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If you don't have the space for a full-sized laundry setup, a portable washing machine can help you cut down on the time and energy you spend on your dirty clothes. Say goodbye to trips to the laundromat, ringing out your clothes over the kitchen sink, and pruney hands. Typically smaller and a little less powerful than traditional washers, portable washing machines use a sink hookup or buckets of water to wash and rinse your clothes, and can be tucked into a utility closet when not in use.
Portable washers come in both electric and manual models, so whether you're out camping or just trying to get clean clothes in an apartment or small home, you can find one that suits your needs. Their capacity usually averages around 1.5 cubic feet, which is about the same size as a pair of jeans, shirt, underwear, and even a set of pillowcases.
We've done the research, and here are the best portable washing machine options on the market.
Water temperature options
Hard to move around
Can be leaky
For an affordable portable washing machine that delivers a superior clean and boasts many of the same features as full-size models, you need the Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4. This appliance looks and feels like a mini version of a top-load washing machine, and its 1.6-cubic-foot capacity is perfect for doing small loads of laundry.
This portable washer features a see-through top window, electronic controls, and a stainless steel inner tub. To use it, just attach the water supply hoses to a water faucet. You can then choose from six wash cycles, including normal, heavy duty, delicates, bulky items, speed wash, and more. Additionally, there are three water temperature options, which you can tailor to the type of fabrics in your load, and how much energy you want to use. (Typically, cold water cycles use less energy and, therefore, cost less to run.)
You can also add either liquid or powder detergent to the included dispenser of this model, to be automatically mixed into your clothes. When your load is done, a signal goes off so you know to remove your clothes and set them out to dry.
Doesn't turn off on its own
Leaves clothes damp
Are you looking to purchase a portable washing machine so you don’t have to pay for laundry services in your apartment building? Save your quarters and score the cleanest clothes with the COSTWAY Portable Mini Compact Twin Tub. It’s tiny, but offers tons of features including two tubs: a washing one and a spin drying one. Each tub comes with its own timer, so you can treat your clothes just right.
To start a cycle in the washing tub, toss in your dirty clothes and fill the tub with water. (Make sure you’re nearby to turn it off, because it won’t do so on its own.) Set the timer, and let the cycle begin. For the spin cycle, follow the same guidelines, making sure your load doesn’t exceed the 8-pound capacity. The spin drying tub will leave your clothes almost completely dry, as this machine runs at 120V, which is the same voltage as portable washers on the more expensive side. It’s an impressive machine, considering its dainty price tag.
Variety of wash cycles
Doesn't fill all the way
Most portable washing machines are pretty small, which can be frustrating if you have a lot of laundry to wash. If you’re willing to pay more for a larger, more advanced portable washing machine, the GE Portable Washer will make laundry day a whole lot easier.
This high-end portable washer has an impressive 2.8 cubic foot capacity which is almost three times larger than many comparable products. It has electronic one-touch controls, and you can choose from eight different cycles, including delicates, towels, and sheets, and four wash temperatures. The machine features caster wheels so you can easily move it around your home, as well as a stainless steel basket that resists rust and won’t harm your clothes. The water input hose easily connects to a standard kitchen or bathroom sink, which makes installing this piece a breeze and it so worth the higher price tag.
Requires time and energy
Difficult to assemble
Can leave soap in clothes
If you’re living off-the-grid, you’ll probably need a portable washing machine that doesn’t rely on electricity. In this case, you should definitely consider the highly-rated Laundry Alternative Wonderwash Portable Washing Machine.
This manual washing machine weighs just 6 pounds, and it can clean laundry in a matter of minutes. You power the machine via a hand crank, and the tub can fit up to 10 T-shirts at a time. It’s gentle on clothes, and naturally will last you a long time since it doesn’t have any motorized parts that would typically need repairs. Since it doesn’t rely on electricity, it’s perfect for those living off-the-grid or anyone who’s trying to cut back on their bill while also scoring the cleanest clothes.
