When it comes to saving space, the best portable washers are a great solution. Smaller than your typical washing machine, these appliances still help you whizz through your laundry pile with ease. Compact models such as GE, Insignia, or Magic Chef portable washers, have most of the bells and whistles you’d expect from one of the best top load washers (opens in new tab), such as quick spin speeds and multiple washing modes. The difference is, you can expect portable washing machines to have extra handy design features such as built-in wheels, making it simpler to slide the appliance away when you’re not using it.
While they’re more compact, the best portable washers come in all different sizes and the models we’ve included have capacities from 1.6 to 2.8 cubic feet. So before you buy, assess how much laundry you typically burn through and the number of people living in your home. Depending on the size you go for, it’s possible to get a reliable portable washer for around $200, making them far more affordable than one of the best front load washers (opens in new tab). Still, despite being quite budget-friendly, models such as the Magic Chef portable washer still have six or more cycles to deal with everything from blankets to delicate items.
Whether it’s the Magic Chef washer or another brand that you decide on, as well as a variety of cycles, fast spin speeds are another feature to watch out for. This is especially important if you’re tight on space, as you’ll want to dodge extra soggy clothes that will clog up your space while drying out.
For other laundry day alternatives, check out our guide to the best washer dryer combos (opens in new tab).
1. Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4: Best portable washer overall
The Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4 is one of the best portable washing machines you can buy. Firstly, it's extremely energy efficient, using just 63 kilowatt hours in an average year. That beats all the other portable washing machines we looked at by a considerable margin. Its initial price is also well below average, at less than $300, and it only costs around $8 a year to run.
It's also very good at cleaning your clothes. The Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4 has six wash cycle options, including delicate and heavy loads, though some competitors offer as many as 11. You can delay your start and add an extra rinse to the end of whichever cycle you choose as well. We particularly like the very fast spin speed (800RPM), which means your clothing will come out drier and take less time to dry fully.
Bear in mind that there isn’t a specific fabric softener dispenser, so you'll have to manage that yourself. At 1.6 cu.ft, it may be a little too compact for large families too. However, if you're looking for an all-round excellent portable washing machine, the Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4 is a very good choice.
- Read our Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4 portable washer review (opens in new tab)
2. GE GNW128PSMWW: Best portable washer for large loads
The GE GNW128PSMWW is a nice option for anyone who needs a compact and portable washing machine but still need to be able to tackle normal-sized loads. It offers a 2.8-cubic-foot capacity, which is much larger than most of the machines in our comparison, but it’s still considered a small machine next to conventional washers. We like that you can fit laundry for more than one person at a time. It is markedly heavier than the other ones we looked at, but that comes with the territory of more capacity, and the wheels still make it pretty portable.
The GNW128PSMWW isn't terribly efficient, which is hardly shocking considering its relative bulkiness. It costs about $17 per year to run. That’s more than any other portable washing machine we compared. However, it does come with a fourth water temperature – hot, warm, cool and cold – which means you can control energy use to some extent. The GNW128PSMWW also boasts a relatively fast spin speed. It's the most expensive option in our list of the best portable washing machines, but if you need a larger capacity it's worth a look.
- Read our GE GNW128PSMWW portable washer review (opens in new tab)
3. Insignia NS-TWM16WH9: Best value portable washer
What makes the Insignia NS-TWM16WH9 stand out is its affordability when compared to some of the top rated portable washers. This mid-size washer also has an average warranty, average energy cost, and average capacity. That being said, it is super reliable, and users love that it has an LED control panel with extra rinse and spin settings, as well as cycles for Quick Wash, Delicate, Normal, Heavy Duty, and Bulky Items.
The Insignia NS-TWM16WH9 has two inlets, so you can attach to both your cold and hot faucet and customize the temperature of your wash. With a 1.6 cubic foot capacity, it will struggle with king size comforters or large loads of clothing and bedding, but for smaller households (or those who won’t mind doing more weekly washes) this is an excellent, low-cost choice.
- Read our Insignia NS-TWM16WH9 portable washer review (opens in new tab)
4. Whirlpool WTW2000HW: Best portable washer for bespoke cycles
The Whirlpool WTW2000HW is a great choice for people who want a more bespoke laundry experience, as it offers five different cycles, five different temperatures, and even the ability to add minutes to, or subtract them from, your wash. An 850RPM maximum spin speed and separate compartments for fabric softener, detergent and bleach only add to the quality of the performance.
In addition to this, this portable washer comes with neat features such as child safety locks, an EasyView glass lid for monitoring your cycles, and a Clean Washer Cycle for keeping the wash basket in shiny shape. Handily, you can also choose between using it 'ad hoc' or plumbing it in properly for a permanent arrangement.
While the spec sheet is solid in every area, none of the WTW2000HW's qualities are quite best-in-class – so you might sniff at the asking price of $949 (MSRP).
This machine is also not Energy Star rated, so if you're keen to keep your laundry eco-friendly, you may want to look for one that is.
