If you live (or have lived) in a condo, apartment, or dorm, the chances are you occasionally get flashbacks from the horrors that lurk in the common laundry room. Sure, they’re convenient, and they are technically cheaper than a laundromat, but they also come with a bit too much contact with your neighbors’ underwear, as well as the permanent suspense of finding which machine is broken or clogged this week.
Unfortunately, small homes and apartments don’t always provide the spare room for a full-sized washing machine. If you are a part of the ever-larger number of people who have to move or relocate for work often, then adjusting the plumbing for your machine every time just adds an additional headache to the already migraine-busting moving process. Portable washing machines are a gift sent from heaven in such cases. As long as you choose the right model.
Here’s the 12 Best Portable Washing Machines.
Small and light, the Panda Compact Washer is still large enough to support washing for a small family with just a kid or two. It weighs barely 55 pounds and is small enough to fit in an RV. This makes it ideal for family vacations and adventures.
However, it has a capacity of 1.6 cubic feet, which is a good chunk larger than the average portable washer – even compared to some that are remarkably heavier.
Other important features include the top see-through lid, which is a great a way to check where that spare sock ended up even during mid-wash. Furthermore, installation is superbly easy; just one three-pronged 110V plug and a hose are all you need to fit in. The hose comes with an airtight adapter, which will prevent leaks when connecting it to the faucet.
As for washing options, the Panda Compact Washer offers 3 water levels and four washing cycles: standard, heavy, quick, and delicates. Although no big supercomputer, each program is differentiated enough that they allow enough adjustments to fit any standard need. Finally, the pulsator-based mechanism is gentle enough to protect bras and lacy underwear.
The KAPAS Automatic Portable washer is one of the best budget options available right now. Slightly smaller than average, it has a total capacity of 1 cubic foot or 7.8 pounds of clothes.
Despite the fact that it only allows limited loads, it has an accurate water level controller and 8 different wash cycles, more than enough to handle a single person’s oddest needs.
In addition, it only weighs 44 pounds. Once you add a good warranty, easy installation, and compacter-than-compact size, this becomes a great option for shared flats and student residences, or even an abrupt move or unexpected change in your course of life.
Two extra features add to its durability and safety; first, it has an automatic shut-off function that turns it off 10 minutes after the washing cycle is done. This can prevent potential accidents and save you some energy simultaneously. Finally, the rubber hose comes with a proprietary ¾ screw thread connector that can easily provide an airtight connection to a wide range of household faucets and taps.
A total capacity of 1.6 cubic feet, 6 cycles ranging from 200 to 800 revolutions per minute, and some clever energy-efficiency modifications place the Avanti on any Best Of list for domestic appliances.
The mini washing machine is equipped with a hidden set of rolling wheels at the back, which makes it much easier to move around your home and, therefore, to stash it back into the closet as soon as you’re done. This, plus the generous load capacity, completely makes up for the extra inch of width and length that this light, portable washer has.
As for the washing itself, the machine uses a pulsating system. If the spinning cycle is set to its maximum of 800 rpm, most clothes will also come out fairly dry, which will further cut back on the time and electricity needed to operate your dryer.
The LED display is simple and easy to read, with large digits and an intuitive layout. You can easily choose among four different load sizes, so the elusive “extra small” load will be available to quickly get rid of the effects of a hot yoga session.
The Avanti does have one major flaw: it does not have a mixing tray for detergent or softener, which has to be added directly to the load. However, it is still a fairly good high-end deal.
Slightly larger than average, this twin tub model still provides the extra bit of muscle that a grown-up house needs. The extra 3 inches of length will, therefore, pay off greatly with this Best Choice model, which can easily handle your towels or curtains as easily as your streetwear.
The construction itself is sturdy but surprisingly light. The main washing tub can take up to 12 pounds of clothes easily, while the spin dryer can take only up to 8. However, the spin dryer runs at a maximum speed of 1,200 revolutions per minute, which means that you’ll get something very similar to an actual heat dryer quickly and at a fraction of the electricity bill.
