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The 6 Best Portable Washing Machines Of 2023 To Maximize Your Living Space, With Expert Recommendations

Kelsea Samson
Author:
October 03, 2023
Kelsea Samson
Written by
Kelsea Samson
Kelsea Samson is a writer, content manager, certified yoga instructor and founder of The Mindfulness Program for Kids and Yoga for the Blind in Tampa, Florida.
portable washing machine
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October 03, 2023
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Whether you live in a small apartment in a bustling city, a dorm on your college's campus, or an RV fit for your nomad life, many of us don't have the space or setup for a washer and dryer. So, you've been lugging your sweaty laundry basket to the local laundromat, but needless to say, the experience has been less than glam. It's hot. It's crowded. And worst of all, it's time consuming.

If you're longing for the days when laundry day meant multitasking at home by getting in a quick workout or cleaning up around your house, you'll be happy to learn about the best portable washing machines, perfect for even the smallest of spaces. 

Portable washing machines do require a bit of effort, but you'll save time, money, water consumption1, and electricity in the long run. All you need is a sink hookup (you could also use buckets of water) to wash and rinse the clothes and then a small space like a closet or a corner to store the machine in when not in use.

Below, we've identified the best portable washing machines on the market, with the help of Amanda Kleckler, a certified building biologist who specializes in healthy homes, and Rosalind Cummings-Yeates, a holistic lifestyle journalist and mindbodygreen contributor. Convenience and clean clothes are more attainable than you think.

Our top picks

What is a portable washing machine?

A portable washing machine is a downsized, easily transportable version of a full-size washing machine. It offers the convenience of washing clothes from wherever you are (as long as you have water access), with the added bonuses of energy efficiency and saving space. Simply wheel it over to an area with a sink whenever you're ready to do laundry. 

Yeates explains, "Portable washing machines are small enough to store in a closet or corner when not in use. They come in electric and manual models and can really save you money, space, water, and electricity in the long run." 

These compact machines are designed to be small enough to store in a closet or corner when they're not in use. There are electric and manual models to choose from, depending on whether you want to use a sink hookup or buckets of water to wash and rinse clothes.

Both types of machines weigh on average around 20 pounds.

How much should you spend on a portable washing machine?

Portable washing machines have come a long way in recent years. Today, you can find a slew of portable models in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and prices far below the cost of a full-size washing machine.

Portable washing machines do not need to be expensive to clean your clothes well. That said, the higher-end models often provide a better laundry day experience, with less hassle and mess and more bells and whistles to keep your clothes feeling fresh. 

So, if you're wondering how much to spend on a portable washing machine, it really comes down to personal preference. High-end picks can be easily hooked up to a kitchen or bathroom sink, while budget models need to be manually filled and emptied.

More expensive models also offer various cycles for your fabrics, spacious drums, ease of use, and stainless steel baskets to prevent fabrics from snagging.

While there are some splurge-worthy picks around $1,000, you can find high-quality options for under $500 (most of the options on our list fall in this category).

What are the benefits and drawbacks of a portable washing machine?

Portable washing machines have, dare we say, a laundry list of pros and cons. They can be just as effective as normal washing machines, though they do require more effort on your end. You'll need to fill and drain the machine manually, and there might be an occasional water spill from a leaking hose that'll need cleaning up. Another pro is that it takes much less time than you'd think to thoroughly wash, spin, and hang dry your laundry. 

However, a con is that maximum load capacities are around 10 pounds, which equals a few shirts, a few dresses, a nightshirt, and a week's worth of underwear. Yates told us from her personal experience, "It only takes me about an hour total to wash, spin, and hang dry a load in my machine; each load is on the smaller side. That being said, my portable washing machine really cleans my clothes well—as well as a full-size washer would—but it uses less energy, water, and detergent." Note that not all machines can handle heavier items such as denim jeans or jackets. 

Finally, we love that portable washing machines are less expensive than full-size washers but still give a quality cleaning and use less energy, water, and detergent, making this a solid choice if you're interested in adopting a minimalist lifestyle. Amanda Klecker, a certified building biologist who assesses the overall health of homes, weighed in: "Look at how much water it uses in the wash," she says. "The greenest option for sustainability is using water from the tap."

How we picked the best portable washing machines

  • Features: Each portable washing machine comes with its own set of features (various cycles, spin levels, top-load abilities, view windows, electric hookups, and more). To help you decide which machine best fits your needs, we paid close attention to the features and called out any highlights.
  • Price: We focused on portable washing machines that are currently priced at $1,000 or below, taking various budgets into consideration.
  • Reviews: We read hundreds of reviews to get a large variety of feedback on each washing machine. Any negative reviews helped us identify potential downsides.
  • Expert advice: Our expert's input stayed top of mind when selecting the best portable washing machines. We've also included their personal recommendations. 

