4 Best Portable Washing Machines That Clean Clothes and Help the Planet
Portable washers are convenient and sustainable.
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Can the best portable washing machines wash the dirtiest soccer socks and reduce your carbon footprint? It sounds like a high bar to clear, but new innovations have put several portable washers on par with standard washing machines in terms of functionality and ease of use.
Using a compact washer can be more sustainable and convenient than a standard full-size washer, especially if you live in a small space or live a more nomadic lifestyle. In this article, we’ll recommend four high-quality options to help you find the best portable washing machine to meet your needs.
Best Portable Washing Machines: Our Recommendations
- Best Overall: Giantex Full-Automatic Portable Washer
- Most Eco-Friendly Washer: The Laundry Alternative Wonderwash
- Best for Apartments and Tiny Homes: COMFEE Portable Washing Machine
- Best Twin Tub: Super Deal Portable Compact Washing Machine
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. Learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.
Why Switch to a Portable Washing Machine?
A portable washing machine might not be the best investment for a homeowner with space for a large-capacity washer and dryer. But for people without the square footage or ability to hook up these machines, investing in a portable clothes washer is a space-saving (and money-saving) laundry solution.
Here are a few practical reasons you may need a portable washer:
- You don’t have washer or dryer hookups
- You camp a lot
- You’re a minimalist, digital nomad or vandweller
- Sharing a washing machine with others gives you the heebie-jeebies
- Hand-washing delicates or small items takes way too much time
- You don’t have the space for a standard-size washing machine
Compact and typically less expensive, a portable washer also uses less electricity and water than a standard washing machine. To put this into context:
- Commercial washing machines use nearly 34.74 thousand gallons of water and almost 910 kilowatts of electricity annually.
- The common household washing machine uses nearly 41 gallons of water per load.
- The largest portable washer on our list maxes out at 12 gallons per load, and the others take only five or six gallons.
Full Reviews of Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Giantex Full-Automatic Portable Washer
This portable washer by Giantex is fully automatic, and its convenient features are well worth the price. There are 10 programs and eight wash programs to choose from on an LED display. You can control the water level, adding anywhere from 23 to 46 liters, which lessens your environmental impact and reduces excess water use.
This electric portable washing machine also has an automatic imbalance feature, so it doesn’t sound like a wrecking ball while your clothes are being cleaned. The in-drain pump swiftly removes dirty water from the stainless steel tub, and a small lint collector reduces lint waste.
Customer Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars with over 3,000 Amazon ratings
Standout Review: “I’m giving it 5 stars despite having to order an adapter for our sink and a longer hose to reach the sink … because it’s a great little machine. It’s compact and it washes the clothes well and spins them so there is barely any water in them at the end of the cycle.” — em9784 via Amazon
Why Buy: This is a great choice if you need a portable washer with all the modern amenities of a standard unit and you are concerned about your carbon footprint. It has a large load capacity and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Most Eco-Friendly Washer: The Laundry Alternative Wonderwash
Are you a more hands-on kind of person? The Laundry Alternative’s non-electric portable mini washer relies on a hand crank to agitate and spin the laundry inside. The unit uses 90% less water than a standard washer, and one load is done in under two minutes according to the manufacturer. You do need to hand-wring your clothes after washing.
The mini portable washing machine handles five pounds of laundry. Each wash can include one large bath towel or wash up to eight dress shirts or t-shirts. It’s gentle on clothes and requires no hookups. Aside from being eco-friendly, it’s affordable and lightweight. Since it’s simple in design, the Wonderwash has virtually no parts to replace.
Customer Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars with over 2,500 Amazon ratings
Standout Review: “Four years later, and I’ve bought two more of these to give to travel nurse friends as gifts! I’m still cranking my washing when I rent a place with no washer and dryer, and still delighted … I figure the Wonderwash has saved me about 80 trips to a laundromat.” — Kiris via Amazon
Why Buy: Purchase this portable washer if your No. 1 concern is environmental impact. The Wonderwash may also be the best portable washing machine for people on a budget or those who travel often.
Best for Apartments and Tiny Homes: COMFEE Portable Washing Machine
One of the best features of this portable top-load washing machine is that it rolls on two wheels for easy transport around a tiny home, RV or apartment. Though a bit bulky to unpack, the 44-pound washer has two handles for lifting.
The COMFEE portable washer takes up 0.9 cubic feet of space and runs five wash cycles. The built-in filter removes lint. Its LED display makes it comparable to other modern washers — but it comes at a fraction of the price.
Customer Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars with over 1,700 Amazon ratings
Standout Review: “The machine is light enough to pick up and set in our tub when guests come over so it’s out of the way. This machine cleans amazingly. Sometimes it’s almost gross how much dirt it pulls out of clothes you didn’t think were that dirty.” — KeysLife via Amazon
Why Buy: KeysLife also said they live in a one-bedroom apartment, and this portable washer was a great idea since they had no washer/dryer hookups and the laundromat was inconvenient. Many reviews echo that it’s a great buy for a small space and a quiet “beast” when washing clothes.
