The 9 Best Portable Washing Machines of 2023

These handy appliances can be used in small laundry areas or temporary spaces

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Whirlpool 1.6-cu ft Compact Top-Load Washer with Flexible Installation

The Spruce / Jay Wilde

A portable washing machine is a great alternative to a full-sized appliance and is just as effective at cleaning clothes. "Using a portable washing machine doesn't have to mean compromising," says Jawad Ahmed, a laundry merchant at The Home Depot. "With just a smaller load capacity, a compact washer can penetrate deep into fabrics to eliminate dirt and odors, saving you water and energy with the same outstanding cleaning performance as a regular-sized washer."

When shopping for a portable washer, there are a variety of types to choose from, including fully-automatic models that wash, rinse, and spin, semi-automatic versions that have two separate tubs for washing and spinning, and manual washers that require you to do the work of agitating the clothes inside. In deciding which type of portable washer is right for your situation, Ron Shimek, President of Mr. Appliance, advises shoppers to consider how much room is available to store the machine when not in use. He suggests that you also consider how easy it is to move the washer and whether it has the load capacity you need.

With these factors in mind, we researched the top portable washing machines based on capacity, convenience, noise level, and power source.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

Magic Chef 2.0 cu. ft. Compact Portable Top Load Washer

Magic Chef 2.0 cu. ft. Compact Portable Top Load Washer


What We Like
  • Easy to install

  • Quiet

  • Plenty of cycle selections, including 2 spin cycles

  • Roomy drum holds more clothes than other options

What We Don't Like
  • Must use with liquid or powdered detergent

  • Two rear roller casters make it less maneuverable 

For a well-equipped portable washing machine, it’s hard to beat the combination of capacity and features found on this model from Magic Chef. This compact top load washer has a stainless steel drum for durability, 2.0 cubic feet of capacity for washing more clothes, towels, or sheets in each load, and a quick connect hose system that eases worries over installation. 

Unlike basic portable washers that have separate compartments for washing and spinning, you make all of your cycle selections using the electronic controls on the LCD display panel. There are six wash programs (including an option for delicates or a speed wash), and two spin cycles. A transparent lid lets you look in on your laundry load as this mighty machine goes through the motions of soaking, agitating, rinsing, and spinning your clothes—leaving them clean and relatively dry, according to users. Of course, you’ll need to finish drying them in a portable clothes dryer or by line drying. 

The Magic Chef MCSTCW20W6 is an electric portable washer, but only requires that you plug it into a standard 120V household outlet. It features a quick connect hose that makes it easy to hook the washer up to your faucet. Take note that there are also two inlets for cold and hot water, a feature not found on some more basic portable washing machines. Some people find that the hose connections are too short to reach the sink. If that’s the case, you’ll need to move the washer closer to your water supply or purchase new hoses. 

If you plan to frequently move the washer around (like storing it in a closet and rolling it out on laundry day), keep in mind that it weighs 79.4 pounds and only has two rear caster wheels. It’s not the most maneuverable portable washer. But most people who move it around frequently put it on a flat dolly to make the job easier. 

Price at time of publish: $465

Type: Electric | Capacity: 2.0 cubic feet | Weight: 79.4 pounds | Cycles: 6 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Installation requirements: 120-volt outlet; Quick connect and rear water inlets for both hot and cold water 

Best Budget

Black + Decker BPWM09W 0.9 cu. ft. Portable Top-Load Washer



What We Like
  • Powerful 983 RPM spin cycle

  • Includes features like delayed start and child lock

  • Lightweight and easy to move

  • Uses minimal electricity

What We Don't Like
  • Small capacity drum

  • Only cold water wash is recommended by manufacturer

The Black+Decker BPWM09W Portable Washing Machine is a great buy if you’re on a budget. While you’ll give up some capacity (the drum is 0.9 cubic feet), it has five wash cycles, a powerful spin setting that revs up to 983 RPM, and includes features not always found on other portable washers—like a delayed start function in case you need to load up your laundry and run the cycle later or a child lock to keep little ones from interrupting the cycle. It's one of the most affordable electric portable washing machines you can buy.

