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How To Clean a Portable Washing Machine (Step-by-Step)

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Sometimes you really need to do laundry but don’t have access to a washing machine. This often happens during long trips, but it can also occur at home when you need to wash only a few pieces of clothing and don’t want to be wasteful.

If you want to avoid washing laundry by hand, the solution is a portable washing machine, but if you use it, you’ll also have to clean it.

To clean a portable washing machine, drain the machine of any leftover water and remove any items left in it. Then wash the inside with a washing machine cleaning solution to remove limescale and detergent deposits. Wash the outside thoroughly and clean out the lint filter.

I’ll explain how to clean your portable washing machine thoroughly in this article. I’ll also reveal a few tips and tricks to keep it clean and odor-free for a longer time, thus helping it prolong its work life. Keep reading to learn more.

How to Clean a Portable Washing Machine (Step-by-step)
A video of what you need to do to clean your portable washer.

1. Drain the Portable Washing Machine and Remove Any Leftover Items

It seems apparent that you’d need to drain the water from the portable washing machine after washing your clothes, right?

Unfortunately, we’re all human, and sometimes, it’s not unheard of to simply forget to do it – forgetfulness is not a crime. So, here’s your reminder. 

When cleaning the machine, you need to drain the water. You should also remove any leftover bras, socks, and other items that may still be inside it.

2. Wash the Interior of the Machine

To wash the inside of the machine, you can use a standard cleaning solution for washing machines. I recommend this Glisten Washer Magic Machine Cleaner from Amazon.

It eliminates limescale, soap scum, and detergent deposits. Plus, it doesn’t contain any bleach, so it’s perfectly safe for any laundry you add after cleaning the machine. You can also purchase it in a variety of package sizes to suit your needs.

You can also use homemade cleaning solutions like lime or vinegar and baking soda to eliminate grime and limescale. You can also boil water and white vinegar and use them to clean the washing machine. Doing so will help you get rid of limescale and detergent buildup. 

You can wash your portable washing machine by hand with an old toothbrush or a cloth. Be sure to scrub all the grooves and edges. 

On the other hand, you could add the solution like you usually would washing detergent and use a washing cycle with hot water to clean and sanitize the insides. If you’re using a washing cycle, pause it in the middle for a few hours to give the cleaning solution time to do its magic.

If there are still stains inside your washing machine, make sure all the vinegar is rinsed out, add some bleach and water, and run a complete washing cycle. In the end, rinse your machine with warm water to remove any leftover cleaning solution or bleach.

Make sure not to mix bleach and vinegar because the mix creates chlorine gas dangerous to human health.

3. Wash the Outside of the Portable Washing Machine

To remove any detergent or fabric softener residue, stains, or smudgy fingerprints from the exterior of your portable washing machine, use a soft cloth and the spare vinegar and water solution – vinegar is a good choice for killing household germs

If there are greasy stains on the outside of the washing machine that water and vinegar have not been able to remove, dissolve a little dishwashing detergent or clothing detergent in warm water and wipe them off. After that, wipe the entire exterior with a cloth soaked in clean water and finish with a dry cloth.

Turn off the water-feeding faucet, effectively shutting off the water to your washing machine. Then, clean all the connections and pipes, ensuring everything is spotless.

Leave the machine’s lid open to ensure all the water evaporates and no mildew forms again.

4. Clean Out the Lint Filter

This is what a lint filter looks like. My model does not have one, so a stock photo will have to do.

Most portable washing machines have instructions that will tell you how to clean out the lint filter. Luckily, it is still relatively easy to do if you don’t have the instructions. Some machines have two filters, one for catching lint and one for catching debris. 

After taking my cheap portable washer apart, I found no lint filter on it. If you have a similar model to mine, yours may collect all the lint in the drain pipe as well. Yay.

The lint and debris filters are usually located at the bottom and are easy to remove. Wash them under tap water; if they are in horrible shape, use the old champion: boiling water and vinegar mix. Make sure you have cleaned both if the machine has two.

A Few Useful Tips

Here are a few valuable tips to help prolong your portable washing machine’s work life and cleanliness. They will also help your laundry get washed thoroughly and not come out of the machine smelling musky:

  • Drain the portable washing machine immediately after use. Leaving the water in the washing machine will make it a breeding ground for bacteria and cause mildew. This will make washing laundry ineffective because it won’t get cleaned properly.
  • Don’t use too much detergent and fabric softener. Using too much will lead to the accumulation of detergent deposits and soap scum, making your dirty clothes even dirtier. With the small amount of water the portable washing machine uses, it won’t be able to rinse out all the detergent, and your clothes might become itchy and the machine smelly.
  • Leave the lid open after use. Leaving the cover open will allow the air to dry the washing machine properly and prevent mold formation.
  • Clean your portable washing machine every two weeks. Doing so will make every next cleaning more manageable and much less work.


It’s essential to follow these steps to clean your portable washing machine: 

  1. Get rid of water and any leftover laundry from the washing machine.
  2.  Thoroughly clean the inside to get rid of the deposits of detergent and limescale that prevent your laundry from coming out fresh and fragrant. 
  3. Perform a thorough cleanup of the exterior to take care of any smudges left while cleaning the interior
  4. Clean the lint filter.

Doing this every two weeks will keep your washing machine clean and extend its life.


Wednesday 6th of September 2023

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In the realm of household appliances, the portable washing machine stands as a testament to the ingenuity of modern engineering. This compact and versatile device has transformed the way people do laundry, offering convenience and flexibility like never before. Whether you live in a small apartment, a dormitory, a tiny house, or an RV, a portable washing machine can be a game-changer for your laundry needs.


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