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Why I Ditched Onsite Laundry in Favor of a Portable Washer and Dryer

Onsite laundry is a menace. I’ve lived in four apartment complexes in Los Angeles over the last six years. Each had its unique disturbances, like neighbors practicing screamo vocals for The Voice and roommates who think they’re Roger Ebert. But after being forced to do laundry in what felt like a dungeon, I began browsing for a portable washer and dryer to keep in my unit.

To be clear — I’ve always hated the onsite apartment laundry system. It’s disruptive to plans, the machines are often unreliable, and it makes you realize how petty your neighbors can be. Have you ever found your wet laundry on top of a machine? That’s a Regina George-level move right there.

Chris Ware | SPY

Four years ago I purchased the Magic Chef Top Load Portable Washing Machine and the Magic Chef White Compact Electric Dryer. My wife and I still gush over what a game-changer they have been for us. But these purchases didn’t come without hours of research on the different types of portable washers and dryers, the reviews, and scouring specs to find the right fit.

Allow me to save hours of screen time.

Courtesy of MC Appliance

The Magic Chef Portable Washing Machine is available in multiple sizes ranging from .09-3 cubic feet.

courtesy of MC Appliance

Consider This Before Buying a Portable Washer and Dryer

Because it uses water, there are a handful of factors to consider prior to buying a portable washer and dryer for your home.

Chris Ware | SPY

Lease Terms

The first thing I did was check my lease to ensure having either one of these machines was in violation of the terms. Luckily, no such clause existed. If your lease does prohibit them, raise the issue with a landlord or building manager to see if there’s wiggle room.

Load Size

Nudists could infer that smaller machines clean fewer garments at once. But what’s surprising is how much capacity they actually have. For example, the Magic Chef portable washer and dryer can fit:

  • Five to six pairs of men’s jeans
  • Four to five standard towels with a few hand towels
  • Two king-size bed sheets
  • One 12×12 quilt

All of the above items will also fit in the dryer, though the larger the load, the longer the dry time.

Loading the Magic Chef portable dryer. Chris Ware | SPY


I wondered if a portable washer and dryer might not have different settings (load length, delicate, etc.) or may not be powerful enough to clean well. Most portable washers and dryers go full Ant-Man with the same settings as full-size machines and, sometimes, more thorough cleaning.


Living in a small space means trying to keep the noise to a minimum (unlike my neighbor). Initially, I was worried about surrounding apartments complaining of, what I imagined, would have sounded like test-piloting spaceships. While both machines do generate some sound, it’s minimal both inside and outside of the apartment.

Chris Ware | SPY

Ease of Use

This was a top priority. My mind Dr. Stranged the different scenarios. Would the machine hook up to a faucet? How would the dryer ventilate? Do these things still plug into a conventional 220-volt outlet?

I find it’s best to be pragmatic about these types of purchases. But after the first load, the Magic Chef portable washer and dryer put my mind at ease. Sure, the setup is different than a traditional washer and dryer system. However, the process is straightforward and takes little time to understand.

For each use of the portable washer, you have to remove the aerator on your faucet and replace it with a connector for the washing machine hose. The dryer ventilates into a small plastic bowl. I recommend putting the dryer near an open window because it generates some heat.

Chris Ware | SPY


After thwarting my initial concerns with the research, the main concern was fitting trying to place these in the apartment without looking like an eyesore.

Los Angeles apartments aren’t quite the shoe boxes of New York, but most apartments have somewhat limited space. I have a small nook off the kitchen which made things easier. In past apartments, I would have had to get creative. But smaller portable washing machines and dryers do exist for those with extreme limitations.

The Magic Chef portable washer and dryer, in my opinion, are a great medium-sized option for most apartments.

Courtesy of MC Appliance

The Magic Chef Portable Washing Machine come in multiple sizes ranging from .09-3 cu. ft.

DimensionsH 36.6 in, W 20.3 in, D 20.7 in
Weight70 lbs
Voltage120 (standard outlet)
DispensersLiquid detergent, Powdered detergent
Amperage3 A
Warranty1 year, parts and labor
courtesy of MC Appliance
DimensionsH 27.50 in, W 23.60 in, D 17.10 in
Weight48.4 lbs
Voltage120 (standard outlet)
Amperage11.7 A
Warranty1 year, parts and labor

Accessories for Portable Washers and Dryers

Using a portable washer and dryer becomes easier with these two tools. Due to the weight of the washing machine, a dolly was a necessary buy for moving it around from the storage area to the kitchen sink. I found that Magic Chef made an adjustable dolly that works well with their machines. I even leave the washing machine on the dolly during cycles (locking the wheels) and have never had an issue.

Courtesy of Amazon


Buy Now

Lastly, after each drying cycle, you will need to briefly vacuum off the dryer’s filter. The filters wear out over time (generally after six months or so). I get my replacement filters from Amazon and they last me about a year.

Courtesy of Amazon