Dec 10, 2014

Daily thoughts - Panda mini washer and Nina soft spin dry review

In my previous post i talked a bit about our tiny but comfortable apartment located smack in the middle of a great neighborhood with access to prime locations in NYC. although i did highlight the many things i think make it a great place in terms of location and accessibility, it doesnt come without some shortcomings just like most apartments. Not a lot, but some I find a little exasperating, like the postman who leaves a pink slip in your mailbox and lies that he knocked to deliver a package (you know he didnt because you were home all day)neighbors who smoke weed almost on a daily basis (i have no issues with weed in general but whatever they are smoking smells stale and stinky, like weed with rat piss or something) and occasional weirdos and crack heads loitering around. But my rant today arent about those i mentioned. as the title suggests im here to write a review. 

But before I get on that review, i see this as an opportunity to whine about doing laundry. I dont hate laundry per se, i hate that i have to do it at the laundromat outside of our building. Laundromats are ubiquitous in NY, but these coin operated machines are like gas guzzlers. They tend to be expensive in the long run. Sometimes I end up spending 10-15 dollars for a week's load of laundry because the dryers take forever to work. Not to mention, even the lowest setting can fry the hell out of your clothes or just leave them damp and have this weird old cabinet or worse, dirty rag odor. unfortunately we arent allowed to own those huge washing machine in our apartment. Not to mention the apartment is too small to accommodate one anyway, and there are no hook ups for it. 

I actually like doing laundry. Back in my home country, I have my own full size washing machine that has the washer and spinner. Over here, you need to have a bigger apartment to have a space for that machine. That is if your landlord even will allow it (if youre renting).

For over a year I have been doing the biweekly drudgery of hauling the huge bags of laundry in our grocery cart to the laundromat located 2 blocks away. The first few months were tolerable. I didnt really dread doing laundry. But after I got busy with work and the weather became unforgiving, I felt bored and annoyed with the routine. Sometimes I would show up at the place to find out it's packed. And I just feel it is going to aggravate me more if I had to go back home defeated. I could come back the next day with the same scenario so I I usually, just hang around, waste 1 or 2 additional hours waiting for an available washer, then dryer. Plus some people are disgusting and rude. If you dont remove your clothes fast enough from the washer after the cycle is over(even if its just 1 minute) while you're busy jamming the first batch of wet washed clothes in the dryer, you'll find the second batch of your clean clothes already in one of the rolling laundry carts. Imagine those you-dont-want-to-know-where-it-has-been hands of theirs touching your freshly laundered clothes and probably even checking out your unmentionables. This is why instead of doing laundry every two weeks, i let the dirty clothes, sheets and other stuff pile up and do it once a month. sometimes id go through the drawer and discover I have nothing to wear. sometimes i have to do emergency washes in between so we have at least some clean underpants and socks. 

I wanted to restore my love for doing the laundry (im serious!) or rather avoid all the annoying aspects of it. So one evening while contemplating on what to have for dinner while looking at the bags of dirty laundry hatefully, I thought of surfing the net to see if there are any small washers available. My demands were simple: small enough to fit in our apartment without causing our super to get suspicious, user friendly and affordable.

And to my astonishment, there are a bunch of these magnificent inventions available online. I was happy but a little upset to not have thought of it sooner. 

The first one that caught my attention was the laundry pod. The concept is great plus the fact it is environment friendly which is big to me. But there is one  major caveat (which i expected because it is eco friendly), it is crank type. ie, manual.  I was almost ready to order it online when the husband who overheard me getting all excited over it, asked, "you sure you want to crank that thing for minutes?". My husband makes fun of my puny arms and sometimes refers to me as a velociraptor coz he thinks i have powerful legs and can spend hours running in the cold or warm temperature, but my arms are weak. I can't even do a decent 10 regular push ups. i counter by saying that my arms prepares dinner and wash dishes and a host of other amazing capabilities but yeah he was right. my arms are lazy and cant withstand manual spinning of clothes for 10 minutes. That just takes the joy out of doing the laundry. which brings me back to the reason i wanted to purchase a washer : to restore my love for doing the laundry (lol).

I do hand wash clothes every now and then especially for most delicae clothes. Ive even washed a pair of dress pants one time for work. But im not too keen on anything that involves manual washing. It might seem like a good workout for some,but not for me. By the time I get home from work or a run i simply just want to prepare dinner. On weekends although I may do laundry, I want to also relax and do other things. The laundry pod is a good option for those who do not mind doing their laundry every two days and doing it manually. As for me its just a glorified salad spinner with a hefty price tag. The going rate, the last time I checked, was close to a hundred dollars. So no, thank you. If ill be doing most of the work and still shell out that much money, I consider it a rip off. So I crossed that out from my potential list.

