As real estate prices soar, tiny homes are becoming more prevalent. If you’re thinking about moving into one, there are multiple aspects of your life that you’re going to have to scale back, including your laundry. No more 6-cubic-feet behemoths for you, you’re going to have to get a compact.
You might have to compromise on size, but getting the right model means you won’t have to lose a shred of performance. However, smaller capacity does mean more loads and more time spent doing laundry, but that’s a small price to pay to avoid lugging your dirty clothes down to the laundromat.
Also, keep in mind that compact washers often require a 220V connection. If you live in a condo or apartment, you’ll probably need the association or landlord’s permission to get a compact set installed.
With these obstacles in mind, we spent months researching and testing the compact washing machines. After analyzing their stain removal, water usage, and features, the Miele W1(available at AJ Madison) came out on top.
These are the best compact washers we tested ranked, in order:
Fisher & Paykel WH2424F1
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The Miele W1 WWH860 blows most compact washers out of the water. Not only does it satisfy the needs to fit in a laundry closet or tiny home, but it also has innovations that we’d normally see on a full-sized flagship model.
What really impressed us was this Miele’s versatility. It has the ability to satisfy consumers that want to set their laundry and forget it and micromanagers that want to control every aspect of the wash.
For example, this model comes with TwinDos—a feature that utilizes pre-filled detergent and oxygen bleach cartridges. It automatically dispenses the correct amount of detergent, giving you the optimum clean. However, you can also adjust the amount of detergent dispensed down to the milliliter to suit your specific needs.
As many fancy features as the Miele has, we think the more important thing is that it cleans well. In that regard, this washer passed with flying colors. Our lab tests show that the one-hour-and-23-minute Normal cycle is one of the best in its class, and we found that the honeycomb textured drum lifts stains from clothes without fraying them.
High-tech features combined with good-old-fashioned scrubbing creates a top-notch compact washer. While the 860 is very expensive, it’ll pay back everything you put into it.
The LG WM1388HW is a great compact washer for a family that has limited space, emphasis on the word family. It's clear from the cycle selection and control layout that this LG was designed to be a supplementary washer for new parents. You might scoff at the idea of shelling out an additional $999 just to clean your kid's clothes, but if you're considering using cloth diapers, you might change your tune.
The WM1388HW has a powerful Sanitary cycle aided by an internal water heater, meaning germs on security blankets and those cloth diapers don't stand a chance. When you combine the high temperatures with a highly-textured steel drum, you get a washer that is tough on stains, and gentle on laundry.
We were a little disappointed at how slow this machine is. Even the Speed Wash took over an hour. While this isn't out of the ordinary for a compact washer, it is surprising, given that full-sized LG washers have a feature called TurboWash, which creates cycles that are some of the fastest in the industry.
For those willing to wait on the washer, the accompanying dryer is a deal maker. The LG DLEC888W got a comforter 99.7 percent dry in just an hour and fifteen minutes, a feat many full-sized dryers struggle with. Combine these two together, and you really can stop going to the laundromat, and put up your feet in your tiny home.
I'm Jon Chan, and I tested all these compact washers, along with a few hundred other laundry machines. Over the years, my testing and reviewing philosophy is centered around: performance, value, and usability. To this end, washers that I recommend have to do something exceptional in two of these categories, while offering something in the third.
Every washing machine that comes into Reviewed’s labs gets put through the same testing regime, which addresses both performance and user-friendliness. Performance tests include:
• Stain removal – Using a strip of AHAM-approved stains (which includes cocoa, sweat, pig’s blood, red wine, and oil), how much of each stain can this washing machine remove?
• Wear and tear – During a given cycle, how hard is the mechanical action of the washing machine on your clothes?
• Water retention – How much water does your washing machine spin out at the end of the cycle?
• Cycle time – How long is each washing machine cycle?
The best washing machines have solid stain removal abilities, do not damage your clothes, retain little water, and have short cycle times.
Beyond these performance tests, we also assess the usability of each washing machine, based on our experience, both during testing and during more casual use (one perk of working at Reviewed is that there is plenty of laundry machines on premises!). Our main goal is to get the answer to one question: How easy is it to actually use this washing machine? This involves cumulatively assessing the control panel, the door, the detergent dispenser, and any smart features that are included.
By combining the performance data with our own observations, we can make the solid recommendations for someone looking for any type of washing machine at any price point.
What You Should Know About Compact Washers
Still not sure if you want to invest in a compact washer, or how a compact washer is different from a regular washer? We've got the info you need so that when it comes time for you to make a purchasing decision, you can buy the washing machine that's right for you and your home.
What is a Compact Washer?
Broadly speaking, a compact washer is defined by having a width less than 27 inches. Most compact washers are 24 inches wide.
Compact washers tend to be slower than full-sized ones. Expect wash cycles to take at least an hour. Heavy-duty cycles can last up to three hours. We should mention that these machines are typically designed with European users in mind, where space is much more limited and consumers tend to do laundry more often.
You Need to Do Laundry More Often
A smaller drum and longer cycles mean you’ll have to do laundry more often. If you live with roommates or a small family, laundry day will not suffice. If you want to have a compact washer, expect to do laundry at least two to three times a week.
