For those who live in rental apartments or small homes that cannot accommodate a built-in dishwasher, a portable model is the next best thing -- and a great alternative to hand-washing. Portable units can take two forms: wheeled and countertop. Wheeled dishwashers are larger, usually 18 inches across, and roll around on caster wheels so you can store them in a pantry or closet when not in use -- assuming you have storage space. Countertop dishwashers are meant to be left on the counter, although many people move theirs from a shelf to the counter only when they need to use it. All portable dishwashers hook up to the faucet to run, so you can't use your spigot when the dishwasher is running. Also, since they manually install before each use, they tend to be more prone to unexpected leaks, so it's best not to leave them unattended when they're running. We saw quite a few rueful comments from folks who came home to a nasty flood from the hose loosening at the faucet due to it not being properly tightened.
Still, most people love their portable dishwashers because, even though they may not be as convenient as a built-in, they're still better than washing dishes by hand. And, of all the portable dishwashers we evaluate, none get better ratings than the Kenmore 14652 (Est. $700). Johnny Yu at Reviewed.com says this compact dishwasher is super easy to use and that it's a very good performer when it comes to cleaning. Owners agree, but note that it's much more effective if you're careful to not overload it. While Kenmore claims that this dishwasher accommodates up to eight place settings, Yu found that six was probably more accurate.
The Kenmore 14652 comes with a nice array of features for such a small dishwasher, including six wash cycles and a delay start. Its 59 dBA rating is fairly high, but we see few complaints about noise -- although it will be louder than most built-in machines. The interior of the 14652 is stainless, which helps with both noise and drying efficiency, but there's no option for a stainless exterior. The 14652 is white, but it also comes in black as the Kenmore 14659 (Est. $700).
Where the Kenmore 14652 really shone in testing was in the virtually non-existent presence of redeposit, which is when food particles are washed from one dish onto another -- where they're often then baked on in the dry cycle. Yu's testing found no instances of that, an unusually good outcome in a portable dishwasher. Yu ultimately names the 14652 a Best of Year and gives it an Editors' Choice award.
While it receives no expert reviews, owner reviewers speak up loud and clear about the Whirlpool WDP350PAAWU (Est. $700) -- and what they have to say is very positive. Hundreds of happy users say this is one of the best purchases they've ever made.
There are only three cycles on the Whirlpool WDP350PAAWU -- just Heavy, Normal and One Hour Wash -- and limited customization, but owners don't care, saying it offers excellent cleaning performance in all cycles. Most say all they wanted was a good, basic dishwasher so that they didn't have to hand wash everything, and they get it in spades with this portable.
The Whirlpool's noise rating of 55 dB is fairly good for a portable model. Whirlpool says the WDP350PAAWU will hold about 12 place settings, and we've seen no comments to the contrary -- although based upon our experience the capacity is probably smaller. Some users comment that the wood laminate dishwasher top provides some much appreciated extra counter space in their counter-space-challenged kitchens. Energy efficiency is excellent, and the WDP350PAAWU is Energy Star certified. As with all portable dishwashers, it needs to be located within reach of a sink (30-inches) for the intake and drain hoses.
This dishwasher is offered in white, while the Whirlpool WDP350PAAB (Est. $700) is the same model, but in black.
Even the tiniest kitchen will usually accommodate a countertop dishwasher, and the top choice according to experts and users is the Sunpentown SD-2201W (Est. $275). It receives strong user ratings at numerous retail sites. The manufacturer, Sunpentown, is also sometimes known as SPT, so this is identified as the SPT SD-2201W by some retailers, including Amazon.com
Professionals don't review many portable dishwashers, but the Sunpentown SD-2201W earns a positive write up and a Best of the Year award from Reviewed.com. Keith Barry writes that "The Sunpentown SD-2201W holds its own when compared to full-size dishwashers."
The Sunpentown SD-2201W can't keep up with built-in dishwashers, or even most roll-away dishwashers, when it comes to capacity; it's rated to hold six place settings, but Barry reports that four full place settings is more realistic. However, it fully measures up to mid-priced built-ins in many other regards. Performance is excellent, with five cycles for dishwashing tasks from a light rinse to cleaning heavily soiled bakeware. All perform well, though not always perfectly -- cleaning items in the far rear corners of the SD-2201W were a challenge in Reviewed.com's tests. With a noise rating of 55 dB, it's louder than the top built-ins, but quieter than many cheap dishwashers, and quieter than many portable models, too.
Installation is easy, reviews say, though you'll need to be within reach of a sink for the intake and drain hoses, which attach to your faucet via an included faucet adapter and Quick Connect coupler. Efficiency is excellent, and the SD-2201W is Energy Star certified.
The Sunpentown SD-2201W comes in white, but can be ordered in silver as the Sunpentown SD-2201S (Est. $230). A step-up version adds a delayed start feature but is otherwise similar. It's sold in white as the Sunpentown SD-2202W (Est. $240) and silver as the Sunpentown SD-2202S (Est. $270).
Elsewhere in this report: