For those living in spaces that can’t accommodate a traditional one, a portable washing machine is a lifesaver.  After all, lugging your dirty clothes to the nearest laundromat is a pain. 

However, if you’ve found this article, you probably have a basket of dirty laundry and a portable washing machine that mysteriously stopped working. Let’s save you a trip to the laundromat and get your machine working once more. 

How Do Portable Washing Machines Work?

Before troubleshooting your machine’s issue, let’s quickly review how portable washing machines work. Portable washing machines are utilized in spaces like homes, apartments, or even tiny houses where an installation unit isn’t the best option. 

Portable washing machines can be set up in any room with a sink. Most people opt for the kitchen, but the tub in a bathroom also does the job.

The machine will utilize the sink or tub for a water source and for drainage. Your appliance will likely have two tubes; one is designated for clean water and the other for emptying used water. Some machines, though, may have a single tube pulling double duty.

Much like a traditional washer, a portable version has a large tub that spins the laundry clean. It also requires laundry detergent. Some machines can spin the clothes until nearly dry. Others may not, and you’ll need to hang the wet garments to dry.

That’s how a portable washing machine works, but what do you do when yours isn’t working? Let’s work through the steps below! 

Check the Power

Your laundry hamper is full, but your washing machine won’t even turn on. This sounds like a recipe for disaster but it will have a happy ending if power is the problem. 

Are we really suggesting you try turning it off and back on again? Yes, only because oftentimes, the simplest solution is the right one. 

Before moving on to more complicated troubleshooting, you need to ensure your machine is getting the necessary power. Go ahead and check the outlet and make sure the plug is securely in.

If the plug is in, is the outlet working? If the breaker associated with that outlet is off, you won’t get any electricity. 

While you’re down there and checking out the outlet, now is a good time to mention that portable washing machines should always be plugged into a grounded three-prong outlet. Never opt for an extension cord or similar. Always plug your portable washing machine directly into a wall outlet. 

Hand Placing Three Prong Oulet Correctly
Three-prong outlets feature a third wire coming from them: a grounding wire. In the event of a surge, the excess current and voltage have a place to go that isn’t your body or your electronics.

Check the Motor

If the power is fine, it’s time to investigate the machine’s motor. Like most machines, a portable washer’s motor can overheat. Consider how quickly a laptop can feel warm to the touch, or how it’s best to pull over and stop a car with an overheating engine. 

Overheating is likely the problem if your washing machine mysteriously stopped working after a successful wash. If you touch the machine, it may even be warm to the touch. Let the machine sit and cool. If the motor was overheated, it should turn off and work later.

If your washer overheats once or twice in its lifetime, then it’s likely a non-issue. However, if it’s a recurring problem, it may be time to contact a professional, or even replace the machine.

Check the Belt

Portable Washing Machine Belt In Good Conditions
The belt is what most washers use to spin the drum which agitates, washes, and then spin-wrings the clothes.

Your machine has power and you know it because it’s working, but not like it used to. After months of clean clothes, you’re getting soaking wet clothes or even still soiled garments. Not to mention, the thing barely spins anymore! 

If that sounds like your issue, you need to check the belt. In machinery, belts are used to keep engines working like a well-oiled machine. If a belt is too worn or even torn, things will start going downhill. 

Checking the belt requires some tools, but it isn’t a difficult task. First, you’ll want to locate your machine’s engine. It will be found on the back or bottom of the machine. Most likely, there will be some sort of door or panel. 

You’ll need to remove said panel to get to the root of the problem. To remove the panel, you may need to break out a power drill. Using the drill, remove the screws and keep them in a safe place. Don’t lose them!

With the panel out of the way, locate the belt. You can visually inspect the belt or even touch it and see how it feels. If it looks visibly stretched out, or it feels floppy, it’s time to retire it. You can buy a replacement belt at your local home improvement store. If that fails, of course, there is always the internet!

You may have a guard in front of the belt. It will likely have a bolt on the pulley as well.  You’ll need to remove both of these. A screwdriver should do the trick, but you can bring back the power drill as well. 

Once all barriers are removed, the belt should slip easily off. Carefully stretch the new belt over the pulley and pop it back into place. Replace any bolts and guards after that.

It’s possible you may even find an article of clothing stuck in the belt, like one YouTuber who found a toddler’s sock inside his machine’s engine compartment. As you can imagine, it’s best that you remove any stray socks. Things like that can mess with the belt’s functionality. 

Call a Professional

Unfortunately, bringing in a professional isn’t a quick fix but at this point, it’s probably necessary. If the above tricks didn’t work, it might be an issue you can’t fix on your own. Check the manufacturer’s website for contact information regarding a repair technician in your area. 

Conclusion

There is never a convenient time for any sort of washing machine to stop working. Thankfully, portable washing machines are easy to repair with the help of some power tools and an instruction manual or even a YouTube video or two. 

Now that you’ve repaired your portable washing machine, what else needs your attention? Do you have a steam mop or a dehumidifier?