You should check the power requirements of any compact washer you buy. There’s a chance that it’ll require a 220V outlet to work, the same as your dryer. In cases, like with the Bosch WAT28401UC, the washer must be plugged into the dryer for it to function.
Compact front-load washers are often more expensive than full-sized ones. This can be attributed to the European design and the higher cost of construction.
Compact washers use the same water connections as full-sized washers.
Other Compact Washers We Tested
It's not surprising that the Electrolux EFLS210TIW took a lead spot in this list. Electrolux makes some of our favorite front-loading washers, including the award-winning 617 model.
With a 24-inch-wide body and a 2.4-cu.-ft. capacity, the EFLS210TIW can stand toe-to-toe with any of its compact competitors. In fact, this washer could take on full-sized models too. We liked the fact that this washer doesn't waste time. The Normal cycle is around one hour and 15 minutes, Heavy Duty is less than an hour, and Fast Wash lives up to its name, finishing in 21 minutes.
The cleaning performance of the EFLS210TWI is on par with other washers on this list. The only downside with the EFLS210TIW is with its accompanying dryer, the Electrolux EFDE210TIW. The dryer has issues with comforters, meaning you may need to take trips to the laundromat for heavy-duty items.
If you line dry or are willing to mix-and-match laundry sets, you should seriously consider getting the compact Electrolux EFLS210TIW.
The Fisher & Paykel (pronounced Pai-Kel) WH2424F1's control panel brims with features. It boasts 12 cleaning cycles, specialized add-ons like steam, and even a Wool cycle approved by Woolmark to ensure it won't wreck your favorite sweaters. And while this machine might have a very European-like feel, (Fisher & Paykel is based in New Zealand) we think Americans will take a shine to it.
First off, the WH2424F1 has reasonably fast cycles. Quick Wash averaged in at around 32 minutes and aced our stain removal test. In fact, this washer did pretty well across the board when it comes to cleaning clothes. We found in a few instances, like the Heavy cycle, the Fisher & Paykel outperformed the higher ranked Miele W1.
However, the WH2424F1 lagged behind efficiency ratings, preventing it from taking a top spot. At the end of each cycle, this compact failed to spin out excess water as well as its competitors. That means more work for the dryer. Luckily, the accompanying Fisher & Paykel DE4024P1 is an excellent ventless dryer. At the end of the day, we also noticed that the WH2424F1 uses more resources than we'd like. Based on our testing and data about the number of times the average American does laundry, we estimate this washer to cost about $70 a year to operate. To put that in perspective, that's about 43 percent more than what the Miele W1 uses.
Overall, if you want cleaner clothes and are will to wait hours for them to get dry, the Fisher & Paykel WH2424F1 is worth checking out.
The GE GFW148SSMWW is a solid compact washer that won’t disappoint. It has decent cleaning power and the main downside, long cycle times, may not be a deal-breaker for many consumers—especially given that most compact washers also have longer cycle times. The selling point here is that the GFW148SSMWW offers appropriate performance for its price point.
Of course, compact washers and dryers tend to charge a premium for their reduced size: If you can fit a full-size model in your home, those will give you more bang for your buck overall.
Amongst the compact washers we've tested, the Bosch WAT28401UC has the most European of sensibilities. For example, this Bosch has two different Permanent Press cycles and uses a specialized 220V plug. Quirks aside, the 28401 proved to have exceptional German engineering. It had the best stain removal of any of the compact washers we've tested. That's unsurprising since the internal water heater is capable of reaching temperatures of close to 170°F.
We similarly were impressed by some of the 28401's features, namely SpeedPerfect. During testing, we found that engaging SpeedPerfect knocked off about 15 minutes from selected cycles, but still got our test laundry just as clean. The catch is that it spun faster and used about 23 percent more water.
While the 28401 was the best performing washer, we'd have a hard time recommending it over other options. First, that specialized plug we mentioned earlier plugs into the Bosch WTG86401UC dryer. That requirement limits where you can put your laundry units and what you can buy as replacements. Also, the 28401 is the most expensive washer on this list, while offering 10 percent less capacity. So, if money is no object, the Bosch is a good choice, but otherwise, try going with the Electrolux or LG.
If your laundry room is too small for a 24-inch compact washing machine, but you still want to be able to chuck your clothes in a washing machine, look no further than the Panda PAN50SWR1 compact washing machine. This compact washer is only about 20 inches wide, and its tall, narrow profile should make it easier to squeeze this into a laundry closet than it would be for a normal compact washer.
We love the Panda compact washer because despite its size, it has a number of appealing features. It has both a normal water hook-up and a faucet adapter, so if you don't have a dedicated water line, you can still get your laundry done by attaching the hose to your kitchen sink. Additionally, it has all of the regular laundry cycles you'll need (Normal, Quick, Heavy, Bulky, Delicate, and Spin Only), an intuitive control panel, and a nice soft-close lid with a window so you can watch your laundry tumble around. While it doesn't remove stains as well as the other compact washers on this list, it does a better cleaning job than you'd expect for paying a fraction of what you'd pay with a 24-inch compact washer. Between its small size, hook up versatility, cycles, features, and price point, we think that the Panda PAN50SWR1 is the perfect compact washer for those in tiny homes, RVs, or any other small laundry space.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.