The Best Compact Washer and Dryer

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If you can’t quite fit a full-size washer or dryer in your home, a 24-inch washer and ventless dryer pair will usually work instead. After 25 hours of research into 22 washers and 24 dryers, your best bet in this style is probably the Bosch 300 Series WAT28400UC washer and WTG86400UC dryer.

Our pick
Bosch 300 Series WAT28400UC
A solid 24-inch washer with a reputation for reliability and helpful customer service, plus a shorter wash time, and a fast spin cycle to dry clothes faster.
Our pick
Bosch 300 Series WTG86400UC
This ventless condenser dryer matches our favorite washer, and also lets it piggyback off the power supply, so you’ll need only one 240-volt outlet.

Bosch is a laundry heavyweight in Europe, where this style is the norm, and the company has a reputation for making sturdy, effective, efficient machines backed by helpful customer service. The washer is the most affordable compact with an accelerated wash cycle, significantly cutting cycle times. It also has a very fast spin cycle, which pre-dries clothes so they don’t need to spend so much time drying. The dryer is a ventless condenser model, and the washer can piggyback off its power supply, so you need only one outlet for the pair.

Runner-up
Electrolux EIFLS20QSW
This washer gets excellent reviews for cleaning and can plug into a regular outlet, but seems to have more reliability problems.
Runner-up
Electrolux EIED200QSW
This ventless condenser dryer doesn't need to run off the washer.

The Bosch set has a couple of quirks that may not work for everyone, and in that case we think the Electrolux EIFLS20QSW washer and EIED200QSW dryer make the next-best pair. Though the reputation for reliability and service aren’t as great, the capacity is slightly larger, the washer may be better at removing the toughest stains, and the installation options are more flexible.

Also great
Panda PAN612SG
If you don’t have a plumbing hookup and don’t mind watching your loads, this rollaway twin-tub washer spin-dries better than others, and fully drains after every cycle.

Even if your home doesn’t have the space or the hookups for compact washers and dryers, you’re not necessarily doomed to the laundromat. Of the 19 models we considered, we think the Panda PAN612SG portable washer is a good option even if you don’t have a dedicated space or plumbing hookup to install a machine. Unlike cheaper models, it includes a built-in pump for better draining, and its fast spin cycle should help clothes dry quickly on a folding rack like the Polder 2-Tier Mesh Top model.

Table of contents

Why you should trust us

I started writing about appliances in 2011 for Reviewed.com. Since 2013, I’ve covered appliances for The Sweethome, and have put in hundreds of hours of research into washers and dryers. That’s included interviews with repair technicians from around the country, representatives from all the major washer brands, a major detergent company, and another review website. I’ve also read most of the reviews at Consumer Reports, Reviewed.com, and CNET, and countless emails, comments, tweets, message board posts, and user reviews from our readers and pretty much anyone else who cared enough to weigh in on laundry machines.

For larger homes

The Best Washer and Dryer

The Best Washer and Dryer

After more than 100 hours of research, looking at reliability, noise levels, wash options, and more, we have recommendations for front-load washers, top-load washers, and a stand-alone dryer.

Read More

This is the first guide we’ve done on compact laundry machines. Most of what we learned about full-size washers is still relevant here, though the dryer situation is more complicated. For additional research, we got in touch with Chaim Shanet, repair technician for Mr. Appliance of Park Slope in Brooklyn, New York, where compact laundry is common, and checked back in with Steve Sheinkopf, CEO of Yale Appliance + Lighting in Boston, another city where compact laundry is relatively widespread.

We researched the picks in this guide; we did not test them. Compared with full-size washers and dryers, compacts are a bit of a mystery because fewer experts know as much about them, fewer user reviews get published, and testing outlets like Consumer Reports and Reviewed.com don’t spend as much time covering the categories (though they do publish some reviews, and we’ll cite them when they’re relevant).

Even so, our readers have asked us for advice on these for a few years, so we’re sharing as much as we’ve been able to discover through research so far. If you have more questions, you should talk to a good dealer in your area.

All told, we spent about 25 hours researching our picks for this guide, tracking 22 compact washers and 24 compact dryers, plus 19 portable washers for our budget pick.

Who should get this

Compact washers and dryers are primarily for people who can’t fit a full-size set into their home.

In the US and Canada, a full-size washer or dryer is usually 27 inches wide, 30 inches deep, and at least 36 inches tall. They need hot- and cold-water plumbing hookups and some kind of drainage for the washer, plus a 240-volt outlet and ventilation for the dryer.

