10 Portable Dishwasher Issues That Can Be Repaired

Portable dishwashers are an excellent option if you don’t have the space to install a built-in dishwasher in your kitchen.

However, like any other appliance, these portable appliances can also experience issues that require repairs. But can portable dishwashers be repaired?

While certain portable dishwasher issues can be fixed, some issues have no fixes. If your dishwasher is leaking, not cleaning effectively, not fully draining, won’t turn on, stinks, is louder than usual or has fill problems, you can get the repairs done.

Let’s look into different portable dishwasher issues and information on repairs.

Can Portable Dishwashers Be Repaired Like Built-Ins?

While most portable dishwasher issues are similar to ones experienced by built-in models, the repair process might differ between the two types.

General repairs that don’t require accessing the internal components will remain the same for portable and built-in models. However, the process differs when you want to check or replace any damaged internal part, like the thermostat, float switch, water inlet valve, pump, etc.

It’s recommended to tilt a portable machine over to its side or back before you access the internal components for a comfortable working position.

Portable units have finished sides with a plastic body, making it difficult to access the internal components for checks or repairs. It’s more difficult for countertop models than free-standing ones.

On the other hand, you can get to the control panel of built-in dishwashers by removing a series of retaining screws around the panel. In some models, you must remove the entire front door panel to access control components. 

You can access the inlet valves, hoses, pump, motor, and other parts by removing the lower access panel; you don’t have to remove the door entirely.

10 Things That Can Be Repaired

Here are the portable dishwasher issues that can be repaired with some elbow grease and help from the product manual. However, you can also call for professional help if you can’t fix it yourself.

1. A Leaking Dishwasher

Among the most common issues with portable dishwashers is leaks. There are different reasons why your portable dishwasher might be leaking.

Here are the various causes and fixes:

Damaged or worn-out door gasketReplace the gasket
Clogged or damaged drain hoseClean or replace the drain hose
Faulty water inlet valveReplace the water inlet valve
Overloading the dishwasherFollow the manufacturer’s guide to load
Using the wrong detergentSwitch to the recommended detergent
Faulty pumpRepair or replace the pump
Faulty float switchClean or replace the float switch
Clogged filterClean the filter thoroughly and regularly

We also do have a big article on that: 19 Reasons Your Portable Dishwasher Is Leaking (How To Fix It)

2. Poor Drainage

If you see about an inch of water standing at the bottom of the dishwasher tub after each use, that’s normal. What’s not normal is more standing water than usual.

Here are the most common reasons and fixes for a dishwasher that doesn’t drain properly:

Clogged or damaged drain hoseClean or replace the drain hose
Faulty drain pumpRepair or replace the pump
Malfunctioning float switchReplace the float switch
Clogged filterClean the dishwasher filter regularly

You can find more here: How to Clean A Portable Dishwasher Drain

3. Dishwasher Odors

If you use your dishwasher regularly but don’t follow regular maintenance, the appliance may smell bad. Here are some reasons why your dishwasher stinks:

Residual food build-up in the dishwasherPerform a deep clean
You leave your dirty dishes in for long periodsRinse and load dishes if you wait for a full load before you run a cycle
Moisture build-upLeave the dishwasher door ajar between uses
Residual food build-up in the filterClean the filter thoroughly
Melted plastic causes a chemical smellAvoid loading plastic items

More details in our special article with 9 Reasons Your Portable Dishwasher Smells

4. Dishes Remain Dirty After a Wash Cycle

There’s nothing more frustrating than finding your dishes dirty at the end of a dishwasher wash cycle. Here are the causes and fixes to ensure your dishwasher efficiently cleans your dishes:

Clogged or dirty spray armUnclog and clean the spray arm
Hard water buildupRun a vinegar cycle
Low water pressureLocate and fix the cause of this
Malfunctioning water inlet valveReplace the water inlet valve
Overloading your dishwasherFollow the manufacturer’s loading instructions
Improper detergent useFollow the manufacturer’s detergent recommendations
Wrong cycle selectionConsult the instruction manual for information on different cycles

All you need to know with 13 Reasons Your Portable Dishwasher Is Not Cleaning

5. Dishwasher Not Turning On

A dishwasher that doesn’t start isn’t necessarily dead. Here are the common causes and fixes for a dishwasher that doesn’t turn on:

Blown fuse/Damaged wiringReplace the part
Faulty door latchReplace with a new door latch

6. Noisy Operation

If you notice your dishwasher is increasingly noisy than before, here are the possible causes and fixes:

Spray arms hitting improperly loaded dishesCheck if spray arms have clearance after loading dishes
Defective pumpRepair or replace the pump
Worn-out rings or sealsReplace the worn-out parts

7. Detergent Not Dispensing

Finding your detergent intact in the dispenser compartment at the end of a wash cycle could be because you used clumpy detergent or the water temperature isn’t sufficient to dissolve the detergent.