Aside from being budget-friendly, the Black+Decker BPWM09W is highly maneuverable. It weighs less than 50 pounds and has two rear roller wheels and a handle on each side of the unit to make it easy to position it for use or storage. A quick-connect faucet adaptor is included to help you set up the washer for use at a standard sink, like in the kitchen or bathroom. Keep in mind that the manual for this model recommends that you only operate the washer using cold water, which may be a downside if you typically use hot water wash cycles for things like whites or towels. However, cold water washing will keep your utility costs lower and this Black+Decker portable washer contributes to that goal by using a minimal $3 a year in energy savings, according to estimates on the product’s Energy Guide label. 

Price at time of publish: $285

Type: Electric | Capacity: 0.9 cubic feet | Weight: 48.4 pounds | Cycles: 5 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Installation requirements: 120-volt outlet, single faucet connection

Best for Camping

The Laundry POD Non-Electric Portable Washer

The Laundry POD Non-Electric Portable Washer

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Doesn’t use any electricity

  • Small dimensions make it easy to transport and store

  • Fast start-to-finish time for a single load

What We Don't Like
  • Only fits a few items at a time

  • Requires significant effort to expel moisture

Whether you’re tent camping or glamping, there’s a good chance that your outdoor adventure is going to leave you with a pile of dirty clothes. Keep up with your laundry (and pack less for your trip) by bringing along a basic portable washer. A non-electric version, like The Laundry POD, is your best bet. 

The Laundry POD stands out for its compact design and simple operation. It weighs only 4 pounds, measures 14.45 x 14.02 x 13.55 inches, and looks and operates very much like a salad spinner. The plastic housing opens to reveal a wash basket that you can load with up to 10 garments, according to the manufacturer. In real world use, expect to hold a few t-shirts, some underwear, or a couple of dish towels. Heavier or bulky items, like jeans and bath towels, may not be a good fit in the basket. But it’s a great solution for washing single items of clothes or keeping up on the essentials while you’re away from home or off-the-grid. 

Because this is a manual portable washer, you'll spend about 10 minutes of hands-on time to wash and spin your clothes. Be forewarned that it’s a real arm workout. How efficient The Laundry POD is at removing water from the items inside will depend on the material and the amount of force you exert while spinning the basket. Compared to hand-washing in a sink or tub, most people find it to be a real timesaver. It requires less than 3 gallons of water, 1.5 teaspoons of laundry detergent, and no electricity, making it eco-friendly, too. 

Price at time of publish: $100

Type: Manual | Capacity: Not listed | Weight: 4.15 pounds | Cycles: Not applicable | Drum Material: Not applicable | Installation requirements: None

Best Manual

The Laundry Alternative WonderWash 0.7 cu. ft. High Efficiency Portable Washer

The Laundry Alternative WonderWash 0.7 cu. ft. High Efficiency Portable Washer


What We Like
  • Holds about 5 pounds of laundry

  • Budget-friendly

  • Requires no electricity

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn’t wring out clothes

  • Won’t accommodate sheets or other very large items

Manually washing your clothes doesn’t have to be a wet, messy, time-consuming chore. The WonderWash from Laundry Alternative is a tried-and-true manual portable washing machine. There are no fancy features, but the mechanism is simple and efficient, requiring six liters of water and no electricity for a full load (up to 4.84 pounds).

One of the best things about the WonderWash is how fast it works—about 2 to 4 minutes, depending on the size of the load and the soil material. In testing the WonderWash, we thought this held true, with the exception of a muddy load that required rinsing and re-washing to get totally clean. For a full load, add 6 liters of water and 4 tablespoons of detergent. 

This portable manual washer is easy enough to use, but did require some effort to find the right speed with the hand crank. “Turning it too slow can result in dirty or somewhat soapy clothes, as can turning it too fast,” according to testing notes. The somewhat small opening at the top of the WonderWash also limits the size of items that can go inside this portable washer. It’s clear that a bed sheet isn’t going to be practical, so you’ll have to save those for a load in a full-size washer or a trip to the laundromat. However, it did work well when we tested it with jeans and bath towels, which is a common weakness of other small, manual portable washers. Ryan Mitchell, an expert on small living solutions at The Tiny Life, points out that "manual [washers] are really only practical for small loads or situations that aren't daily living," like camping or power outages.

Overall, the WonderWash won’t replace your need for a full-size washing machine altogether, but it’s efficient and fast, so it’s worth it for small loads or off-grid use. 

