Whether you’re a parent doing the laundry for a family of five, a busy CEO who needs their wash done in a hurry, part of a high school athletic department that needs to launder uniforms in between games, or come from any walk of life imaginable, you need a washing machine. And hey, you probably already have one in your home.
But what about when you go on a trip, as families, business people, and schools all want to do?
If you can’t count on an onsite laundromat, you’ll need to bring an affordable, dependable portable washer – one of these.
Portable Washer 101
Chances are you have a home washer and dryer, but portable washers may need a bit of an introduction. You can’t carry a full-size washer around in your backpack or purse, and that’s true of portable ones as well, but they’re nevertheless far smaller than regular-sized models and thus ideal for those on the go.
That is doubly true considering how easy most portable washing machines are to use. Basically, all you have to do with most models is unpack them, set them up, hook them up to a sink in a kitchen or bathroom wherever you’re staying, and you’re good to go. As with regular-sized washing machines, portable washers come in both top as well as front-loading varieties.
In addition, portable washers are powered either by an electric battery or are human operated. The latter option typically involves something like a foot pedal or hand crank, which in turn causes mechanisms in the washer to spin and wash your clothes in the process.
Then there are portable washers that make use of ultrasonic technology to give your clothes an even deeper clean. Some of these actually are small enough to carry around in a backpack or purse. Simply fill a bowl or sink with water, put your clothes in, select the right setting on the unit, and begin to clean your clothes at your leisure. Some of these units are powerful enough to generate as much as 50,000 ultrasonic vibrations per second.
Best Portable Washing Machine Reviews
1. Giantex Full-Automatic Portable Washing Machine
This unit boasts an interior tub that is shaped like a honeycomb and is, thus, able to accommodate a surprising amount of laundry for its otherwise-slim design. It can hold up to 10 lb worth of laundry per load. What’s more, if you are a total novice to the world of laundering and aren’t sure what 10 lbs of laundry looks like (and if so, lucky you!) the unit actually comes with a reference guide to help ensure that you don’t overload the unit.
This unit features a touchpad control panel that enables you to choose from 10 different wash cycles as well as eight water levels. Its drainage pump connects easily with most sinks and tubs.
One common problem in washers big and small is the fact that laundry has a way of moving around in the wash in such a way as to create uneven stacks, which in turn can cause clogging. Giantex’s portable washer offers “balance adjustment” to combat that phenomenon, automatically shifting clothing around in the wash in such a way as to try and alleviate this problem.
If you are looking for a solid electrically-powered portable washer that’s easy to use for those not used to doing piles of laundry on the go, this offering from Giantex may be a good choice.
2. KUPPET Portable Washing Machine
Part of the appeal of portable washing machines is the fact that they’re incredibly compact. If you don’t have a lot of space for a portable washer or don’t want to schlep along a larger unit as you travel the world, this offering from KUPPET is a good choice to consider.
For starters, this is one of the smaller options on our list. Normally, a smaller unit might be a bit of a drawback, but when it comes to portable washers, that’s actually a considerable plus, making this one of the easiest units to actually pick and pack for a trip. Despite its small size, it comes with two tubs, one which handles the washing and the other which takes care of spinning.
This unit works by loading the clothes into the washing tub, adding water and detergent, and then selecting the wash cycle of your choice. Once your clothes are nice and clean, drain the water via the drainage pump. From there, you’ll want to remove your clothes from the washing tub and place them in the spin tub to help wring them dry again.
If that sounds like a bit of a process, it is, especially for a portable washer. That said, it can be worth it once you get the hang of it, as this unit does a great job of washing and drying clothes in such a compact space. It can handle nearly 8 lbs worth of laundry, a lot for such a little unit.
3. Panda Compact Portable Washer
One thing you’ll notice right away when you start looking at a lot of different portable washers is the fact that they tend to fall into two camps – nice and basic or high-tech. The former has its charm, to be sure, but if you’re the type of person who wants as little involvement on your part as possible in the tedium of laundry time, you’ll want to opt for the more high-tech options, which is where this offering from Panda comes in.
Panda’s entry into the compact portable washer market comes with a ton of high-end features, including an LED touch pads and the ability to select special options for bulky as well as delicate clothing. The latter may seem like a relatively standard feature in most regular washers today, but for a portable washer to be able to handle delicate clothing so finely is rare. What’s more, while this is a relatively compact unit, it also boasts one of the largest storage capacities of any unit on our list, being able to handle up to 11 lb worth of laundry. In addition, this unit has a clear lid, which makes it that much easier to check and see at a glance whether your clothes are done.
Adding to the convenience factor here is the fact that this unit comes with a kit that makes it easy to hook it up to sinks. In addition, this unit has received positive attention from critics for how quietly it supposedly is while running, which is always a nice plus in an appliance, portable or otherwise.
If you want a portable washer that’s adaptable with most sinks and doesn’t have a complicated connection process, all while offering quality quiet power, Panda’s offering may be the portable washer to beat.
4. COSTWAY Mini Washing Machine
Size matters – just not always in the way you’d expect. As stated, while we nearly always operate under the ethos of “bigger is better,” the portable washing machine industry inverts that trend, embracing the idea that “big things come in small packages,” and hey, doesn’t “small” fit better with “portable” or “travel-sized?”
That’s certainly what COSTWAY is betting on with this mini washing machine. One of the smaller entries out there, it sells itself on its compact size, measuring only 14”x13”x20”.
