For many years, I lived in places that had dishwashers — and then I moved to my most recent apartment, which does not. As a food writer and avid cook, it was a tough transition to handwash every spoon I used to taste if a soup was properly seasoned or a stack of pots and pans when I decided to make lasagna. And as a frequent entertainer, back when entertaining was something I was able to do, I’d buy disposable plates and cups and feel guilty about the environment, or I’d try to plan menus around how many dishes I would dirty. Neither approach was particularly sustainable.
Because landlords typically won’t let tenants install dishwashers, I looked into compact countertop units. But they all require hooking up to a faucet while the unit runs, meaning I wouldn’t be able to use my sink for hours at a time. Some needed an adapter to screw in the hose; others were complicated to install. I’d nearly given up on my search when I came across the Farberware Complete Portable Countertop Dishwasher. It was big enough for four 12-inch dinner plates, sleek enough to leave out on a counter, and, best of all, with its five-liter built-in tank, it wouldn’t require a hookup to a water source. I couldn’t have hit “add to cart” faster.
When it arrived, it took mere minutes to get it out of the box and in working order. It required no real assembly, and I immediately loaded it up with everything in my sink: three East Fork everyday shallow bowls, four side plates, and an ice-cream bowl I’d used to scramble eggs that morning.
I added a tablespoon of powder detergent, filled the water reservoir with five liters of tap water, hit “normal cycle” on the touchscreen, and walked away. The machine itself is so quiet that I actually thought I forgot to turn it on the first time I used it. After two hours — plus a recommended ten-minute cooldown to avoid burning my fingers on hot dishes — the process was done. When I opened it up, I found fully washed and dried dishes with no soap spots or leftover food bits in sight. I hadn’t even bothered to prerinse anything before it went in.
Now that I’ve had it for a few months, I’ve found that, as a single person living alone, I use it just about every day. So far, it hasn’t failed me. I’ve loaded it up with a bowl caked with melted queso, a dinner plate coated with flour paste from dredging pork cutlets, and food-storage containers with a sheen of grease from fried rice, and it’s all come out sparkling clean.
The only downside is that this thing is truly small. It maxes out at about four plates, two glasses, one food storage container, and eight pieces of silverware — and I still have to handwash pots and pans. This is nothing like a full-size dishwasher, which can fit dozens of plates and glasses, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for a household of more than two people. But for me, it’s perfect — after all, that’s four plates, two glasses, one food storage container, and eight pieces of silverware that I don’t have to handwash.
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