Are you wondering how RVers do their laundry when they’re on an extended road trip? Or what about full-time RVers? Here are five different RV laundry solutions so you can have clean clothes while you travel!
If you’re on an extended RV trip – whether that’s for a few weeks in the summer, if you’re a snowbird escaping the winter or you’re a full-time RVer who calls their RV home, clean clothes is a must. And when it comes to RV laundry, you actually have quite a few choices.
I’ll start off with what we did to get our clothes clean and end with what I wish we would have had…
5 RV Laundry Solutions for Clean Clothes While You Travel
Solution #1 Use RV Parks’ Laundromat
On our travels, we found that most of the RV parks we stayed at had a place for you to do laundry. I can count on one hand the parks that didn’t have it, which meant we had to find another solution to get our clothes clean.
Just like all RV parks aren’t created equal, all RV park laundry options aren’t created equal. For example, one time we did a load and ended up with gum on one of Todd’s brand new shirts. Talk about a bummer!
Here are the pros and cons of using the RV parks washer and dryer.
- Sometimes it’s free – we always felt like we hit the jackpot when we could do our laundry for free. This was a rarity though!
- It’s convenient – it was so nice to be able to put a load in and head back to your camping spot
- You have to hunt down quarters – most of the RV parks’ washers and dryers required quarters to use them. Check with the RV park first to see if they have a roll you can get and if not, try a local Walmart. If neither of those options works, there’s always the bank and local laundromats.
- It can be expensive – the difference in price to do your laundry at the different parks was pretty crazy. While one place would be $1.00 the next place would be $3.00 – which can add up!
- Your clothes can get ruined – as I mentioned above, we did one load and the machine had gum in it. With so many people using the machines, you just don’t know what you’re going to get.
- You have to compete with everyone else wanting to do laundry – this was the most frustrating thing! I remember at times going back to the laundry room over and over and over to try to get our laundry done, but all of the machines were being used. (Keep reading for some tips to avoid this, as well as laundry room etiquette.)
Tips on Using the RV Park’s Laundry
- To avoid having to wait for an open machine, we found that Tuesdays and Wednesdays were typically the best days to do laundry. A lot of the long weekend and week-long travelers were heading out on either a Sunday or Monday. Plus, the next batch of travelers wouldn’t be arriving until Thursday or Friday.
- Inspect the machines – before you put a load in either the washer or dryer, look inside for gum, pens and any other random items that can ruin your clothes
- Follow RV park laundry etiquette – some RV parks have strict rules of not leaving your clothes unattended. If that was the case, I just brought a book with me and enjoyed the time to read. Also, set a timer for your clothes and be sure to check on them! It’s so frustrating for someone who is waiting to use a machine to go back several times and see that the clothes have been done for a quite a while, but the owner is nowhere in sight.
- Get quarters the same time you grocery shop – If you’re at a local Walmart or even some local grocery stores and you know you need to do laundry, go ahead and get a roll of quarters before you leave
Solution #2 Use the Local Laundromat
If the RV park you’re staying at doesn’t have machines or you’re dry camping/boondocking, using the local laundromat is an option. We had to do this a few times and while it’s not my favorite thing in the world to do, it was worth it to have clean clothes.
- You can wash and dry all of your clothes at the same time – most laundromats have an overabundance of machines, which allows you to use several machines at once if you need to. It can cut the time it takes to do your laundry in half!
- They usually have machines for quarters – most laundromats we went to either had a change machine to get quarters or you could ask for some at the counter
- You can use your debit card – a couple of laundromats we went to had machines that took debit cards. No need for quarters!
- Sometimes the laundromat is really run down – we saw some laundromats that I wasn’t sure I could trust their machines
- Sometimes the laundromat is not in a safe location – we always did a drive-by to check out the location first to make sure we felt safe doing our laundry there. I hate to say something like that but…safety first.
- You have to stay with your clothes – you can’t throw a load in and then head back to your campsite. You stay until all the clothes are done.
Solution #3 Use a Drop off Service
If the RV park has no machines or you’re short on time, look for a local laundromat that has drop-off service and let someone else do your laundry.
