Portable Dishwashers vs. Built-In

If you're considering a dishwasher, one of the decisions you have to make is whether to buy a portable or a built-in model. Both types of dishwashers have pros and cons, and knowing what these are can help you make an informed decision.

Built-in dishwashers are integrated into cabinetry


The biggest difference between built-in and portable dishwashers is plumbing. While built-in models require dedicated plumbing to bring water in and drain water out, portable models use your kitchen faucet and sink to wash dishes and drain the dishwater. Therefore, using a portable dishwasher means hooking up hoses to your sink -- and being unable to use your faucet -- each time you operate the appliance.


While built-in dishwater models are integrated into your cabinetry, taking up cabinet space, portable dishwashers have wheels, allowing them to be moved about your kitchen. Most have a butcher block top that allows you to use the dishwasher as counter space. Portable dishwashers come in a range of sizes, as well. Built-in models, however, are available in more designs, including double-drawer models and a range of door options.


Built-in and portable dishwashers share many of the same features, such as rinse/hold cycles and food grinders. One feature portable dishwashers cannot guarantee to the degree built-in models can is quiet operation. While built-in models are muffled by insulation and surrounding cabinetry, the stand-alone nature of portable models makes them noisier.