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If you travel in an RV for any length of time (beyond a week or so), you’ll most likely end up needing to do laundry on the road. But RV laundry doesn’t have to be a daunting task – it just needs to get done, and there are many ways to accomplish it.
After 20 years on the road, living in our RV full time, and spending time with lots of friends who are full-time RVers, we’ve got tips!
So, let’s talk about RV laundry day!
- 1) What’s the Big Deal About RV Laundry?
- 2) Where In the Rig Can We Keep Our RV Laundry?
- 3) What Are Your Laundering Options When You’re Living In an RV?
Tips for Making Laundry Day Easier
- 4.1) Conserve Laundry for as Long as Possible
- 4.2) Hand-Wash Undergarments Regularly
- 4.3) Use Small, Quick-Dry Microfiber Towels
- 4.4) Carry a Collapsible Drying Rack
- 4.5) Do Laundry When You’re At a Campground or RV Park
- 4.6) Choose Your Laundromat Timing Carefully
- 4.7) Use a Portable Wash Bag Between Full Laundry Days
- 4.8) Beware of Hanging Lots of Wet Laundry In Your RV
- 5) What Are Your Best Tips for Doing RV Laundry on the Road?
What’s the Big Deal About RV Laundry?
The big deal about RV laundry is that it’s laundry. 😁
But seriously, folks, the truth is that doing laundry while traveling in an RV has its obstacles. For example, if you don’t have a way to wash and dry your clothes in your RV, then you have to find a way, and that usually involves some inconvenience.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a washer and dryer in your rig, there are still obstacles here and there. For example, if we’re boondocking, we’d have to allot a fair amount of resources (fresh water, gray tank capacity, and power/electricity) to the laundry. Which we almost NEVER do. Normally, we wait until we’re at an RV park with full hookups. And while this isn’t a terrible inconvenience at all (talk about first-world problems, LOL!), it still involves more planning than just tossing in a load of laundry whenever you want.
And there are other issues that can make RV laundry a big deal. Let’s take a look…
Where In the Rig Can We Keep Our RV Laundry?
In every RV, space is an issue to one degree or another. For instance, where do RVers store their laundry as it’s accumulating?
Surely this is less of an issue in a 43’ Class A motorhome than it is in an 11’ long Class B RV, but we’ve all gotta have a plan around storing our laundry as we await laundry day.
Here are a few common places to store your RV laundry:
Hamper In a Room or Closet
If your RV is fairly large, keeping a laundry hamper in a bedroom or bathroom may not be a big deal. For many RVers, however, an alternate plan is necessary. One idea is to store a soft-sided (and thus flexible) hamper in a closet.
To do this, of course, you’d have to first have a closet! And not every RVer does. Next thought…
Hamper In the Shower
Many RVers keep a hamper in the shower area, and simply remove the hamper temporarily when anyone needs to shower.
That said, not every RVer has a dry bath (for more information on dry baths, see our post, “What Is a Dry Bath in a Camper?”).
For the purpose of this post, it’s simply important to know that a dry bath generally has a separate shower stall. For RVers with a dry bath, then, the option to store your hamper in the shower is a reasonable one.
Some RVs, however, have a wet bath, and storing laundry in a wet bath really isn’t a great option… since that would mean it’s in the way of using the bathroom for purposes other than showering.
An RV wet bath is essentially a tiny bathroom that serves as a shower as well, meaning that the entire bathroom, toilet, and all, are part of the shower. When you shower in a wet bath, the entire room gets wet.
Now – if you want to pop your hamper on the toilet seat cover and move it every time someone uses the bathroom for any purpose, you can do this – and many people do. In fact, for some travelers, it may be the only option.
If you’ve got a storage area on the interior of the RV where you can store your laundry, that’s a great option for you.
Alternatively, you may have a storage bay that’s accessible only from the outside. It’s certainly less than ideal to have to run outside to access a storage bay every time you have to toss a piece of laundry in the bin, but again – it’s a simple inconvenience.
The same is true for an item like a Trasharoo that can serve as an external laundry bag (hung on the back of the RV).
- TREAD LIGHTLY - You can haul away all the trash you accumulate in a weekend and maybe even make the trails a littler cleaner as you go.