Price at time of publish: $70

Type: Manual | Capacity: 0.7 cubic feet | Weight: 5 pounds | Cycles: Not applicable | Drum Material: Not applicable | Installation requirements: Not applicable 

The Laundry Alternative Wonder Wash
The Spruce / Katie Begley.

Best Large-Capcity

Magic Chef MCSTCW30W5 3.0 cu. ft. Compact Top Load Washer

Magic Chef MCSTCW30W5 3.0 cu. ft. Compact Top Load Washer

Courtesy of Home Depot

What We Like
  • 3.0 cubic feet drum for increased load capacity

  • Includes features like child lock, delay wash, and extra rinse

  • Equipped for cold and hot water wash cycles

What We Don't Like
  • Heavier than other models

If the limited capacity of portable washing machines has you questioning whether this appliance is practical for you, focus your search on large-capacity models. Our recommendation is the Magic Chef MCSTCW30W5. This portable washer has a stainless steel drum with 3.0 cubic feet of capacity, the most space for dirty clothes of any portable washer on our list. According to the manufacturer, it accommodates up to 15.4 pounds of laundry in a single load.

The top-loading design of this portable washing machine means that it’s easy to load and unload items like jeans, t-shirts, or towels. Because of its roomy capacity, it’s even possible to wash sheets. You can pick from six wash cycle settings, make selections for the soil level and water temperature, or add an extra rinse. An average load will take 39 minutes, using normal settings but expect a heavily soiled load to require about an hour of runtime.

The tradeoff for choosing a high-capacity portable washer is that it’s slightly larger and heavier. This model weighs 91 pounds, but only has two rear roller wheels. It can be cumbersome to move, so it’s best to install it in one location near your water supply or use a flat dolly to make the job of moving it easier. Like other portable washing machines from Magic Chef, this one includes a quick connect hose that makes setting up the washer fast and simple. 

Price at time of publish: $589

Type: Electric | Capacity: 3.0 cubic feet | Weight: 91 pounds | Cycles: 6 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Installation requirements: 120-volt outlet; Quick connect and rear water inlets for both hot and cold water 

Best for Apartments

Whirlpool WTW2000HW 1.6 cu. ft. White Compact Top Load Washer

Whirlpool WTW2000HW 1.6 cu. ft. White Compact Top Load Washer


What We Like
  • Multiple wash cycle and temperature settings

  • Fast spin speed

  • Permanent or portable installation options

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive than most options

  • Capacity is limited to 1.5 cubic feet

The Whirlpool WTW2000HW is a popular pick as a portable washer for apartments because of its space-saving design and ability to pick between portable and permanent installation. Keep it in a closet or a corner of your bathroom when not in use and wheel it over to your kitchen or bathroom sink when it’s time to do laundry. If you have a more permanent setup in mind, this model can work with that, too.

This washer measures 37 x 21 x 23 inches—it’s smaller than the similar GE GNW128PSMWW, which is 3 inches wider and 1.5 inches deeper than this model. Of course, the extra inches allow for the GE model to offer a larger 2.8 cubic foot drum. The smaller 1.6 cubic foot drum is one of the biggest pitfalls of this Whirlpool model, but it’s also still enough room for washing up to 4.4 pounds of clothing. 

Despite the smaller size of the stainless steel drum, you don’t need to sacrifice much in terms of cycle selections and options on this portable washer for apartments. The Whirlpool WTW2000HW has five cycle settings, plus a tub cleaning cycle to keep mold, mildew, and odors under control. There are four water temperature settings to pick from, too—but keep in mind that the hot or warm water options aren’t available when the unit is connected to a faucet. If you want to adjust the water temperature with portable installation, you’ll have to adjust the temperature of the faucet itself. 

The push-button controls are easy to use, but it’s also nice to have a digital timer that shows you how many minutes remain in the cycle. You can even take a peek at your laundry through the glass lid of this top-loading portable washer. The 850 RPM spin cycle is enough to expel quite a bit of moisture from your laundry load, leaving it ready for the dryer or to air-dry. 

