A portable clothes washer is great for RV camping, apartments, dorms, condos – anywhere you don't have a ton of space. Manual clothes washers also save on electricity and are great for emergency situations. I put four of the most popular portable washers to the test at our off grid home, and share the results below.
Note – all four of these washers are manual washers that don’t require electricity. You need access to water, a way to heat the water if desired, a place to drain the water, and a spot to hang your clothes to dry.
All the washers tested work great for delicate clothing such as woolens, silks, knitted dresses, underwear and cashmere garments. The smaller units can tackle a pair of jeans or a full sized bath towel with a few small items. The larger units can hold more, as noted.
Best Portable Clothes Washer – The Laundry Pod
Our recommended portable clothes washer is The Laundry POD. This washer is so easy to use, I almost didn’t miss my old electric washer – almost.
The big features that separated The Laundry POD from the competition were ease of use and water removal at the end of washing.
- Portable manual washer designed for washing small loads
- Uses a minimal amount of water and ZERO electricity
- Winner of the Best Greener Gadget award and Top Global Innovation GIA award
- Manually operated spinning system for washing your garments and then extracting the water for the shortest drying time
- More convenient than hand washing
- Compact enough to be portable, but serious enough to stand up to tough laundry challenges
HOW TO USE
- Place The Laundry POD on a stable surface.
- Make sure the drain valve on the side of The Laundry POD is set to the closed position.
- Unlatch the lid of top of The Laundry POD and remove the cover.
- Half fill The Laundry POD with water. Add a small amount of detergent (about ⅕ of what you would use in a standard washing machine).
- Load washer with up to 10 garments. Lock lid and let laundry soak a few minutes.
- Turn the handle slowly for 1-2 minutes for agitation.
- Open the door on the side of The Laundry POD and aim the hose into a bathtub, sink or water basin. Drain the soapy water by turning the knob on the side of the pod.
- Watch the water exiting the hose. When the water stops, turn the handle quickly to spin the clothes. Do this until the water flow stops.
- Close the drain valve.
- Remove the lid and fill The Laundry POD with fresh water until the clothes are submerged.
- Lock lid in place and turn handle for a minute or two minutes for rinsing.
- Open the drain valve and repeat #8.
- Continue spinning quickly until water stops for maximum extraction.
- Hang the garments on a clothesline or drying rack to dry completely.
The Laundry Pod- The Good and The Bad
What we loved about the POD portable clothes washer:
- Completely assembled. This washer came ready to use right out of the box.
- Easy to use. This washer was very easy to use. We didn’t need to remove the clothes during any of the process.
- Water usage. This washer only took 5 gallons of water for a complete load.
- The drain is attached in a little compartment in the bottom and very easy to drain with a long hose.
- The spin dryer is my absolute favorite feature about this washer. No separate ringer needed.
- Because this washer is so compact, it is easy to store anywhere.
What we didn’t love:
- The limited capacity. While this is a great little washer and perfect for camping, dorm living, and emergencies, it would be hard to use this for all of our washing needs.
Breathing Mobile Manual Washer
The breathing mobile manual washer made us laugh when we first received it, because everyone thought it was a toilet plunger. Like a plunger, you work the agitator up and down to wash the clothes. The patented design pushes and pulls water through the clothing, removing ground in dirt.
Breathing Mobile Washer- The Good and The Bad
What we loved about the Breathing Mobile Washer
- This handy little washer outshines all the others in terms of cleaning the clothes because of the way it agitates.
- Another bonus to this washer was the capacity of clothes you could wash. You are only limited by the container you use to wash your clothes.
- Assembly is very simple – you screw the handle into the washing head. It takes 30 seconds to put together.
- Sturdy enough for large items such as comforters, sleeping bags, rugs and blankets
- Easy enough to use our 7 yr old could do it.
- It's affordable. This is the cheapest washers of all the ones we tested.
What we didn’t love.
- No wringing ability. While this manual washer does outshine the rest in cleaning ability, you still need to wring out all the water.
The Wonder Washer
This handy little portable washer was neat and compact. At the time we tested this, I didn’t know one of my friends has one. He uses it for his main clothes washer and loves it.
The Wonder Washer – The Good and The Bad
What we loved about the Wonder Washer:
- Heavy-Duty Construction
- The amount of clothes it would hold. You would be surprised how much you can fit in this washer.
- Only used 5 gallons of water for a complete load.
- Ease of use. The handle was easy to spin to agitate the clothes and the drain was easy to assemble and drain.
What we didn’t love:
- No wringing ability. You need to hand-wring every item, or purchase a separate spin dryer or wringer.
- The other three portable clothes washers reviewed all either came assembled or were very easy to assemble. This one came in a pile of parts that I asked my grown son to put together for me.
Lavario Portable Clothes Washer
The Lavario Portable Clothes Washer is well-built and fairly compact. It's made out of heavy-duty plastic and the tub houses a basket that acts as an agitator. Included with the washer was a sample of laundry detergent and comprehensive instructions. The only part we had to assemble was the handle, which was fairly easy to snap in place.
Lavario – The Good and The Bad
What we loved about the Lavario:
- The construction is very heavy duty and can stand up to multiple uses.
- The capacity. The wash basket on the Lavario is larger than the Pod and Wonder Washer and can hold more of our clothes.
- Easy to assemble.
What we didn’t love:
- The amount of water is uses. It took 10 gallons of water to wash a light-medium size load.
- It took a lot of upper body strength to wash the clothes, especially to push the basket down to rinse.
- Clothes held a lot of water even after squeezing per manufacturer recommendations.
Side by Side Comparison of Portable Clothes Washers
All of these portable clothes washers will get the job done. For singles who don't go through a lot of laundry, the Laundry Pod is likely to cover nearly all your laundry needs. If you need more capacity, teaming up the Breathing Mobile Washer or Lavario Washer with a ringer is a better option. (Those who live in dry climates may be able to skip wringing out laundry with good results.)
More Laundry Tips
Be sure to visit our Green Home page for more information on green cleaners and products, natural pest control, and alternative energy, including these laundry articles:
- 6 Ways to Get the Musty Smell Out of Clothes and Towels
- Kevin’s Quality Clothespins -The Best Clothespins You’ve Ever Used
- Prairie Pin Pouch Handmade Clothespin Bag – Made for Heavy Use
This post is by Amber Bradshaw of My Homestead Life.
Amber and her family moved from their tiny homestead by the ocean in South Carolina to forty-six acres in the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee.
While building their off-the-grid homestead, they live like the days of old – cooking without electricity, collecting water from the creek and raising chickens, goats, pigs, turkeys, bees, and guineas. They've recently filmed their journey for a TV show on the Discovery Channel and the DIY Network/HGTV called Building Off The Grid: The Smokey Mountain Homestead.