Late last year, I moved into my first-ever apartment without a dishwasher, and it quickly became clear that my precious little dish-washing system wasn’t up to the task at hand. Still, I stubbornly resisted buying a countertop dishwasher for months. What, I wondered, could I possibly gain from parking an appliance next to the sink on a permanent basis?
Lots, as it turns out. Every argument against portable dishwashers is laughable compared to the arguments for them. Sure, a miniature dishwasher can’t wash every single dish you own in one go, but neither can you. (And frankly, the machine will do a better job.) Here’s why these silly little contraptions aren’t so silly after all—and more than worth the counter space.
Portable dishwashers are efficient
Dishwashers use significantly less water than hand-washing. This is not up for debate. If you currently hand wash all your dishes, adding literally any dishwasher to your kitchen—even a very small one—will reduce your water usage. Whether you pay your water bill or not, using less water for a daily task like washing dishes is unambiguously good.
Portable dishwashers are fast
Using less water is great, but personally, my favorite part about my little dishwasher is how fast it is. A full “normal” wash cycle takes less than an hour and a “heavy” one takes less than two; even better, loading and unloading are reduced to seconds. (Unloading the dishwasher is my least favorite kitchen chore of all time, and even I can’t find an excuse to put it off when it takes less than a minute.)
Of course, the reason small dishwashers work so quickly is because small loads take less time (and water) to wash than big ones. Depending on how many dishes get dirtied in your kitchen every day, you may need to run multiple loads to keep up with demand. While that’s definitely a drawback, loading and unloading a small-capacity machine multiple times a day sure beats hand-washing every single dish, every single time.
Dishwashers are gentler on your dishes
Many small dishwashers connect directly to your kitchen faucet, giving you control over the water temperature. This may not sound like a big deal, but think about it: Why can’t you put delicate items in a regular dishwasher? It’s the combination of extremely high temperatures and abrasive dish detergent. When your dishwasher uses water straight from the tap, you can make wash conditions less aggressive by simply lowering the temperature.
This opens up whole new worlds of “dishwasher-safe” dishes. To be clear, I’m not suggesting you break in your new countertop dishwasher by washing all your family heirloom china. (Dishes are like laundry: The truly fragile stuff should still get washed by hand.) But if you’re sick of warped cutting boards and faded mugs, for example, try turning the tap to lukewarm and using even less detergent than usual.
What to look for in a portable dishwasher
When shopping for a countertop or portable dishwasher, there are only two real questions to ask yourself:
- Does it fit within reach the sink with the lid both open and closed?
- Does it allow you to use the sink while it’s running?
Everything else is a matter of personal preference, with the exception of detergent. Dishwasher pods contain way too much product for small machines, so make sure to use liquid or loose powder instead—and use even less than you think you need. Small dishwashers use a truly tiny amount of water, and they don’t need much detergent at all to get the job done. It’s just one more thing to love about them.