Price at time of publish: $999

Type: Electric | Capacity: 1.6 cubic feet | Weight: 81 pounds | Cycles: 6 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Installation requirements: 120V outlet, single faucet connection

Best Features

GE GNW128PSMWW 2.8 cu. ft. 8-Cycle Top-Loading Portable Washer

GE GNW128PSMWW 2.8 cu. ft. 8-Cycle Top-Loading Portable Washer


What We Like
  • Spacious 2.8 cubic foot wash drum

  • 8 wash cycles

  • Extra rinse option removes excess suds from heavy loads

  • Four wheels for easier maneuvering

What We Don't Like
  • Expect some splashing during rinse and spin cycle

  • No steam function

Portable washers focus on basic functions for clothes care: washing, rinsing, and spinning. This can be accomplished with very simple versions, like the manual WonderWash, or with more features like a full-size washer. The GE GNW128PSMWW is a great pick if you want a portable washer with more cycle selections and options. And there’s more room, too—a 2.8 cubic foot drum fits a normal size load when compared to smaller portable washers that can only wash a few garments at a time. This washer has plenty of perks, but a price tag that also makes it more similar in cost to a full-size washer.

There’s a good reason for the spendy price point. This model from GE is equipped to thoroughly wash jeans, delicates, and towels with ease. A specialty cycle for each can be found on the digital controlpad, along with five other cycle selections for a total of eight cycles. You can customize the cycle by adjusting the soil level and water temperature (there are four options: hot, warm, cool, and cold). Finally, give bulky or heavily soiled loads a deep rinse or an extra rinse if you’re concerned about lingering soap suds. Once you have your cycle selections made, the machine uses auto-load sensing to determine the right agitation to apply and the correct amount of water to add to the drum. Keep in mind that a deep fill option can be used for large or bulky loads you think may benefit from a full washtub of water. A steam option would really boost the cycle selections and make this a real competitor with full-size washers, but it’s missing that feature (in fact, there are no portable washers that currently have a steam setting). 

Four wheels are found at the base of this washer, which is a welcome addition since it weighs 99 pounds. Some larger portable washing machines, like those from Magic Chef, are only equipped with two caster wheels and can be harder to wheel in place. At the same time, the machine won’t move around once it’s in place and you’ve lowered the leveling legs. The biggest gripe is that it expels water during the rinse and spin cycles with significant force. If you don’t have a laundry tub or deep sink to drain the washer into, expect some water to splash. You may need to use a few towels to keep the surrounding area dry. 

Price at time of publish: $999

Type: Electric | Capacity: 2.8 cubic feet | Weight: 99 pounds | Cycles: 8 | Drum Material: Stainless steel | Installation requirements: 120-volt outlet, two faucet connections or single faucet connection

Best Mini

Auertech Mini Compact Washer

Auertech Mini Compact Washer

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • 8-lb load capacity

  • Fast wash cycle 

  • Takes up minimal space

What We Don't Like
  • No spin function

  • Lacks handles or wheels

A mini portable washer is a simple solution to keeping up on your laundry in between trips to the laundromat or when you need to wash small items more frequently, like underwear, socks, or baby clothes. The Auertech Mini Compact Washer is our favorite pick in this category, because it has an 8 pound capacity, a simple, easy-to-use design, and small dimensions that make it a perfect fit in tight spaces or take along in your RV or tiny house.

This mini portable washer measures 14 x 14 x 23.6 inches and weighs less than 12 pounds. While it’s light enough to easily pick up and carry, it’s been noted that a handle would make the job easier than gripping the smooth, plastic housing of the unit. 

Flip open the lid to load the washer with up to 8 pounds of laundry. Keep in mind the limitations of a mini washer—heavier or larger items (like a pair of jeans or a big towel) will generally do better when washed individually. But for smaller items, including t-shirts and underwear, you can load several items together. There’s a single wash cycle with a dial to select 3, 6, 9, or 12-minutes of agitation. You’ll need to empty and refill the washer to rinse away suds. 

The most significant shortcoming of a mini washer is the lack of a spin function, a feature that you won’t find on the Auertech Mini Compact Washer, either. You’ll have to wring the items out by hand, or else purchase a separate laundry spinner to do the job. Because of this fact and the limited capacity, expect more hands-on time when using a mini portable washer compared to a larger, automatic capacity portable washer. Even still, this capable compact washer comes in handy for small and specialized laundry needs and costs less than most other portable washers.