If your laundry area doesn’t have enough space, or anywhere to ventilate the dryer, a compact washer or dryer might work instead. Most models are the size of a dishwasher, but some are even smaller. Small apartments or condos, tiny houses, or older homes built before laundry rooms became standard are all common settings for compact laundry.

Compacts, even the best models, do have downsides: They usually have around half the capacity of today’s full-size machines. So extra-large items like comforters won’t fit, and mega-loads with a week’s worth of clothing are out of the question. Compact dryers almost always work slower than full-size ones. And despite those trade-offs, compacts often cost more. So if you can fit standard models, they’re usually the better value.

How we picked

We focused on 24-inch (or European-style) compact washers and dryers. That is, the chassis of each machine is a maximum of 24 inches wide, about 24 inches deep, and around 33 inches tall—about the size of a dishwasher. The washing machines are all front-loaders, and the dryers do not require ventilation (for more on this, read What to know about ventless dryers).

This style of laundry can fit in more places around more types of homes than standard-size machines: side by side under a kitchen counter, or stacked in a small laundry closet, to name the most common examples. It’s the typical type of washer and dryer in Europe, and they work pretty similarly to modern American laundry in most respects (though the dryers are a bit different).

Compacts like these still need most of the same plumbing and electrical requirements as a standard washer and dryer, including hot- and cold-water hookups, a 240-volt outlet, and a drain nearby.

We also decided to limit our recommendations to matching pairs. They look better together, are easier to stack, and sometimes actually work better as a set.

The most important features in any appliance are reliability and helpful customer service. Both of these are difficult to predict—especially in a category like compact laundry where there’s very little public information available. But we’re basing our recommendation on user reviews, the breadth of the brands’ service networks, the brands’ reputations in other, more popular appliance categories, and wisdom from retailers and repair technicians. We typically look toward Consumer Reports and J.D. Power for more information about reliability and customer satisfaction, but neither outlet publishes information about compact machines.

Other important factors, in rough descending order of importance, include:

Washer cleaning performance: We learned what we could from the lab tests at Consumer Reports and Reviewed.com, though some popular models haven’t been reviewed at either outlet (at least not at the time of writing).

Washer spin speed: This is a good proxy for how dry your clothes will be when they come out of the washer, which means they’ll need less time in the dryer. A higher number means drier clothes. It’s fair to expect a minimum of 1,200 RPM. Since ventless dryers are relatively slow, this can be a real time-saver.

An accelerated wash cycle: That is, an option to run a normal cleaning cycle in about half the time as usual—usually at the expense of being a little rougher on clothes, or less efficient with water or energy. Regular cycles in front-loaders usually take somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 to 120 minutes, so this is another big time-saver. However, it’s not a common feature.

A dryer reservoir: Ventless dryers usually need to be hooked up to a drain, but some models can also store evaporated water in a reservoir.

An easy-to-reach dryer filter: Ventless dryers have a primary lint filter that you should clean after each cycle (just like a vented dryer), as well as a secondary filter that you should clean monthly (particularly if you use fabric softener). Primary filters are always easy to reach, but some models stash their secondary filters on the back or bottom of the machine, so it can be an ordeal to do that bit of routine maintenance.

Capacity: Most models top out around 10 pounds of laundry, which is small if you’re washing for a family. But a few are slightly larger, which is useful because the space is so tight.

Low noise and light vibration: Consumer Reports tests for both. However, this really depends on your home. Most people have no trouble at all with either, but some people find that even with low-vibration models, their floor vibrates like a drumhead when the spin cycle starts. So ratings played only a minor part in our decision.

And then the features that didn’t factor into our decision at all include the number of cycles (most people use three at most anyway), an extra-hot wash option (it’s nice, but few people ever use it as it turns out), and efficiency (it’s pretty similar across the board, with a few exceptions among dryers).

We narrowed from about 22 sets to four sets of finalists: The Bosch 300 Series, the Electrolux EIFLS20QSW and EIED200QSW, the LG WM1388HW and DLEC888W, and the Blomberg WM77120 and DHP24412W.

What to know about ventless dryers

Most compact dryers are ventless. They don’t need one of those long hoses that blows exhaust through a window, wall, or duct, like most full-size dryers do. That gives you a little more flexibility for where you can install it in your home.

