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8 Best Portable Washing Machines

If you lack space or live a nomadic lifestyle, a portable washing machine may be the right mini appliance for you.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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What Is a Portable Washing Machine?

Compact, lightweight and eco-friendly, a portable washing machine is not tethered to a traditional plumbing system, so it’s perfect for those living in cramped quarters or out of a suitcase. These ingenious little appliances come in various sizes, shapes and functions.

The appeal of a portable washing machine is obvious if space is at a premium, you’re not settled in one location, or you’re tired of dragging clothes to a laundromat every week. However, many also are turning to these mini machines to save water and conserve energy. And let’s not forget that amid a global pandemic, anything that keeps us away from crowded communal laundry rooms is a plus.

Below are some features to consider before buying a portable washing machine.

Size and Weight

All portable washing machines have two things in common: They’re compact, to save space, and lightweight, for easy transport. They come small enough for countertop use to almost full-size. Be sure to measure where you want to use, transport and/or store the unit before you buy.

Load Capacity

Small-capacity washers are fine for a single person. But if you have a family or several roommates, we recommend purchasing the largest load capacity you can afford and have space for.

Electric or Manual

Electric-powered washers plug into a socket and work much like a regular washer, but without the girth and heft. Manual washers, on the other hand, operate with a crank, a foot pedal or by hand/arm motion, so they’re best suited for people on the go or those who want to save energy.

Spinner

A built-in spinner is a great option if you don’t have access to a dryer. It wrings out the excess water so laundry dries faster on a rack or clothesline.

Settings

Wash cycles and temperature settings vary depending on the electric washer you choose. Most have between two and five wash cycles, and set temperatures range from hot (whites) to cold (colors and lingerie). Many models come with timers, as well as a rinse and spin cycle.

Detergents

Certain models recommend only liquid soap, but some can work just as well with bar soap, pre-measured capsules, powders, sheets, tablets or pod detergents. Check the manufacturer’s operating manual for details.

Filling and Draining

All portable washing machines fill manually or with a self-filling inlet hooked up to a water source, much like portable dishwashers. Drainage outlets are often a tube that removes water by channeling it into a sink or outdoors.

Touted by campers, sailors and road-trippers for their mobility and convenience, here are our picks for the best portable washing machines on the market.

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Best for Use in an RV

Who doesn’t relish having a freshly laundered pair of socks or underwear when you’re on the road? At 22 lbs. and roughly 22-in. x 15-in. x 23-in., the Super Deal Portable Compact Washing Machine is one of the lightest and smallest twin-tub washers out there. It hooks up to any hotel or RV sink or bathtub faucet, and works with powdered and liquid detergents. In a pinch, you can even use bar soap shavings.

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Best Non-Electric

The award-winning Lavario Portable Clothes Washer is a clever little agitator that cleans everything from featherweight delicates to bulky articles. It uses a patented power flow technology that drives clothes through a piston (the basket containing the clothes) and cylinder (the bucket holding the water) system.

Just lower the slotted bin into the soapy water, and the simple up-and-down motion blasts dirt right out of your clothes. It’s the only non-electric washer that can wash weightier clothes like jeans and sweatshirts. The power source is you.

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Best Eco-Friendly

Wash, rinse and spin dry. The foot-powered, non-electric Yirego Drumi Portable Washing Machine does it all in 10 minutes or less. No special equipment is required. All you need is a sink, a bathtub, a shower or a spigot to fill up and drain the Drumi. Help the environment by saving energy and water, plus get a leg workout at the same time!

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Best Splurge

There are lots of trade-offs to downsizing. Washing clothes in a coin laundry instead of at home doesn’t have to be one of them.

The GE Portable Washer has a remarkably small footprint to fit into the smallest spaces, yet boasts a surprisingly large load capacity (2.8 cu. ft. of laundry). Although not cheap — it’s a little under $800 — it comes with top-notch features like a stainless steel basket, one-touch electronic controls, LED display and four temperature and eight wash cycles.

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Best Budget

Looking like a cross between a shovel and a plunger, the EasyGoProducts Hand Powered Clothes Washing Wand needs only a bucket of water, some soap and a little elbow grease. Just manually apply a push-and-pull suction action to create bubbles and suds. Electricity-free, the corrosion-proof plastic wand won’t warp, bend or splinter. It comes apart easily to fit into a tote or backpack. Cost: around $27.

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Best for Camping

Dubbed “The World’s Smallest Washing Machine,” the pint-size and compressible Scrubba Wash Bag with its internal washboard is a favorite among backpackers, hikers and other outdoorsy types. Fill the durable Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU)-coated nylon bag with clothing items, water and any cleaning liquid. Then roll it up, clip it closed and rub. It’s no more complicated than that!

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Best for Use in a Dorm

Retro-cool and dormitory-size, the Wonderwash High Efficiency Portable Washer shows up on a lot of “bests” lists. Why? First, it’s economical. Second, it’s hand operational — no hookup needed. And third, it’s fast. It cleans almost five pounds of laundry in two minutes flat. That’s a lot of your student’s favorite T-shirts.

As one Wayfair.com reviewer put it, “I love it! Very easy to assemble and very lightweight. It gets the job done!” This is an excellent “starter” washer for any newbie dorm dweller.

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Best All-Around

This one is a popular choice for a lot of reasons. With its compact size, top-loading design, dual-tub feature (one for washing and one for spinning), ample 10-lb. load capacity and easy operation, the Giantex Portable Washing Machine ticks almost all the boxes. A filter net, spin cap and drainage tube are all included. Required assembly is easy.

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Toni DeBella
Toni DeBella is a freelance travel, lifestyle and digital content writer based in a medieval hill town in central Italy. Her work has been featured in such publications as Fodor's, The Telegraph, Walks of Italy, Italy Magazine, Frommers.com, Touring Bird (via [email protected]) and more. Most recently she authored the 2020 edition of DK Eyewitness Sicily travel guide. When Toni is not roaming around Europe, you'll find her tending her alley-side container garden or honing her clay-court tennis game.

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