Plus, both tubs work completely independently, which lets you divide your clothes as needed, turning your whites and colors operations into a veritable assembly line.
Two final advantages provided by this Twin Tub washing machine are its weight, which barely measures in it at 28 pounds, and its extra-long hoses. The drain hose is 20 inches long, while the inlet hose is a full 47 inches, so it could take a lot of the guesswork (or an extension) when it comes to finding the right place to set it.
Don’t be fooled by the name; the Giantex is no giant, at least not in size. With a total load capacity of only 8 pounds, this is the kind of mini washing machine that will work best for a single person or a couple.
It is remarkably small, though, and therefore a great buy if your space is limited and you need to make the most out of every square inch. The Giantex is barely 17 inches long and wide but packs the standard 30 inches in height that its loading capacity commands.
The console is completely automated and offers the standard 3 water levels and 5 different programs. All programs come with its own spin cycle, which, thanks to a smartly hidden drain aluminum pump and drainage tube, offers a “set and forget” quality to the whole experience.
Finally, we found that the minimalist design of both the top lid and the button console were oddly beautiful and soothing. It is clear that they were not aiming for a “cheap product” aesthetic. This washing machine may be very affordable, but it clearly deserves full-priced respect.
One cubic foot worth of tub may fall in the smaller range, but for those looking to save themselves money in the long run, the Haier HLP21N provides a solid choice. This machine will handle loads of up to six pounds each. Thanks to its smooth-rolling casters, it provides a long and deep wash that won’t destroy the fibers in your clothes. The thorough rinse and spin cycles will provide an extra bonus to your clothes’ color vibrancy, and save you soap and energy in the long run.
In addition, the Haier is remarkable for its minimal sound levels. Unlike many cheaper, more unbalanced models, there is little chance that the neighbors will hear every time you have a late laundry night. Whether you’re interested in protecting your privacy or preventing a noise complaint, it’s up to you, but a quiet operation is always a win in our book.
The three wash levels and three wash cycles may appear limited at first, but they each work well enough, and the chances are that you won’t be using this machine for anything heavier than bath towels. Installation is quick and pain-free; the first use may require an extra 10 minutes to screw the base plates and wheels together, but after that, it will be a matter of “plug and play.”
The portable washing machine market is often targeted at single, independent people who live in small quarters. Perhaps this is why most models don’t bother with the safety features that we take for granted when it comes to full-sized models.
The MIDEA MAC160PSW offers a pleasant exception to this unofficial rule; its Child Lock system will prevent children, toddlers, and naughty cats from accidentally opening the lid or pressing any buttons mid-operation. If you’ve ever had your urgent laundry permanently stuck on “soak” because one of the little things thought the buttons looked shiny, you’ll probably understand the full importance of such a simple feature.
All the other necessary features are there, naturally: six programmable cycles, three water level settings, an easy-to-read control panel, and even a resilient adapter kit for your hose or sink faucet.
If you are looking to fit this tub on a tiny balcony or in a minimalist garage, then the MIDEA will offer you two additional advantages. First, the tub is made fully from stainless steel, which will protect it from rust even if you have to keep this outdoors occasionally. Finally, the bottom tray comes with a set of adjustable legs, which will let you adapt it better to uneven floors and prevent any annoying (and harmful) rattling during the spin cycle.
This may be the smallest and most affordable model offered by Whirlpool’s Magic Chef brand, but it still offers pretty much any feature you would expect in a mid-range full-sized model. After all, this is a brand that has built its reputation offering dependable and fully automated household appliances, and whose legendary microwaves were probably the earliest precursor to the smart home revolution.
