Pack lighter and save money with these convenient on-the-road laundry solutions.

By Adria Greenhauff
March 07, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement
Courtesy of Wayfair/Walmart

Any seasoned traveler will tell you that the secret to avoiding overpacking, especially on longer trips, is to wash clothes while you're on the road. A lighter suitcase means more flexibility and fewer baggage fees. 

But what do you do when hotel laundry service isn't an option and laundromats are few and far between?  This is where portable washing machines come into play. While often overlooked, these handy appliances give you a convenient and personal option when your laundry needs are minimal. Whether you’re RVing across the U.S., backpacking through Europe, or spending a couple of weeks on a boat, a portable washing machine will be a game-changer when it comes to keeping your clothes clean and your travels stress-free. 

Portable washers do the same job as their full-size counterparts except they don't rely on traditional plumbing to function. They typically have an open-ended hose you can use to manually drain, making them ideal for camping and boating. Some units even allow you to use a sink or bathtub as the washing basin — no draining necessary — which gives you even more flexibility to wash your clothes wherever and whenever you need.  

So how do you choose the best portable washing machine for you? First, consider your travels and ask yourself a few questions that’ll help narrow down your options: How long will you be gone? How much laundry will you be washing? Are you limited to a backpack or carry-on suitcase? Will you have access to electricity? 

Whatever your laundry needs may be, we found the best portable washing machines that’ll work in a variety of situations. All of our picks, listed below, have a few things in common: they're compact and easy-to-use, they come highly-recommended by thousands of customers, and they're energy-efficient, so you won’t waste a ton of water in an effort to get your clothes tidy. 

From manual to electric and dual tub to hand-held options, these are the 8 best portable washing machines customers can’t seem to get enough of. Read on to learn more about each. 

Most Popular: Giantex Full-Automatic Portable Washing Machine

Courtesy of Amazon

Touted for its slim design,10-pound load capacity, and eight water level options, this customer-loved unit from Giantex is a number one best-seller on Amazon. Customers love the easy-drain function and bonus “balance adjustment” feature that automatically shifts clothing for optimal weight distribution inside the machine. The result is clothes that are efficiently washed, every time. The compact-yet-powerful electric washing machine can be plugged into any electrical outlet before use and also has a sleek digital display, a built-in filter that captures and collects any debris from your clothes while washing, and 10 programs — including an air-dry feature — to choose from, resulting in a seamless user experience. One of the nearly 500 satisfied reviewers wrote, “Loving this little machine, it's the perfect addition to our RV! Everything has come out clean and smelling fresh.”

To buy: amazon.com, $280

Best for Quiet Operation: The Laundry Alternative Silk Lux Portable Washer

Courtesy of Wayfair

With its sleek shape and beautiful color lid, this washer is as functional as it is stylish, according to shoppers. It easily hooks up to any sink and has a 7.7-pound capacity, so you can wash a medium-sized load without compromising too much space in your camper or RV. Plus, it operates quietly and has a bonus UV light for extra cleansing in each wash cycle. The no-frills machine is easy to operate — simply choose from three wash cycles and three water levels —  but customers say it does the job well and saves them expensive trips to the laundromat. One reviewer said: “This washer is a tremendous help where my place has no washer upstairs. It’s compact, quiet, and fits perfectly in the bathroom. The connector to the sink made it so easy to connect. The clothes came out clean and fresh. I like it a lot.”

To buy: amazon.com, $235

Most Eco-Friendly: The Laundry Pod Portable Washer

Courtesy of Wayfair

The best eco-friendly option, this portable washer uses 90% less water than a typical washing machine and is completely electricity-free. Compact and portable, it’s perfect for washing small, hand-washable loads of up to 10 items with a simple crank of a handle. It also works as a spin dryer, removing 90% of the water from washing and leaving clothes to  air dry. One happy customer said, “My clothes always come out clean, and it fits a lot more than you’d expect. I’m planning on buying an RV next year, and I’m excited to take this with me for a road trip.”

To buy: wayfair.com, $70 (originally $100)

Most Compact: Costway Portable Mini Washing Machine

Courtesy of Walmart

Fans of twin tub washing machines will love this model by Costway. Weighing just 15 pounds, this super compact and lightweight washer can easily be moved around your RV, campsite, or boat without taking up a lot of space. It’s even small enough to tuck away into a closet or pantry when not in use. Customers love how affordable and easy-to-use the space-saving tool is, and also tout its eco-friendly design, which uses less water and detergent for added cost-savings. One reviewer said they “love that it doesn’t take up any space.”

To buy: walmart.com, $100 (originally $130)

Best for Large Loads: Panda Compact Washer

Courtesy of Amazon

If you’re in the market for a more sustainable long-term option that can handle large loads — and are willing to pay a bit more for extra features — the Panda Compact Washer has all the bells and whistles to make your laundry experience totally seamless. Its larger size allows you to fit up to 11 pounds of clothes, while six washing programs provide flexible options for normal, quick, delicate, or bulky loads. It even features an extra rinse function for the heavier loads. And though this pick is roomier than others, it’s still portable, with many reviewers calling it a great option for use in mobile homes and apartments. 

To buy: amazon.com, $299

Most Customizable: Homelabs Portable Washing Machine 

Courtesy of Amazon

The Homelabs Portable Washing Machine is a favorite among Amazon shoppers, and it’s easy to see why. This super customizable machine offers fully-automated washing, rinsing, and spinning cycles accessible via a user-friendly digital display panel. You can choose between five different wash programs and three load sizes, and it allows you to customize the cycle even further by selecting the wash time, rinse time, and spin time. What’s more, its durable, rust-resistant stainless steel drum can hold up to 6 pounds of clothes, including your most delicate fabrics like silk and wool. To use, simply hook up to your sink’s faucet. One happy customer said: “Thank you for this tiny, mighty washer!” Another called it a “convenient and well-made washer” and said it has “excellent quality for the price and is super easy to set up and use.”

To buy: amazon.com, $240

  Best Manual Option: Lavario Non-Electric Clothes Washer

Courtesy of Amazon

Praised for its portability and effectiveness, Lavario is one of the sturdiest portable hand-washing machines out there, according to Amazon reviewers. Lightweight and easy to use, the manual washer cleans clothes in less than 20 minutes and can handle everything from dog bedding and towels to jeans and sweatshirts. What’s more, it uses absolutely no electricity and requires barely any setup, so it can truly be used anywhere. Shoppers rave over how well it works, with many calling out how convenient it is for RVs, campsites, or anywhere else where electricity isn’t available.  One shopper said it’s “easy to use and cleans clothes very well” while another said it gives you “ cleanliness, effectiveness, ease, convenience, and control.” 

To buy: amazon.com, $130

Most Affordable: Wonderwash Portable Washer

Courtesy of Wayfair

This adorable hand-operated washing machine gets our vote on looks alone. Available in a range of pastel colors, it’s reminiscent of a vintage homemade appliance and is the most affordable option at just under $50. But don’t be fooled: This little tool does more than just look pretty. It’s fully portable — there’s no setup or electricity required — and can wash clothes as quickly as two minutes. What’s more, since the budget-friendly appliance is completely hand-operated, it’s more economical and ideal for gently cleaning delicate threads. One reviewer said, “Definitely comes in handy when you feel like putting off a trip to the laundromat, or plan a hippy road trip with no set time frame. Highly recommend!”

To buy: wayfair.com, $49 (originally $55)

Love a great deal? Sign up for our T+L Recommends newsletter and we’ll send you our favorite travel products each week.