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Best portable washers 2021

Best portable washers 2021
(Image credit: Getty)

The best portable washers provide a perfect solution if you can’t fit in a standard-sized washer, or need something to use on the go. These handy machines are fitted with wheels so that you can simply slide them away when you’re not using them. In this guide, we’ve ranked top-rated options such as the Magic Chef portable washer and options from GE and Insignia so that you can find the right option for you. 

While one of the best front load washers will give you a large capacity, reliable portable washing machines are a lot more affordable and you can pick one up for around $200. The capacity of these machines ranges from 1.6 to 2.8 cubic feet, which makes them a good choice for single people or small households. 

What makes the best portable washers stand out from the rest? Just because these appliances are more compact, doesn’t mean you should scrimp on handy features, and the top portable washing machines will have multiple different wash cycles for you to choose from. Take note of the spin speed each machine offers because if you’re limited on drying space, you’ll want a washer that can spin excess water out of your clothes at high speeds. 

Even though these portable machines aren’t as pricey as one of the best top load washers, it’s still a good idea to see how long the warranty lasts on each appliance - that way you know your purchase is covered. If you need something that will take care of the entire laundry cycle, don’t miss our guide to the best washer and dryer combos, or keep reading to find the best portable washing machine for you. 

1. Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4: Best portable washer overall

Best portable washing machines 2020

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Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4 Portable Washer

The best portable washing machine overall

Capacity: 1.6 cu.ft | Wash cycles: 6 | Max spin: 800RPM | Energy consumption: 63 kWh/year | Roller: Yes | Dimensions: 36.6(h) x 20.3(w) x 20.7(d) inches | Weight: 70.5lb | Warranty: 1 year parts and labor

Energy efficient
Fast spin speeds and dry times
Cheap to buy and run
May be too compact for families

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. 

2. GE GNW128PSMWW: Best portable washer for large loads

GE GNW128PSMWW: Best portable washer for large loads

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GE GNW128PSMWW Portable Washer

The best portable washing machine for families

Capacity: 2.8 cu.ft | Wash cycles: 8 | Max spin: 750RPM | Energy consumption: 136 kWh/year | Rollers: Yes | Dimensions: 37.4(h) x 24(w) x 24.5(d) inches | Weight: 99lb | Warranty: 1 year entire appliance

Fourth water temperature option
Fast spin speed
Heavy and not very efficient

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. 

3. Insignia NS-TWM16WH9: Best value portable washer

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Insignia NS-TWM16WH9

A great value portable washer

Capacity: 1.6 cu.ft | Wash cycles: 5 | Max spin: 850RPM | Energy consumption: 63 kWh/year | Rollers: Yes | Dimensions: 36.4(h) x 20.4(w) x 20.7(d) inches | Weight: 70lb | Warranty: 1 year parts and labor

Wide variety of settings
Three temperature and load size settings
Comes on casters
Short intake and drain hose

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. 

4. Danby DWM030WDB: Best mini portable washer 

Danby DWM030WDB: Best mini portable washer

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Danby DWM030WDB Portable Washer

A fantastic portable washing machine for those in apartments

Capacity: 0.9 cu.ft | Wash cycles: 5 | Max spin: 900RPM | Energy consumption: 23 kWh/year | Rollers: Yes | Dimensions: 31.5(h) x 18.1(w) x 17.7(d) inches | Weight: 55.1lb | Warranty: 1 year

Super inexpensive
Really low running cost
Quiet and lightweight
Cold water only

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. 

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.

Energy Use
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.

Cycle Settings
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.

Millie Fender

Millie is a former writer for Top Ten Reviews who now works across Future's Home portfolio. Her spare time is spent traveling, cooking, playing guitar and she's currently learning how to knit. Millie loves tracking down a good deal and keeping up-to-date on the newest technology and kitchen appliances.