Doing Laundry while Living in an RV Full Time

Having clean clothes and linens is very important for every household, be it living in normal houses or living outdoors, such as in RVs. RV campers have the extra challenge as they do not have easy access to washing machines just like people in normal houses would have. However, it is not that much of an obstacle anymore as there are a lot of things RV campers can do to ensure they will have enough supply of freshly laundered clothing and linens for their beds. A lot of campers have been using these methods, tips, and tricks to varying degrees of success.

How do we take care of our clothes while living in the RV? Choose the best options for laundry based on your needs. Invest on the best detergents and dryer sheets for your laundry. Never mix a sick person’s dirty clothes with others. Lastly, sort your clothes accordingly before going to the cleaners.

This article is about taking care of your laundry while living in the RV. I will be giving you the options travelers often use to wash their clothes, along with some of my personal recommendations. I will also provide you tips on the different aspects of laundry in your RV, as well as some tricks and life hacks me and the other RV campers have been using for years. Finally, I will also refresh you on how to wash your clothes and linens in accordance with the CDC guidelines in light of the coronavirus.

Getting To Know Your Laundry Options For Your RV

Installing A Splendide Washer/Dryer Combo

Onboard washer/dryer combos are very popular among RV travelers and campers alike. A lot of people use this for their laundry needs as these are very reliable and super easy to use. Also, it does not require you to go to the laundromat, saving you money, time, and effort to bring your clothes there.

However, the catch in using a washer/dryer combo is that you can only do small loads, and by small, I mean very small. You cannot load your whole stack inside or it will not function well. Washer/dryer combos are also expensive to begin with, with a normal unit costing around $1,199 as of this writing. So if you do not have that much money to buy one, this is not for you.

Lastly, not all RVs have the space or the power enough for a washer/dryer. A normal washer/dryer weighs around 153 pounds, and this might affect the performance of your RV as this is also heavy. If you are willing to give a chunk of your RV space to a big appliance and have the money to spend for it, then go for this one as this is a convenient choice for you.

Going For The Portable Washer

Portable washers are used by a lot of campers as a way to wash a small load of clothes at times. Several types of portable washers are available, with Panda and Manatee being the best choice for the portable washers among campers.

Panda only weighs 28 pounds, which is a good weight for your RV as it will not affect its performance. It is also easy to operate, and powerful for its size. This has one side of washing and also one side of spinning. 

This has a built-in dryer also, making your laundry trips easy since you can just hang the thicker ones dry outside and just air dry the thinner ones. The process of putting your clothes through the washing machine and drying them can be simplified by having them spin on the spinning wheel.

WonderWash is also a good option for a portable washer. It takes 3 minutes to turn the crank manually and then lets the container sit for 10 minutes before beginning to soak. It also does not need electricity to operate so this is a good one for those who do not want to have their electricity bills up for only washing their clothes. 

As this is a small portable washer, this one is good for small loads. Do not overwork the portable washers as they can get broken when used inappropriately.

Going For The Laundromats: The Old-Fashioned Way

Using the laundromats is also a very good and practical idea for RV campers and outdoor travelers.

There are a lot of pros in going to the laundromat for your laundry needs. One of those is the low maintaining cost. Laundromats are very cheap and convenient: you just have to bring your laundry, put them in the washer with the detergent and other cleaning materials you use, then wait for it to finish.

You also have the option of having them pressed and ironed after drying, which is a good choice in my opinion. You will never have to worry about having wrinkled clothing when you have your clothes ironed in advance. You just have to store them properly in your cabinets using hangers or other clothing storage organizers you have in your campers.

Another good pro is that you do not have to allot space for washers inside your RV. You will save a lot of space and not to mention, your electricity and power costs will not be affected. You just have to have your trusted detergents and fabric conditioners in stock, especially if you have allergic reactions with detergents, thus requiring you to have special ones for your linens and clothes.

One tip is that you have to wash everything accordingly. Buy color saving sheets, and separate colored clothing to whites.

Personal Recommendation: Aim For Practicality And Convenience

To be honest, the reason why we choose to live in our RVs is to cut a major chunk of our living expenses. Hence, I recommend that you aim for the options that are practical and convenient to you.

If you are a person who likes traveling to rural areas, where electricity and water are not that abundant, then invest a washer/dryer combo as it will save you money. If you prefer to live in the urban areas, then going to the laundromat is the best option for you as you just need at least $3 to wash all your clothes and linens with ease.

Choosing The Best Detergents And Laundry Tools

Use The Best Detergent For Your Needs And Expectations

There are several excellent care products that keep your clothes looking good for a long time without wearing out.

Keep looking at what you are getting results out of, not what you are losing by trying something else. You do not need as much laundry detergent in commercial washers as opposed to single-use items. In fact, the machines fail to respond well when there is a large amount of product used.

As opposed to its original design, when it malfunctioned, having too much suds, which required that it be manually emptied, the machine being blocked from draining, and still having an excessive amount of cloth which was unable to be removed.

Thus, you have to choose which soaps, detergents, and fabric conditioners would work the best for you, your clothes, and your linens as well. If you are allergic to regular detergents, make it a habit to stock up on your special detergents and soaps as we do not want to risk having allergic reactions while wearing clothes washed with regular detergents and fabric conditioners.