- HIGH QUALITY - Made from high quality 900 denier canvas with wide buckles and a heavy-duty attachment to your existing external spare tire.
The ideal solution from the perspective of both storage and potential odor is to use an external storage bay that has a chute on the inside that allows you to toss your laundry down the chute. Your laundry ends up in a bin inside an external storage bay, but you don’t have to run outside to toss the laundry into the bin (hello RV manufacturers… are you listening here?).
What Are Your Laundering Options When You’re Living In an RV?
As for the actual laundering itself, when you’re living in an RV, you’ve got several options. None is perfect, but hey… don’t forget… we’re traveling in an RV!
Campground/RV Park Laundromat
One option for laundering your clothes is to use the public laundromats at a campground or RV park where you stay for a night or longer. This is an easy option, but also means that on laundry day you have to hang around to put a load in, move it to the dryer, etc. You may also have to wait for an available washer and/or dryer, especially in busy campgrounds.
Outside Commercial Laundromat
Most cities and towns have a commercial laundromat (or several) where RVers can take a morning or an afternoon and get all the laundry done. It’s an inconvenience, as visiting the laundromat generally is, but it’s a great option for people who are on the road.
It’s great to know that no matter where you travel and for how long, there’ll be a place where you can do your laundry.
Onboard RV Washer/Dryer
This is our category – we have an onboard RV washer & dryer. This is a very convenient option to be sure, but we have the advantage of having the space in our RV for stacked, separate units. Many smaller RVs come with a combination washer/dryer… where one unit operates as both. We never liked the one we had in our first RV, but it can be better than nothing.
As we mentioned earlier in the post, we have to be mindful of our resources when we’re off the grid. Although our ultimate RV solar panel system provides a lot of power, and our RV fresh water tank is pretty hefty, laundry is best reserved (when possible) for a day when we set up at an RV park.
And if you’ve never given boondocking a try, we highly encourage you to do so. Here’s a great way to get started:
Portable RV Washer/Dryer
Another option for doing your laundry right there in your RV is a portable washer/dryer combination. There are a number of options available at various price points. We can’t personally recommend one based on experience, but there are a couple of options with lots of positive reviews.
- 〖Easy to Operate〗- On the control panel are there ten programs, 8 water level selections and LED display. All functions and operation including...
- 〖Compact Design & Large Load Capacity〗- Giantex washing machine is compact and lightweight for you to easily move it in your home. But the...
- The full-automatic washing machine equipped with Heavy, Soft, Normal, Rapid, and Soak 5 programs and 3 water levels, you are allowed to quickly start...
- This top load compact washing machine with only 18.1 inches in width, 17.7 inches in-depth, and 31.5 inches in height, this portable washer is able to...
Portable Wash Bag & Hooks for Drying
Portable wash bags are another option for doing your laundry right there in your RV. They actually work fairly well, but wouldn’t be a great option if you have a large load of laundry to do at one time. If you’ve got some underwear, a couple of pairs of socks, and a shirt and a pair of shorts to launder, this option might be fine. A full load of laundry, towels and all, would surely send us hunting for a laundromat, however.
That said, if you want to keep up with very small loads daily or every couple of days, these will work! You can grab a portable wash bag like this one and some hooks to hang in your bathroom for drying.
- FAST & CONVENIENT: The patented washboard-in-a-bag design gives a machine quality wash in just minutes and you can wash anywhere – perfect for...
- SO SMALL AND LIGHT: Weighing just 5.3 oz. and folding to pocket-size, this world’s smallest washing machine takes up no space and lets you travel...
- 🤍 Superior Quality: The suction cup hooks is using high-strength clear plastic PET material and high-tech locking technology which is environmental...
- 🤍 Heavy Duty: Bigger vacuum suction cups than normal ones that can hold up to 22 lbs, double vacuum suction ensures it can work in different...
Just remember that hanging wet things in your RV contributes to the moisture in the air, potentially making your rig ripe for the development of mildew or even mold. Hang a few items to dry, and be sure to run your vent fan!
