The 5 Best Portable Washing Machines of 2021 Reviewed

The 5 Best Portable Washing Machines of 2021 Reviewed

Do you live in an apartment or a dorm? Then you must know the struggle that comes with not having your own laundry. Portable washing machines are compact and easy to use. Plus, you can pack up these handy little appliances and take them with you if you move into a new place. Some portable washers can even be used in campers and RVs, even when you’re off the grid.

Wherever you happen to be, big city or campground, a portable washing machine could help make laundry less of a chore. Even if there’s a Laundromat down the block or washer and dryer in the basement, you still have to lug bags of dirty (and then clean) laundry from place to place.

We looked into the many available portable washing machines to help you find one that’s a true convenience and easy to hook up. Read on for our shopping tips and top picks.

Best Portable Washing Machine

How Portable Washing Machines Work

The principle is similar to that of full size top load washing machines: They move the clothes around to clean them, then rinse them; many models also spin them to remove excess water. Portable washers can have some of the same features and functions as the regular size washing machines models, too. They’re much smaller in size, however. And how fast they go (measured in rotations per minute, or RPMs, just like a full size washer) and how long a cycle takes also vary a great deal.

You’re going to want to use your portable washing machine in a bathroom or other room with a tap and a sink or tub. Although portable washers don’t require a permanent plumbing connection, you do have to connect them to a water supply a.k.a tap. They usually have a hose to drain the water; you can place it in the sink or tub. You also need an electrical outlet nearby to plug it in. Ensure that the voltage and plug type of the machine match up to your outlet.

One advantage of having a portable washing machine is the spin-cycle. This process extracts a considerable amount of water and gets your clothes ready to be air dried without the need for a clothes dryer.

portable washing machine types
Portable washer types

3 Types of Portable Washing Machines

Portable washing machines use different technologies to clean your clothes. You may get one with an agitator or impeller or a simpler hand-cranked one. Let’s take a look at the differences among them:

1. An agitator portable washing machine has a veined or finned post at the center, just like a full size agitator top load washer. It helps move your clothes around to clean them and get rid of stains, somewhat like beating the dirt out of clothes in a bygone era.

While this is a definite advantage, it also takes a toll on fabric; it’s not the gentlest means of washing. Another possible problem with this type of machine is that large clothes like sheets and blankets can get wound around or stuck on the agitator post, reducing its efficiency. Delicate items can get torn, too.

Due to energy efficiency concerns most manufacturers do not make agitator portable washers.

Pros: Effective stain removal
Cons: Agressive cleaning, Not Energy Efficient

Giantex

2. An impeller portable washing machine uses newer technology where water moves with force through the clothes to clean them. You can safely put more clothes in an impeller machine since you don’t have to be wary of the agitator. However, an impeller machine may not be as efficient at removing stains. One work-around for this is using a stain remover or pretreatment for heavily soiled or stained clothes. Portable washers with an impeller are energy efficient and use modern motors.

Some impeller portable washers may have twin tubs: one tub for washing, and a smaller tub for spinning dry. Therefore, most people refer to these as portable washer and dryer models.

Pros: Spacious
Cons: Stains need to be pretreated

3. A hand-cranked portable washing machine is much smaller than an agitator or impeller model, and thus has a reduced capacity. Since you need to turn the crank to wash the clothes—and your arm, unlike a machine, is going to get tired after a minute or two—the clothes may not get as clean. You may wash clothes faster, but you may not get them as clean as you want. You also have to rinse and wring them out manually.

Pros: No need for electricity
Cons: Small loads only, time consuming

As for controls, a simple portable washing machine will have knobs that you manually set by moving them to the speed and time you want. Some twin tub portable washers also have these kinds of controls.

High-end portable washing machines have LED panels with touchpad controls, much like those of full-size machines. You simply have to press a few buttons to select different wash cycles that are usually pre-programmed to run at specific speeds and for specific time periods. Many of them have delay start option as well, so you can load the machine and set it to begin at a specific time that’s convenient for you.