Price at time of publish: $110

Type: Electric | Capacity: Not listed | Weight: 11.8 pounds | Cycles: 1 | Drum Material: Not applicable | Installation requirements: 120-volt outlet

Best Semi-Automatic

Auertech AU8575 Portable Washing Machine

Auertech Portable Washing Machine


A semi-automatic washing machine takes care of the work of agitating your clothes, but requires you to move your laundry from the wash tub to a separate spin tub. For this reason, these appliances aren’t considered fully automatic like standard washers that have a single tub and wash, rinse, and spin the load without user intervention. But the space-saving and affordable Auertech Portable Washing Machine is a great option for a semi-automatic portable washer. 

You’ll find several features of this compact washer to be helpful in completing your laundry load. First, it has two wash cycles: normal and gentle. While many other semi-automatic machines have a single setting, the ability to adjust agitation gives you the chance to adjust the cycle for delicate items. The second thing worth noting is the fact that the machine includes an integrated lint filter to capture threads, fuzz, and debris. Regularly clean the lint filter to keep your portable washer in good working order. 

The Auertech Portable Washing Machine has more capacity than many other twin-tub portable washers, which is likely a key reason for its popularity. It can handle up to 18 pounds in the wash tub and 10 pounds in the spin tub. Of course, the difference in capacity between the two tubs means that you’ll have to wash less clothes or run the spin cycle twice. Aside from this limitation, the only common criticism of this portable washer is the short power cord. Depending on the configuration of your bathroom or kitchen, you may find that the power cord doesn’t reach the closest electrical outlet, requiring you to rethink your laundry location.

Price at time of publish: $220

Type: Electric | Capacity: 18 pounds (washing); 10 pounds (spinning) | Weight: 31 pounds | Cycles: 2 | Drum Material: Plastic | Installation requirements: 120-volt outlet

Final Verdict

If you're in the market for a portable washing machine, look no further than Magic Chef’s Compact Portable Top Load Washer. With a wide selection of water temperatures and cycles to choose from, it is comparable to many full-size models. If you want to spend less, the Black+Decker BPWM09W Portable Washing Machine is a worthy option to consider. Though it has limited capacity, it includes helpful features, a powerful spin cycle, and a small price tag.

Best Portable Washing Machines

Hilary Allison / The Spruce

What to Look for in a Portable Washing Machine


There are two main types of portable washing machines: electric and manual. The difference between the two is how much effort and user interaction are required to do your laundry. 

Electric portable washers plug into a 120V electrical outlet. There are both fully automatic and semi-automatic options. Fully automatic models have a single wash tub and function similarly to a full-size washer. The machine will fill the tub and then wash, rinse, and spin the load on its own. Semi-automatic portable washers have two side-by-side tubs. You’ll have to manually fill the wash tub with water before setting a timer for the wash cycle. After the timer has finished, these machines require you to load the laundry into the spin tub for water to be expelled. An example of an efficient and capable electric washer is the Magic Chef 2.0 cu. ft. Compact Portable Top Load Washer, which has multiple wash cycles and spins clothes in preparation for line-drying or machine-drying.    

Manual portable washers require you to do all the work, but require no electricity. They’re an excellent pick for camping or off-the-grid use, but be prepared to work your arms and shoulders. Though the mechanism by which you’ll agitate the clothes will depend on the washer you pick. In the case of our top pick for a manual washer, The Laundry Alternative WonderWash, a hand crank turns the washer drum, but other models may use a lever or plunger for the wash action. After the work of washing is done, you’ll need to manually wring out the clothes to remove excess water—unless you pick up a separate clothes spinner. 


The specific installation requirements for an electric portable washer will depend on the model you choose and the manufacturer’s instructions. In general, though, Ryan Mitchell, an expert on small living solutions at The Tiny Life, says that most portable washers require the following components for installation.

  • Power source
  • Drain hose
  • Water inlet hose
  • Ventilation

Some specific things to consider for permanent installation include whether the water inlet accommodates one or two hose connections (for cold water only or cold and hot water) and if the drain hose requires a specific angle for operation or if the unit has a drain pump to ensure a steady flow without relying on gravity to discharge the water. Some models include the hoses and connectors you’ll need for set-up, while others might require you to buy a faucet adaptor or drain hose separately.

For portable washers that aren’t permanently installed, look for a model with a quick-connect faucet adapter. This allows you to attach the washer’s water hose to your bathroom or kitchen sink faucet, without needing to connect to the water supply lines. It will save you time and hassle, especially if you use your portable washer on a regular basis. The Black+Decker BPWM09W Portable Washing Machine is one model on our list that includes this feature. 