It could also be due to the arrangement of dishwasher racks, which block the dispenser.

The fixes for these issues are pretty straightforward.

8. White Film on Glasses

If you find an annoying white film on your glassware, it’s often caused by hard water minerals or overuse of detergent.

You can use a water softener system for hard water or detergents and additives specifically designed for hard water. As for detergent use, go with manufacturer recommendations.

9. Doesn’t Dry Your Dishes

Are your dishes damp after a wash cycle? It’s likely because of a faulty heating element or a malfunctioning high-limit thermostat.

Either way, these are relatively inexpensive repairs.

10. Fill Problems

Your portable dishwasher might not be filling or won’t stop filling as it operates.

The possible causes are a faulty float switch or water inlet valve. You can replace the defective component with a new one.

4 Things That Can’t Be Fixed

While most portable dishwasher issues can be fixed, there are a few that can’t.

In fact, attempting to repair these issues will probably cost you almost as much as a new appliance.

Here are some portable dishwasher issues that may not be repairable:

1. Damaged Tub

If your portable dishwasher’s tub gets damaged, it may not be possible to repair it. Dishwasher tubs are either made of stainless steel or plastic and are susceptible to cracks. 

A damaged or cracked tub could cause dishwasher leaks. If it’s severely damaged, you might have to purchase a new appliance altogether.

2. Motor Failure

The motor of your portable dishwasher powers the circulation pump (that pumps water into the water jets) and causes the spray arms to rotate and spray water on the dirty dishes.

If the motor fails, your portable appliance won’t be able to function properly.

In most cases, it is pretty expensive to replace a failed motor and may not be worth the expense.

3. Control Board Failure

Your portable dishwasher has an electronic control board that runs all the dishwasher’s functions, like filling, washing, drying, and draining.

A short circuit or a partial short circuit can cause the appliance’s main PCB to fail.

Like with most other electrical appliances of this scale, the cost of replacing a control board can be pretty high. 

4. Age-Related Wear

All appliances are subject to wear over time. If your dishwasher is several years old and has been used heavily, it’s likely to wear out sooner.

Despite regular maintenance, your portable dishwasher is bound to wear out eventually. The cost of repairing an old dishwasher often exceeds replacing it.

When Is a Repair Worth It?

For dishwasher repairs that might cost you more than $200-$300, you must consider the dishwasher’s age. If it’s been more than seven years with your dishwasher, consider replacing it with a newer model.

On the other hand, if your dishwasher has just been around for up to five to seven years or less, a repair might be worth it. And if the appliance is under warranty, there’s no need to reconsider; just get it repaired.

Here are some costs of dishwasher part replacements:

Dishwasher Replacement PartEstimated Cost
Door gasket$50 – $100
Float switch$10 – $20
Water inlet valve$80 – $125
Door latch$150 – $250
Spray arm$75 – $100
Filter$50 – $100
Heating element$150 – $250
Motor replacement$400 – $600
Pump replacement$150 – $600

Where To Repair a Portable Dishwasher?

If you’re facing any issues with your portable dishwasher, here are some of the sources you can consider to get it repaired:

  • Manufacturer
    If your portable dishwasher is still covered by warranty, you can contact the manufacturer for any repairs. Most manufacturers have authorized service centers for warranty-covered repairs.
    However, if your warranty has expired, the manufacturer will still offer repair services for a fee.
  • Retailer
    Contact the retailer from where you purchased your portable dishwasher. They may offer repair services or refer a qualified repair technician.
  • Appliance Repair Technician
    A qualified appliance repair technician specializing in dishwasher repairs, especially portable models, will be of great help. You can search online or check the yellow pages to find one.
  • General Repair Services
    There’s also the choice of unauthorized repair shops that can fix your portable appliance. You can search for such shops in your neighborhood or do an online search.
  • Online Repair Services
    Nowadays, you can communicate with a technician over the phone or online to help you diagnose and fix your portable dishwasher issues. However, you may have to perform some basic troubleshooting on your own. While these services may appear convenient, they aren’t suitable for complex repairs.


Most portable dishwasher issues have simple fixes that you can do alone or with professional help. However, there are a few issues that can’t be repaired or will cost a lot to repair.

If the repair costs are almost as expensive as a new dishwasher’s price, the wise choice would be to replace it with a new appliance. This is true, especially if you have an old dishwasher that requires frequent repairs.