This compact washer stays within the standard size range for “portable” models: 20 x 20 x 37 inches. It is slightly heavier than most of the models featured on this list, so you may want to have a wheeled platform ready if you plan on moving it around a lot. Most of the tub is made from plastic, although it doesn’t feel like the flimsy kind. However, the extra weight comes from its solid steel tub, which increases its durability. It offers a capacity of 1.6 cubic feet, and the electronic controls offer four water levels and six different wash cycles. So far, so good, but nothing completely unexpected either.
However, these cycles include a “wrinkle-free” setting as well as an Air Dry option, which are increasingly rarer to find among portable washing machines. In addition, it has a separate Clean Tub cycle that makes maintenance a breeze; just set it, add some bleach, and let it clean itself.
As we’ve mentioned before, twin tub machines sometimes feel contradictory to the very concept of portable and tiny, but this doesn’t mean that some brands haven’t attempted to buck this rule.
Della has made a good stab at it; their Mini Twin Tub is inexpensive, light, and barely 23 inches wide. Despite this, it is remarkably powerful and roomier than you would expect; the washing tub can fit over 10 pounds of clothes, while the spin drier tub can fit up to five. The spin drier is very powerful for a machine this size, as it reaches speeds of up to 1,230 revolutions per minute.
Installation is simple and quick. The washer comes with two hoses (inlet and outlet), but will require you to fill it when starting the wash manually; spin and rinse cycles are fully automated, though. Although this means that you can’t just leave it to run on its own, it does provide you with total control over water levels. You can just wash that one pair of yoga pants without wasting any water or feeling guilty during the next water shortage alert.
The top lid on the washer tub is not made from glass, although the plastic used is transparent enough to let you check what’s going on without opening it. This will ensure nothing gets tied up mid-wash, unlikely as it is to happen as the agitator system it uses is surprisingly gentle with woolen and delicate items.
The Danby Compact Top Loader is small, efficient, and hard-working, but it should never be called basic. It actually offers the widest variety of washing programs we have found so far: a whopping 11 different cycles that combine washing alone, extra spinning, quick cycles, and sports clothes cycles. Add that to the five different water level settings, and you have the opportunity to truly customize exactly what you want to wash, and how much of it.
The technical specs leave little to be desired. The tub can handle up to 10 pounds of dirty clothes, and the model includes a quiet mode and water overflow protection. The LED screen and button panels are easy to navigate, although the numbers could have been a bit larger.
The washer plugs in easily to any three-pronged 120-volt power socket. The drum, tub, and the detergent cabinet are all made from rust-resistant galvanized steel. The button panel does not have a fully-featured childproof lock, but the lid does have a security system that will keep tiny people away from harm as the spinner will stop immediately as soon as the lid is opened or tampered with. This is also remarkably practical if you want to add something a few minutes after you’ve started, like that sock that always seems to get left behind.
There is something about falling back to a major brand that offers an extra layer of security to any homeowner or anxious leaser. This Black + Decker model offers exactly that but on a very tangible level.
The LED digital panel on the BPWM09W portable mini washing machine offers the same easy-to-read, reliable graphics that we have come to expect from the brand and will offer the extra comfort of familiarity to those of us who have been relying on their kitchen appliances or power tools for years.
The load capacity is a bit limited but offers the right size for a bachelor pad or studio apartment: 0.9 cubic feet and up to 7 pounds of clothes, and an extra narrow design of 17.7 x 18.1 x 31.5 inches. In addition, the washer has an automatic shut-off function and an unbalance detector, so you won’t have to wait until something starts loudly rattling to notice that the floor beneath your brand new washer is uneven. The tub will rebalance the tub and correct mild inclines. If the incline is too great, you can also fall back to tweaking its adjustable front legs.
On the very edge of the minimalist and low-tech spectrum, the Wonderwash by The Laundry Alternative is fully powered by a crank and is therefore completely manual. It is also the only truly portable model on this list; whereas every other will require you to at least install some wheels to move it within your own home, the Wonderwash can be carried with one arm as it barely weighs 5.5 pounds!
