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Built-In vs Portable Dishwasher: Which One to Choose?

Dishwashers are essential appliances in modern kitchens that save time and effort by taking care of the dishes cleaning and sanitization. However, when it comes to choosing between a built-in and portable dishwasher, it can be overwhelming to make the right decision. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages based on various factors such as kitchen space, lifestyle, and budget. In this article, we will discuss the key differences between built-in and portable dishwashers, their benefits and drawbacks, and which one suits your needs the best.

Built-in Dishwashers:

Built-in dishwashers, as the name suggests, are installed directly into the kitchen cabinetry, making them a permanent fixture of the kitchen. They are designed to fit seamlessly with the rest of the kitchen decor, and their hidden controls provide a sleek and clean appearance. Built-in dishwashers come in various sizes, from compact models that fit under the countertop to full-size models that can accommodate a large number of dishes. They also offer a range of features such as multiple wash cycles, adjustable racks, and delay start options.

built in dishwashers
built in dishwashers

Benefits of Built-in Dishwashers:

  • They offer a more permanent and integrated look to the kitchen.
  • They are typically quieter than portable dishwashers due to their insulation and noise-reducing features.
  • They can accommodate more dishes and have more advanced features for customized cleaning.
  • They do not require any floor space and are therefore a great option for small kitchens.
  • They improve your kitchen’s aesthetics by creating a sleek and seamless look.
  • Having a built-in dishwasher can increase your home’s resale value.
  • They are often energy-efficient and can save you money on your utility bills.
  • They offer advanced cleaning technologies for better cleaning performance.
  • With multiple wash cycles and soil sensors, you can trust that your dishes will come out sparkling clean.
  • Built-in dishwashers are more durable than portable models, lasting for many years.
  • They save time by allowing you to load and unload dishes quickly and easily.
  • Having a built-in dishwasher reduces the amount of time you spend washing dishes by hand, freeing up your time for other activities.

Drawbacks of Built-in Dishwashers:

  • They are more expensive than portable dishwashers and require professional installation, which can add to the cost.
  • They cannot be moved once installed and are therefore not a suitable option for renters or people who move frequently.
  • They require a dedicated water supply and drainage system, which may not be feasible in all kitchens.

Portable Dishwashers:

Portable dishwashers are freestanding units that can be moved around the kitchen and connected to the sink when in use. They are typically smaller in size than built-in dishwashers and can accommodate a limited number of dishes. Portable dishwashers come with wheels or casters that allow them to be easily moved around and stored in a closet or pantry when not in use. They offer basic features such as wash cycles and adjustable racks.

portable dishwashers
portable dishwashers

Benefits of Portable Dishwashers:

  • They are more affordable than built-in dishwashers and do not require professional installation.
  • They can be moved around the kitchen or taken with you when you move, making them a great option for renters or people who move frequently.
  • They can be stored away when not in use, freeing up valuable kitchen space.
  • They are easy to connect to the sink and do not require any additional plumbing or electrical work.

Drawbacks of Portable Dishwashers:

  • They take up valuable floor space in the kitchen when in use.
  • They are typically louder than built-in dishwashers due to their location and lack of insulation.
  • They cannot accommodate a large number of dishes, which may be a problem for families or people who entertain frequently.
  • They may require more frequent maintenance and cleaning due to their portable nature.

Which One to Choose?

Choosing between a built-in and portable dishwasher ultimately depends on your lifestyle, budget, and kitchen space. If you own your home, have a large kitchen, and prefer a permanent and integrated look, a built-in dishwasher may be the better option. However, if you rent, move frequently, have a small kitchen, or are on a tight budget, a portable dishwasher may be a better choice. Consider your specific needs and preferences before making a decision.

Maintaining Your Dishwasher:

Regardless of whether you choose a built-in or portable dishwasher, proper maintenance is crucial to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Clean the dishwasher regularly: Wipe down the interior with a damp cloth and run a cycle with a dishwasher cleaner once a month to remove any buildup and odors.
  • Load the dishwasher properly: Make sure to load the dishes according to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper cleaning and avoid overloading.
  • Use the right detergent: Use only detergent specifically designed for dishwashers, and follow the recommended amount for your specific model.
  • Check the filters: Clean or replace the dishwasher filters regularly to prevent clogs and improve water flow.
  • Check for leaks: Check the dishwasher for any signs of leaks or water damage, and address any issues promptly.


Are portable dishwashers as effective as built-in dishwashers?

Portable dishwashers can clean dishes effectively, but they may not have the same advanced features and capacity as built-in dishwashers. However, they can be a great option for those on a tight budget or with limited kitchen space.

How long do dishwashers typically last?

Dishwashers can last anywhere from 6 to 12 years, depending on usage and maintenance. Proper care and regular maintenance can extend the lifespan of your dishwasher.

Can a built-in dishwasher be converted to a portable dishwasher?

No, a built-in dishwasher cannot be converted to a portable dishwasher. They are designed differently and require different plumbing and electrical connections.

Can I install a built-in dishwasher myself?

Installing a built-in dishwasher typically requires professional installation. However, if you have experience with plumbing and electrical work, you may be able to install it yourself.

How much water do dishwashers use?

The amount of water used by a dishwasher varies depending on the model and cycle. However, modern dishwashers are designed to be more water-efficient than hand washing, using as little as 3-5 gallons of water per cycle.


Choosing between a built-in and portable dishwasher depends on several factors, including kitchen space, lifestyle, and budget. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages, so consider your specific needs before making a decision. Proper maintenance and care are crucial to ensure the longevity and optimal performance of your dishwasher, regardless of the type you choose.


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