Pro Tip: You might need an adapter to fit the hose onto your tap. Check to see if your model comes with an adapter; if not, look into purchasing one separately.

The Big Benefits of a Small Portable Washer

The best portable washing machines are truly that—portable. They’re easy to move around from place to place and to store. As we mentioned above, they don’t require a permanent water, drain outlet, or electric connection. You can use one anywhere there’s water and electricity: in the kitchen, in the bathroom, or even outdoors. Some benefits include:

  • Sustainability since it uses less water and less electricity than a full size residential or commercial machine
  • Affordability since you can wash your clothes easily and with very little effort—and without needing to reload a card or keep quarters on hand
  • Time savings since portable machines get the job done at home and most can be left unattended, just like their full size counterparts

With a portable washer, you have the freedom to do laundry whenever you want. Depending on your needs, you could run the machine every day, every other day, or once a week without hauling a hamper anywhere.

The Potential Downsides of a Portable Washer

Before you go out to buy one, consider whether a portable washing machine is really right for you. In some cases, it might not be the best solution. Here are some potential disadvantages:

  • Even though a portable washer is small and movable, it does require some space.
  • Your building or landlord may not allow you to use a portable washing machine.
  • If the water inlet pipe isn’t fixed properly to the tap, it can leak and drip or sling water around.
  • When the machine’s running, your sink (in the kitchen or bathroom) or bathtub may be out of commission.
  • You can run only small loads at a time.
  • Heavy duty stains may require pre-treatment because the portable washer may not get them out.
  • Very heavy clothes don’t wash well in a portable washer.
  • Some models may not do an effective job of spin drying.
  • You’ll still have to hang clothes out to dry since, even with spin drying, the clothes come out damp.

If you’re willing to make these kinds of compromises, then you should get the portable clothes washer that suits your requirements and your budget.

Pro Tip: It’s best to use an HE (high efficiency) detergent in a portable washer. They’re formulated to suds up less—that’s what you want. Most of these machines are no frills, so don’t expect a detergent dispenser. You’ll probably need to pour it directly into the tub. Powder or liquid, mix it with some water before you pour it in to make sure it dissolves well and cleans your clothes properly. If you use a pod or capsule, place it under the water flowing into the machine so it dissolves all the way.


Consider This Before Buying a Portable Washing Machine

How Much It Weighs

You can buy a non-electric portable washing machine that weighs as little as 5 pounds. However, this is not really going to do a lot of laundry or be very convenient to use. It can be an option if you camp out a lot or want to stay off the grid.

A portable washer that comes with different cycles and controls can actually weigh as much as 60 pounds or more. The heavier models are portable only in the sense that they don’t need to be fitted in permanently and can be moved around on their castors, rollers, or wheels.

Black and Decker

How Much Laundry It Can Do at One Time

Portable washing machines can have as much as half the capacity of a full size washing machine, holding up to 10 or 11 pounds of clothes. You’ll need to check your model’s manual to see how many clothes actually fit. And you’ll learn after using the machine how many of your clothes it can clean well at one time.

Generally, you should be able to fit a few shirts or T-shirts and a couple of pairs of pants along with underclothes in a portable washing machine. If you want to wash sheets, check whether it has the capacity to wash a sheet; if so, put it in on its own.

Do be sure to buy a portable washer that fits your washing requirements. It’s not worth the investment otherwise. There’s no point in overloading a machine, since it won’t be able to efficiently wash your clothes and you’ll be putting unnecessary strain on the motor. When you put more clothes than the machine can handle, it will start vibrating and may even move around.

How Noisy It Is

Some portable washers can be quite loud. If you have small kids, it might wake them up. And it may interrupt your television watching. You may be able to muffle the sound if you put a mat underneath the machine. Other than that, it is a good idea to buy a quiet machine initially, if noise is going to be a problem. There are some quieter models on the market; we’ll point them out below.

Other Factors

You’ll want to take your personal needs into consideration too, of course. As you look at portable washers, keep these criteria in mind.