We never personally did this, but I remember being at one laundromat and seeing quite a few people come in and drop off their laundry. Most places will have same-day or next day service.
Solution #4 Use a Portable Washer Dryer Combo
We came close to purchasing a portable washer for our RV and I think if we would have kept traveling past the year and a half mark, I just might have invested in one.
I first found out how great these were for full-time RVers in an RV Facebook group I was in. They recommended this one and said it was the perfect portable washer for their RV for washing things like underwear, socks, and t-shirts. It wasn’t good for heavy items like jeans or sweatshirts though. (Although some reviewers of this machine said they were able to do a load with one pair of jeans, a small thin sweatshirt, socks, and underwear.)
This portable washer/dryer combo has two tubs – one for washing and one for spin drying. It runs off 120v power and will take up to 10lbs capacity for washing and 6lbs capacity for spinning. It also features a drainage tube which allows you to easily drain out dirty water.
I’ve read that even after your clothes go through the spin drying, they will most likely still be damp and you’ll need to line dry them.
Another washer alternative is to purchase a hand crank option such as the Wonder Wash. It doesn’t require any electricity, but it does require some elbow grease.
For line drying, you can either rig up a line outside to dry your clothes (but only if the RV park allows it – which most don’t!) or use a drying rack like this one.
Here are a few other RV clothes drying rack options:
The Original Smartdryer Indoor/Outdoor Retractable Clothes Drying Rack – Ideal for Your RV
Lightweight Over Door Laundry Drying Rack Organizer
Panda Portable Ventless Clothes Dryer Folding Drying Machine with Heater
Another portable washer option, which is great for RVing, camping, backpacking, hiking and other forms of travel is the smallest washing machine in the world. Meet Scrubba.
Our ultra-portable washing machine makes your journey easier. This convenient, pocket-sized travel companion allows you to travel lighter and helps you save money, time and water.
Weighing less than 142g (~5oz.) the Scrubba Wash Bag is a modern take on the old fashioned washboard. It is twice as effective as hand washing* and a lot more hygienic that a dirty hotel sink.
How does the Scrubba work?
- You fill it with water, laundry detergent, and clothes
- Roll it down and clip
- Twist the valve and press down to deflate
- Press down and rub clothes on Scrubba Wash Bag’s unique internal flexible washboard for 30 seconds – 3 minutes
- Unclip, pour out the water, rinse clothes with fresh water in the Scrubba
- Voila! Clean clothes
An ingenious little invention isn’t it? Get more information on the Srcubba here.
Solution #5 Purchase an RV with Washer/Dryer Hookups
This is the easiest way to do laundry while RVing and honestly would have been a dream on our travels. RVs with washer/dryer hookups are more common than ever now. He’s an RV tour of a fifth wheel we did where the laundry hookups are in a closet in the master bedroom.
(This RV also had recliners with massage and heat…which you can tell I kind of enjoyed.)
Here’s a video on how the Splendide Washer-Dryer Combo Works:
As with any options, this one has pros and cons as well.
- It’s convenient and easy to do laundry right from your RV
- You can choose to wash only or dry only
- No hunting down quarters!
- You can’t use this while dry camping/boondocking
- The loads are smaller than your typical washer and dryer
- It can take 2 – 3 hours to wash and dry a load
- The spin cycle can shake the RV a bit
Which RV Laundry Solution is Best for You?
I hope we gave you enough information to decide which RV laundry solution is the best for your situation. One thing to remember is just like with anything when it comes to RVing, you have to be flexible and go with the flow. Issues with laundry will arise, inconveniences will happen, you might get gum on a brand new shirt, but you just have to roll with it.
And RVing is a great way to learn how to just roll with it… 🙂
Julie Bonner is one-half of the TREKKN team. She specializes in helping you whip up delicious meals in your tiny RV kitchen, as well as RV organization tips and helping fellow RVers make their RV feel like home. Her favorite RVing spot is in Banff National Park in Canada where yes, the water really is that blue and the people really are that nice.
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