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These highly rated portable washing machines are all under $500

Portable washing machines are a great choice for those who want to save money and space.
Designed especially for small spaces, a portable washing machine can clean dirty clothes without taking up too much room.
Designed especially for small spaces, a portable washing machine can clean dirty clothes without taking up too much room.Amazon

If you’re short on space in a small apartment or your first starter home, a portable washing machine can be a great alternative to lugging your laundry elsewhere. Plus, it can save you money.

While full-sized washers from Samsung and Whirlpool start at around $600, many portable washing machines cost less than $500 and still offer the essential wash, rinse and spin cycles to routinely clean your clothes. You can also take a portable washing machine with you when traveling, especially if you have an RV, says Scott Mooers, sales consultant at Doyon’s Appliance in Bedford, Massachusetts. “Portable washing machines require 120 volts, which align with an RV’s electrical system,” he says.

Still, it’s important to remember that these machines tend to fit only a few pounds of clothing at a time. Portable washing machines provide 3.5 cubic feet of space or less compared to the average 5.4 cubic feet of full-sized models, so larger loads with heavy or bulky items (such as shoes or a large comforter) might have to be done elsewhere, says Shirley Hood, an appliance expert from retailer Abt.

SKIP AHEAD The best portable washing machines | How to shop for portable washing machines | How portable washing machines work

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The best portable washing machines

Finding the right portable washing machine for your needs can be daunting, says Mooers, as they range in capacity, shape, weight, size and number of cycles. Some models offer dual tubs for separate washing and spinning, and some even come with a dryer attached.

To help guide you, we compiled the most affordable and highly rated portable washing machines from retailers like Amazon, Home Depot and Walmart. All are energy efficient, compact and can wash between 6 and 26 pounds of laundry at one time. Plus, they all come with a one-year warranty.

Comfee Washing Machine

This portable washing machine has six wash programs — Normal, Quick, Heavy, Bulky, Delicate and Spin Only — as well as three different water temperature settings. Its “delayed start” function allows you to schedule wash cycles, and its stainless-steel inner tub can wash up to 15 pounds of clothing at once. When your load is done, its wheels and handles make the machine easy to transport. The Comfee also comes with a child lock and has an average 4.4-star rating from 7,191 reviews on Amazon.

Weight: 79.4 lbs | Capacity: 151 lbs | Warranty: 1 year limited

Black+Decker Portable Washer

This portable washer from Black+Decker has a transparent top, six-foot power cord and LED display with five cycle programs — Heavy, Gentle, Normal, Rapid and Soak — along with three water-level options for different-sized loads: high, medium and low. It’s designed to wash up to 6.6 pounds of laundry at once and also offers a delayed-start function. As a safety component, this washer automatically shuts off whenever you open the lid. It also has an average 4.4-star rating from 3,911 reviews on Amazon.

Weight: 48.4 lbs | Capacity: 6.6 lbs | Warranty: 1 year parts and labor

Magic Chef Topload Compact Washer

The Magic Chef compact washer has an LED display and transparent window if you want to see your clothes being washed. To customize your cycle, choose between three water levels, three temperature settings and six wash programs. There are wheels on the bottom so you can easily move it around, too. Inside the washer is a stainless-steel tub and detergent dispenser, and you’ll also find a built-in filter for catching things like coins left behind in clothes. This washer has an average 4.5-star rating from 1,043 reviews at The Home Depot.

Weight: 72.8 lbs | Capacity: 13 lbs | Warranty: 1 year parts and labor

Grinchat Portable Washing Machine

Grinchat's portable washing machine is an Amazon bestseller, thanks to the foldable design that makes storage and traveling with it a breeze. The lightweight, food-grade silicone material can house an impressive amount of clothes — up to 11 liters — and comes with a semi-automatic cleaning function. Plus, shoppers can choose from three beautiful pastel shades to match their home decor. Keep in mind, though, that this isn't recommended for larger clothes, and comes without a dehydration basket.

Weight: 3.5 lbs | Capacity: 24 lbs | Warranty: 1 year

Giantex Portable Mini Compact Twin Tub Washing Machine

At just 28 pounds, this twin tub portable washing machine is easy to move around or take with you in an RV. It has separate timers for the wash and spin cycles and you can set it to your desired minutes. One caveat, though, is that you have to keep an eye on the washer because it does not stop filling with water by itself. This Giantex portable washing machine has an 4.2-star average rating from 14,217 reviews on Amazon.

Weight: 28 lbs | Capacity: 17.6 lbs (Washer 11 lbs; Spinner 6.6 lbs) | Warranty: 1 year parts and labor

How to shop for portable washing machines

Here are some things to consider when shopping for a portable washing machine:

  • Energy efficiency: According to Mooers, portable washing machines don’t generally qualify for an Energy Star rebate, but most are extremely energy efficient. “Most of the portables — based on six loads per week at 12 cents per kilowatt and at $1.09 per therm on natural gas — run an average cost between $8 and $25 per year,” he says.
  • Weight: Portable washers generally range in weight from 25 to 100 pounds, says Mooers. Weight is an important factor to consider if you are planning to store it away between uses or take it with you on camping trips.
  • Capacity: Portable washers range in capacity from 0.84 cu ft. to 3.0 cu ft., says Mooers, who adds that units with a 1-cu-ft capacity equates to about eight pounds of laundry. As for water, he says that these units generally use anywhere from six gallons to 28 gallons per cycle, depending on the options chosen.
  • Cycle options: While some portable washers provide up to 10 cycles, all of them include a Normal, Heavy and Gentle wash cycle and have three temperatures: hot, warm and cold.
  • Spin speed: Spin speeds start at 600 RPM and max out at 1,000 RPM, which allows for both gentle and heavier washes, says Mooers. “Higher spin speeds are good for blankets and towels, but more delicate items need a lower speed,” he says.
  • Noise level: Most washers don’t have a decibel rating to distinguish the sound level, says Mooers. To help moderate the noise, he suggests making sure the connections are tight, leveling the washer so it doesn’t rock, and checking that clothes are evenly distributed when loading.
  • Faucet adapter: Most come with a quick-connect sink adapter. Check to make sure one is included.
  • Warranty: A quality washer should come with a one-year parts and labor warranty.

How portable washing machines work

“Most [portable washing machines] operate like your normal full-sized washing machine but are suited for those on the move or anyone who lives in a smaller space,” says Jay Ahmed, laundry merchant director at The Home Depot. Portable washing machines have wash, rinse and spin cycles just like a regular machine but the difference is that the former can be stored away when not in use, says Ahmed.

A portable washing machine connects to your sink’s faucet. Just unscrew the faucet’s aerator (the small end piece of the faucet) and insert the machine’s adapter in its place. Then connect the input hose, which flows water to the machine. Add your clothes and detergent before plugging it in. Once all of that is done, you can hit the start button.

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