Manual portable washers require no installation, but you will need a water supply to fill the wash tub and a place to drain the machine. Many people place these small portable washers in a tub or next to a sink for convenience when filling or draining the washer.


The capacity of portable washing machines is more limited compared to full-size machines, making this an important feature to consider as you compare models—especially if you have a large household or wait to do laundry until the hamper is overflowing. Capacity is usually identified by washer drum size, which is listed in cubic feet. Sometimes you will see the load capacity listed in pounds as well. 

For fully-automatic, electric portable washers, capacity typically ranges from 0.9 to 2.0 cubic feet, but you can get a spacious 3.0 cubic foot wash drum with the Magic Chef MCSTCW30W5 Top Load Washer, our pick for the largest-capacity portable washer. This machine can typically handle a full laundry load, while more compact models like the Whirlpool WTW2000HW 1.6 cu. Ft. Portable Top Load Washer have less drum space and require you to keep loads smaller. Pick a larger model if you do laundry less frequently or want to more easily wash larger items, such as bed sheets and towels. Smaller models save space when not in use, but are better suited for light loads. 

Semi-automatic or manual portable washers may not indicate drum size. These smaller machines will sometimes express capacity in terms of how many pounds of laundry the washer can hold or will provide guidance on how many items you can expect to wash together, depending on the size and material. 

Wash Cycles

The amount and type of wash cycles you’ll find on portable washing machines will vary. The most basic portable washers, like the semi-automatic Auertech Portable Washing Machine, have one or two wash cycles with a timer to control the duration of agitation. More advanced fully-automatic washers have up to five or six wash cycles, including options for specific laundry needs like baby clothes, delicates, towels, whites, or a speed wash setting. 

If you frequently only opt for a normal wash cycle, then you may not need a machine with more advanced cycle selections. But if you want to have more options regarding cycle length, agitation, and soak times, then a portable washer with cycle options may be a better fit.

Your portable washing machine can either be electric or non-electric. An electric model operates very similarly to a full-sized washer, where you plug it into an outlet and select a setting on a control panel. Just like a full-sized washer, portable electric washers typically require a 120-volt outlet. A non-electric model is also known as "hand-powered." You become the power source that manually cranks or spins your clothes. Non-electric models are less convenient but suitable in a camping or RV environment.

Some portable washers are more hands-on when it comes to getting water in and out of the machine. High-end picks can be hooked up to a kitchen or bathroom sink, while others can require you to fill and empty the washer's tub at the start and end of each cycle. To find the right type for you, consider how much maintenance and energy you're willing to put into your machine and how accessible a water source is for you.

Standout Features

Viewing Window

A viewing window on a portable washing machine is usually located on the top door. It allows you to check in on your clothes throughout a cycle and ensure the water level is adequate. Although it's unnecessary to have a viewing window, it makes your appliance look sleek and more similar to a full-sized, top-loading model.

Delay Start Function

If you're trying to be more thoughtful about when and how you're using your water, then a delay start function may be suitable for you. This specialty setting—which you can find in a more high-end portable washing machine—lets you select a cycle now and have it begin in a pre-set amount of time. It can ensure that you're not depleting your hot water or running the machine while you're out running a quick errand.

Wheels and Handles 

If you plan to frequently move your portable washer from one location to another, then looking for a model with wheels and handles will make it easier to maneuver. Electric portable washers can weigh anywhere from around 50 to 100 pounds. Some have two rear roller wheels, but you’ll find that four wheels make the unit as easy to move as possible. The GE 2.8 cu. ft. Top-Loading Portable Washer is one example of a washer that uses four wheels to offset the 99-pound weight of the unit. In addition, some models have recessed handles in the side of the washer’s housing to make it easier to grip the plastic body of the appliance as you wheel it into position. 

Detergent Dispenser 

A dispenser eliminates the need to add detergent, bleach, or fabric softener into your wash drum directly. Instead, a portable washer with this feature will dispense these liquids at the right time in the cycle. Keep in mind that you’ll only find this feature on fully-automatic electric washers, not semi-automatic versions or manual portable washers that require you to do all the work yourself.  

  • How do portable washing machines work?

