Different Types of Dishwashers: Built-in, Portable, and Countertop Models

Are you thinking of getting a new dishwasher, but you don’t know which type? Maybe you are limited on space and you are not sure if it won’t take too much space. So perhaps a portable dishwasher is the answer?

dishwashers in a store

In today’s article, we will talk about different types of dishwashers, more specifically, the built-in, portable, and countertop models.

Built-In Dishwashers: The “Domestic Superheroes”

Let’s start with the built-in type. Definitely one of the most common types (usually at war with portable dishwashers as to who takes the first place). It’s the Batman of dishwashing. It’s there when you need it, hidden away when you don’t, and, unlike Batman, doesn’t come with a brooding attitude or a haunting backstory.

These fellas can handle a lot of dishes. And by a lot, I mean the aftermath of Thanksgiving dinner, last Sunday’s barbeque, and that birthday party where everyone seemed to use three plates each.

Plus, it’s integrated seamlessly into your kitchen cabinetry. No unsightly metal box in the corner. Just a sly, sleek panel that whispers, “I’m here to fight crime… the crime of dirty dishes, that is.” Their size depends on your kitchen board space.


  • High Capacity: Handle more dishes than a crowd in a free buffet.
  • Seamless Integration: Hides better than a chameleon in a Skittles bag.


  • Permanent Fixture: Once it’s in, it’s in. No take-backsies.
  • Price: Batman gadgets aren’t cheap, and neither are built-in dishwashers.

Portable Dishwashers: The “Freedom Fighters”

Feeling a bit adventurous? Maybe your kitchen didn’t come with a built-in dishwasher, but you need it anyway. I mean, that’s a pretty common thing, especially if you are dead-set on keeping your older stylish kitchen. This is where portable dishwashers come into place.

Portable dishwashers are the rebels of the dishwasher world. They’re the James Bonds, the Jack Bauers, the Jason Bournes. No wall can hold them. No cabinetry can confine them. They go wherever the dirty dishes call.

These machines are often on wheels and can be easily moved around the kitchen. They connect to the sink when in use and can be tucked away when not. Perfect for those with limited space or an unpredictable lifestyle.

Lastly, the portable dishwashers come in various sizes and shapes.


  • Mobility: They’ll follow you to the ends of your kitchen and back.
  • Convenient for Smaller Kitchens: Doesn’t hog space like a starved bulldog.


  • Lower Capacity: Not ideal if you’re hosting a royal banquet every other day.
  • Requires Sink Access: It’s like a pet fish. Needs water.

Countertop Dishwashers: The “Underdogs”

Finally, we come to the underdogs of the dishwasher world: the countertop models. They might not have the capacity of built-ins or the freedom of portables, but don’t underestimate them. They’re the Frodo Baggins of dishwashers, small in stature, but large in spirit.

Countertop dishwashers are perfect for those living alone, couples, or people who believe in magic (you’ll be surprised how many dishes these tiny boxes can clean), and at the same time, you are pretty much fed up with doing dishes all the time. They’re the easiest to install, and they take up as much space as a microwave.


  • Compact: Ideal for those who treat every inch of counter space like precious gold.
  • Easy Installation: Even easier than assembling an IKEA chair.


  • Small Capacity: Let’s just say you might have to wash your dishes in installments.
  • Requires Counter Space: Your precious, precious counter space.

Quick Comparison Table

In case you wish to see pros and cons of each type at one glance, here you go:

Built-In Dishwashers
  • High Capacity
  • Seamless Integration
  • Permanent Fixture
  • Pricey
Portable Dishwashers
  • Mobility
  • Convenient for Smaller Kitchens
  • Lower Capacity
  • Requires Sink Access
Countertop Dishwashers
  • Compact
  • Easy Installation
  • Small Capacity
  • Requires Counter Space

The Bottom Line

Well, that’s all she wrote. I actually really liked writing this article, mainly because these three types are quite different from each other in lots of ways, so there is not a definitive winner. It mainly comes down to your kitchen size and available space. But before you make a decision, go forth and do the dishes for crying out loud.