By Tony Barthel
This is going to sound strange, but I bought a washing machine to save weight on our long journey to the middle of this country. It sounds nonsensical, but I think my math works out.
I bought the SUPER DEAL Portable Compact Mini Twin Tub Washing Machine on Amazon. There’s no dryer and the washer is pretty manual … but not completely. And that’s why I bought this thing – for the “not completely” part.
There are a lot of almost-completely manual washing machines out there that are even cheaper and lighter than what I bought, but those didn’t fit my vision. Essentially, the goal was to bring fewer clothes on my trip to save space and, more importantly, weight.
Then, after a few days of travel when I am staying in an RV park, I can plug this thing in and get a few loads of laundry done. My goal is to not have to babysit the washing machine so I can be traveling and also writing these reviews.
If I had one of the manually operated machines I’d have to actually be there the whole time and operate the thing, which means I wouldn’t get as many RV stories written for you. It’s all about you, you know. Seriously.
How this portable washing machine works
After watching a few reviews of various machines, I settled on this one. It seems that there are a bunch of different machines out there but they all essentially do the same thing.
What impressed me after watching the videos of this one was the degree of agitation this washer offers.
I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I displace a lot of water in the pool. I can get six of my 3XL shirts into the drum of this washing machine. While there is a provision to attach a water line directly to this machine, I chose to just plop the whole thing in the bathtub of my travel trailer and fill it with the showerhead.
There is a gentle and a normal setting on the wash process, so I threw some shirts in and a very, very small amount of detergent and turned the knob. The knob is nothing more than a mechanical timer and while it’s marked with numbers up to 15, where one assumes this is minutes, I wouldn’t set my watch by these timers. They’re dollar store egg timers at best.
Lots of agitation goin’ on
The machine goes about twisting and turning the clothes. The videos I watched were quite accurate – the agitation is significant. Once this process is completed, you turn the dial on the top to “drain.” Essentially, it just opens a valve and the water pours out through a hose by gravity. This is why it was in the bathtub of my travel trailer – I just let the water flow out and down the drain.
Flip the knob back over to the wash cycle, fill it with clean water for a rinse and don’t forget the fabric softener. I did. Yes. I noticed.
There are two drums in this thing. One is the wash and rinse cycle, and the second is the spin cycle. The spin drum is about half the size of the wash drum so you have to split your load in two if you’ve done six shirts. The spin cycle really spins at high speed and the clothes come out dry enough that they’re not dripping at all.
Was this portable washing machine worth it?
Was this worth the $160 I paid for it? The short answer is yes.
The basic function of the machine, washing clothes, works well. The clothes go in dirty and, with minimal effort, come out clean.
The machine is very light since it’s made almost completely out of plastic, and it’ll stow in my pickup until it’s wash day.
The best part is, I don’t have to hope that an RV park is empty enough that there are washing machines available or that the town’s resident murderer isn’t doing his laundry on the same day I choose in the town laundromat. No quarters, no sitting around waiting for clothes to be done, and no wondering what grossness someone else washed out of their clothes before I washed the grossness out of my own.
One thing: This is definitely something I’d want to use when I have full hookups. It takes 120vac power and a total of about ten gallons for both wash and rinse cycles. In my trailer I only have a 37-gallon fresh tank and a 30-gallon gray tank. So, again, this is best done in an RV park with full hookups.
So even in a small travel trailer like mine, this thing makes sense. The only question I can’t answer is to the durability of this thing. But it doesn’t feel so cheaply made that it won’t last at least $160 worth.
Watch my video review below, then find the washing machine online here. (Tip from editor: After you watch Tony’s video, look below it for the link to a hilarious post about how one RVer figured out how to never do laundry again.)