Understanding Portable Laundry in an RV

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As appliance repair specialists, we occasionally get a call to an RV or well-appointed camper. Portable kitchens, bathrooms, and even portable laundry rooms are surprisingly common, and more than a little finicky. One of the biggest challenges of RV life and long road trip travel is doing laundry. Today, we’re here to share a few pro tips on how to master laundry, both logistically and mechanically, when traveling in a camper.

When it comes to RV laundry, you’re not just packing once. You’re preparing a system. To help you build the perfect laundry solution for your RV, whether you’re going full-time or just like to take really long vacations, we’ve put together the ultimate RV laundry guide. Our aim is to at least touch on every laundry question you might need to be answered.

RV Washer/Dryers

Some RVs are big enough to house a dual-purpose washer/dryer or a stacked set. These can take up a lot of space, power, and water, but many full-time RVers swear by them as a great way to simplify your life and reduce trips to the laundromat. An RV washer dryer is often designed to be stacked in an extra space in the RV bathroom, concentrating all the plumbing in one place. You will need hot and cold water along with a drain for the washer along with an outside vent for the dryer. Not to mention plenty of electricity in your generator.RV washers/dryer sets still run small loads, but it can be a life-saver for acquiring a clean outfit without heading to a laundromat. You can fluff towels in the dryer and quickly recover hiking-muddied clothing or swimsuits after a busy day. It is common to be unable to run both units at once, using the RV’s power supply, and repairs should be taken very seriously because these units are so small.

Know when to call for repairs on your RV washer/dryer so that the units are in top condition when you are far from laundromats and repair services.

The Tub-Wash Solution

Don’t like laundromats? Some people don’t, and others prefer simply to save their quarters with an ‘at home solution. As it turns out, the RV is a pretty good washing machine by itself. If you’re on your way to a campground and will make it before nightfall, fill a plastic tub 1/2 full with water and a little detergent and put in a small load of clothes. Pop the lid on, set the tub in the shower, and let the gentle rocking of the RV agitate the clothes. When you get in place, rinse the clothes, string your clothesline, and hang dry.

Laundromats And Other Laundry Opportunities

The go-to laundry solution for most RVers is a laundromat or other public laundry facility. You might be surprised to learn that many campgrounds and truck stops also have laundry facilities along with additional amenities that make waiting for your laundry much more enjoyable. Truck stops often have cozy little diners so you can have lunch while your laundry rolls and campsites with laundry, of course, have the great outdoors. Pack your own detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, and collapsible hampers for the clean clothes.

One great way to handle the quarter situation is to cut a slit in the lid of an old washed-out butter tub, coffee can, or similar plastic container and use it as a DIY piggy bank that can be thrown into the hamper on your way out the door.

Space is Limited, Pack for Two Weeks

The first thing every RVer must accept is that while an RV has all the comforts of a stationary house, it does not have all the storage. Your RV likely has a tiny closet nook for a few hanging outfits along with an overhead cabinet build over the top of your bed. These should contain all the space you need to pack two weeks worth of clothes for two people quite comfortably as long as you pack efficiently. For most people, two weeks means 14 shirts, 7-10 pairs of pants, and 14-20 sets of socks and underwear because sometimes (especially camping) you might have to change your socks in the middle of the day. Because the weather can vary, also consider 1 waterproof jacket, 2-5 sweaters, and one ‘laundry day’ outfit for hot heavy-duty cleaning.

Mix-And-Match Casual

Now the question, especially if you’re packing from a full closet and dresser at home, is which shirts and pants to bring. Remember that RV life is going to involve a lot of camping and a reasonable amount of vehicle maintenance meaning this is not the place for your nicest clothes, but you’ll also be meeting strangers on a regular basis and will want to look alright. Pick a variety of soft shirts, soft pants, and sturdy pants that can be easily mixed-and-matched for a nice-looking outfit no matter what the combination (and no matter what’s dirty that day). Consider the kind of camping you’ll be doing and local temperatures when deciding the shape and fabric of each garment.

Special Occasion Outfits

If you are planning to live full-time in your RV, this means that you’re packing for a lifestyle and not just a single casual trip and therefore may want one or two outfits that can be worn out on the town with friends. If this is a concern, select one outfit that can be worn to restaurants, concerts, and dinner parties, and another that can be worn safely to a ‘black tie’ event. Make sure they’re clean and pressed, then seal them into a garment back and hang it at the back of your closet. You won’t need them often, so they’re more like emergency gear than normal clothes.

Versatile Shoes

Almost no RVer has an extensive shoe collection, but we do have practical ones. You’ll most likely want one pair of sturdy strap-on sandals for warm days and swimming in unfamiliar waters, one pair of clean, comfortable sneakers, one pair of plain dress shoes that can survive a campground but look fine in a restaurant, and possibly a pair of camping boots. Store them in a long bin under the bed, layered tightly in a closed box, or in a strategically placed shoe rack.

—Laundry in your RV does not have to be a mess or a hassle as long as you have put together a system of storage, washing, drying, and putting away that works smoothly for you and your RV. Contact us if your RV washer/dryer or other appliances need repairs.

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