I looked up other mini washers and I was close to getting either the basecamp or the laundry alternative mini wash. But most of the articles I came across kept mentioning the Panda and the Wonder wash. The wonder wash is manually operated so I went for the Panda mini washer instead also because I read numerous excellent reviews on amazon, articles and youtube videos. 

looks can be deceiving.. box looks like garbage
cute and small. see that hose inside? its crap
just an empty box
cats inspecting their new "toy"
setting up my new "toy" on a tray table
now with soap and water . snap, filter and ready for instagram!
the little beast In action!
perspective: its either the cat is big, or the washer is small.
Below is a simple yet clear self explanatory video I found on youtube (minus the noisy unnecessary narrator)on how to operate the machine. Also as a suggestion, if you ever decide to buy the panda washer, get it directly from to avoid the shipping fee. I got sucked into purchasing it from Amazon where we usually get most of our stuff, but they didnt give s free shipping despite our being Prime subscribers. Boooo!


I will skip the product specifications which you can view on this link. Or you can also check out amazon's reviews and product description as well on their site.  

Basic features

Here is a link that is very useful in figuring out which of the mini washers you think might be suitable for you. And here is another review made for the Panda mini washer and other compact washers.


After one month's use of this mini washer all I can say is it's awesome. End of review. Lol just kidding. I mean this machine at first looked like a toy. It's size was perfect considering the limited space we have in our apartment. I ordered it on my birthday as a present for myself (i know most people buy shoes, bags, electronics and fancy stuff on their special day. but making my chores easier for myself is a treat). It arrived a week later boy was I excited! My husband knows. I ask him everyday for the ups tracking update. I was exhausted that day after a run and lack of sleep, but i immediately went on to set up my new toy in the bathroom. I propped it on top of one of our tray tables and filled it up with water and soap. Then I started doing the laundry.

After one year of dreading doing the laundry, I was excited, immensely enjoying doing the laundry again! Except for the rinse part which I had to do manually.

The table fit perfectly in the bathroom where I can set it close to the tub and also the power outlet. Later on however I decided to just let it sit on the floor. The table was just a tad wobbly but I was worried it wasnt sturdy enough and cause the washer to fall. Then I'd be sad if that happens, my investment down the drain. I didnt want to stand around watching the laundry waiting for that to happen so i decided to just let the machine sit on the bathroom floor. That would also allow me to go around the apartment and do other things while the machine does its job. 

After a month of using the panda mini washer, I would like to recommend the following:

1) Load: Make sure that you dont overload it. I know manual says 5.5 lbs but i usually put 2-3 shirts at a time. For jeans i throw in one pair. The same for fluffy towels. For socks and underwear you can put them all together. 5 undies and 5 pair of socks seem ok. Of course i cant honestly tell if that isn't too taxing for the agitator. What I do is I reach in the tub and sort of do a swirling motion with the socks and undies in make sure if there is some wiggle room (before turning the knob on). I also check the drain hose while the machine is running to see if the soapy water is overflowing.

2) Detergent: I know that in laundromats we usually put a capful or half depending on how much laundry we have. but this tiny machine works well with just 2-3 tbsp per 3 gallons of water. dont ask me how i came up with this equation but its an estimate through trial and error. too little and you feel the clothes arent clean enough. too much and youre gonna spend a lot of time rinsing the soap out, plus the drain hose will spew lots of bubbles that could spill over and get your floor or machine (if its sitting on the floor) wet. some videos show the machine on a counter. Unfortunately that wont work for me because the hose that is supposed to go to the water inlet in the machine is just cheap unreliable plastic and it wont fit in the mouth of the faucet. Its too annoying to use but there are tips on the amazon reviews where you can check other users' suggestions. In my case I just use a dipper or a little pail to fill up the tub with water. 