    The type of portable washing machine you buy affects its inner workings. An electric model, which is plugged into an outlet and hooked up to your kitchen sink, works similarly to a full-sized washer. Add your clothes and detergent, then select a cycle, load size, temperature, and the available functions you want the washer to perform (like soak, rinse, or spin). You can pause it to add softener, then wait for the machine to do the tough work for you. It'll stay connected to your sink the entire time and drain the dirty water and soap.

    In comparison, a manual model requires you to fill up a washtub with water and detergent and either crank or pump a handle to agitate the clothes. Then, connect a spout to the washing machine and drain dirty water and soap into a location of your choosing. Add fresh water to rinse and spin your clothes. In this situation, you're the agitator.

  • How do you hook up a portable washing machine?

    To hook a portable washing machine up to your kitchen sink, you'll want to make sure you have all the necessary adaptors, connectors, and hoses on hand. Most models come with these attachments, but you can always order them separately from the brand if not. One hose will run from your machine to a faucet. To set this hose up, make sure one side is tightly attached to the washer, and the other to the tap. You may need to use an adaptor here so the hose fits well and doesn't potentially leak. The other hose is for draining, and it runs from your machine to your sink. Once setup is complete, run the tap before plugging in your machine.

    Because every model is a little different, it's important to follow your machine's manual. The manual will also tell you which hoses to use for water access versus draining (which is essential). Plan to hook up your machine each time you want to use it.

  • How do you clean a portable washing machine?

    Unlike many full-sized washers, portable washing machines don't have a self-clean cycle. However, you can easily clean most models using vinegar and hot water. Start by running a hot wash cycle—don't add any clothes or detergent at this time. When the hot wash cycle is done, add vinegar to the tub before letting the cycle finish and drain. For more information, check out our guide on how to clean a clothes washer.

  • Where do you buy portable washing machines?

    You can buy portable washing machines from many reliable retailers, including The Home Depot, Lowe's, Target, Walmart, and more. While you can call or check online to see your local store's availability, most options can only be purchased online. Many stores will give you the option to ship it to your local store or directly to your home.

  • Does a portable washer need a hookup?

    An electric portable washer will need to be connected to a water supply to complete its cycles. A manual portable washer will need you to add water to the wash compartment, but doesn’t require a hookup. When deciding what type of installation your portable washer requires, Ron Shimek, President of Mr. Appliance, says to default to the manufacturer’s installation guide and follow all of the directions provided. In general, though, he provides the following guidance: “The water inlet hose hooks up to your sink faucet, so it needs to have threads at the spout for the adapter. Most of the time you will see an aerator screen that can be removed, and the adaptor installed.” If there’s no aerator screen, it may be an indicator that the faucet is incompatible with the adaptor. 

    Other things to keep in mind regarding installation are the need for sufficient drainage. “The unit drains in the sink so you will need to have a deep sink that drains quickly and is able to handle the flow of water draining out,” says Shimek. Electrical needs are relatively minimal, since washing machines plug into a normal household outlet. But Shimek says that you will need to watch for amp draw if you do not have a dedicated circuit for the washer. “If you are washing your clothes in the kitchen, using the toaster or the coffee pot while you are washing clothes could be too much for your kitchen circuit and it could trip the breaker.”

  • How much do portable washing machines typically cost?

    Expect to spend between $100 and $1,000 for a portable washing machine, depending on the type, size, and features you need. Manual portable washers cost the least but require the most effort. Large-capacity, fully-automatic electric portable washer cost the most, with these models costing between $600 and $1,000.

Why Trust The Spruce?

Erica Puisis is a writer and product researcher with years of experience testing and writing about small and large appliances, including washing machines and dryers. To find the best options for portable washers, she thoroughly researched the latest models available and compared features that matter the most, like capacity, installation requirements, and cycle options. 

For extra insight, we interviewed Ryan Mitchell, founder of The Tiny Life, to learn more about using portable washers in RVs, campers, and tiny houses. We also spoke with Ron Shimek of Mr. Appliance for his top criteria to consider when shopping for a portable washer.

This article was written by Leah Rocketto, a lifestyle writer and editor for The Spruce. To select the best picks for your consideration, she sorted through dozens of customer and third-party website reviews, and consulted Jawad Ahmed. As The Home Depot’s resident Laundry Merchant, Ahmed knows what products will take your clothes from dirty to spotless.

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