As a travel expert living in a campervan, I’ve experienced the joys and challenges of life on the road. One of the biggest hurdles is keeping clothes clean while travelling.
That’s where the best portable washing machine comes in handy.
Portable Washing Machines save time and money when you are full-time motorhoming, giving you control over where and when you wash your clothes, whether you’re in the middle of a city without a launderette or a quiet forest without hook-ups.
In this article, I’ll discuss the best portable washing machine models and their features, helping you choose the perfect one for your campervan or motorhome adventures.
Why are Portable Mini Washing Machines Necessary for Full-time Motorhoming?
When you’re out on the road full-time, laundrettes can be hard to find, especially in unfamiliar cities.
When camping, not all campgrounds have amenities like washing machines, and if they do, the cost of using them can add up, or they may be difficult to book due to all the other campers using them as well.
This makes having your own washing machine necessary.
Having your own washing machine is perfect for full-time motorhoming when you want to be able to wash your clothes and wild camp in the middle of nowhere for weeks at a time.
And after a long day of hiking, it will be a huge peace of mind to be able to simply wash them, hang them to dry, and have fresh-smelling clothes ready for your next hike.
What Are the Top 2 Best Portable Washing Machines I Can Use in My Motorhome?
Choosing the Best Portable Washing Machine for Your Needs
When selecting the best portable washing machine for your campervan or motorhome, consider the following factors:
- Size and weight: Make sure the machine fits in your available space and is easy to carry.
- Capacity: Choose a model with enough capacity to handle your typical laundry loads.
- Power source: Consider whether you need an electric or manual model, depending on your access to power.
- Features: Look for features like adjustable wash settings, spin-dry functions, and built-in pumps for convenience.
- Price: Balance your budget with the features and quality you need.
Additional Benefits of Portable Washing Machines
Apart from the convenience of washing clothes on the go, there are several other benefits of owning a portable washing machine:
1. Cost Savings
Using a portable washing machine can save you money in the long run, as you’ll spend less on laundromat fees and detergents. Most portable washers are energy-efficient and use minimal water, reducing your utility costs.
2. Water Conservation
As mentioned earlier, portable washing machines typically consume less water compared to their traditional counterparts. This is especially important when travelling, as water resources may be scarce in certain locations.
3. Time Savings
With a portable washing machine, you can wash your clothes whenever it’s convenient for you, without having to wait for a laundromat to open or finding one in an unfamiliar area. This allows you to spend more time exploring and enjoying your adventures.
4. Gentle on Clothes
Many other portable washing machines have adjustable temperature settings, that can cater to different fabric types, from delicate to heavy-duty. This means your clothes will be treated with care, and you can avoid the wear and tear that can occur with commercial washing machines.
What Are the Disadvantages Of Using A Portable Washing Machine?
Here are some of the most common disadvantages with using a portable washing machine:
- Small Load Size: It will be difficult to do a large or full-size load of laundry like you would with a traditional, full-size washer. Most machines can only handle a few clothes at a time, so it is something to be aware of before you go out and purchase one.
- Their Size is Large to Carry: In a motorhome or camper where every inch counts, having a portable washing machine can be difficult to fit and store, which might mean that other items have to be shuffled around or removed to make space for a portable washing machine.
- Manual Machines Require Effort: Some machines are electrical, but a lot of them are manual, meaning that you have to pump the machine yourself to operate it and wash your clothes. This can become tiring as it’s not like an electrical machine that can be set and forgotten.
- Bring Extra Water: As water is necessary for the machine to work, extra water (beyond your normal drinking and using water) will need to be brought along and stored to ensure you always have enough water on hand to keep your clothes clean.
- Disposing of is an Environmental Issue: Soapy water is harmful to the environment, so all of the soap and dirty water needs to be dumped somewhere, ideally at a dump station or a public restroom.
- Air Drying Takes Time: Although washing is relatively quick, you will need to account for the time they need to dry, as most washers don’t come with a dryer. This process can cause laundry to be split into smaller loads to account for the drying space needed, and the drying time can take longer, especially in humid environments.
How Do I Use a Manual Portable Washing Machine?
Here is the step-by-step process on how to use a portable washing machine:
- Load your laundry: For the most part, you will be doing small loads with a portable washer. Your machine’s instruction manual should have instructions on how much it can hold.
- Place the Clothes in the Washing Basin: Loads can be separated by colour and fabric type. Liquid detergent is easily soluble and tends to work well with portable washing machines. Optionally, a small amount of liquid fabric softener can be added to help soften the clothes.
- Fill the washbasin: This can be filled with warm water by either using a hose attached to a sink or water station or pouring water from your own water containers.
- Pump: Activate the spin cycle by pumping or spinning the washer at least 10 times.
- Rest: Allow clothes to soak for at least 5-10 minutes.
- Pump a Second Time: Cycle the clothes with the pump or spin action another 10 times.
- Change the Water: Release the warm water and fill the basin with cold water.
- Pump: Spin or pump the washer at least 10 more times.
- Remove: Wring out your clothes and remove them from the washer.
- Dry your clothes: Depending on if you have a portable dryer, you can transfer the clothes there and have them dry in the dryer. Alternatively, you can air-dry the clothes by placing them on a drying rack or clothesline. However, keep in mind that air drying takes time, especially on cloudy or humid days.
- Drain the washer: This should be drained into a designated drainage station or public washroom as soapy water is harmful to the environment.
To use less water on laundry day, consider skipping the water wash cycle and go straight to washing everything in cold water.