However, ventless models do still have a few special requirements. They usually need to plug into a 240-volt outlet, just like a standard dryer. (Ventless models are always electric, never gas-powered.) So if you’re setting up a new laundry space for an old building, you might need to call an electrician to rig a new connection. Most ventless dryers also need to connect to a drain, though some can instead collect water in a reservoir.

The worst part about ventless dryers is that they take about twice as long as vented models to dry your clothes.

The worst part about ventless dryers is that they take about twice as long as vented models to dry your clothes. A typical drying time for a load of cottons in a ventless dryer is around 90 minutes. It might be a little quicker than that in low humidity, or longer in high humidity, but just brace yourself for longer cycles.

Most ventless dryers, including all of our picks in this guide, rely on a condenser to get the moisture out. Just like a regular vented dryer, condenser dryers pass heated air through a spinning drum, causing the moisture in clothes to evaporate. But though a vented dryer would blow the steam out through a hose, a condenser dryer circulates the steam over a passive heat exchanger—essentially a matrix of metal coils that can stay cool even when the air around them is pretty hot. The steam condenses into water on the coils, and is then pumped through a drain hose, or into a reservoir. The process repeats until the humidity in the drum falls below a certain point, as measured by a moisture sensor.

Condenser dryers use roughly the same amount of energy as vented dryers, give or take, depending on the weather. It’s not clear whether they’re gentler on clothes. Reviewed.com has found that they run cooler than vented dryers, which means that they should cause less heat damage. But because they tumble longer, they cause more mechanical damage. Condenser dryers also radiate some heat and humidity into your living space, which might be nice in the winter but not so great in the summer. (Vented dryers might actually be worse for climate control, though, because they blow your heated or cooled air out through the hose, creating negative air pressure in your home so that outdoor “infiltration” air gets sucked in).

The other type of ventless dryer uses a heat pump. This is better technology. It relies on an active heat exchanger, filled with refrigerant, to remove moisture very efficiently. Though the dry times are about the same as in condenser dryers, heat-pump dryers use about half as much energy and are much gentler on clothes because they work at much, much lower temperatures than any other kind of dryer. They have almost no effect on your climate control either. However, very few of these models are available in the US right now. Those that are around are either too expensive, sold by a brand with a narrow service network, or have a frustrating design flaw.

Our pick: Bosch 300 Series compact washer and dryer

A Bosch 300 Series compact washer and dryer installed between two cabinets.

Photo: Bosch

Our pick
Bosch 300 Series WAT28400UC
A solid 24-inch washer with a reputation for reliability and helpful customer service, plus a shorter wash time, and a fast spin cycle to dry clothes faster.
Our pick
Bosch 300 Series WTG86400UC
This ventless condenser dryer matches our favorite washer, and also lets it piggyback off the power supply, so you’ll need only one 240-volt outlet.

Most people who need a 24-inch (European style) compact washer and dryer should be happy with the Bosch 300 Series WAT28400UC washer and WTG86400UC dryer. Of the few models that fit our criteria, these in particular have most of the features that matter, including the fastest spin speed and a shorter wash cycle. The brand also has a strong reputation for reliability, service, and performance.

As far as we can tell, the 300 Series washer and dryer seem like sturdy machines. They’ve been out for a few years, and though we found only a few dozen user ratings, we didn’t find evidence of major mechanical malfunctions among them. A handful of those reviewers noted that they were replacing Bosch machines that lasted 10 or 15 years, which is good for modern laundry. The average user rating for the washer is 4.5 stars out of five, which is better than average for any type of washer, and the dryer earns a 4.2 out of five.

Although no North American editorial outlets publish brand reliability data for this category, Consumer Reports found that Bosch makes some of the most reliable dishwashers, and Expert Reviews (a British site) noted that Bosch laundry is known for reliability (though they didn’t cite evidence). The Yale Appliance blog also cites Bosch as one of the most reliable brands that they sell. We’d love to have stronger data to go on, but we’re reasonably confident that Bosch is reliable. Bosch covers its laundry products with the industry-standard one-year parts and labor warranty, plus a second year of coverage for all parts, and the total cost of replacement for the control board and motor. Other brands tend to offer longer cost-of-parts warranties for their models.

We’re also confident that Bosch is better at customer service than other brands in North America.

We’re also confident that Bosch is better at customer service than other brands in North America. Again, this is based on anecdotal data from user reviews, and from our experience covering Bosch dishwashers (not laundry). But we have not seen a pattern of bad feedback about long waits for service, frustrating phone-tree escalations, or unfulfilled promises.

