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Portable Clothes Washer Review and Comparison – What Works

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.

three manual clothes washers sitting on stairs

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


  1. Place The Laundry POD on a stable surface.
  2. Make sure the drain valve on the side of The Laundry POD is set to the closed position.
  3. Unlatch the lid of top of The Laundry POD and remove the cover.
  4. 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).
  5. Load washer with up to 10 garments. Lock lid and let laundry soak a few minutes.
  6. Turn the handle slowly for 1-2 minutes for agitation.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Close the drain valve.
  10. Remove the lid and fill The Laundry POD with fresh water until the clothes are submerged.
  11. Lock lid in place and turn handle for a minute or two minutes for rinsing.
  12. Open the drain valve and repeat #8.
  13. Continue spinning quickly until water stops for maximum extraction.
  14. Hang the garments on a clothesline or drying rack to dry completely.
The Laundry POD

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.
girl with plunger style washer cleaning clothes

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.
Wonder Wash from The Laundry Alternative

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

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

Portable Clothes Washer Comparison

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:

Amber Bradshaw

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.

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.

It makes a HUGE difference when you share our articles. Thank you so much!

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  1. I have the Breathing Mobile Washer, or something exactly like it. I found it to be impossible to use, as the plastic part kept coming unscrewed after nearly every single plunge. Not sure, but I may have even thrown it out because of this. I would NOT recommend this option.

    1. There are quite a few different versions of the plunger style washer on the market. Sounds like you got a lemon, unfortunately. This particular one is pretty well rated, so hopefully that won’t be an issue. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. I’ve used the Wonder Wash with a separate spin dryer for past 6 years. I can do an entire load of full size sheets, one load of 2 bath towels and wash clothes and another dark clothes. If clothes are extra dirty I let soak first then use a small scrub brush on the knees for my gardening clothes. Everything comes out clean. I did find that you still needed to hand wring heavy clothes before putting into my extra large spin dryer. Otherwise you would burn out the spin dryer motor by overtaxing it. Both these items have been used every week for last 6 years and still going strong. My biggest complaint on Wonder wash is the the drain system. If I do inside I had to sit the unit inside my shower base as it leaks. The spin dryer needs to drain into several pans which is also a big inconvenience. In warmer months I wash clothes on my brick patio so leakage and draining is not a problem.

  3. I am 70. I am barely 5 feet tall. I live in an RV, have NO room, and hate going to the laundromat. I bought a Lavario, and I simply do not know WHAT you did with it. I have to wash in my shower stall or outside. I have done 4 loads in the week I have had it. My clothes are clean and smell good.
    1st. You do not use 10 gallons of water to wash. I haven’t measured the water, but at most it is 6 gallons. You want it to completely cover the clothes basket.
    2nd. You do not have to exert yourself. You put the basket in the bucket and it should sink easily. The clothes get wet quickly and they weigh enough to submerge the basket.
    3rd. You do have to lift the basket nearly out of the water and push it back down. If you had too much water in the bucket, I can see where that would be hard. But it is easy to get the basket back into the water, as I explained in #2.
    4th. It is easiest if you keep your hands close together on the handle.
    5th. Only the LaundryPod has a spin option. So you wring the clothes however you do it and hang them to drip. So what? There are several options to get most of the water out of your clothes.
    6th. I am a massage therapist. I do have a lot of upper body strength. But I’m not the only one who says the Lavario is easy. One person had her mother in her 70’s with wrist and shoulder problems do it. I can only conclude that you were in too big a hurry to let gravity and the weight of the wet clothes do most of the work.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with the Lavairo, I’m so glad you have found a non-electric option that works for you.

      When we had the opportunity to compare the washers, we used each one for a week to give them all a fair review- a review which is our personal opinion.

      We have a family of five and live on a working farm, our clothes are work clothes. Jeans, overalls, carpenter pants and the like. We have very few lightweight clothes. Our clothes get soiled – daily. Garden dirt, hay, chicken poop, and whatever mess my kids get into. This is the test these machines were put up against. Im sure some of the washers would hold up much better to people of different circumstances.

      The Lavairo did use ten gallons of water per cycle. Five to wash the clothes and another five gallons to rinse- ten gallons total.

      Wringing every item after washing by hand is time-consuming and strenuous for a family of five, especially since I have carpal tunnel. Clothes weigh twice the amount wet vs dry ('ve%20ever%20been,much%20as%20the%20dry%20ones.) and the basket does get very heavy pulling it up for the agitation portion of the cycle. Without the up and down motion required to agitate the clothes, they do not get cleaned. Which means I was pulling several pounds of wet clothes against 40 lbs of water. Which is great for an upper body workout but not ideal for my situation.

      Again, I’m happy you found a washer that works great for you in your situation. The lavairo wasn’t the best for us and I stand by my review of the washer.

  4. Hey, we’re in middle TN, on the Ala border, in a tiny home in the foothills of Smokies (beautiful!) Here’s my questions & thots.
    This seems to me to be alot like the Wonder Wash but it spins out too:
    Harzbeke Manual Non-Electric Washing Machine Washer Dryer Combo Portable (on Amazon)
    Could you give it a gander? Do you know why it’s so big compared to Wonder Wash (which I had)?
    The Pod looks like a giant salad spinner. How does this agitate clothes? Looks great for spinning out clothes after washing tho.
    Also a new mop wringer like they have for commercial use mopping, work as manual wringers.

    1. I took a look at the Harzbeke washer, and it looks like a large portion of the footprint of the machine comes from gearing by the handle. The overall design looks more similar to a front loading powered washer, which tumbles the clothes to clean them.

      I think it looks terribly tacky when sellers do a bad photoshop version of their product in action (which this seller obviously did). It makes me mistrust their product.

      The listing has only been up since April 2021, so they haven’t been selling long, and the only review is negative. There’s no mention of the capacity of the machine. (Wonderwash says it holds up to 5 pounds.) The clothes compartment for the Harzbeke washer doesn’t look much bigger, though the washer has a much bigger footprint.

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