  • Your budget
  • Its cleaning ability and mechanisms, be it an agitator, impeller, or manual model
  • Its spin speed, which determines how wet clothes come out and how long they’ll take to dry
  • Its size and dimensions size
  • Its weight and real life mobility (these machines can range from eight to nearly 100 pounds)
  • Wash settings that make doing laundry easier, like delay start

Also make sure that the manufacturer of the machine you’re considering offers a warranty and service. If it’s made by an unknown or unfamiliar brand, check the brand’s ratings at the Better Business Bureau or other websites before buying. We also recommend doing a quick online search for “model number recall” or “manufacturer name recall” in addition to checking online reviews.

People who have extra space they could dedicate to laundry, like a bathroom or hall closet, can also consider a compact washer and dryer. Heat pump dryers don’t require venting to the outside of your house, so they can go pretty much anywhere you have an electrical outlet.

Pro Tip: Take the time to measure possible spaces in your home for your portable washer before you buy one—check where you might use it and where you might store it.


Our Top 5 Portable Washing Machines

Portable washing machine on rollers
Portable washing machines are versatile and mobile

1) Best Overall: Black+Decker BPWM09W

Black Decker BPWM09W

Pros:

  • 19 minute wash cycle
  • Reputable manufacturer
  • Gentle impeller wash
  • 0.9 cu. ft. wash capacity
  • 1,300 RPM spin speed
  • Lint filter
  • LED display
  • Child lock
  • Comes with tap adapter

Cons:

  • Cold wash only
  • Gravity drain

This portable washer comes from a reputable brand name, and is truly a mini version of a full-size impeller washing machine. It is ideal for small apartments and RV, dorm, or even boat living. It can wash 6.6 pounds of laundry at one time, and you can choose from different timing cycles ranging from 19 to 52 minutes.

Its positives are that it comes with a lint filter, delay timer, LED display, automatic unbalance detection, and child protection cutoff that automatically stops the cycle if the lid’s opened. It also comes with an adapter so you don’t have to search for one that will fit your taps. And at $238.52, it’s not too expensive.

The single negative? This machine works only with cold water. If hot water cleaning’s important to you, then it may not be the right choice. It may, however, be the best overall portable washing machine.


GE portable washing machine
GE Portable Washing Machine

2) Most Reliable: GE GNW128PSMWW

GE GNW128PSMWW

Pros:

  • Speed wash cycle
  • Reputable manufacturer
  • Gentle impeller wash
  • 2.8 cu. ft. wash capacity
  • 750 RPM
  • Detergent dispensers
  • Stainless steel drum
  • LED display
  • Child lock
  • Comes with universal tap adapter

Cons:

  • More expensive than most
  • Gravity drain
  • Heavy at 99 lb., with only two casters and two leveling legs

GE washers are regulars on our rankings. This GE GNW128PSMWW with an impeller is a mini version ideal for a laundry space without permanent water hookups. At a compact 24 inches, you can fit it anywhere and use it in the bathroom or kitchen. It comes with a number of bells and whistles including multiple settings, eight wash cycles, dispensers for fabric softener and detergent, and a child lock. A unicoupler provided with the machine enables it to fit it on most standard taps, and the stainless steel drum means that it’s likely to last long.

With a 2.8 cu ft capacity, it can comfortably accommodate clothes of a small family or couple. And a spin speed or 750 RPM means that clothes will come out merely damp.

The only downside? At a little over $699, this portable washing machine is more expensive than most.


3) Best Speed: Super Deal SD2304

Super Deal SD2304

Pros:

  • 15 minute wash cycle
  • Gentle impeller wash
  • 11 to 13 lb. total wash capacity
  • 1,300 RPM spin speed
  • Two tubs (separate wash and spin)
  • Gravity drain

Cons:

  • Small spin tub
  • All plastic construction

A compact, twin tub portable washing machine, this $190.89 model lets you finish loads super fast. It takes 15 minutes at most to wash and five to spin dry, and you can select cycles that run faster.

Another plus for this unit’s the fact that you can use both tubs simultaneously, saving even more time (since the spinning tub has a smaller capacity). This portable washer has two tubs, so if you have delicate items that you would ideally hand wash, you need not put them in the spinner.

