The 10 Best Portable Washers
This wiki has been updated 28 times since it was first published in January of 2016. If your space is limited, but you don't want the hassle of washing your clothes by hand or the cost of going to a laundromat, then one of these portable washing machines is just what you need. They offer varying capacities suitable for small to medium-sized laundry loads, and some are available with programmable temperatures and cleaning cycles, and a spin-drying function. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
November 05, 2020:
We removed the Costway 23104-CYWH due to concerns about its sturdiness, particularly relating to its spinning function. We replaced it with a similar compact model, the Kuppet Mini. This model also weighs only 12.2 pounds, making it even more portable than most of its competitors.
We also removed the Best Choice SKY2767 because of availability issues. We replaced it with the Garatic Compact, another twin-tub model that provides separate drying capabilities. This model has a nice straightforward operation, with its control knobs and water inlet valve right on top of the unit.
Although manual options like the Lavario 1204 and The Laundry Alternative Wonderwash, are attractive because they don't require a power source, make sure to consider all aspects of their operation. You might be fine with the physical aspect of it, but they can be less convenient due to the space you need to operate them. In extra-small spaces like RVs, it may be frustrating to pump or spin these yourself, when you're in an already pretty cramped space.
For anyone choosing a non-drying option, like the Lavario 1204, you may want to purchase a portable clothes dryer as well. These options are compact like the washers here, many of which can operate without a power supply.
Or, if you have enough room for one, a combination washer dryer might be better suited to your needs. These are still economical when it comes to conserving space, but they do tend to take longer to wash and dry than typical standalone machines.
November 07, 2019:
As evidenced by our list, portable washers come in many different shapes and capacities. Since no two users have the exact same laundering needs, we did our best to select the best models that represent all the variety this category has to offer.
Anyone familiar with our previous selections will immediately notice there were a lot of changes made during this update. In fact, we replaced more than 50 percent of our previous recommendations. While much of this was due to newer and better options being offered, there were some that were removed due to quality issues. For example, the Pyle Pure Clean was found to have some durability problems, often not lasting more than a year or so. Another model is the Panda XPB52A, which had reports of being difficult to fully drain.
During our research, we found that some manufacturers were offering portable washers that very much resembled their stationary counterparts in design and features. The Black + Decker BPWM09W is one example of these. It has five cycle options, allowing you to handle any kind of clothes, whether they be delicate garments or heavily-soiled jeans, and it has a sleek control panel. Another example is the Panda PAN50SW, however it is worth mentioning that it weighs roughly 70 pounds and would be difficult for the average person to move on their own.
Truly epitomizing the portable nature of this category is The Laundry Alternative Wonderwash and Lavario 1204. Both of these work on elbow grease alone, so you don't need to worry about having access to power, and require less water and detergent than their electric counterparts.
We would be remiss if we didn't also highlight the The Laundry Alternative Ninja Mini for its smart design. Despite taking up less floor space than many of the other models, it has one of the largest capacities.
One last note we would like to leave you with regarding these machines is about their spin drying feature. It is important to understand that these don't use hot air like stationary models. Rather they simply use centrifugal force to squeeze as much water out as possible. Your garments will still need to be hung up to fully dry.
General Electric GNW128PSMWW This 2.8-cubic foot model from GE is packed with features that allow you to customize the wash cycle to meet your needs. It has pre-soak and extra rinse options; heavy duty, whites, and jeans modes; hot and cold settings, and so much more. If anything, its drawback would be that it costs as much as stationary models. geappliances.com
Who Will Benefit From a Portable Washer?
The portable washer's smaller size and energy use can be especially beneficial in situations such as this.
Given that portable washers are around half the size or smaller than their non-portable counterparts, they can benefit anyone who needs to save space in their home or who wants to save money on their utility bills.
Portable washers are great for college students looking for an alternative to the local laundromat. Their compact size will not detract from the small space a dormitory offers, and a portable washer can be tucked away when not in use, which is physically impossible with a standard machine.
For those living in an apartment with no washer and dryer hookups, a portable washer accommodates their lifestyle. Rather than being forced to haul loads of dirty laundry to the overpriced community laundromat, portable washer owners can wash clothes from the comfort of their own homes. The only work involved is filling the chamber with water and plugging the unit in to any grounded outlet. Portable washers also use much less water and electricity than their full-sized counterparts, and leave up to a third of the footprint, which is an important feature in a small home layout.
A working professional who moves often may find a portable washer is a sound investment. Rather than buying and selling a new washer for each home, they may choose to travel light with a portable option. Most models will fit in a standard size sedan, and are easy for one person to transport.
Families with small children may enjoy the versatility and ease of access which comes from using a portable washer in their home. As children grow, it is common for them to have a favorite outfit that they wear every day. A growing child will likely encounter spills and accidents on a daily basis too. The portable washer's smaller size and energy use can be especially beneficial in situations such as this. It uses less energy and water, which means less waste when washing micro loads like a favored pair of pajamas or a cozy sheet.
Important Functions in a Portable Washer
When searching for a portable washer, it is important to consider the features and benefits you wish to obtain from the unit.
One consideration is the amount of space the portable washer will take up in the house. If there is little more than a hall closet to store the unit, some of the larger portable washers will not be practical. Consider a very small unit for a space like this.
If space is less of an issue for you, a larger machine may be more valuable, as it can save you time. A portable washer with a larger capacity will require less frequent use than one with a smaller capacity.
Some portable washers do not agitate the load well enough to effectively dissolve powdered laundry detergents.
The drying function of the unit is also an important thing to consider. When hand-washing clothes, the primary drying function is done through the use of a wringer. This removes most of the water from the cloth to make drying easier. Wet articles pressed through a wringer can take as little as one hour to line dry. In washing machines, this function is performed via the spin cycle. A spin cycle pushes water out of the clothes and into the drainage bin. Unless the consumer uses a wringer in the home, a spin cycle is an important function to have in a portable washer.
Detergent preference may not seem important, but in the case of portable washers, it makes a difference. Liquid detergents can be more conducive to the function of some washers, as they dissolve quickly. Some portable washers do not agitate the load well enough to effectively dissolve powdered laundry detergents.
Ease of use is one of the most important features for many consumers. Some portable washer models are as efficient as full sized models that wash, rinse, and spin clothes in one cycle. Others are more involved and require the user to move the load from the wash side to the spin side to complete the load.
The Birth Of The Washing Machine
Though some portable washers are more involved than others, none are more involved than the original washers.
The first washing machines were created in the middle of the eighteenth century. They were crude devices by today's standards, and amounted to little more than an enclosed, hand-powered drum that held water and helped to rotate the clothes.
The first automatic washing machine was introduced in 1937.
The first innovation in the washing machine was the inclusion of grooves along the inside edge of the round water basin. The operator would use a long paddle to press and rotate the clothes along these grooves, and the clothes would be cleaned by friction.
The rotating drum was brought about soon after. Though it was a simple hand crank that turned a rotating drum, it paved the way for automatic tumbling, heated washing, and the eventual use of steam power.
The electric washing machine would make waves in the beginning of the 1900s, selling many thousands of units each year until the 1930s, when washer design improved. The first automatic washing machine was introduced in 1937. Impressively enough, it functioned like modern front-loading washers. Though many modern adjustments have been made, the same basic technology and application of centrifugal force to wash and dry clothes is still in use to this day.