The 9 Best Portable Washing Machines for Tiny Apartments, College Dorms & Even Camping Trips

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Maybe you’re tired of dragging your laundry four blocks to the nearest laundromat every two weeks. Maybe you took a trip to the laundry room in your daughter’s dorm building and now you can’t stop thinking about that funky odor coming from the washers. Maybe you’re looking to upgrade your RV before a cross-country road trip. Whatever your reason for wanting to find the best portable washing machine, we’ve got you covered.

The benefit of a portable washing machine is that it can be wheeled on over to a kitchen or bathroom sink (or other water source) when you need to run a load, then moved back out of sight once you’re finished. And while they don’t usually have the capacity to fit quite as many dirty towels or stained sweatshirts as your typical washing machine, they are often more eco-friendly and require less detergent. In fact, they actually work best with high-efficiency, or HE, low-sudsing detergents like Tide HE Turbo Clean Liquid Laundry Detergent ($12).

We read through hundreds of reviews to track down which portable washing machines are worth the investment—especially if you have specific requirements for your portable washer. So, without further ado, here are our top picks.

1. giantex Portable Mini Compact Twin Tub Washing Machine

Best-Rated at Amazon

This washer-dryer combo has over 5,500 reviews on Amazon, nearly 4,000 of which award this powerful little machine with five stars. The reviews are also riddled with hacks, tips and tricks to make the Giantex Twin Tub Washing Machine work for just about any space. In fact, many suggest skipping the instruction manual it comes with (it’s apparently not particularly legible) and using in-depth reviews and videos instead to get a better idea of how to wash and dry properly. Its recommended limit is 11 pounds of clothing—about three shirts and two pairs of jeans or one set of sheets and a few pillowcases—for the wash basin and 6.6 for the spin dryer, or half the wash load. You can fill the wash tub either with a bucket or by connecting a tube to your faucet and leading it into the basin. As for removing the dirty water, the Giantex comes with a drainage tube that ushers the water to the drain of your sink or tub, or outdoors if possible.

2. magic Chef Compact 1.6 Cu Ft. Portable Top-load Washing Machine

Best-Rated at Home Depot

An impressive 72 percent of the 740 reviews on this Magic Chef model give it a full five stars, with just 11 percent giving it three stars or fewer. It comes with six wash settings to give you better control over the treatment of your delicates (which is double what most laundromat machines have to offer), and is pretty quiet for those concerned about noise. Per one review, “it’s compact in size but I can fit a good amount of clothes to wash in it. It is very quiet and doesn't vibrate on the spin cycle.” It looks like most folks who purchased the Magic Chef have it somewhat permanently installed somewhere in their apartment, RV or camper, which is likely a smart move given that it weighs about 80 pounds and doesn’t come with wheels (although the smaller Magic Chef model is much lighter and set on wheels). Similarly to the Giantex, this portable washing machine can be filled with either a bucket or the supplied hose, then drained using the hose once more to direct dirty water to a drain or let pour outdoors.

3. costway Mini Washing Machine With Spin Dryer

Best Affordable Option

This under $100 model is smaller than most of the other machines on this list (it can fit up to 5.5 pounds to wash and 1.1 pounds for the spin dry cycle), but for those with very limited space it’s still an effective and handy little washer. And what it lacks in capacity it more than makes up for in speed—wash cycles can run as quickly as 10 minutes. The draining tube comes already attached, meaning you’d need to invest in a separate hose for filling the basin if you want to go that route, but its compact size and the fact that it weighs just under 14 pounds when empty makes it just as easy to lift it up to fill in a sink or tub. Quite a few reviews mentioned how handy the Costway machine was for washing scrubs and other uniforms that they had to wear on a daily basis, as well as COVID-19 essential workers who wanted to wash their clothing right away without wasting water, electricity and time as you would waste going to the laundromat every evening. Per one review, “I completely recommend this awesome, inexpensive little workhorse of a washing machine if you need to wash [light items like] socks, undies, t shirts, workout clothes… etc., and you're cool with hanging your stuff to dry,” but larger items, like jeans, towels and comforters may still require a full-size machine.