Best Twin Tub: Super Deal Portable Compact Washing Machine
This compact twin-tub washing machine by Super Deal can fit almost 10 pounds of clothing. One reviewer was able to wash five women’s dresses in one load. The spin-dry feature helps to quickly wring out your clothes and pre-dry them to a certain degree. It also has a gravity drain pump and hose.
You will need to have a bucket or other way to catch the drain water. The quiet, powerful washer is lightweight and easily fits on a countertop, so you could also drain it into your kitchen sink.
Customer Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars with over 3,700 Amazon ratings
Standout Review: “I have an apartment size washer, but the people downstairs complained about it spinning. So I was looking for something small enough to put on the countertop, and it does. Love it, it does a great job, easy to use…” — Debra Jefferson via Amazon
Why Buy: Many reviewers comment that the separate spinner helps get their clothes to dry much faster. It’s a powerful washer for many consumers who benefit from the spin function and don’t want to wring wet clothes by hand.
How to Choose the Best Portable Washing Machine
Consider your practical needs and lifestyle when purchasing a portable washer. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Durability: Will the unit last long? It may be easier to replace or repair a plastic hose, but plastic also breaks from wear and tear more easily.
- Weight/Space: Can you lift or wheel the portable washer around? Do you plan on keeping it in the same place? Will it fit conveniently in your residence?
- Features: Do you only want to wash your clothes, or do you want a washer dryer combo? Look for a model with a spin dryer if you’re not a fan of hang-drying.
- Sustainability: How much electricity and water does the unit use for an average load? Can you control the water settings? Choosing a high-efficiency model will save you money and resources.
- Cost: Is the value worth the money? Is it worth a splurge if a unit meets or exceeds your needs? Is there a warranty on the unit?
- Reviews: What are other customers saying? Does the manufacturer address concerns satisfactorily? What is the return policy?
My Experience With a Portable Washing Machine
A few years ago, I lived in a small apartment on a tight budget and relied on a plastic portable camping washer that cost about $75. I saved so much money and used much less water and electricity.
The unit I had used one plastic hose to fill the washer from the faucet and another that drained the water out from the bottom. It was easier to manually fill it with water. Eventually, the draining hose broke down after three years due to wear and tear. However, it paid for itself not having to pay for public transportation or laundromats. The only downside was that it didn’t have a lint catcher, and investing more money in a compact dryer was the best option.
Later, I tried to purchase a portable washer that more closely resembled a standard washer. The packaging made it much heavier for a single woman to move on her own, but I did it. No matter what I did, the aerator wouldn’t come off so I could attach the hose to the faucet during installation. I tried WD-40 and an aerator key, spending even more money. The unit itself was fully automatic, but the water sensor didn’t allow me to manually fill it. No other hookup option, even the shower head, worked. Luckily, the manufacturer had a good return policy. However, I still had to slide and shimmy this thing down two flights of stairs and to the post office. I’m sure the neighbors were watching with a bag of popcorn.
There are always unforeseen considerations to making a purchase. My experience goes to show that there are smaller details to consider when buying a portable washer. Don’t be the person searching “What’s an aerator?” online at 3 a.m. Ask the right questions in advance.
Portable washing machines run differently than standard washers, so you can’t use them the same way. However, they are powerful machines and get the job done all while lowering your carbon footprint.
FAQ: Portable Washing Machines
Can you have a washer and dryer without hookups?
Yes, you can have a portable washer and dryer without hookups. You can manually fill many smaller washers that are designed for camping. Ask the manufacturer or other verified buyers to be sure before making a purchase.
Some portable washers that more closely resemble standard washers require an adapter to connect to a faucet either in the kitchen or bathroom. Most manufacturers provide the adapter in a connection kit. Some of these won’t run any other way. You can’t fill these with water manually, as a sensor times the water filling.
Do portable washers use a lot of water?
Compared to standard washers, portable washers do not use a lot of water. Many portable washing machines use about four gallons of water per cubic foot. It depends on the size of the tub and how many rinses you need to get the dirt and grime out. Pre-treating stains helps with that.
Energy Star washers use 35% less water than regular washers, and portable washers use even less. Ask the manufacturer for the specifics.
Can you have a portable washer in an apartment or dorm?
You can have a portable washer in an apartment as long as you don’t make any alterations to the apartment itself or cause damage. Hooking up a hose to your sink shouldn’t violate your lease. However, leaks from the unit could cause water damage.
You may be able to have a portable washer in a dorm, but ask your resident assistant first. You’d be surprised at what’s considered a hazard.
Can you wash large items, like blankets and pillows, in a portable washer?
Some larger portable washing machines may be able to handle individual blankets. Check with the manufacturer. Be prepared for a longer drying time, and have somewhere outside to hang it.
Doing a once-a-month wash of curtains, blankets and comforters? It’s less stressful to take those to the laundromat or have them picked up for laundry service. Most portable washing machines aren’t made to handle comforters and other bedding.