How to Choose a Portable Washing Machine
The top performers in our review are the Haier HLP24E, the Gold Award winner; the Midea MAE50, the Silver Award winner; and the Magic Chef MCSTCW16W2, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a portable washing machine to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 portable washing machines.
One of the worst things about living in an apartment is having to drop quarters at the laundromat. Your visit to the laundromat can be a nice time to work, read or study, but having to lug around dirty clothes and fight over machines during busy hours can be a nightmare. Portable washing machines are small appliances that allow you to do a load of laundry at home, even if you don't have washer hookups installed at your place.
These machines are lightweight and easy to move, and you can store one in a closet, cabinet or corner of a room so it doesn't take up a ton of room in your house. A portable washing machine is the perfect option if you don't want to go to the laundromat anymore and don't have washer hookups in your apartment or house.
While you are looking for your next washer, make sure to check out our reviews and recommendations on the best clothes dryers. If you'd rather have a single appliance to wash and dry your clothes, take a look at our reviews of washer and dryer combos.
Is a Portable Washing Machine Right for You?
Portable washing machines are ideal appliances if you live in an apartment or small house and a full washer is not an option. These units are designed to move from a storage area, such as a closet, to a kitchen or bathroom where you can hook one up to a faucet and start washing clothes. However, a portable washing machine may not be the appliance you need, especially if you have the room for a large washer, or a large family that needs a lot of clothes washed at once.
Front load washing machines tend to use less water than any other washer design, because the drum is set horizontally in the machine and doesn't cover all of the clothes in water. Instead, the drum fills with less water, and as the drum spins, it pulls clothes out of the water and drops them back in, so every piece of clothing gets drenched without the machine using nearly as much water.
Because front loading machines don't use a central agitator to mix clothes in the washer, they tend to have more room for clothes. This allows you to wash larger loads at one time, which means fewer loads. Additionally, these machines spin at higher speeds, pulling more moisture out of your clothes before you throw them in the dryer, which means they spend less time in the dryer and you save energy there too.
Although front loading machines can save you in the long run through energy efficiency, they tend to carry a higher price tag, which may not be the best option for you. Top-load washing machines are your traditional-looking washers that typically use an agitator in the center of the drum to churn the water and force it through your laundry. Generally speaking, machines with agitators are less energy-efficient because they use more water and you can't fit as many clothes in the tub. However, many high-efficiency (HE) top-load models replace the agitator with a pulsator, which is a low-profile wash plate that sits at the bottom of the tub and spins back and forth. These HE models are very energy-efficient because they use less water and you can fit more clothes into them.
What Should You Look for in a Portable Washing Machine?
Although all washing machines have some principles and design elements in common, portable washing machines have unique features that separate them from other models. While you are looking for the best portable washing machine for your situation, keep the following in mind.
When you purchase any large appliance, energy efficiency and annual energy costs should play a role in your final decision. Although portable washing machines are not as energy-efficient as full-sized models, you can still save some money by finding a model that doesn't use as much as much energy. If you want to save money in the long run, look for a model that uses less energy.
Design & Portability
One of the first elements to consider when you look for a portable washing machine is its design and, of course, its portability. You don't want to have to lug an awkward, heavy machine around the house every time you need to do a load of laundry. Look for a unit that is lightweight, but also includes design elements that make moving it a painless process, such as casters that allow you to wheel it from room to room and cabinet handles that make it easy to carry. Also consider the dimensions of the washer, as you'll want to store it in a closet or cabinet when you're not using it.
Every portable washing machine we reviewed comes with a faucet adapter, which allows you to connect the washing machine to a kitchen or bathroom sink to run a load of laundry. This item is critical if your apartment or home doesn't have washer hookups. Before purchasing a portable washing machine, make sure to check your faucets to see if they have threading, which allows you to use the faucet adapter. Another element to consider when searching for a portable washer is a noise reduction design, which can be important if you live in a small space.
You'll want to consider the capacity of each portable washer to make sure you can fit a regular load of laundry inside of it. Portable washing machines are inherently smaller than full-sized washers, but if you tend to wash large loads of clothes, look for a machine with a high load capacity. Additionally, the faster a machine can spin your clothes during the cycle, the better. This removes excess moisture from your clothes, meaning it takes less time for them to dry.
Cycles & Wash Settings
Every washing machine has different wash and cycle settings that allow you to use the machine for different purposes. For example, every machine has a normal wash cycle, but not every machine has a delicate cycle that washes clothes more gently. Look for a machine that has numerous wash cycles and water level settings, as this gives you more versatility and more control as to how you wash your clothes.
Every washing machine we reviewed comes with a few additional features to make your life easier. For example, some models we reviewed come with an LED time-remaining indicator, which gives you an estimate of how much longer you have to wait before the cycle is over. Many portable washing machines also include a delay-start feature, so you can prepare the machine in the morning, set it to start in the afternoon while you're at school or work, and have it complete the cycle when you walk in the door in the evening.
Other features to look for include an end-of-cycle signal, which alerts you when the cycle is over so you don't forget your damp clothes in the washer, and dispensers that drop detergent, softener and sometimes bleach at the appropriate time of the wash cycle.
Help & Support
Every model we reviewed comes with a one-year labor and parts warranty, so you don't have to worry about finding the machine with the best warranty. Most companies offer an online user manual in case you misplace the hard copy that comes with the machine. Every company in this lineup has a FAQs page to answer some of the most common questions their customers ask, which can be useful if you run into issues and need quick answers.
What really differentiates companies in regards to help and support is how you can contact them if you run into any problems or have general questions. The best companies offer numerous means to contact them, including live chat, email and phone support. Look for a company that offers the level of contact you are most comfortable with, whether that's over the phone or through a computer.
Portable Washing Machines: Our Verdict & Recommendation
After evaluating a number of portable washing machines, we found that the Haier HLP24E, the Midea MAE50 and the Magic Chef MCSTCW16W2 are the best ones currently on the market. All three of these machines have solid yet portable designs to effectively wash your clothes and fit in a small kitchen or bathroom. They also have numerous cycle settings and convenience features to wash your clothes exactly the way you need and make laundry less of a hassle. Overall, these three portable washing machines combine great designs with numerous washing features to bring you reliable appliances that can fit in small spaces.