That sleek design easily makes it one of the best pure travel washing machines on our list. Anyone who has had to pack for a long trip before knows what a frustrating real-life game of Tetris it can be to try and get everything packed into your suitcase in an orderly manner without it bursting open. Any way you can save space is welcome, and a slimmed-down portable washer such as COSTWAY’s fits right in with the whole idea of travelling light.
This unit features a single tub for both washes as well as spin cycles, and comes with a timer. Draining the water out once you are finished is also easy given the placement and ease of access of the drain on the bottom. Finally, while the storage capacity for such a little unit may be less than other options on this list, its ability to clean stains is quite strong for a washer of this size.
All of the portable washers we have reviewed so far have been electrically-powered. These systems are quite prevalent, and understandably so – washing clothes by hand can seem outdated in an era of high-tech washing machines.
What’s more, anyone who has actually tried to wash clothes by hand can tell you that it’s a longer and more exhausting and tedious process than you might imagine. That said, if you are going camping or are planning on living without electricity for a bit, you are going to need to embrace low-tech alternatives out there such as the Laundry Alternative Wonderwash.
While the other units here are powered by electricity, this portable washer is operated via hand crank. Simply load your laundry into the tank, and get cranking!
One interesting positive of this lower-tech alternative is the fact that, because it is hand-powered and so it is not as forceful as some other options on this list, this offering from Laundry Alternative can actually be a better choice for those with delicate clothing like cashmere or silk. The motion produced by you turning the hand crank is much gentler and more forgiving for such delicate fabrics than some of these electrically-powered units with their portable power wash options.
The capacity of this unit is on the smaller side, as it can only really fit as many as 10 shirts at a time. At 5 lbs, it is one of the smallest and most lightweight options on our list at 6 lbs.
That said, if you are going camping or plan to be without electricity and are looking for a portable washer that suits those off-the-grid needs, this can be a good travel option to consider.
Portable Washer – Buyer’s Guide
As you can tell from those choices, there is a surprising amount of variety from which to choose when considering different portable washers. On the one hand, more choice is always a good thing, and it is truly amazing how far the industry has come in the past few years. On the other hand, if you have never shopped for a portable washer before, you might find all of those alternatives a bit baffling.
With that in mind, let’s break down some of the most important selling points for different portable washers and help you determine which ones are right for you.
First and foremost, you are going to need to make a determination about size. As stated in the product reviews, while we tend to think bigger is better with many things, the reverse is quite often true when it comes to portable washers. That said, it isn’t as easy as simply choosing the smallest portable washer you can get your hands on. After all, while you want a washer that is good and portable, you also need to make sure it is actually powerful enough to get the job done.
With the exception of hand crank or foot pedal-powered portable washers, all modern units make use of electricity in battery form, and that is going to take up some space.
Power Vs. Size
You, therefore, need to strike a balance between size and power. As a general rule, as is the case with so many appliances, the bigger the unit, the more likely it is to veer towards the more powerful side of the spectrum, while lightness and compactness tends to favor portability. Inasmuch as you need your portable washer to be an effective washer, you are likely to be tempted to move toward the power end of the spectrum, and insofar as you need it to be portable, you are more likely to opt for a more travel-friendly size and design.
All of the options on our list do a good job of striking that balance. Some, like hand-powered Alternative Laundry model as well as the KUPPET, do so by embracing a travel-friendly size and giving up a bit of power. Others, like the Panda, take the alternative route, being a tiny bit larger but packing more of a punch in return. The COSTWAY actually does a surprisingly good job of walking that tightrope, offering a fair amount of power for such a little unit.
That said, it also has a smaller capacity, which is another aspect you’ll want to consider when purchasing. You know how much laundry you can expect to need to have done on your next trip. As such, you’ll need to decide how much storage capacity means to you. If you favor greater capacity, then units like those offered by Panda or the Giantex are likely to be more up your alley.
Electrical Power and Hand Operation
Finally, you’ll need to come to a decision about how advanced of a portable washer you want and need. Here, the Alternative Laundry model and the Panda clearly stand at opposite ends of the spectrum. The former takes a low-fi approach, eschewing electrical power in favor of hand operation in an extremely streamlined, basic unit. The latter offers as many bells and whistles as you could want in a modern portable washer, making it the most advanced option on this list.
If you are looking for something that is truly low-fi and camping-friendly, chances are you’ll want to go with something closer to the Alternative Laundry model. The fact that it is powered by hand crank rather than by being plugged in makes it ideal for use in the Great Outdoors. After all, Mother Nature may provide quite a bit, but she doesn’t tend to provide power outlets on the side of every sycamore tree, does she? Even if you’re the type of camper who doesn’t feel the need to “rough it” quite so much and is happy to bring along an electric generator, it is always good to bring an electricity-free backup, and hand-powered portable washers like these are a great choice in that regard.
On the other hand, if you are indeed traveling for business or pleasure as a businessperson, or are staying in a hotel room, chances are you won’t want to waste your time with a hand crank. What’s more, while the physical effort put into turning a crank may fit in with the rigors of camping life, it’s bound to lose some of that charm when you’re staying in a nice hotel (especially if you start to get a hand cramp). By contrast, the faster, more powerful, and all-around more convenient high-tech options offered by models like the Panda make for a more “luxurious” portable washer experience.
Ultimately, both methods have their virtues. Just as every trip is different, so too are your travel needs bound to be different from those of someone else. You’ll, therefore, want to review the upsides of these different units as well as the general guidelines which govern their operation, size, capacity, and other features and determine which one is right for you.
Whatever your choice, however, a portable washer can be a real game-changer and help you clean clothes a smarter, faster way for your next trip.