The best portable washing machines

Pros:

  • 10 cycles
  • Child lock
  • Quiet

Cons:

  • Only available in gray/yellow
  • Smaller capacity

Capacity:

.6 cubic feet

Washing mechanism:

impeller

Cycles:

10

Smart capabilities:

no

Energy star certified:

no

Dimensions:

20" x 19" x 34"

This portable washing machine has the electric power of larger washers but takes up way less space. The stainless steel tub helps keep rust and bacteria away, while ten cycles and five water level options help you tackle tough stains to keep your wardrobe feeling brand-new. Just keep in mind, reviewers say this one isn’t as easy to move as other options—so you'll likely want to find a permanent home for it. However, owners love that the machine runs quietly so as to not disrupt their small space.  

One satisfied shopper says, “This washer is a little workhorse. My neighbors who have the traditional RV washer/dryer are amazed how much I can wash in one load compared to their traditional RV ones, which usually cost well over $1,000 or $2,000. This machine is still going strong even after a year of washing at least 2 or 3 full loads a day. No leaks, still spins as hard as any full size washer I have ever had, and I have had a lot. It's paid for itself a hundred times over!”

Best quiet: Black and Decker Small Portable Washer

Pros:

  • Large load capacity
  • Handles bulky items like blankets and towels
  • More affordable and quiet than others

Cons:

  • Some reviewers note that clothes can tangle easily

Capacity:

2 cubic feet

Washing mechanism:

impeller

Cycles:

6

Smart capabilities:

no

Energy star certified:

no

Dimensions:

21.6" x 22.2" x 37.4"

Reviewers who cherish peace and quiet rave about Black and Decker’s high-quality yet affordable portable washing machines. The brand’s top load washer is great for large loads of laundry (it can hold up to 15 pounds!) and has a built-in detector that keeps it quiet and eliminates that rocking and rattling that can often happen. Six cycles and three water temperatures ensure your clothes are properly laundered. What’s more, using the cold setting on the water temperature will help you conserve energy. 

This appliance has earned a 4.6 out of 5-star average on Amazon across almost 300 reviews, and for good reason. One reviewer writes, “This is hands down one of the best purchases I’ve made for my NYC apartment. The noise level on this thing is very manageable, if you are in another room you won’t even hear it. It is the loudest in its spin cycle but nothing too bad.” Some reviewers complained that the appliance isn’t as easy as they’d desire to move around the house.

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Best for camping: WonderWash Portable Washing Machine

Pros:

  • Eco-friendly and budget-friendly
  • Eco-friendly and budget-friendly
  • Comes in retro pastel colors

Cons:

  • Requires hand-washing

Capacity:

.67 cubic feet

Washing mechanism:

hand-powered

Cycles:

n/a

Smart capabilities:

no

Energy star certified:

no

Dimensions:

12" x 16" x 12"

This hand-powered washer will thoroughly clean five pounds of laundry at a time (about a week’s worth of clothes) in just under two minutes. Since this is a non-electric machine, the better your hand-cranking technique, the cleaner your clothes. You operate the machine by turning the hand crank—and you’ll want to find a groove of cranking at just the right pace (not too fast, not too slow). Once you’re ready to drain, there’s a detachable spout that makes it easy. 

Almost 3,000 reviewers have given this device a perfect five-star rating on Amazon. One satisfied shopper writes, “This is great for camping. The machine is almost entirely plastic so it is super lightweight. It snaps together easily for use. It uses very little water and detergent. Best of all, it really cleans.”

Best for apartments: GE GNW

Pros:

  • Electronic one-touch controls with LED display
  • Multiple cycles and temperatures
  • Large load capacity

Cons:

  • On the larger side of compact machines
  • Expensive

Capacity:

2.8 cubic feet

Washing mechanism:

impeller

Cycles:

8

Smart capabilities:

yes

Energy star certified:

no

Dimensions:

37” x 24” x 24”

If you can spare 2.8 cubic feet in your apartment, this washing machine is the move. With a stainless steel basket and electronic one-touch controls with LED, the GNW portable washing machine is the height of laundry day luxury. It’s got a larger capacity than other options, plus eight wash cycles and four temperatures to choose from—so you always have the perfect setting to keep your fabrics in good condition. 

Caster wheels allow you to easily maneuver and store the portable washer between uses, and the detergent and fabric softener dispensers feel just like the full-sized machine you may be used to. In short, we think this is the best portable washing machine for apartments that can’t house a full-sized machine. 

One reviewer writes, “If you live in an apartment that doesn’t have washer/dryer hookups I HIGHLY recommended this washer! It is small but the capacity feels the same as a standard washer. The sink attachment is really easy to put on and take off. It is a splash zone so I constantly wipe my bathroom sink down after doing laundry, but it’s a small con compared to all the pros.” It’s worth noting that the tub doesn't fill completely, so you won’t be able to wash bulky items like a blanket.

