Sometimes renting means living without a dishwasher. Or perhaps you live in an older house where renovations aren’t feasible. Fortunately, there’s hope. Portable dishwashers make it so that you can enjoy all the benefits of having a machine do the work without having to tear apart your living situation, if you’d even be allowed to do so.
Portable or countertop dishwashers don’t require any special mounting or installation. By utilizing water from a sink — often with hoses that can be quickly connected and disconnected — you can add a dishwasher without modifying your kitchen in any way. This makes them ideal for tricky spaces, but are also generally much cheaper than built-in dishwashers. They’re certainly cheaper when you compare the cost of having to renovate first. Of course, in most cases, you can’t exactly go to your landlord and ask them to make such a change, so these can really be invaluable when you aren’t in a permanent living situation, including dorms.
With these smaller units, we recommend the use of both dishwasher gel detergent and rinse aid. Since these units tend to be easily overcrowded, pouches, powders, and tablets may not dissolve and distribute as easily as in a full-size dishwasher. Use what you like, of course, but in the event that your dishes aren’t sparkling clean, consider switching.
We’ve gathered together five of the best portable dishwashers to give you access to the convenience of having a machine to wash your plates and bowls.
1. SPT SD-2201W Countertop Dishwasher
The far-and-away favorite, this SPT (Supentown) dishwasher boasts the best performance of the countertop units. With a 4.2 out of five rating or higher on Amazon, Home Depot, and Best Buy, it’s a popular, well-tested option. For all this, it’s also usually (depending on price fluctuations) the cheapest on our list. There’s also the SPT SD-2202W, but this one lacks the strong review support of the SD-2201W. This is the proven option, already in operation in plenty of households. There are six cycle options: Heavy, Normal, Light, Glass, Speed, and Soak.
Need more options? Browse more SPT products here.
Price: $211.11 (23 percent off MSRP)
- 6 wash settings
- Easy installation
- Bypass button on hose connector lets you access water when hooked up
- Energy Star certified
- Advertised capacity of six place settings may be inaccurate
- Not ideal for tall items
- Quick connect faucet attachment may not work with older fixtures
- Some soap pods don’t dissolve completely in it
2. Danby DDW621WDB Countertop Dishwasher
This Danby unit fluctuates in price and has at times in the past been the cheapest on our list. Normally the SPT edges it, so double check the price of both when you go to buy. Like the SPT, it’s also an Energy Star certified countertop unit and it features six wash cycles (Intensive, Normal, Economy, Rapid, Glass and Soak) and a quick hose connect. This is the upgraded unit, which improves the LED display relative to the preceding version. Water consumption on this is 3.1 gallons per cycle, and we found that it can more or less keep up with full-sized units, especially when using Cascade Advanced liquid in lieu of other detergents. The new version is about $40 cheaper than the old version, too.
Need more options? Browse more Danby products here.
- Quiet operation
- May possibly clean better than some full-size units
- Exterior durability a concern
- Excessively long cycles
- Larger dishes unlikely to fit
3. SPT SD-9241W Energy Star Portable Dishwasher
If counter space is at a premium, there is also the option of a roll-away dishwasher that can be stored out of the way when not in use. Again from SPT, this 18-inch dishwasher shrinks the form and function of a built-in dishwasher and puts it on wheels for kitchens where permanent installation isn’t an option. Despite it’s size, it’s Prime-eligible for free 2-day shipping. This form factor keeps your counter space free and accommodates larger dishes that the countertop units might not. The six cycle options are: All-in-1, Heavy, Normal, Light , Rinse and Speed. A very similar one comes in stainless steel, if you prefer.
Need more options? Browse more SPT products here.
- 1-24 hour time delay feature
- Rinse aid indicator
- Adjustable upper rack
- Adds counterspace
- Larger unit may not fit in small apartment kitchens
- Connection hose on the short side
- Cord and hose storage compartment fussy
- Dry cycle leaves dishes wet
4. Koldfront PDW60EB Countertop Dishwasher
Matching the functionality of the SPT and Danby units with six-cycle (Heavy, Normal, Light, Glass, Speed, and Soak) operation, this Koldfront unit will fit nicely in an apartment with all-black appliances. According to one reviewer, the Rapid Eco setting is the shortest but still does a good job of getting dishes clean. Problems encountered with this unit often stemmed from improper installation and are duly noted in the manual. Read carefully and this could be a solid performer. Uses slightly more water than either of the SPT or Danby countertop units at 3.8 gallons. Price on this one is a bit more variable and may fluctuate depending on where you decide to buy.
Need more options? Browse more Koldfront products here.
- Five foot hoses
- 1 year parts warranty
- Heats water to 140 degrees F (65 degrees Celsius)
- Advertised as more efficient than similar models, using 200 kWh per year
- Pricier than other models depending on where you buy
- Potentially difficult to load
- May not remove all food solids
- Requires some amount of regular cleaning
5. Costway Countertop Dishwasher
A newer entry in countertop dishwashers, this Costway unit is very similar to the Danby and SPT above. It swaps the individual LED display option for an LCD screen that make it a bit easier to read. There’s a delay function changeable in one-hour increments between one and 24 hours. Like the others, it has six cycle options: Heavy, Normal, Eco, Speed, Glass, and Rinse.
Need more options? Browse more Costway products here.
- Intuitive LCD screen
- Pre-delay between one and 24 hours
- Quiet operation
- Faucet attachment requires no adapter
- Dishes may not dry completely
- May leave behind soap residue
Other Portable Dishwasher Options
The price point for the countertop dishwasher units seems to settle in somewhere around $250. While the SPT SD-2201W Countertop Dishwasher at the top of this list is generally the cheapest and most popular, the brand has a number of units you could try. For example, the SPT SD-2225DS Countertop Dishwasher tends to be about $70 more than the SD-2201W, but adds delay start and an LCD similar to the Costway above.
There is also an offering from Magic Chef with a familiar control layout, model MCSCD6W3. This is the only one we’ve seen with something called a “floating switch anti-flood device,” which could be the difference between your soaked kitchen and a dry one. Alternatives include the EdgeStar 6 Place Setting Countertop Portable Dishwasher in silver finish and the Midea MDC3203DWW3A Countertop Dishwasher in white. If nothing on the list above works for you, these are solid models to consider.