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Best portable washers 2020: Mini washing machines from Magic Chef, GE, and more

Best portable washers 2020: Mini washing machines from Magic Chef, GE, and more
(Image credit: Getty)

The best portable washers mean you can have the convenience of washing your clothes even in tiny apartments or RVs. 

These mini washing machines will allow you to say goodbye to the laundromat and instead have an energy-efficient way of cleaning your clothes at home. The best portable washers can be stored in cupboards or closets because they’re so compact and they work by hooking up to one of your faucets and letting the drainage hose empty out the water into a nearby sink. 

Because portable washing machines are smaller, you can expect a smaller price too with the mini washing machines in this guide starting at just over $200. As well as a reasonable purchase cost, portable washing machines are cheap to run. Estimated annual running costs are just $3 for portable washers - a bargain! For more bargains, check out our guide to this year's Black Friday washing machine deals

If you’re in the market for a portable washer, it’s like you need something compact, but it’s worth bearing in mind that as these machines are small, so is the capacity they offer. In our guide, the average capacity is 1.6 cubic feet, so it’s not going to be able to take on huge comforters and big loads of washing. We have, however, got the GE GNW128PSMWW Portable Washer which offers 2.8 cubic feet in capacity - that’s over half the size some of the best front load washers offer. 

The best portable washers are, as the name suggests, pretty portable. Some of these mini washing machines come with castors so that you can easily glide them to where you want them, but you can also buy an appliance dolly to move your portable washer if not. This makes portable washers great for RVs or tiny apartments where you’ll need to move the washing machine after using it. 

Finally, make sure you’re getting the best portable washer for the money with a good look over how many different cycles you can expect from each machine. You’ll be amazed quite how much these little machines can do. 

Read our portable washer reviews and find out more below, or find handy hacks in our how to clean your washing machine feature.  


1. Magic Chef MCSTCW16W4: Best portable washer overall

Best portable washing machines 2020

(Image credit: Amazon)

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

(Image credit: Lowe's)

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
Expensive

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 we reviewed 

During our research on portable washing machines, we read blogs and various articles, compared competing machines to see which had the most useful features and eliminated machines that required manual work, such as hand cranking or foot pumping. Instead, we opted for electric-only models, since these seemed to be the most popular and preferred models on the market.

We also watched user videos to see how real people coped with these devices, and we paid special attention to how they appeared to feel about the machines and what they said, especially regarding the effort they had to put into getting their machine ready, using it and putting it away.

We spent 60 hours researching portable washing machines, carefully evaluating each model to find the best options. We wanted to find excellent, compact portable washing machines and looked for a range of capabilities, sizes and prices.

We examined the dimensions, ease of use and performance. We found general information about portable washing machines on the internet and on manufacturers’ websites. After that, we looked for specific information about particular models that looked appealing, paying close attention to consumer reviews, blogs and the level of satisfaction – or disappointment – expressed by people who had actually used the machines. In addition, we examined a range of prices so that you could have a large array of options.

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.

Size
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.

Pricing
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. 

Design
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.