Portable washing machines have emerged as a practical solution for those of us living in tight spaces like small apartments, college dorms, or nomadic RVs, where having a washer and dryer is often not an option. This eliminates the need to haul our laundry to crowded and time-consuming laundromats, which can be far from glamorous. If you long for the convenience of doing laundry at home while multitasking, portable washing machines bring good news, offering a practical and efficient solution even for the smallest of living spaces.
While using a portable washing machine requires some effort, the long-term benefits are worth it. You’ll save time, money, water, and electricity. All you need is a sink hookup or a couple of buckets of water for washing and rinsing your clothes. When not in use, these machines can be conveniently stored in a closet or a corner.
We’ve compiled a list of the best portable washing machines on the market, with insights from experts in healthy homes and holistic lifestyles. With these gadgets, you can achieve both convenience and clean clothes without compromising on space or environment.
What is a portable washing machine?
A downsized and easily transportable version of a full-size washing machine, the portable washing machine offers the convenience of washing clothes from any location with water access, while also being energy-efficient and space-saving. When you’re ready to do laundry, you can easily wheel it over to an area with a sink.
According to Yeates, these compact machines can be stored in a closet or corner when not in use, and they come in electric and manual models. In the long run, they prove to be cost-effective, space-saving, and environmentally friendly, as they help save water and electricity.
These portable washing machines are thoughtfully designed to fit into small spaces like closets or corners when not in use. Whether you prefer an electric or manual model, you have the flexibility to choose based on whether you have a sink hookup or plan to use buckets of water for washing and rinsing clothes. On average, both types of machines weigh around 20 pounds.
How much should you spend on a portable washing machine?
The world of portable washing machines has seen significant advancements in recent years. Nowadays, you have a vast selection of portable models available in various shapes, sizes, and price ranges, often much lower than the cost of a full-size washing machine. Contrary to the notion that effective cleaning demands a hefty price tag, even affordable portable washing machines can do an excellent job at keeping your clothes fresh and clean.
When deciding how much to invest in a portable washing machine, it ultimately boils down to personal preference. Higher-end options offer a more convenient laundry experience, featuring easy hookup to kitchen or bathroom sinks, fewer hassles, and additional features to maintain the quality of your clothes. These premium models come equipped with various fabric cycles, spacious drums, user-friendly interfaces, and stainless steel baskets to prevent fabric snagging. While there are some luxurious choices that may reach around $1,000, you can still find top-quality options priced under $500, and most of the selections on our list fall within this budget-friendly category.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of a portable washing machine?
Portable washing machines have a list of advantages and disadvantages worth considering. While they can be as effective as regular washing machines, using them requires more manual effort. You’ll need to fill and drain the machine yourself, and occasionally deal with water spills from leaking hoses. On the positive side, they surprisingly take less time to thoroughly wash, spin, and dry your laundry.
However, a downside is their limited maximum load capacity, typically around 10 pounds, which might only accommodate a few shirts, dresses, a nightshirt, and a week’s worth of underwear. Some machines may struggle with heavier items like denim jeans or jackets.
On the bright side, portable washing machines offer cost savings compared to full-size washers, while still providing quality cleaning and being more energy, water, and detergent efficient, making them an excellent choice for those interested in a minimalist lifestyle. As Amanda Klecker, a certified building biologist, advises, consider the water usage of the machine and opt for options that use water from the tap for the greenest and most sustainable approach.
How to choose a portable washing machine
When in the process of selecting the best portable washing machine for your space, it’s crucial to consider the features that hold the most significance to you. Below, you’ll find essential questions to ask yourself, along with expert advice on what to look for in a portable washing machine:
- Load size: Evaluate the size of your household and the type of laundry you regularly handle. Are you living alone or with a larger family? Do you frequently wash heavy clothes and towels, or is your laundry load relatively lighter? These factors will provide insights into the capacity of the portable washer that suits your needs. If you intend to use it while camping and mainly wash single outfits at a time, a small-capacity model without electricity would be a suitable option.
- Power Source: Verify whether the space where you plan to do laundry has access to electricity. Portable washing machines come in electric and non-electric models—with the latter being hand-powered and offering a smaller load capacity. Electric models need to be connected to a standard 120-volt outlet.
- Water access: Observe the water handling mechanism of various portable washing machines. Some models are more automated and can be easily linked to a kitchen or bathroom sink. In contrast, others may require manual filling and emptying of the washer’s tub at the beginning and end of each cycle. Consider the level of maintenance and energy input you’re willing to invest in your machine and assess your access to a water source when making your decision.
- Design: Consider how you plan to store the portable washing machine when not in use and whether you’ll need to move it around on laundry days. If portability is essential, look for a model equipped with caster wheels, facilitating easy movement around your home. Additionally, pay attention to the overall design of each product to ensure it fits seamlessly into your living space.
1. Panda 6320W
This compact and electric-powered portable washing machine offers the efficiency of larger washers while taking up minimal space. Its stainless steel tub is designed to prevent rust and bacteria growth, ensuring a hygienic washing experience. With ten cycles and five water level options, you can confidently tackle tough stains, ensuring your clothes feel brand-new after each wash. One thing to note is that some reviewers mention it may not be as easy to move around as other options, so finding a permanent spot for it would be advisable. However, users appreciate its quiet operation, which avoids disruptions in small living spaces.