Naturally, this means the internal capacity is very limited, and it is not exactly an option for mainstream users. Camping fanatics, trekkers, and die-hard fishers, on the other hand, will benefit from a chance to carry a way to wash their underwear without reconnecting with civilization. This is also ideal for beach condos, where often the only option to prevent your bathing suit from being destroyed by seawater is to rinse it in the sink quickly.
And just because it’s small and manually-powered doesn’t mean the construction is cheap. The screw-on lid is completely watertight and won’t let any water or suds spill out. The lid lever and handle insert are sturdy and meant to last, and The Laundry Alternative offers a 3-year warranty on them. Finally, it comes in four different colors, which is always a nice bonus.
Urban living rarely allows for full-sized separate washers and dryers, which makes most people just give up on this convenient item. That being said, depending on your apartment’s or townhouse’s layout, finding the right space to install a clothesline may be even harder. There are two possible solutions: give up your own bathroom space and hope the spin dryer gets rid of most of the water, or quickly carry your half-moist clothes to the communal laundry room.
However, if you have the extra 2.65 cubic feet to spare, why not invest in a quality heat dryer? Panda’s portable drying machine offers the prowess of a professional dryer but subtly adapted for small spaces. It can take up to 8 pounds of wet clothes, so you probably won’t be able to fit your quilts in there. However, as it works with a single 120-volt plug, it is easy to install and will not send your electricity bill up to the sky. It also barely weighs 44 pounds, despite its resilient steel drum, and therefore can be wheeled around without turning into a workout. However, if you have the opportunity to mount it, it does include a mounting kit.
Portable Washing Machines: The Basics
Don’t let the name fool you; most portable washing machines are not something you can lug around in your suitcase. They are, however, significantly smaller than regular models. Most of them are barely 3 feet tall, 20 inches wide, and 20 inches long. This means that if you need the extra space to entertain a guest, they can easily be fit inside a closet and then, wheeled back to their corner once the next laundry day comes around.
In addition, most portable washing machines can be installed in minutes, thanks to their plug-and-play simplicity. Rather than requiring a plumber to integrate them with your main pipes, portable washers come with a hose that can be easily hooked into any standard-sized kitchen faucet. If you are opting for an automatic model – and all top models these days are automatic – then, you may also need to plug it into an electrical socket. All in all, the process takes less than 5 minutes once you know what you are doing.
That being said, there are many ways in which “basic” can vary from one model to the next. A good portable washing machine will still be worth shopping around for. Here are some key features that are worth keeping an eye out for.
Because of their reduced size, most portable models will not allow you to wash all your comforters and curtains at once. However, even a modest 12 kilos provides more than enough space for a childless couple or a single person.
Naturally, design efficiency will matter a lot here; a 20 x 20 square can become significantly smaller if not properly used. In general, top-loaders tend to use space more efficiently, and they are easier to fit in small spaces. Twin tub machines, although they may offer an air dryer or a fully featured heat-based one, tend to trade for this with much smaller tubs.
Cycles and Programming Options
Any automatic washer worth its salt will offer you the chance to adjust water levels and to program different cycles. While more is usually better, at least where programming options are concerned, it’s best to prioritize what you are going to use rather than pine for options that you will never try out.
Single people and uniform wearers should try to get one with a “very low” water level; this will provide just enough water to safely wash a 2-piece set of scrubs at the end of the day. Sports junkies should seek out one with a good “synthetic” fabric or “sneakers” option. Finally, unless you are buying an electric model, don’t bother with a “whites” cycle; it won’t work unless the washer can heat the water.
There are two main types of washing methods: pulsators and agitators. As a general rule, pulsator models are considered better, as they tend to be gentler on your delicates as they beat the fabric around less. If your closet is not the lacy kind, or you routinely have to wash heavier clothes (such as your work overalls or jeans), then an agitator will provide a cheaper and stronger wash. Clearly, the options are vaster than simply “small washing machine” and “even smaller machine.” So give this list of portable washing machines a good look over.