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Built-In vs. Portable Dishwashers: Which Is Right for You?

Portable Dishwashers

Portable dishwashers feature a compact design that's ideal for use in almost any kitchen. Many units attach directlyPortable Dishwashers to your kitchen sink, so they don't require additional plumbing. This makes it perfect for those that live in a compact space or move often. Portable designs are made for use in apartments, condos or office kitchens.


  • Compact size is ideal for use in small kitchens
  • Doesn't require an expensive and time consuming installation process


  • Limited capacity - most units only hold a few standard place settings, which means is better suited for small families or households with just a few people

Portable Countertop Dishwashers

This dishwashing unit is perfect for use in small kitchens where there's a very limited amount of space. Most models are specifically designed to fit between standard cabinetry, but be sure to check the dimensions before you buy! These portable dishwashers are especially good for small households with 2-3 people.

Freestanding Portable Dishwashers

These handy units feature a larger capacity than the smaller countertop variety. Most freestanding designs are able to hold up to 8 place settings. The most common size is 18", which is perfect for a small apartment or RV!

Built-In Dishwashers

Built-in dishwashers are the most common type. Most units are 24" models that hold between 12 andBuilt-In Dishwashers  14 standard place settings. These units are perfect for use in households with full sized kitchens that have more than 2 or 3 people living in the house. Because this option is installed in your kitchen, it isn't the best choice for someone that moves a lot.


  • Holds numerous place settings
  • Usually offers advanced wash settings


  • Installed in your cabinetry, which takes up valuable storage space in your kitchen
  • Must be installed and connected to water and electric hook-ups

What to look for in your new dishwasher:


All dishwashers come in a wide range of colors and finishes. The most common colors are white and stainless steel, but some units also come in black or white. With the wide variety of built-in or portable dishwashers available, you're sure to find a finish to complement your kitchen and home decor.

Dishwashing Cycles

Most portable and built-in dishwashing units offer the same basic wash cycles. Some basic wash cycles include a heavy, basic, light and soak cycle. More sophisticated models come with a rapid, glass and other specialized wash cycles.

Money-Saving Features

Many built-in and portable units come with an Energy Star label. These options are more energy efficient and are sure to save you money. Also look for units with an economy or air-dry setting. It's helpful because it allows your dishes to air dry for added savings.

Other features to look for include "quick wash" options or a delay start feature. These handy features are convenient and help save money if you're on metered water use or if you energy is calculated base on time-of-use rates.


Be sure to look for a unit that comes with a stainless steel spray arm and interior cavity. Built-in and portable options with this feature tend to last longer and be more durable over time. Also, keep an eye out for manufacturer's warranties for added peace of mind.


Dishwashers are a great investment, and there are so many varieties to choose from you're bound to find an option to meet your needs. Knowing what's available will lead toward the perfect purchase and enjoying the benefits a dishwashing unit has to offer.

Shop Our Selection of Portable Dishwashers

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