Since it is a spin dryer, you will get the clothes out damp, not sopping wet. You still have to air dry them somewhere, but it will take less time.

If you can’t fix the water intake hose to your tap, there’s no need for an adapter—you can always use your shower to put water in.

Cons? You may have to spin a full load twice to get all the clothes done.


4) Best Price/Value: COMFEE CLV16N2AWW

COMFEE CLV16N2AWW

Pros:

  • Quick wash cycle
  • Gentle impeller wash
  • 1.6 cu. ft. capacity
  • 700 RPM spin speed
  • Hot and cold water hookups
  • Stainless steel tub
  • Child lock
  • LED display
  • Delay start feature
  • Drain pump

Cons:

  • Lesser known, newer manufacturer

This small washing machine packs a big punch: It’s capacious, can easily hold a large amount of laundry, and turns clothes out damp. It’s a little less than 21 inches square, so quite compact.

It comes with both hot and cold water inlets, so if you like to use hot water for your clothes you can do so. It has many cycles and settings, including an extra rinse cycle, and is easy to wheel around thanks to the rollers. Though the brand is quite new, it has very good reviews from customers. At $285.74 for the white model, it is reasonably priced.


5) Best Twin Tub: Giantex

Giantex

Pros:

  • 15 minute wash cycle
  • Gentle impeller wash
  • 17.6 lb. total wash capacity
  • 1,300 RPM spin speed
  • Lightweight 28 lbs.
  • Gravity drain

Cons:

  • Half-size spin tub
  • All plastic construction

For a reasonable $189.99, this mini portable washing machine is easy to carry and even fits into your tub. You can wash clothes and rinse them, then put them in the spin dryer to remove most of the water. At a spin speed of 1300 RPMs, your clothes will come out slightly damp, needing only a little airing.

The drain uses gravity, so you’ll need to make sure that the drain hose is flat and near a drain. Also note that you’ll need to use the spinning drum twice per load, since it holds only half as much as the washing drum.


wonderwash manual portable washing machine
Aesthetic manual portable washing machine 

Bonus: Best Manual Action: WonderWash

WonderWash

Pros:

  • No taps, drains, or outlets required
  • Very lightweight, at eight pounds
  • Stylish, retro design and colors
  • Three year manufacturer warranty

Cons:

  • Manual operation
  • Tiny capacity: seven dress shirts, 10 T-shirts, or two pairs of jeans

When these guys say portable, they mean portable. WonderWash is a very tiny portable washing machine with a very small capacity. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly alternative to hand washing your clothes, then the WonderWash will do the job. It’s also a viable option if you live in a situation where an electrical appliance isn’t allowed. Because you don’t need electricity or a tap connection, it’s ideal for travel and camping. Another pro? It’s definitely not noisy.

With a 5-pound capacity, the WonderWash can clean five to six T-shirts or one to two pairs of heavy jeans or a number of small items at one time. To use it, you can place it near a sink for water accessibility. Put in the clothes and add detergent and water. You can add the water via a hose or shower or even bucket. Crank the clothes to clean your items—this part is labor intensive. After that, you drain the water (that comes out through a spout directly into the sink) then rinse as many times as you want—two to three times should get the detergent off—or you can rinse the clothes under your tap. You have to wring the clothes manually and, since they’ll be wet, they’ll take longer than clothes that have gone through a spin cycle to dry (unless you buy a separate dryer to spin dry your clothes, that is).


The Takeaways

When you are considering buying a portable washing machine, remember to keep your personal requirements in mind, do your research, check online customer reviews, and make a shortlist of your top options. It’s always better to buy something from a company with a proven track record on product quality and good customer service.

In case you require on-site warranty, check to see if the manufacturer provides that. If the manufacturer requires you to take your machine to a service center, look up how accessible it is. For some OEM or unknown makers, the cost of taking or mailing the machine back might make getting it repaired financially unviable, so check the fine print before buying.


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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on August 19, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.

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