Doesn't require electricity
Doesn't wring out clothes well
The Lavario Portable Clothes Washer is the perfect gadget to take with you on camping trips. This compact, manual washer doesn’t require any electricity, and will still get out the toughest grime. It’s hand-powered which is eco-friendly, but will require some energy on your part. If you purchase it, you can look forward to a simple and straightforward design that’s only 14 pounds and 19 x 19 x 24 inches.
To use this patented gadget, simply load up the basket with the clothes you want to wash. Pour water and detergent into the bucket, then submerge the basket by pumping it up and down. Within 20 minutes, your clothing will be completely clean, and you can refill the bucket with clean water to rinse. Wring excess water out of your garments, then hang them up to dry. Since this portable washer is powered by you, it’s particularly great with delicates or clothes with mesh—say, your workout leggings—and may be something you want to use at home.
Easy to move around
Can have button issues
Finding a portable washer that doesn’t mess up the decor or layout of your apartment may seem tricky, but the Black + Decker 0.9-cubic foot Portable Washer will make you think otherwise. It has a sleek design with LED displays, and a viewing window on the top lid that’ll allow you to casually check in on your laundry from the other side of the room. Although it has a smaller capacity than some portable washing machines, it’s a good fit for apartment living because you are able to choose between five cycles and three water levels, and can easily tend to this machine while watching TV or working from home.
Do you want to slip this piece into a different room so you can complete multiple chores at once? You can because it’s easy to move around, despite not having wheels. Put it in your living room while you fold your dry clothes and watch a show.
Tons of washing cycles
Fabric softener dispenser
Doesn't look sleek
Instructions are confusing
Whether you’re living in an RV for an extended period of time or just for a weekend while you explore nature’s sights, one thing is clear: your clothes are going to get dirty. The Panda Portable Washing Machine will be your new sidekick, delivering lots of space and 10 washing cycles that’ll tackle your tough stains. This model also has two built-in rollers so you can move the machine around when you’re cooking, or trying to access the bed at the back of your RV.
Toss your clothes into this portable washing machine daily, or your sheets and pillows after a post-hike nap. The 1.34 cubic foot, stainless steel tub is large enough for a load made of sheets and pillow cases, or at least your entire outfit from the day. The cycles run quietly and with total ease, and there is even a fabric softener dispenser.
Delay start function
Stainless steel tub
Can be tricky to install
Difficult to move around
Any household who's used to a larger washing machine's bells and whistles, or wants to tailor their laundry experience as much as possible, is likely seeking a portable washer with a range of settings. The Danby DWM030WDB-6 is a good pick in this case, as it has five wash settings, two wash speeds, and dispensers for detergent and fabric softener. The wash settings include popular presets like delicates, normal, heavy duty, and speed wash. You can choose to start a cycle right away, or make use of a delay start function.
When it comes to the interior, this model features a stainless steel tub that won't easily wear, and built-in balancing technology that ensures your clothes are both washed and soaked evenly. The spin cycle is also pretty powerful, and will leave your load almost completely dry without causing a ruckus in the process. Just be sure to install the drain hose at the right height so you don't run into issues later on.
If you're in the market for a portable washing machine, then head straight for the Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4 (view at Home Depot). It's affordable, and has a wide selection of both water temperatures and cycles to choose from—much like a full-size model. If you want to spend a little less, the Costway Portable Mini Compact Twin Tub (view at Walmart) is a great pick and allows you to wash and dry your clothes, although its interior isn't very spacious.
Capacity Portable units are smaller that most traditional washers, and many won't be able to completely replace a traditional washer or going to the laundromat entirely. While most full-sized washers are over 3.5 cubic feet, portable options can be less then a cubic foot, so if you are planning to wash a lot of heavy clothing or sheets and towels, look for a large drum.
Power Source Some portable washing machines can be plugged in and programmed like a regular washing machine, while others need to be manually cranked or spun to create the agitation needed to get your clothes clean. Electric ones tend to be bigger, but they also take up more space in your apartment or RV.
Water Management Similar to power sources, some portable washers are more hands-on when it comes to getting water in and out of the machine. While there are high-end options that can be hooked up to kitchen or bathroom sink faucets, for most you'll need to fill and empty the tub at the start and end of each cycle, and to rinse your clothes.