I Used a Portable Washing Machine for a Year and Here's What Happened

  • 01 of 08

    End Laundry Room Drama


    Real talk: Communal laundry rooms are the worst. 

    Sure, having one in your apartment building can mean, hooray! No more schlepping to the laundromat or spending a small fortune outsourcing laundry. 

    Then real life happens. Broken washers and dryers, machine hogging neighbors, coin changer malfunctions — all everyday annoyances that make using shared facilities a time-consuming headache.

    A portable washing machine will spare you the laundry room drama — not to mention the nasty bacteria teeming in your building's washers (more on that later.)

    I purchased one last year, and it turned out to be a huge money, time, and yes, sanity saver. Here's everything you need to know about buying and using a portable washing machine.

    Continue to 2 of 8 below.
  • 02 of 08

    My Portable Washing Machine


    Full disclosure: I purchased the Haier HLP24E Portable Washing Machine for two big reasons.

    How much did the appliance cost? Including shipping and sales tax: $400. But guess what? I was spending on average $108 per month on laundry. Not only did the washer pay for itself in less than four months, but it also slashed my yearly laundry costs from $1,296 to $34.68 — yep, you read that right!

    Here's the math:

    • I was washing 32 pounds of clothes each week in my apartment building's communal laundry room. Total cost each month: $108. Multiply that number by 12 months and it equals $1,296.
    • To figure out how much it would cost to wash 32 pounds of laundry each week for a month using the portable washer I calculated operating hours, the machine's wattage, and the price I pay for electricity per kilowatt-hour. Total monthly cost: $2.89. Multiple that number by 12 months and it equals $34.68. FYI: The estimated yearly operating cost per the appliance's Energy Guide label is $29. 
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  • 03 of 08

    Tip: Why You Should Skip Buying a Dryer

    Clothes Line Inside Apartment
    Apartment Therapy

    The biggest lesson I learned: I could live without a clothes dryer. 

    There's nothing wrong with owning one, but the companion dryer for my portable washer costs $400. Its yearly operating expense, according to Energy Use Calculator would be around $300. Deciding not to buy the appliance kept $700 in my pocket over the last year.How do I dry laundry? I installed a retractable clothesline in the apartment. Compared to a drying rack, it allows better air flow for faster drying. 

    I do admit, wet clothes hanging around the apartment doesn't look cute. Doing laundry at night so stuff can air dry while I sleep, solves the problem.

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  • 04 of 08

    How do Portable Washing Machines Work?

    Haier portable washing machine hook up

    How do portable washing machines work? Automatic models run on electricity and unlike conventional washers, they're not hooked up to your home's plumbing system. Instead, the rubber inlet hose, which fills the machine's tub with water easily attaches to a standard utility faucet like the one in your kitchen. The open end of the drain hose that empties the water from the washer goes into the sink.

    What makes these machines portable is their size. Most were designed to fit inside a standard-sized closet for storage, so they're usually no more than 3-feet tall, 20-inches wide, and 20-inches deep.

    While most washers have handles for relatively easy lifting and moving, keep in mind, some machines are much heavier than others. Models with small tubs can weigh as little as 43 pounds while larger capacity washers can weigh up to 90 pounds.

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  • 05 of 08

    Tip: Get a Telescopic Dolly


    The truth: While portable washers are movable, their size and weight can make them pretty unwieldy. A telescopic furniture dolly designed to double as an appliance base will make moving your machine a breeze.

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  • 06 of 08

    How to Pick the Best Portable Washing Machine


    Granted, all portable washers clean dirty laundry. But the best one for your home should be equipped with settings that work for your unique cleaning needs. For example, if you wash a lot of delicates, you may want a machine with a gentle wash cycle.

    If you're shopping for a portable washer, here's a list of features to consider that can make a big difference when doing laundry:

    • Tub capacity: Sizes range from 1 to 2.6 cubic feet. A washer with a 1.5-cubic-foot tub can wash up to 15 large men's T-shirts in one load. Need to wash a full-sized comforter? You'll need a machine with a 2.6-cubit-foot tub.
    • Wash cycles: Most machines have several preprogrammed cycles for specific types of washes including quick, heavy duty, and delicate. FYI, only machines with a hot water temperature setting will have a white or permanent press cycle.
    • Water levels: Machines with more than two options make it easier to clean more efficiently. For example, need to wash one pair of yoga pants? An "extra small" level setting will give you just enough water to get the job done without wasting energy. 
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  • 07 of 08

    Tip: Go With a Pulsator Washer


    Simply put: Washers with agitators beat the heck out of clothing. 

    So that you know, an agitator is a vertical rod in the center of the tub that spins and twists laundry in water.

    At best, the twisting action agitators create fades colorful T-shirts and dark jeans. At worst, their rapid spinning shreds expensive sheets and delicate clothing.   

    If you want your clothing and bedding to last longer, go with a pulsating portable washer. Machines like these employ a propeller shaped pulsator system at the bottom of the tub (shown above) that efficiently removes dirt by pushing water gently through clothes.

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  • 08 of 08

    How to Keep Your Portable Washing Machine Clean


    The straight up truth: Both standard and portable washers that do not heat water hot enough to kill nasty bacteria found in your dirty laundry are teeming with microbes.

    Think that's gross (and who doesn't?) Germs found in machines can make you sick because they spread to the stuff you wash and later touch. What can you do? Here's how you can kill the germs and viruses when doing laundry:

    • Add a half cup of liquid bleach to white loads. 
    • Use Clorox 2 when washing colors or darks. FYI, it contains hydrogen peroxide, which is an effective sanitizer. If you're concerned about fading, use a 1/2 cup of white, distilled vinegar. 
    • Clean your machine with bleach once a month. To do, fill your washer with water then add a quart of bleach. Next, thoroughly mix by running the wash cycle for a few minutes. Afterward, pause the wash cycle for one hour so the bleach can get your washer's tub thoroughly sanitized.