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Best budget: Danby Compact

Pros:

  • Lightweight & easy to move
  • Adjustable spin time and rinse cycle

Cons:

  • Cold and warm water only
  • No fabric softener dispenser

Capacity:

.9 cubic feet

Washing mechanism:

impeller

Cycles:

5

Smart capabilities:

yes

Energy star certified:

no

Dimensions:

31.5" x 17.7" x 18.1"

The Danby .9 Portable Washing Machine combines quality materials, automatic functioning, and customizable cycles for a fraction of the price of other options on our list. This model is equipped with five wash cycles that are highly customizable to your desired rinse duration, spin, and water level. When paired with the stainless steel drum, which provides protection to your clothing to keep them from nagging. The end result is a reliable and affordable portable washing machine that will do the work for you for loads to come. 

This budget-friendly appliance has a 4.5 out of five-star overall rating on the Home Depot website. One reviewer writes, “This machine is great! It is quiet, and it washes and spins items well. The lint and drain filters work well and are easy to clean. It is small, and fast. It would fit 2 pairs of jeans or 4-5 shirts, in our case a 2x3 foot thick blanket and 2, max 3 lighter weight blankets (baby blanket size). It also arrived quickly and took just minutes to set up.” One downside is that this machine should only be used with cold or warm water, not hot.

Best high capacity: Costway High Efficiency Full-Automatic Portable Top Load Washer Dryer

Pros:

  • Holds 11 pounds of laundry
  • Quiet
  • Multiple color options

Cons:

  • Heavy, harder to move

Capacity:

1.5 cubic feet

Washing mechanism:

impeller

Cycles:

6

Smart capabilities:

yes

Energy star certified:

no

Dimensions:

33" x 19" x 19"

This high-capacity portable washer is compact and efficient. It's made with a high powered motor and large stainless steel tub to handle bulky items like jeans and blankets, and you can customize your laundry needs across eight washing programs and 10 water levels on the LED display control panel. This machine is smaller than a full-size washer, but it still weighs 58 pounds. In other words, you probably won’t want to rely on moving it into your kitchen or bathroom on a weekly basis. 

The real stand out is this machine’s nearly perfect rating on the company’s website: a 4.8 out of 5 average. One happy customer writes, “This works flawlessly. I am so glad I chose this brand and model. I love the many different wash options in addition to selecting the water input level option. I was also concerned about the hose outlet efficiently draining the water but I have not had any issues, and the water pumps out very well.” One reviewer explained her helpful set-up, in case you’re needing inspiration: “This machine is housed in my bedroom next to the bathroom, so I have an 8ft hose to hook up the machine to the sink and the water drainage hose easily reaches the toilet to remove the water. It’s a perfect setup.” 

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How to choose a portable washing machine

When choosing the best portable washing machine for your space, take note of which features are most important to you. Below are some important questions to ask yourself, along with expert insight on what to look for in a portable washing machine: 

Load size: Are you a one- to two-person household or a larger family? Do you need to wash heavy clothes and towels, or is your laundry load on the lighter side? These answers will tell you a lot about the capacity of the portable washer you'll need. If you're using it while camping and only washing one outfit at a time, you'll benefit just fine from a small-capacity model that doesn't use electricity. 

Power Source: Do you have electricity in the space you'll be doing laundry? Portable washing machines come in electric and non-electric models—and the non-electric ones are hand-powered with a smaller load capacity. Electric models need to be plugged into an outlet and typically require a 120-volt. 

Water access: Some portable washing machines are more hands-on when it comes to getting water in and out of the machine. High-end picks can be hooked up to a kitchen or bathroom sink, while others require you to fill and empty the washer's tub at the start and end of each cycle. To find the right type for you, consider how much maintenance and energy you're willing to put into your machine and your access to a water source. 

Design: Will you be storing your machine away when not in use and wheeling it out on laundry day? A portable washing machine with caster wheels can be moved around the house with ease. Pay attention to the design of each product to ensure that it will fit into your home.

Frequently asked questions

Is getting a portable washer worth it?

Yeates says, "Yes; however, doing laundry in a portable machine requires more effort on your end. You need to fill and drain your machine manually, and you may occasionally need to clean up water spills from a leaking hose."

How efficient are portable washers?

Our expert testified, "My portable washing machine really cleans my clothes well—as well as a full-size washer would—but it uses less energy, water, and detergent. Portable washing machines work, but they usually require that you do too!"

Do you leave the water running in a portable washer?

Yes, in some portable washing machines, you'll leave the tap running for the entire cycle.

Are portable washers noisy?

Much like full-sized ones, some can be. So, we specifically hunted down quieter portable washers and called them out on our list.

The takeaway

Portable washing machines are a great way to conveniently do laundry no matter how small your space is. They also use less energy, water, and detergent and are ultimately a greener choice.

Finding the right features, size, and functionality in a portable washing machine is important, so be sure to look for one that suits your particular needs. Next, discover the best natural laundry detergents of 2023 and how to wash sustainably.

Meet The Experts

Kelsea Samson is a writer, content manager, certified yoga instructor and founder of The Mindfulness Program for Kids and Yoga for the Blind in Tampa, Florida.

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