A closeup of the interior of a Whirlpool® dishwasher.

How does a portable dishwasher work?

A portable dishwasher works like a standard dishwasher, but it’s on wheels and can be moved around your kitchen. Store it next to your cabinets for additional countertop space and simply move an inlet hose to the sink when in use. It doesn’t need a permanent setup, so you can take it with you when you move. Follow this guide to learn more about how a portable dishwasher works and decide whether it’s a good fit for your home.

The bottom rack of a Whirlpool® dishwasher filled with dishes. The bottom rack of a Whirlpool® dishwasher filled with dishes.

What is a portable dishwasher?

Unlike a full-size dishwasher, which is usually permanently installed in your kitchen, a portable dishwasher can be moved from one location to another as needed. This makes it ideal for a variety of settings, such as college dorms, small apartments and home kitchens with limited space.

What are the benefits of a portable dishwasher?

The benefit of a portable dishwasher is that you get the convenience of a compact, standalone appliance without sacrificing functionality. It works well in small spaces like city apartments, trailers or RV’s. There’s no need for a plumbing connection; instead, it connects to your kitchen sink faucet.

How to use a portable dishwasher

To use a portable dishwasher, move the appliance near the sink and connect an inlet hose to the faucet. If your dishwasher is new and you need to connect your faucet adapter, follow the instructions on how to install the faucet aerator or consult your product manual. 

Read on for a step by step guide on using your portable dishwasher. You can also discover handy tips on properly loading and operating your dishwasher at how to use a dishwasher.

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Step 1: Turn on hot water

Run the water through your faucet until it’s hot. Then turn it off.

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Step 2: Check hose connection

Pull out the hoses, typically stored in a compartment on the back of the dishwasher. Check that the hoses are not kinked or twisted, which can reduce washing performance.

 

To deliver and remove the water during the cycle, two hoses are attached to the faucet with a hose connector: one for drawing water in, and the other for draining.

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Step 3: Connect hose to faucet

Pull down on the faucet locking collar while lifting the hose connector onto the faucet adapter. When the connector snaps into place, release the locking collar. Turn the hot water on slowly until it is all the way on. Exact connection instructions may vary by model. 

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Step 4: Start dishwasher cycle

Plug your dishwasher into a grounded 3 prong outlet. Select your dishwashing cycle and start the wash.

The interior of a Whirlpool® dishwasher cleaning dishes during a wash cycle. The interior of a Whirlpool® dishwasher cleaning dishes during a wash cycle.

How much water does a portable dishwasher use?

A portable dishwasher uses about the same amount of water as a built-in dishwasher with around 4.2 gallons of water usage per cycle for a standard dishwasher and 3.5 gallons for a compact dishwasher. When you consider that hand washing may use as much as 27 gallons, a dishwasher uses much less.

How long does a portable dishwasher run?

The amount of time it takes to run a dishwasher load will vary anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. It depends on the cycle you choose, dishwasher sensor readings, how dirty your dishes are and how long it takes to heat water between cycle phases. 

How do I drain a portable dishwasher?

The hose connector that attaches to your faucet adapter has two hoses. One hose supplies the hot, clean water from your faucet into your portable dishwasher, while the other discharges the dirty, used water into your sink.

The bottom rack of a Whirlpool® dishwasher filled with dishes. The bottom rack of a Whirlpool® dishwasher filled with dishes.

How do I clean a portable dishwasher?

You can clean the interior of your portable dishwasher the same way as a built-in dishwasher by using a dishwasher cleaning tablet or with white vinegar and baking soda. For a step by step by step guide, follow the instructions on how to clean a dishwasher to reduce smells and dirt.

What’s the difference between portable dishwasher and built-in?

A built-in dishwasher is typically installed using a permanent connection to your home’s plumbing, while a portable dishwasher has a faucet adapter that connects to your sink. With a built-in model, you usually have more features, settings and a larger capacity than portable models.

You can compare the built-in, portable and panel-ready dishwasher models by learning about the different types of dishwashers.

A stainless steel Whirlpool® dishwasher, refrigerator and oven in a modern kitchen. A stainless steel Whirlpool® dishwasher, refrigerator and oven in a modern kitchen.

Shop Whirlpool® dishwashers

Whether you’re shopping for a built-in, portable, compact or panel-ready dishwasher model, Whirlpool brand offers a wide range of options that are designed to keep up with your needs. Explore this dishwasher buying guide for a closer look at dishwasher types.  

Explore more dishwasher tips with Whirlpool brand

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