Portable Washing Machine Maintenance and Care
To keep your portable washing machine in top condition, follow these simple maintenance tips:
1. Clean the Lint Filter
Regularly clean the lint filter to ensure that your machine functions efficiently and prevents any blockages. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance on how often to clean the filter and the recommended cleaning method.
2. Wipe Down the Interior
After each use and washing cycle, wipe down the interior of the washing machine with a clean, damp cloth to remove any detergent residue or dirt. This will help prevent mould and mildew from developing inside the machine.
3. Keep the Exterior Clean
Use a mild soap and water solution to clean the exterior of the machine, ensuring that it remains free of dust and dirt. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they may damage the surface.
4. Store Properly
When not in use, store your portable washing machine in a cool, dry place to prevent any moisture damage. Make sure the machine is empty and the hoses are disconnected before storing it.
Portable Washing Machine Accessories
To enhance your portable washing machine experience, consider investing in some useful accessories:
1. Collapsible Laundry Basket
A collapsible laundry basket is a convenient storage solution for your dirty clothes and can be easily folded away when not in use.
2. Portable Clothesline
A portable clothesline or drying rack allows you to dry your clothes outdoors or inside your campervan or motorhome, depending on the weather.
3. Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent
Using eco-friendly laundry detergent is not only better for the environment but can also prolong the life of your portable washing machine.
4. Washing Bag
A separate washing bag is ideal for protecting delicate items during the wash cycle, preventing damage and tangling.
How Do I Dry Clothes That Have Been Washed in a Portable Washer?
Always refer to the weather forecast before drying your clothes, and if necessary, have a backup plan if it begins to rain, or postpone laundry until the next day. You can consider drying your clothes in a tent or motorhome but there will be dripping water and extra humidity that may be a hassle to deal with.
Troubleshooting Common Portable Washing Machine Issues
Here are some common issues you may encounter with your portable washing machine and how to troubleshoot them:
1. Machine Doesn’t Start
If your portable washing machine doesn’t start, first check that it’s properly connected to a power source. If it’s an electric model, ensure the plug is securely inserted into an outlet and that the outlet is functioning. If it’s a manual model, ensure all components are properly assembled.
2. Machine Doesn’t Drain
If your portable washing machine isn’t draining, check that the drain hose isn’t kinked or blocked. Also, verify that the hose is positioned correctly, allowing water to flow freely.
3. Machine Vibrates Excessively
An excessively vibrating machine can be a result of an unbalanced load. Ensure that the laundry is evenly distributed inside the machine and that it’s not overloaded. If the problem persists, check if the machine is positioned on a level surface.
4. Machine Leaks Water
If you notice water leaking from your portable washing machine, first check all the hose connections to ensure they’re securely attached. If the connections are secure, examine the hoses for any cracks or damage that could be causing the leak. Replace any damaged parts as needed.
5. Clothes Aren’t Clean or Still Soapy
If your clothes aren’t coming out clean or still have soap residue, try using less detergent or adjusting the water level speed wash down. Overloading the machine can also affect its cleaning performance, so ensure you’re following the recommended load capacity.
Investing in the best portable washing machine can make your campervan or motorhome adventures more comfortable and enjoyable.
By considering factors like size, capacity, power source, and features, you can find the perfect model for your needs.
With the best portable washing machine, you’ll have the freedom to explore the UK and Europe without worrying about finding launderettes or clean clothes.
How do portable washing machines work?
Portable washing machines work similarly to regular washing machines, but they are smaller and more compact. They use water, detergent, and agitation to clean your clothes.
Do other portable washers and washing machines use a lot of water?
Most portable washing machines are designed to be water-efficient, using less water than traditional machines. However, the exact water consumption depends on the specific model and the various water temperatures, wash cycles and settings you choose.
Can I use a portable washing machine in my campervan or motorhome?
Yes, portable washing machines are specifically designed for use in small spaces, like campervans and motorhomes. Just ensure that you have enough space to store the machine and a suitable power source if it’s an electric model.
How do I drain the excess water from a portable washing machine?
Most portable washing machines come with a built-in drain pump or hose that allows you to easily drain the water. You can direct the hose to a sink, shower, sink faucet, or outside of your campervan or motorhome, depending on your setup.
Can I wash large items like bed sheets in a portable washing machine?
Although portable washing machines are smaller than regular washing machines, some models can accommodate larger items like bed sheets. However, you may need to fold or roll the sheet to fit it inside the machine, and the washing capacity will vary depending on the specific model.
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I love everything about travel, from seeing new places, learning about new cultures and trying new foods! I believe that travel is one of the best forms of education you can get, I have learnt so much about myself and about the world from travelling all over. Travel is something I feel so passionately about, and I love the fact that we are now lucky enough to have this opportunity to do what we love as much as we can, it’s a dream come true.
Before we started travelling, I worked in local government in administration. I had been in this job for several years and had reached a complete brick wall where I was so fed up, but didn’t know what else to do. The only thing I knew that I wanted to do was to travel, and had wanted to do that for many years.
There were hundreds and hundreds of places on my wishlist that I wanted to go to, and I knew that going on a weeks holiday maybe twice a year if we were lucky wasn’t going to cut it.
After being in lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, and working from home staring at the same 4 walls every day, 2021 seemed like the perfect time for us to take the risk to finally do what we had dreamed of for so long.
It was a hard decision to completely change our lives, but so far it has been the best decision we have ever made!