Cleaning performance for the WAT28400UC washer, according to Consumer Reports (subscription required), is Very Good—not quite excellent, but among the best in the class anyway.

It’s also tied for the highest spin-cycle speed, at 1,400 RPM. Though we don’t have data on real-world performance, a faster spin speed usually means that clothes are less moist coming out of the washer, which translates to less time in the dryer. The spin speed is also adjustable, so you can turn it down if you’re line-drying and can’t deal with clothes being so heavily wrinkled.

And it’s also one of the few compact washers with an accelerated normal wash cycle—finishing an 8-pound load in 60 minutes rather than 100. This is a big time-saver. Because we haven’t tested the machine, we’re not sure if the speed comes at the expense of fabric care or efficiency.

As for the matching WTG86400UC dryer, Consumer Reports ranks it among the better models in its ratings, giving it Very Good marks for drying performance, convenience, and noise. Owners have mixed reactions. Those who need a ventless dryer, and understand that it doesn’t work like a full-size vented machine seem to be satisfied with it (it’s much better than having no dryer). Those who bought the set because of the brand name, not because they really needed compact, ventless equipment, seem less happy with it.

In addition to the 300 Series, Bosch also makes some upgrade pairs: the 500 Series ($270 extra) and the 800 Series ($630 extra). The performance is identical across the board, but the pricier models have extra features that some people might find useful. The 500 Series adds a high-temperature wash option, a stainless steel dryer drum, a reversible dryer door, and better dryer efficiency. The 800 Series adds an interior light to both the washer and dryer, and a 15-minute light-load option to the washer.

That said, we don’t think most people will gain all that much by upgrading, or at least not enough to make the extra cost seem worth it. The reversible doors might be helpful to some people, and the stainless dryer drums might run a little quieter. But the improved dryer efficiency will add up to only a couple bucks’ worth of energy per year, not enough to offset purchase price during the lifetime of the machine. And all the other upgrades are nice but probably not life-changing. If you want the extras, don’t let us stop you though—they’re all very good machines.

All the models mix and match with each other, so if you want the 300 Series washer and the stainless drum and reversible door of the 500 Series dryer, you can do that, no problem. However, the different Series all have different door trim, so they won’t be a perfect aesthetic match.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The washer’s power supply could be a potential dealbreaker: Unlike most washing machines, the WAT28400UC needs a 240-volt outlet. Now, it can plug into the WTG86400UC dryer and piggyback off that connection (any good dryer needs a 240-volt outlet anyway). So if you’re stacking the machines, or installing them side by side, this is not an issue. But if you’re installing the machines across the room from each other, you’ll need two 240-volt outlets—this is not a common setup. Contrary to the claims in some user reviews, though, it is not required that you plug the washer into the dryer. The washer works fine on its own as long as it has the right power supply.

The dryer also needs to be near a drain. Most of the time, this is a nonissue, because the dryer will be installed next to or on top of the washer, which obviously also needs to be near a drain. But some compact ventless dryers (like the Electrolux) can drain into a self-contained, manual-empty reservoir, so that they don’t need to be near a drain.

Price is another downside for the Bosch 300 Series. It’s the most expensive pair among our finalists by a fair margin. At typical prices, the washer and dryer will cost about $1,900, plus the cost of the stacking kit, and any delivery and installation costs. Bosch products don’t often go on sale, either. We still think it’s worth the extra cash.

The drum in the WTG86400UC dryer is made out of an aluminum-zinc alloy, rather than stainless steel, which is the standard material in most dryers. We’re not sure what the implications are; it probably won’t impact the durability or performance, but it may mean that the dryer runs a little louder than it otherwise would.

Some user reviews mention that the wash and dry cycles can be very long. This is not wrong, but it’s also true of any front-load washer or ventless dryers. In our experience, most of the people who are surprised by the long cycles are upgrading from old agitator top-loaders and vented dryers.

Other reviewers don’t love the interface. In our experience, this is really a matter of personal taste: For any machine, you’ll find a few people that love it, a few people that hate it, and most people are fine with it and learn to live with it.

Runner-up: Electrolux EIFLS20QSW and EIED200QSW

A compact Electrolux washer and dryer installed in a small space underneath a counter.