3) Presoaking or rinsing: I run, a lot. That means i have a bunch of special wick, easy dry technical shirts and shorts designed for work outs. I normally have to soak them in penguin wash prior to hand washing them because that's the only way to get rid of possible odor from sweat. ive tried washing them in the laundromat and drying it using their dryers but it somehow ruins the fabricl. Since I have been using this amazing machine, the only added part of the routine is to just let the machine replace the handwashing. I still soak the clothes for 30 mins to an hour. As for the rest of the clothes, i rinse it a bit with clear water just to knock out some loose dirt or hair from my cats or little chunks of food or whatnots. Then throw it in the washer. For items  that are somewhat "dirtier" or soiled, i rinse it a bit, then soak it in basin with a bit of soap and water for a few minutes or hours, before running it in the machine.  it sounds like a lot of work but to me the results are really worth it. My husband swears his clothes and other stuff are way cleaner and smells good. Without the icky factor that it was washed along with other people's clothes (i know you dont get venereal diseases from washing machines but its an added relief or consolation to have the peace of mind knowing you didnt have to share a washing machine with one who has herpes and the like).

4) Get a spin dryer and a tree clothes rack. We had the rack before we moved to our new apartment and Ive used it for tiny items in the past and for semi damp clothes from the laundromat. Now it came in handy because if i had not mentioned earlier, this mini washer is just that, for washing. It does not have a spin feature hence my recommendation to get one. For the first few weeks i was using the washer, i had to wring out the water from the clothes and let it sit in the new additional clothes rack i bought. I usually leave it in the bath tub and move it to the common room when it was time for us to use the shower before retiring to bed. Honestly it can get a bit irritating when the clothes come out sopping wet. 

5)Comforters and big jackets cannot be washed in this machine. Twin and even queen sized sheets are okay as long as you only put one at a time.

VERDICT: My overall rating for the mini washer is supposed to be 5 stars. But ill have to take that half a star notch down because of the hose which I dont intend on using because of its poor quality. The drain hose is made of the same material so i hope that does'nt fall apart anytime soon. But if this machine holds up for the remainder of the 6 month warranty and hopefully for longer, then ill give it an easy 5 stars.


Here is a short take on the dryer. I have had the dryer for a little over two weeks so i decided I' ll write a more thorough review after a month. But so far, like the washer, I am not disappointed. If anything, im actually very impressed at its efficiency. Plus I would like to give a shoutout tothe distributor, Laundry Alternative, for the unexpected quick turn around time. I ordered this item around lunchtime on November 20th and it arrived a little over 24 hours the next day. Of course i found an excuse to do laundry that day despite another sleepless night. Test test time! Please check out the product specifications on the distributor website.

 I wish to emphasize that although the clothes come out almost dry, it is expected to be a little damp. This machine just spins the water out and it does not have any heat like conventional dryers.
Just hang the clothes on tree clothes rack or a regular clothes rack and its dry in a few hours. The size came as a surprise and is bigger than expected but it comes with a nice handle that allows you to lug it around for use and storage. It looks somewhat like a huge air pot and the design is simple but dainty and not tacky . There is a flat round plastic inside that you will need later on to "stabilize" or keep the wet clothes pushed down. Its supposed to minimize wobbling once you turn the machine on. If the machine does start jerking back and forth or side to side, just open it (wait for the spinning to come to a full stop)and adjust the clothes. I did encounter this issue the first few times but the technique that worked for me is to put the heavier clothes at the bottom and not to overload the dryer. Also avoid placing the wet clothes all rolled up or bunched up because doing so keeps the weight concentrated on one side of the tub and makes it more imbalanced. Youll know when youve done it right if the spinning does not seem to make loud noises and it doesnt rock, just like in the video.  

I dont know what else to add at this point except i think the rest is pretty easy to follow. Just watch this you tube video and youll get the idea.


it was bigger than i expected
styrofoam inside to protect the  tub
a little basin or pail to hold water need to be placed under the spout
ready to rumble
dont forget to remove the metal rod before use
To sum it all up, Im very happy with my new "toys". And i wish to reiterate,like most people who have shared their reviews online, these items pretty much pay for itself after a few uses. Im just tired of wasting my coins on those bottomless coin operated machines. NO more waiting in line, no more sharing with some rude, nasty customers,and now i can do the laundry while reading, watching tv or playing with the cats(lol sounds like a corny infomercial sales pitch)but wait theres's more! Especially with winter coming (its already the 30's over here but its not yet officially winter) i feel like a squirrel who can comfortably stay in its hiding place safe with all the nuts stashed away when the weather was good. This gives me peace of mind that even with the impending bad weather, i can stay inside the comfort of my shoebox paradise and do my laundry. safe away from possible perverts checking out my laundry "delicates" lol.

Noone is paying me to write this review but I give it a thumbs up and would definitely purchase it again if these fall apart after the warranty period. I highly recommend both of these items for those who live in dorms, tiny apartments, or those who have babies who need to probably wash a lot of cloth diapers and anyone who need something small, affordable and yet a reliable and powerful machine. Truly worth it!

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