Use a Local Professional Laundry Service
And, finally, using a professional laundry service in the area where you’re staying is an option. With these services, you drop your laundry off, and you collect it at a specified time all washed, dried, and folded (thanks, Mom! LOL!).
While this is certainly a more expensive option than doing laundry yourself, it DOES free you up to be out and about doing other things while someone ELSE does your laundry for you.
Prices for this service vary from region to region. Call around to the laundry services in your area for local prices.
Tips for Making Laundry Day Easier
We’ve got several quick tips to share to make laundry day a little easier.
Conserve Laundry for as Long as Possible
One approach is to delay doing the laundry for as long as possible by conserving your laundry. If you’re out hiking and you get hot and sweaty, or you trip and fall into the mud, or you spill hot sauce down the front of your shirt – okay, drop that stuff in the hamper ASAP.
However, if you can wear the same pair of clothes for a few days (breathable hiking clothes are great for this since they dry quickly, helping to prevent odor), or use your towels as long as possible, go ahead and do it in an effort to conserve laundry so that you’re not having to do this deed every week. (If you’re RVing with five kids – well – this may not be an option. And also, bless your heart.) 😇←You.
Hand-Wash Undergarments Regularly
If you need to stretch out your time to laundry day, it can make a whole lot of sense to wash a small batch of undergarments in a tub or sink on a regular basis and hang them to dry. This is especially helpful if your outer garments don’t get very dirty and you have enough clean clothes to get by for a couple of weeks or more.
In this case, you can stretch out the time between laundromat visits, or make it to the next time you roll into an RV park with a laundromat or full hookups.
Use Small, Quick-Dry Microfiber Towels
This one’s important. Large towels add significantly to your laundry load and they require a lot of time and resources to dry. Microfiber towels are a great option because they hang dry quickly and, when you do launder them, they require far less room and far less drying time.
Even larger microfiber towels like these are more efficient than a large, plush cotton bath towel:
- COMFORTABLE & SOFT - Made of High Quality Microfiber, Lightweight and Soft than Ordinary towel. Ideal for Bath, Outdoor Camping, Swimming, Sports,...
- ABSORBENT & FAST DRYING – JML Microfiber towels can absorb 7 times their weight in water makes quick drying large surface and easy, This towel can...
Carry a Collapsible Drying Rack
If you carry a small collapsible drying rack in your RV, you can pull it out to hang-dry clothes that you hand-wash to save on trips to a laundromat.
Also, drying clothes in an electric dryer uses a lot of power. Conserving on the drying side is always helpful where electricity is concerned.
- Clothes drying rack for energy savings and gentle drying so your clothes last longer
- Made of durable yet lightweight steel that is easy to move from room to room; supports up to 32 pounds
Do Laundry When You’re At a Campground or RV Park
Once again, you can do your laundry when you’re at a campground or RV park.
Pro Tip: Get a few rolls of quarters when you’re at a bank!
Choose Your Laundromat Timing Carefully
If you use commercial laundromats, choose your timing carefully to avoid crowds. It’s often helpful to call ahead and ask when their busiest times are. The fewer people who are there with you, the more machines will be available so you can get your laundry done quickly.
Use a Portable Wash Bag Between Full Laundry Days
The portable wash bag mentioned above can be used between regular laundry days to stretch out the time between laundromat visits.
Beware of Hanging Lots of Wet Laundry In Your RV
An important note worth reiterating: If you hang wet laundry in your RV, be aware of the propensity to cause moisture build-up in the RV. Moisture is an enemy to RVs, as it can rapidly form mold or mildew (especially in cool/cold weather… and in places where you may not see it forming).
If you hang a couple of microfiber towels and maybe some light undergarments and run your vent fan, you shouldn’t create a significant issue. However, hanging a full wash load of clothing to dry in the RV isn’t generally your best option overall.
That said, you can dehumidify your RV using one of the dehumidifying options in our post on the best RV dehumidifiers.
What Are Your Best Tips for Doing RV Laundry on the Road?
Do you have tips to share for doing RV laundry on the road? What’s your system? Drop us a comment!
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Even though we're handy RVers, we're not professional technicians. So although we're happy with the techniques and products we use, you should be sure to confirm that all methods and materials are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.