More time at home might mean more housework — including dirty dishes from lunch breaks and face masks that need to be washed after wearing, not to mention everyday laundry. While dressing down has become popular during the pandemic, your laundry could be accumulating alongside your workload, to-do lists and other household chores. If you’re in a smaller space where a standard washing machine won’t fit, going to the laundromat could be a hassle with a full hamper. A portable washing machine could be an option to avoid carrying weeks’ worth of laundry to and from a laundromat.
“Most operate like your normal full-sized washing machine, but are suited for those on the move or anyone who lives in a smaller space,” explained Jay Ahmed, the laundry merchant at The Home Depot. “It’s different from a standard washing machine in that the portable appliance can be stored away when not in use.”
While washing machines can be pricier — some models from Samsung and Whirlpool start at around $600 — portable washing machines are usually hundreds of dollars less (the No. 1 bestselling portable washing machine on Amazon right now is under $200). It’s important to remember that these machines tend to fit only a few pounds of clothing at a time. Larger loads — think queen-sized comforters — might have to be done elsewhere, added Ahmed.
To help guide your shopping, we compiled the most affordable (under $350) and highly rated portable washing machines from retailers like Amazon and Walmart.
Best portable washing machines of 2021
A portable washing machine can be plugged into an outlet and attached to a faucet with a short hose, so you can choose between a temporary or permanent set-up, according to Ahmed — you can also take a portable washing machine with you when traveling.
This washer features a transparent top, 6-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. The model also includes a built-in lint filter and sink adapter designed for easy setup with a faucet. As a safety feature, when you open the lid, this washer automatically shuts off. On Amazon, this portable washer boasts an average 4.5-star rating over more than 500 reviews.
Like the washer above, this Magic Chef compact washer features a see-through window and LED display. To control the cycle, you can choose between three water levels, three temperature settings and six wash programs. It includes rollers on the bottom for easy movement. Inside, the washer includes a stainless steel tub and detergent dispenser, and you’ll also find a built-in filter, which is supposed to catch things like coins left behind in clothes. You can choose between Dark Gray and White colors. This washer has earned an average 4.3-star rating over more than 900 reviews on Walmart and an average 4.6-star rating over more than 1,000 reviews at Home Depot.
Featuring a stainless steel tub, this machine can handle up to 6 pounds of clothes at once. The washer also includes two roller wheels in the back, adjustable legs and carry handles. On the LED display, you have the option of five programs — ranging from heavy to soak — three water levels and a lint filter as well. Plus, the machine has a quiet spin function. It has earned an average 4.5-star rating over more than 500 reviews.
While this Insignia portable washer does come with a faucet adapter and drainage hose, but it doesn’t include a fill hose to hook it up with so you’ll have to buy one separately. The LED display features options for delicate and heavy-duty items, along with three temperature settings and automatic temperature control. You can also delay the start time of a load on the screen. It also features a temporary child lock and stainless steel tub. Best Buy shoppers left this washer with an average 4.5-star rating over more than 100 reviews.
This washing machine includes two tubs — one for washing and the other for spinning, which wrings out excess water left in clothes. You can run the two simultaneously. The washer can handle 18 pounds’ worth of laundry and the spinner 8 pounds. You’ll find two separate timers for each. In the middle of the two timers, there’s a wash selector dial that features gentle, normal and drain functions. This washer boasts a 4.3-star rating over more than 7,000 reviews.
A bestseller on Amazon, this 2-in-1 washing machine includes separate washer and spinner tubs. The wash tub can hold up to 8 pounds and the spinner can handle up to 5 pounds. You can wash and spin at the same time — a washing cycle can last up to 15 minutes and a spinning cycle can run for 5 minutes or less. This machine has three washing modes — standard, drain and soft — and this dial is in the middle of the washer and spinner timers. The washing machine has earned an average 4.2-star rating over close to 5,500 reviews.
How to properly do laundry during the pandemic
Covid-19 is believed to primarily spread from close contact from respiratory droplets — these droplets can land on surfaces and it’s possible to catch the coronavirus by touching that surface (or object) and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes, according to the CDC. But “touching surfaces is not thought to be a common way that COVID-19 spreads,” the CDC notes.
To properly disinfect laundry now, the CDC recommends the following.
- Don’t shake dirty laundry to lessen the chances of the virus scattering in the air
- Wear disposable gloves if you’re washing items from someone who is sick
- You don’t have to separate items from those who are sick and those who aren’t
- If you can, use the warmest water settings when washing
- Dry items completely
- Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol after dealing with dirty laundry
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