This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Which portable dryer is best?

Dryers make the process of laundering clothes quicker and easier. However, not everyone has room in their home for a large machine. That’s where portable dryers can help. They come in spin and tumble drying models, both of which offer their own benefits. Those looking for a quicker and more energy efficient option may want to opt for a spin dryer, however these won’t get your clothes 100% dry. 

If you love pulling warm, wrinkle-free clothes out of the dryer, a portable tumble dryer like the Homelabs Compact Laundry Dryer is the way to go. While smaller than traditional home units, it offers all the same features, including heated and heatless drying options and several programs and time settings.   

What to know before you buy a portable dryer

Manual vs. electric

Portable dryers can either be manual or electric. Manual dryers rely on you to turn a hand crank, press a foot pedal or perform some other action to make the tub spin. This can be quite tiring but it eliminates the need to have access to electricity to dry your clothes, making manual models the ideal choice for camping, boating and similar settings. Plus, many manual portable dryers are dual purpose and can also be used to wash clothes.

Electric portable dryers remove all the manual effort from the job. Instead, you simply plug them in, select the cycle and let the dryer do all the work. These tend to be heavier and more cumbersome to transport than manual models. They also cannot be used in as many settings because they require access to a power outlet.

Spin drying vs. tumble drying

All manual portable dryers are spin dryers, but electric models may either be spin dryers or tumble dryers. As the name implies, spin dryers spin the clothes very quickly, utilizing centrifugal force to pull water out of the clothes. This is a very quick and energy efficient process. However, it cannot completely dry clothes. Instead, it leaves them slightly damp so you’ll need to hang the clothes for a short period of time to finish the drying process.

Tumble dryers utilize a combination of heat and a tumbling motion to dry clothes. This process can completely dry clothes, but it takes longer and uses more electricity than spin dryers. It can potentially damage delicate materials like wool and silk.

What to look for in a quality portable dryer


Portable dryers do not offer the same capacity as traditional home dryers, which means you’ll need to do smaller loads. On average home dryers have between a 7- and 8.5-cubic foot capacity, whereas portable dryers have between a 1p and 4-cubic foot capacity. This translates to somewhere between 4 and 16 pounds of clothes per load, respectively.

Drying time

Spin dryers can get clothes mostly dry within three to five minutes. Conversely, tumble dryers can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour but will completely dry the clothes. 


Despite the name, not all portable dryers are equally portable. Manual models are the most portable as they don’t weigh very much and can be used anywhere. Electric dryers are heavier, due to the motor and electrical components, and they can only be used where you have access to electricity. Along with the weight and power requirements, you should also take the overall size into consideration when determining portability.

Washing function

Some portable dryers are also capable of washing clothes. On manual models, the washing and drying is performed in the same drum. However, on electric models, the washing and drying is usually performed in different drums, which means one of two things: either the capacity of each stage will be less because the dryer needs to share space with the washing drum or the overall build will be larger, heavier and less portable.

How much you can expect to spend on a portable dryer

Manual portable dryers cost $75-$150. Electric models cost $150-$350.

Portable dryer FAQ

How long do you have to hang clothes for after using a spin dryer to get them fully dry?

A. The answer to this depends on the material and the effectiveness of the spin dryer in question. Lightweight fabrics may only need to hang for 5 or 10 or minutes in the sun to fully dry after using an electric spin dryer. Jeans and similarly heavy fabrics may need 20 or more minutes. For manual spin dryers, the answer varies greatly because it is dependent on how much effort you put into spinning the water out.

Do portable electric dryers require a 220-volt outlet?

A. No. Unlike home dryers, portable electric dryers almost always connect to a 110-volt power source.

What is the best portable dryer to buy?

Top portable dryer

Homelabs Compact Laundry Dryer

Homelabs Compact Laundry Dryer

What you need to know: This electric tumble dryer offers many of the same features as traditional home dryers but in a compact and easily portable design.

What you’ll love: It can dry up to 13 pounds of clothes per load and has several programs and heat settings. It also has a heatless tumble dry feature for delicate garments. 

What you should consider: It vents out hot air, which will need to be considered when deciding on its placement.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top portable dryer for the money

MEIHG Mini Machine Washer and Dryer

MEIHG Mini Machine Washer and Dryer

What you need to know: This dual-purpose manual washer and dryer is an eco-friendly option that can be used almost anywhere.

What you’ll love: It can be spun in both directions, which makes it equally comfortable for lefties and righties to operate, and it has directional drainage that eliminates the need to pick it up and manually dump out the excess water. 

What you should consider: Its small size makes it easily portable but also means it can only handle around 4 pounds of clothing per load.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Panda Portable Spin Dryer

Panda Portable Spin Dryer

What you need to know: This efficient spin dryer rotates at 3,200 RPM and has a sleek stainless steel design that gives it a high-end look.

What you’ll love: It’s more effective than many other spin dryers so you won’t have to hang clothes for very long afterward. Plus, it finishes a cycle in just five minutes.

What you should consider: It is very loud and causes a lot of vibrations on whatever surface it is placed on.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Home Depot


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Brett Dvoretz writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2021 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.