleaning up after a one or two person meal. As a final tip, consider checking eBay for a pre-owned unit to save a little extra money. Many times you will find that these were owned by people who barely used them and in many cases; they may still be under full factory warranty.


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    • katrinasui profile image


      8 years ago

      I am thinking to buy a dishwasher for my home. I think its a great idea to buy portable dishwashers because they are easy to manage.

    • kenwrites profile image

      Ken Crawford 

      8 years ago from Yreka, California

      Nice article. Sometimes people are not aware that you really don't need a large built-in dishwasher. Portable dishwashers are excellent for those with small apartment, small kitchens and for folks just starting out. Great information here on choosing a portable dishwasher.

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 

      8 years ago

      This is pretty clever, having a portable dishwasher makes so much sense. Great idea!


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