How can portable dishwashers improve small kitchens?

Nothing sparkles quite like a load of dishes you didn't have to wash in the sink.
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If you have a small kitchen, do you assume the only dishwasher you'll ever have is your own two hands covered in rubber gloves? If so, there's an alternative you may not have considered: a portable dishwasher. Now, these aren't the low-powered machines your grandma used, but new, energy-efficient appliances that are available in a variety of sizes. They can simplify your life without taking over your kitchen.

So what are portable dishwashers, and how do they differ from the machines that connect directly to your plumbing, rather than your faucet? Portable dishwashers come in two styles: countertop and floor models on wheels. Both have their advantages, depending on the size of your kitchen and family and how often you cook. "Portable dishwashers are great for households that use the kitchen infrequently," says kitchen designer Susan Serra, founder of The Kitchen Designer Web site. "The countertop models offer the ultimate in portability, as they can be easily moved into another room, freeing up counter space."


Portable dishwashers, like their built-in cousins, come in a variety of price points, depending on the size, quality and number of cycles available. The average price for built-in dishwashers is between $200 to $1200, plus installation costs. Portable models run from $200 to $800 and can be used right out of the box.

When comparing the efficacy of fixed versus portable models, you really need judge on a model-versus-model basis, but there are some mobile machines with comparable cleaning abilities. Portable units with two spray arms will obviously do a better job of washing and rinsing than those with one spray arm. There is also a wider variety of load capacity among portable dishwashers compared to the fixed models, as movable units can be found in much smaller sizes than standard machines.

But perhaps the biggest advantage of portable dishwashers is the additional space they bring to small kitchens. Many roll-away dishwashers have laminate tops that can be used for additional storage space for pans or seldom-used dishes. Heck, larger portable machines can be placed next to your counter, in effect extending the kitchen itself!

A small kitchen can easily be overwhelmed by excess equipment, dirty dishes and limited space to move around. A dishwasher on wheels can be rolled away from the sink and into another room when not in use. This creates space for you to work and eat. Dirty dishes can be stored in the machine and out of the sink until you're ready to run the load, giving you the opportunity to rinse dishes and pots that are not dishwasher-safe.

Portable dishwashers are perfect for small kitchens. Regardless of the version, model and options you choose, a mobile washer is sure to make your life a little easier. If nothing else, you won't have to spend countless hours washing dishes in the sink, which is the most important perk of all, in our opinion!


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  • Cohen, Jill Dudley. Interior Design Specialist at Daniel F. Liggon Associates. Personal Interview conducted by Amy Feinstein. September 27, 2011.
  • Home Depot. "Buying Guide: Dishwashers." 2011. (September 27, 2011)
  • Pickett, Marcus. "Portable Dishwashers for Small Kitchen Remodeling." 2011. (September 24, 2011)
  • "Portable Dishwasher FAQ." 2011. (September 27, 2011)
  • Serra, Susan. Owner and Designer, Bornholm Kitchen and . Personal Interview conducted by Amy Feinstein. September 28, 2011.