Photo: Electrolux

Runner-up
Electrolux EIFLS20QSW
This washer gets excellent reviews for cleaning and can plug into a regular outlet, but seems to have more reliability problems.
Runner-up
Electrolux EIED200QSW
This ventless condenser dryer doesn't need to run off the washer.

The Electrolux EIFLS20QSW washer and EIED200QSW dryer are the next-best pair if the Bosch’s washer voltage and dryer drainage requirements are a problem. The Electrolux pair gets good ratings for cleaning power, and has a slightly larger washer capacity than other compact models but the same fast spin speed as the Bosch. And this is a better option if you don’t want to hook up the dryer to a drain, or if you have access to a 120-volt outlet only where you want to install the washer. However, we found an uncomfortable number of reviews about poor reliability and customer service, and it’s also missing an accelerated-wash option.

At $1,600 for the set, the Electrolux pair costs about $300 less than our main pick, the Bosch 300 Series set. That’s a big advantage.

Consumer Reports rates the EIFLS20QSW an Excellent for cleaning performance, and Reviewed.com said that it had “strong stain removal.” The washer has some similarities to the latest generation of Electrolux full-size washers, which are also known to have some of the best stain-removal capabilities today. The evidence suggests that when it comes to very stubborn stains, the EIFLS20QSW has an advantage over the Bosch 300 Series model (though the real-world results could be swayed by tons of factors, including cycle selection, detergent, and pretreatment).

The EIFLS20QSW also has the largest capacity we’ve seen in a compact washer. The drum is 2.4 cubic feet, which can help it hold a few more garments than the 2.2-cubic-foot Bosch 300 Series.

The Electrolux pair allows more installation flexibility. The washer can plug directly into a standard 120-volt outlet, whereas the Bosch washer either needs to plug into the dryer, or into its own 240-volt outlet. And the Electrolux dryer can either collect its condensed water in a reservoir, or send it directly down a drain. The Bosch has no reservoir, so it needs to be installed near a drain.

The EIFLS20QSW also has the same class-leading, 1,400 RPM spin speed as the Bosch 300 Series.

We’re not comfortable making the Electrolux pair our main pick, though, because we came across a few too many troubling reviews about reliability and customer service. Although at the time of writing the EIFLS20QSW washer actually has a slightly higher average user rating than the Bosch 300 Series, the negative reviews are very harsh, citing major malfunctions like control-board failures, drum-suspension problems, and big leaks. We are pulling from a small set of data, and these problems can occasionally happen to any kind of product from any brand—but these reviews popped up more often than we were comfortable seeing for a product with relatively little feedback overall. We just did not read anything comparable about the Bosch; most of its negative reviews seemed to be about compact washers in general—not enough capacity, too-long cycles—rather than reliability problems.

Some recent reviews for the Electrolux also cited iffy customer service. That was a surprise to us, because we found in 2016 while we researched full-size washers and dryers that Electrolux was actually pretty good about customer service relative to other brands. But recent reviews from early 2017 suggest that it’s becoming harder to get timely service under warranty. Though the warranty covers parts and labor for one year, and parts for three years, that’s helpful only if Electrolux backs it up with good service.

The EIFLS20QSW also has no accelerated normal-cycle option, so jobs will take about 100 minutes (typical for front-load washers). And the reviews for the EIED200QSW dryer are mediocre, with a Fair rating for performance from Consumer Reports and an average user rating of just 3.8 out of five stars.

The competition

We came pretty close to recommending the Blomberg WM77210 washer and DHP24412W heat-pump dryer as our runner-up pair. Two things stopped us: First, though the technology is cool and the model itself reviewed favorably, the DHP24412W is wicked expensive. It costs $1,400 most of the time, hundreds more than the condenser dryers we considered. Second, Blomberg still has a narrow service network compared with most brands. If you live in an area where Blomberg has a big footprint, this is a nonissue. But huge parts of the country, including some major metro areas, have no Blomberg retailers at all, which often means it’s hard to find service technicians.

If the price isn’t a dealbreaker, and you live in Blomberg-land, the DHP24412W is a compact dryer worth considering. It costs more than Whirlpool’s heat-pump models, but it’s also easier to maintain (Whirlpool hides its secondary lint trap on the rear of the machine, so it’s an ordeal to get at) and is made by a brand with much more experience in compact laundry. Blomberg is a North American imprint of Beko, the second best-selling appliance brand in Europe, and is owned by parent company Arçelik, part of Turkey’s largest conglomerate. They even manufacture some appliances that better-known brands to slap their labels on. So this isn’t some rinky-dink operation. The product is great, but the brand hasn’t fully committed to the US.

