Who should get this
If you can install a built-in dishwasher, do so. (We have a buying guide for those, too.) Over time, it'll require less effort than rolling around a 120-pound machine before every wash cycle.
But sometimes a traditional built-in dishwasher is out of the question. Older, smaller kitchens don't always have the right layout. Or maybe you rent your home and the landlord won't pay to have a dishwasher installed.
Portable dishwashers are an alternative to built-in units. They're on wheels, so you can roll them in and out of storage as needed, and rather than using a dedicated water line, you hook them up to a faucet and drain into the sink below. (You may also need an attachment for your faucet for the hose to fit properly.) Most models are 18 inches wide, though there are a few standard 24-inch models out there. Apart from those differences, they work like a regular built-in dishwasher.
How we picked
We've spent more than 70 hours researching dishwashers over two years, including eight hours looking at portable dishwashers. Although we did most of our fact-finding to pick the best built-in dishwashers, most of the same principles apply to portables, too.
Our expert sources that helped us figure out what makes a great dishwasher include Keith Barry, editor in chief of Reviewed.com's appliance sites, who has overseen more than 100 dishwasher reviews during his tenure; Julie Warner, marketing manager at Warners' Stellian, an appliance-sales powerhouse in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota; and Chris Zeisler, an expert at RepairClinic.com with a few decades of field experience repairing machines.
We weren't able to test any models for this guide, and none of the appliance testing houses have bothered to review any of them, either. We relied mainly on user reviews, comments, and other testimonials to narrow in on the best portable dishwasher.
The Danby DDW1801MWP rolls up when you need it and disappears when you don't. Photo: courtesy of Home Depot.
The 18-inch Danby DDW1801MWP is the portable dishwasher you should buy. It's a much better appliance than you might expect for the price, and even though it's the cheapest dishwasher on wheels, we'd recommend it even if it cost hundreds more. It has all the specs you'd find in a decent $600 built-in dishwasher, including Energy Star compliance for lower energy bills and more efficient water usage and a stainless steel tub for long-term durability, quieter operation, and faster drying.
As of summer 2016, the DDW1801MWP is a new model, so it doesn't have many user reviews at the time of this writing. But it's a very similar machine to its predecessor, the DDW1899WP-1, which was our top pick in this guide before Danby discontinued it. We looked through the spec sheets and contacted Danby, and we spotted only two differences: The newer DDW1801MWP uses about 5 percent less energy and has a "glass wash" instead of a detergent-free "rinse cycle." So we think it's fair to rely on user testimonials about the older model to point out the strengths of this new one while we wait for reviews specific to the DDW1801MWP to become available.
Sweethome editor Ganda Suthivarakom owned an older version of this dishwasher and said that "a full load of dinner party dishes would come out sparkling clean." The review of the DDW1899WP-1 by Rin76 at HomeDepot.com sums up the sentiments: "It's a great little dishwasher for 2 people! It cleans everything really thoroughly, even stuck on dishes. It is perfect for our situation (couple in an apartment). It's counter height, so it adds valuable counter space in our small kitchen. It is also really easy to use and hook up!" Just be sure to brush up on the best ways to use a modern dishwasher.
This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.