4. ge 2.8 Cu Ft. Capactity Portable Washer With Stainless Steel Basket

Best High-End Option

This GE stainless steel washer is both larger and pricier than the others on this list but for those hoping to accommodate larger or heavier items, it may be worth the splurge. Multiple users also note the durability, with some having used theirs for years now and many mention replacing their traditional washing machine with GE’s space-saving design. “I needed a small washer to fit into a tight space,” reads one review. “I was apprehensive as there was no floor model to look at, but this washer does a great job. I can even fit a full-sized comforter in it!” And while there is a spin dry cycle, there’s also a compatible and stackable space-saving GE dryer, if you want more heat/drying power. If you do plan to utilize the portable nature of this machine, it comes with a unicoupler (aka a duel hose that both fills and drains the water while connected to one faucet) that can easily hook up to a faucet to easily fill and drain the washer in one go. (Psst, GE has a video that explains how to use the unicoupler and how the technology works.)

5. black + Decker Portable Laundry Washing Machine

Most Eco-Friendly Option

Almost all portable washing machines require less water and energy to run than a regular washer, which is great for the environment. But the main reason this number from Black + Decker is so eco-friendly is because it works solely with cold water. That said, it still manages to achieve a thorough clean and is effective even on thicker materials like denim or towels. “Works great and holds more than I thought it would,” says one satisfied shopper. “We've had it for over a month and have done four or more loads a week. The bottom is a little difficult to put on and took some time to figure out how it went, but other than that, it works perfectly!” The machine comes with a drain hose and sink adapter to make it easy to both fill the basin and clean out dirty water after the wash cycle is complete.

6. giantex Portable Compact Full-automatic Laundry Washing Machine

Best for Small Apartments

Users note the quiet nature of this Giantex option more often than any other portable washing machine listed here, making it ideal for those with overreactive neighbors and thin walls. Even when the spin cycle is running at full speed, there’s very little motion or noise to contend with. It can accommodate up to 10 pounds of laundry and washes and dries in a single tub, meaning it will take up less space than dual-tub options. Per one review, “The water pressure is awesome, it is extremely powerful yet it is very quiet at the same time. The spin dry is awesome as it gets about 95 percent of the water out of my clothes.” Water cycles into and out of the machine with the use of a single hose that hooks up to your faucet, however, multiple reviewers mention getting separate hoses or other adjustors to accommodate their specific sink setups, so it may be worth reading through additional comments if you’re having trouble making the hose work for your home.

7. kuppet Compact Twin Tub Portable Washing Machine

Highest-Capacity Budget Option

If the GE model was a bit too pricey for your taste but you’re hoping for something that can handle more than just a few leggings and dish towels, consider this from Kuppet. It can wash up to 18 pounds of laundry in one go (with the dryer topping out at 8 pounds) making it a great option for multi-person households. Said one mom of six, “If I'm on top of it and running both the washer and dryer at the same time, (using the sink as the hold for clothes to spin), I can do the equivalent of about four loads of a standard washer's clothing in a little over an hour.” Similarly to the Giantex Full-Automatic, this model comes with a single hose for filling with clean water and then for dumping out the dirty water after the wash cycle is complete.

yirego best portable washing machines

8. yirego Drumi Portable Washing Machine

Best Non-Electric Option

While there are plenty of hand-crank portable washing machine options, we prefer this funny little R2-D2-looking machine from Yirego because it’s foot-operated, meaning your hands are left free to text, scroll Instagram or tackle other tasks while you wash. It takes just about 10 minutes to wash a five-pound load of laundry and just a few minutes more to spin excess water from your clothes before you hang them to dry (all while getting in a mini leg workout). And while it’s certainly prettier than many other designs, its petite size also makes it easier to stow away than larger machines. “I only wish it was bigger, but it’s brilliant nonetheless,” raved one user. “It is a high-quality product that is still running perfectly after 3 years at weekly capacity.” You can use a bucket or hose (not included) to fill this handy little washer, then just lift and place into a large sink or bathtub to allow the dirty water to drain via a tube at the back.

Buy it ($389; $349)

9. scrubba Portable Wash Bag

Best for Camping and Travel

While the other washing machines on this list are technically portable in the sense that you can fairly easily move them from room to room, only the Scrubba wash bag can be easily stowed in a suitcase or backpacking pack for washing on the go. Like the Yirego, there is some manual labor involved in using the Scrubba, which has a textured washboard on the inside of the bag to help remove dirt and grime without agitating your hands. And while we suppose fans of handwashing at home could certainly get good use out of this portable wash bag, it’s really best for those on the go who would rather take the time to wash their clothes than over-stuff their pack with extra pieces.



Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...