Using extra scented soaps in your wash cycle is one way to make your laundry stay fresher for longer. If you use any of these products, make sure to use a laundry soap that does not have a fragrance that clashes with the new scent. Another way to keep your laundry looking nice is to pre-treat stains before throwing them in the wash, or better still, before throwing them inside the laundry bins.

Choose Between Pods And Liquids Based On Your Needs

These two options offer convenience and practicality to everyone, and they have different merits on their own too. Detergent pods are the easiest ones to pack and use, especially on trips outside.

They also do not cause a lot of harm on most fabrics, so it will not be an issue to most campers. On the other hand, liquid soaps are better if you have portable washers or washing machines inside your RV. Using liquid soaps help the machine create a better end product, as it makes your clothes cleaner and the scent penetrates even better.

Dryer Sheets And Wool Balls For Your Drying Needs

Living in a dry area is a challenge, especially because these areas do not have a lot of moisture and humidity. Living during the winter season also poses the same challenge.

For this one, you must have dryer sheets as they are very effective in the drying process. Color saving drying sheets are also very popular as it allows the color on your clothes to remain vivid and clear, reducing the chances of fading.

However, some might find the chemicals in dryer sheets a bit too strong for their skin, especially those who have sensitive skin issues. For this one, you can use reusable wool balls. You can also add the essential oils of your choice to lend scents to your clothes.

Wool balls are reusable and they also help in breaking up the laundry in the dryer, preventing it from getting clumped up. If the clothes inside the dryer are not clumped up, it will not have any wet spots as it will get dry easier.

Checking And Improving Your Laundry Skills

Sorting Clothes Before You Go To The Laundromat

It could be a hassle to go to your laundromat and sort the clothes there on the spot.

More people could be using the washing machine and some of them might have more important things, and you sorting your clothes in front of them can be very annoying. It is the best way to sort your clothes at home, before going to your laundromat. Sorting darks and whites and coloreds is one thing, but sorting clothes based on fabrics is another story.

Some types of clothes such as athleisure wear and clothes made from lightweight fabrics are not made to withstand staying in the dryer for a longer period of time. The same can be said for clothes made from fur, animal skin, and leather. These types of clothes require a special set of care so you have to sort them from those that are easy to wash and dry. Some tags also say to lay the item flat to dry so the delicate fabric does not get damaged.

Then there are the darks; consider sorting them by cotton weight so they can be washed together. Washing T-shirts with other articles such as underwear is not recommended, as they are made from different materials with different drying times. Your boxer briefs will dry much easier than your oversized T-shirt.

It is the best to separate clothes based on how thick their fabrics are and put them together in one wash load. By doing this, you will save more time because you timed the dry cycle accurately.

Your Drying Skills Are Also Important

Having your laundry dry in batches allows you to start commuting it back to the truck or RV one load at a time, as long as you focus on taking out the lighter weight fabrics first.

Workout clothes and lightweight fabrics such as your tank tops and underwear dry much faster, so you can put them on medium heat in the dryer first. They will be dry in under 15 minutes.

Then, you can proceed with drying your darks, denims, clothing with thick fabrics, and towels, then linens and other special clothing such as those made with delicate or expensive materials like silk, leather, fur, and animal skin. This method allows you to multitask effectively, saving you more time and effort.

Other Tips You Can Use For Your Laundry

After your clothes get folded in the laundromat, put them in small reusable grocery bags and sort them according to who owns what. That way, you will just give them their freshly cleaned clothes without risking the chances of it getting wrinkled due to rummaging around. 

You can also use this method in sorting your intimate wear so that it would give you a sense of privacy, since the laundromat is still a public place and you do not want everyone to see your panties. Lastly, fold the clothes properly so that you do not have to fold them again once you get home. This prevents your clothes from wrinkling.

CDC Guidelines On Washing Your Clothes And Linens

Do Not Mix Clothes To Sick Family Members

If you have family members who are sick, even if it is just a cough, a bout of colds, or fever, do not wash your clothes with theirs.

As much as possible, wash their clothes in a separate place. If you have to use a separate washer or if you can hand-wash their clothes, it would be better. It is not allowed for their clothes to be mixed with the others as some viruses withstand the cleaning agents in detergents and fabric conditioners.

Wash their clothes with hot to warm water to kill the germs and dry them separately. If you can also iron the clothes, it would be a good precaution as well. Wear disposable gloves when doing their laundry and throw them away after each use. For reusable gloves, you cannot use these when washing clothes of healthy family members. These gloves should only be used for the sick person’s clothing and linens.

Lastly, do not shake dirty laundry as this will minimize the possibility of the virus to disperse through the air.

Wash Clothes And Linens As Appropriate

Do not scrimp on washing clothes as these are very important. Wash each and every article of clothing the way it should be washed. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in washing certain types of clothes so that it would be clean and ready to wear once it dries out.

Wash stuffed toys and rag dolls as these are good breeding grounds for germs and viruses. Wash them with the warmest water and dry them completely. As for linens, you can use a detergent that can kill more germs than the usual without harming your skin or making your sleep uncomfortable due to its ingredients.


Doing your laundry is a very important chore because not only you need clean clothes to wear, but it also helps prevent diseases by washing your clothes clean, not exposing you to viruses and germs out there. There are a few ways on how to take care of your laundry while living in an RV, which are all tried and tested effective by a lot of RV campers and travelers around the world. Choose whatever is applicable to you and wash your clothes well.

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