The LG WM1388HW washer and DLEC888W dryer were on our short list of finalists. LG makes some of the most reliable washing machines, but the performance reviews from the test labs were just okay for this model (and its predecessor, the WM1377HW), and the user ratings for the dryer are poor (though few have been published).

GE makes a couple of compact washers that look pretty good, including the WCVH4800KWW and GFW148SSLWW. However, GE doesn’t make a ventless dryer, which is a dealbreaker for our purposes.

Samsung also makes one compact washer, the WW22K6800AW. The specs are fine, but the user ratings so far are mediocre, and the company doesn’t make any ventless dryers, either.

As we mentioned earlier, Whirlpool makes a couple of (relatively) affordable heat-pump dryers: The basic WHD3090GW for around $800, and the sound-reduced WHD5090GW for around $1,000. That’s exciting, but there’s a big design flaw here: The secondary lint trap is on the bottom-rear of the machines, which makes it very difficult to reach. It’s supposed to be cleaned monthly, and sliding the heavy machine out from the wall so often for routine maintenance sounds like a huge ordeal. If you think you can handle it, these dryers might be worth a look—but there’s so little information available, we really don’t know how they perform, how reliable they’ll be, or how much energy they save in practice. Also, Whirlpool’s last generation of compact washing machines have poor user ratings. They just launched a new model, the WFW3090GW, which we’ll keep an eye on. But for now, we think it’s best to wait and see before going in on a compact Whirlpool pair.

If money isn’t a concern at all, the very best compact washer you can buy is probably the Miele W3048. It is also one of the most expensive washing machines of any size, but should last for a couple decades and is both strong enough to remove difficult stains but gentle enough to handle fabrics like silk that almost any other washer would wreck. We want to spend more time researching this before we throw our word behind it, but the consensus among owners is that it’s excellent. Apart from its expected longevity, the matching T8033C condenser dryer is nothing special, so you may want to wait until Miele brings a heat-pump model to the US. (They already make one that’s available in other regions, and they told us that they’re trying to get it here by early 2018.)

The other top-end laundry brand with (relatively) wide distribution in the US is Asko, a Swedish company. Like Miele, Asko also makes well-built machines. Unlike Miele, Asko already has a heat-pump dryer available in the US. We have not looked into why, but the brand doesn’t seem to have the same kind of loyal following as Miele, nor quite as much availability.

Even if you can install one, you’ll find that there aren’t very many vented compact dryers. This is because they have trouble passing the fire-safety test from Underwriters Laboratory, requiring a dryer to contain a fire for at least seven hours, so most manufacturers don’t bother making one. And among those that you can buy, the user ratings are mediocre to poor, for reasons that we don’t really understand.

A smaller, cheaper, portable option: Panda PAN612SG

A compact portable Panda PAN612SG washing machine.

Photo: Panda

Also great
Panda PAN612SG
If you don’t have a plumbing hookup and don’t mind watching your loads, this rollaway twin-tub washer spin-dries better than others, and fully drains after every cycle.

Some homes are so limited by space or hookups, or by landlords who aren’t interested in making improvements, that even-smaller, more-portable washing and drying tools are the only option for in-home laundry. For those situations, we think the Panda PAN612SG, a portable washer on wheels, will work. We looked into 19 portable washers, and we like the Panda PAN612SG because the price is low, the features are useful, the capacity is big enough, and it doesn’t require any special plumbing or electrical connections. It’s not fully automatic, and it still may not be great for some apartments, but it might be your saving grace from the laundromat. We’d pair that with a folding drying rack like the Polder 2-Tier Mesh Top.

We haven’t tested any of these portable washers, and we have only user reviews to go off of—no editorial testing. So please, take this as a starting point rather than a strong recommendation.

The best way to get an idea of how this thing works is to watch a demo video. But the gist of it is that you need a regular outlet to power the machine, and a sink, shower, or tub to drain it. The tub on the left washes, the tub on the right rinses and spin dries. You can fill the tubs with water through an inlet hose that clamps onto a faucet, or you can just fill it manually using a pitcher, garden hose, or really any source of water. Mid-cycle, you need to move the clothes, by hand, from the wash tub into the rinse-and-spin tub. That second tub has only half the capacity of the first, so you’ll need to do two rounds. When you’re done, you turn on the drain pump, which pushes water out through a hose. Full loads usually take something like 20 minutes, based on what we’ve seen on YouTube, though Sweethome staff writer Lesley Stockton finishes her Panda loads in about 15 minutes.