Read our Whirlpool WTW2000HW review
4. Danby DWM030WDB: Best mini portable washer
Portable washers are compact by nature, but the Danby DWM030WDB is the smallest in our lineup. It has a 0.9 cubic foot capacity, which will probably be too small for families. It also only has one inlet, so you get no temperature control with this washer. That won’t stop it from doing its job, but it’s worth taking into account when buying.
Users report that the Danby DWM030WDB is super quiet when running, which is ideal for those living in apartments. It also has five settings including Rapid Wash and Heavy Load. In terms of annual energy use, this washer comes in at only $3. That is incredibly inexpensive when you think about how much you’re used to spending at the laundromat.
- Read our Danby DWM030WDB portable washer review (opens in new tab)
5. COMFEE' CLV09N1AMG: Best portable washer for people with reduced mobility
If the Danby's smaller dimensions and capacity suit your needs but you want something to compare that machine with, how about this mini washer from China. In terms of size, the COMFEE' CLV09N1AMG is identical to that Canada-made model, but it's even lighter at 44.1lb, making it an ideal choice for people with reduced mobility.
As with the Danby model, small certainly doesn't mean inferior, and the CLV09N1AMG comes with an impressive spec sheet that includes five preset wash cycles, a bunch of customization options and an 850RPM maximum spin speed that's up there with the best (though not quite as fast as the Danby's).
In terms of energy efficiency, this miniature dynamo uses just 23 kWh – again, the same as the Danby. That means you can get a whole year's worth of laundry done for a paltry $3.
Before you get too excited, though, you should know that buying this machine on Amazon will incur hefty delivery and import costs. For that reason, we might be more inclined to go for the Danby – though it is slightly heavier.
6. Costway EP24403 portable washing machine
The Costway EP24403 portable washing machine is a modestly sized and lightweight machine that is light on its use of both electricity and water.
It will take a small sized load, suitable for a single person or small families and it is easy to set up and run with clear controls and it has a pretty good spin speed. It’s ideal for those who live in very small homes, especially for trailers and RVs or even college dorms. It does not need to be plumbed in permanently and can be pulled in and out when needed.
The drum does not have a large capacity and it can vibrate if not placed on a good, flat surface though you can adjust the individual feet to set it straight. It has a good range of wash cycles – more then you will need - and a handy lint trap though there is no soap dispenser.
Buyers of the Costway EP24403 say that they are surprised at how well the machine washes despite its small size and low price point. They like the spin speed being efficient enough to get the clothes pretty dry, meaning less time and money spent on drying and they are also happy that the machine is small and light enough to be easily moved. Many said that the supplied hoses were too short, leading to several adding extensions or replacing the hoses and people liked the fact that the machine uses small amounts of both power and water.
How do portable washers work?
Portable washers work by connecting a hose to your sink tap and plugging in the machine at an electric socket. Once you turn your tap on, the washer will fill with water. You'll need to place the outlet hose in your sink so that the waste water can drain away. It’s important to make sure the hose is securely attached so that water doesn’t leak.
Portable washers are compact which means you have to put the detergent in with your clothes, rather than in a drawer or dispenser. Once you’ve added your detergent and clothing, the machine will get to work cleaning by using an agitator to force water in different directions around your clothes. An Agitator is a moving column in the machine and it will also rub against your clothes to get them clean. Most portable washers have a spin function that will rid your clothes of excess water. After this stage, you can switch to the draining setting so that the water empties out into your sink or bathtub.
Are portable washers worth it?
Portable washers are a great solution if you don’t have enough room for a standard-size washer, and you’re tired of taking trips to the laundromat. What’s more, portable washing machines are very efficient and can cost as little as $5 in energy costs per year.
Most portable washers are fitted with wheels so that you can put them away when you’re not using them. As you might expect, portable washers have smaller capacities than a normal washing machine, and that means that you’ll only be able to do small loads at once.
How to choose the best portable washing machine
Not sure where to start? Here are the main features you need to look at before buying a portable washing machine.
These machines are meant for use in small living quarters, so they’re designed to do quite a bit of work without having a big footprint. It’s important to get the dimensions for the machine you are considering, since you’ll need storage space, easy maneuverability to a sink and enough room to position hoses.
If you are in the market for a portable washing machine you are likely concerned with both size and price. These machines are generally priced below what larger, non-portable units cost. The best sellers on sites like Home Depot and Lowe's cost an average of about $450, while the best-reviewed units in this category average about $350. You can generally buy a great portable washing machine for less than $500.
You can save a considerable amount of money if you buy a well-designed machine that is energy efficient. Models we examined ranged from costing approximately $12 a year up to $17.
The greater the number of cycle and water settings, the better. Having more choices means you can extend the life of your clothes by washing them with the correct amount of force to really clean them but not wear out fabrics.
Certain features, such as having handles on each side and rolling wheels on the bottom, can make a huge difference when it comes to actually using your portable washer. A noise reduction plate can also go a long way toward making apartment or condo living more enjoyable while you get the laundry done.
How Much Do Portable Washing Machines Cost?
The average cost of the washing machines we evaluated was $423. We found full-size washers available for around $500, so if you’re willing to spend a little more and space isn’t an issue, we recommend shopping around for a full-size option. On the other hand, if you don’t have much room, these washers work really well.