A delighted customer shared their experience, praising the washer as a little workhorse. They compared it favorably to traditional RV washer/dryer units, which can be significantly more expensive. Despite being used for a year with 2 to 3 full loads washed daily, the machine remains sturdy with no leaks, and the spinning performance matches that of a full-size washer. According to the customer, it has more than paid for itself through its reliable performance and cost-effectiveness.
2. Black and Decker Small Portable Washer
Black and Decker’s portable washing machines have received high praise from reviewers who value a peaceful and quiet laundry experience without compromising on quality and affordability. Their top load washer is particularly impressive, accommodating large loads of laundry, with a capacity of up to 15 pounds. Thanks to its built-in detector, the machine operates quietly, avoiding the bothersome rocking and rattling that can be common with other models. With six cycles and three water temperatures to choose from, you can be confident that your clothes will be thoroughly laundered. Additionally, using the cold setting for water temperature allows you to conserve energy, contributing to its eco-friendliness.
With an impressive average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon from nearly 300 reviews, this appliance has earned its positive reputation. One reviewer enthusiastically shares their satisfaction, describing it as one of the best purchases for their NYC apartment. The machine’s noise level is quite manageable, and it doesn’t disturb even when operating in another room. The spin cycle, while the loudest, remains tolerable. However, some reviewers did mention that the appliance is not as easy to move around the house as they would prefer.
3. WonderWash Portable Washing Machine
This manual hand-powered washer offers efficient cleaning for up to five pounds of laundry, equivalent to about a week’s worth of clothes, and it accomplishes this task in under two minutes. As a non-electric machine, the effectiveness of the cleaning process depends on your hand-cranking technique. By turning the hand crank at just the right pace, you can achieve optimal results—neither too fast nor too slow. When it’s time to drain the water, a detachable spout simplifies the process.
With nearly 3,000 reviews on Amazon, this device has earned a perfect five-star rating. A contented shopper describes its suitability for camping, praising its lightweight construction due to being predominantly plastic. Assembling and using the machine are straightforward, and it requires minimal water and detergent usage. Most importantly, it impressively delivers excellent cleaning performance.
4. GE GNW
This washing machine is a fantastic option if you have 2.8 cubic feet of space available in your apartment. With its stainless steel basket and electronic one-touch controls featuring LED indicators, the GNW portable washing machine offers a touch of luxury to your laundry routine. Notably, it boasts a larger capacity compared to other alternatives, providing eight wash cycles and four temperature settings, ensuring your fabrics are well taken care of.
For easy mobility and storage, the machine comes with caster wheels, allowing you to maneuver it effortlessly between uses. Additionally, it includes convenient dispensers for both detergent and fabric softener, resembling the experience of a full-sized machine. Overall, we believe this to be the best portable washing machine for apartments that cannot accommodate a full-sized unit.
According to one reviewer, this washer is highly recommended for apartments without washer/dryer hookups. Despite its compact size, the capacity feels comparable to a standard washer. The sink attachment is easy to install and remove, though it might create a splash zone, requiring the occasional wipe down of the bathroom sink after doing laundry. However, the benefits far outweigh this minor inconvenience. The only drawback to mention is that the tub doesn’t fill completely, making it unsuitable for washing bulky items like blankets.
5. Danby Compact
The Danby .9 Portable Washing Machine brings together top-notch materials, automatic operation, and customizable wash cycles, all at a fraction of the cost compared to other options on our list. With five wash cycles that can be easily tailored to your preferences regarding rinse duration, spin, and water level, this model ensures a personalized laundry experience. The stainless steel drum adds an extra layer of protection to your clothes, preventing any snagging and ensuring a reliable and affordable washing machine that will serve you well for many loads to come.
This budget-friendly appliance has garnered a remarkable 4.5 out of five-star overall rating on the Home Depot website. One pleased reviewer shares their satisfaction, praising the machine for its quiet operation and efficient washing and spinning performance. The lint and drain filters work effectively and are easy to clean. Although the machine’s capacity is relatively modest, it handles various items, such as a pair of jeans, a few shirts, thick blankets, or smaller-sized blankets. Setting up the machine is quick and straightforward. However, it’s essential to note that this machine is compatible with cold or warm water usage only and should not be used with hot water.
6. Costway High Efficiency Full-Automatic Portable Top Load Washer Dryer
This portable washer offers impressive capacity and efficiency in a compact design. Powered by a high-powered motor and featuring a large stainless steel tub, it can handle bulky items such as jeans and blankets with ease. The LED display control panel allows you to customize your laundry needs through eight washing programs and 10 water levels, providing ample flexibility.
While this machine is smaller than a full-size washer, it still weighs 58 pounds, making it less ideal for frequent relocation between rooms like the kitchen or bathroom.
The real standout feature of this machine is its near-perfect rating on the company’s website, boasting an average of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Satisfied customers praise its flawless performance and appreciate the variety of wash options, along with the ability to select the water input level. Users also find the hose outlet efficient in draining the water without any issues. One reviewer even shares their clever setup, placing the machine in their bedroom next to the bathroom and using an 8-foot hose to connect it to the sink while allowing the water drainage hose to reach the toilet for easy water removal. This arrangement has proven to be a perfect and convenient solution for their laundry needs.