So yes, the Panda needs your attention while it works. But it still looks like the best option among portables.

Single-tub models, like this popular Haier 1.0 Cubic Foot Portable Washing Machine or the Danby DWM17WDB, work more like regular top-load washers, just smaller, on wheels, and hooked up to a sink rather than a dedicated tap and drain. You can start the cycle and walk away, and it’ll do all the work on its own. But they tend to cost much more than twin-tub models (like the Panda) with similar capacities. They also spin a lot slower, around 800 RPM compared with the Panda’s 1,300 RPM, so clothes come out wetter, and need much more time on the drying rack.

A few cheaper twin-tubs are available from brands like Giantex and Best Choice Products, but these models don’t have a drain pump. The Panda will always empty its tubs every time, even if it needs to push the water upward toward a sink, rather than down into a bathtub or floor drain.

This Panda’s wash tub has a capacity of 12 pounds, which is enough for about four or five bath towels or jeans, or a mixed load with a couple days’ worth of clothes for one person. However, the rinse-and-spin tub has only half the capacity of the wash tub, so you’ll need to do two rounds. Smaller and larger versions are also available.

The user reviews are solid, too, at a shade under four stars out of five across about 900 ratings at the time of writing. None of the big testing houses have information on how well this thing cleans; it almost certainly doesn’t clean as well as a higher-end machine. But the consensus among user reviews is that it’s actually pretty good, considering the price (anything seems great when you don’t have to lug your laundry to a shared washer). We’ve also read far more positive reviews about Panda’s customer service than negative ones, which is a pleasant surprise for a company that seems as small as Panda does. Fakespot, which analyzes reviews for evidence of low-quality or manufacturer-sponsored comments, rates the Panda’s reviews an A, so we’re confident that these are reviews written by real people who actually own the machine.

The most common complaints from owners are that it’s noisy; that you need to pay attention to the water level as it fills up (even if it’s filling from a faucet); and that it creates a lot of lint, leaving it behind on your clothes, and also potentially clogging your drain (a lint roller can help with the clothes, and a stocking rubber-banded to the end of the hose can prevent the clogging).

This thing might also annoy the hell out of your downstairs neighbors (if you care about that) because it vibrates pretty hard during the spin cycle. The drain hose is also a little sketchy, so that’s a potential flood hazard. It’s made out of cheap plastic, rather than the rubberized material that higher-end washers use, and doesn’t attach to the water outlet as securely. If it fails, it will dump gallons of water on your floor, which is a problem for you but a bigger problem for anyone downstairs. This risk is why it’s common for older apartment buildings to completely ban in-unit laundry. So check with your landlord, your lease, or your HOA covenant to see if you’re even allowed to get a portable washer.

Hand-crank washers

One last washer option to consider is a hand-crank washer like the Wonderwash. It doesn’t need any hookups at all—you just fill it with a few garments and hot water and a bit of detergent, tighten the lid to pressurize the interior, spin the crank at a modest pace for a few minutes, and then insert a drain tube. Repeat, minus the detergent, to rinse. Reviews indicate that it’s more effective than it sounds, thanks to the high pressure. The downside is that you can wash only a few garments at a time, and there’s no spin cycle to speak of, so they’ll take a long time to dry. Unless you can line-dry your clothes outdoors, this probably isn’t a practical way to do your laundry.

Other dryer options

Though there are small, 120-volt automatic dryers, most of them require a vent, which is a dealbreaker in most apartments, and the ventless models take so, so long to work that it’s almost always more practical to just hang-dry your clothes. So if you’re dealing with a difficult laundry situation, we think a drying rack is the way to go.

Several items of clothing drying on a Polder 2-Tier Mesh Top vertical drying rack.

Photo: Polder

We’d pair the portable washer with the Polder 2-Tier Mesh Top vertical drying rack. We tested a few different models for our guide to small-apartment gear, and this was our top choice. As we say in that guide, “It’s small enough to fit into a bathtub, which we’ve found is often the best place to dry clothes in a small place. Because this rack folds vertically, you can also fold it up while it’s loaded with clothes and move it to another room, or outside—a bonus if you’ve just hung up stuff, and then unexpectedly have guests.”

Bosch 300 Series WAT28400UC

The best compact washer

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