How To Do Laundry When RVing
By Alexis Chateau \
Everyone has a big flex at camp. They might have a nice truck, a unique rig, or the coolest toys. My biggest flex is that I always have clean clothes and I don’t use laundromats. I’ve been using my laundry setup since November 2020, so you can trust that I know what has worked well for me ― and what might work for you. Here’s how to do laundry when RVing!
1. Use the Laundromat
I refuse to use laundromat services unless I absolutely have to, such as when washing comforter sets. Even so, you might feel more comfortable using this option. You will find laundromats just about everywhere in North America, including Mexico. Some RV parks have them onsite.
However, prepare to pay a hefty price. For short trips, it might not matter much. But, paying $20 weekly for laundry was a lot more than I wanted to add to my full-time RVing budget. Even in Mexico, I paid about as much when I brought my comforter sets in for a winter wash. The difference was, however, that they washed and folded everything for me.
2. Make the Right Friends
I spent a month of summer parked on 20 acres of a 100% off-grid property in Silver City, NM. It was a fantastic experience filled with beautiful sunsets, wildlife sightings … and hauling my water with a wheelbarrow! However, my friends on the property had a little, portable washing machine, which made a world of difference for water use and convenience. They were hooked up to a tank, so that helped a ton.
At camp, people with big rigs often have laundry setups inside, so they rarely have to think about how to do laundry when RVing. I’ve never used one in an RV, but if you make the right friends on the road, they offer. Large motorhomes and expensive fifth wheels are your best bet for rig-based laundry.
3. Do It Yourself
So, how do I do laundry when RVing? Am I one of the rich RVers with a laundry setup inside? Nope, but I have elbow grease and the fierce will of the frugal. It helps that my mom taught me how to wash by hand as a teen living in Jamaica. Hilariously, we had two washing machines at the time, but she felt it was a vital skill to learn, and I am so grateful for that!
A plunger and bucket might not sound glamorous, but I get a great workout and can do my laundry off-grid. It takes me anywhere from 45 minutes to two hours to do a week or two worth of laundry. It’s not my favorite chore, but I don’t dread it either.
Biodegradable laundry detergents cost more than your regular options at Walmart. However, using traditional detergents outside can be harmful to the environment. When I wash indoors, I use common store brands. When I wash outdoors, I use biodegradable options.
If you’re COVID-cautious like I am, I recommend also using laundry sanitizers. My line of thinking is that if I missed something, the sanitizer will take care of it before it gets to me.
If you have limited space, consider getting a collapsible bucket. This is one of the changes I’ve made since I first started with my little Dollar Tree bucket. The collapsible bucket folds like a pair of jeans, and I can stuff it just about anywhere. If you have space, regular five-gallon buckets are much easier to use.
You can buy plunger-type washers. I wasn’t fond of the one I had and returned to using my real plunger. Try both to see what works for you. I recommend getting a plunger with a handle as that makes it easier to grip for laundering purposes.
Plunge-wash for about 5 to 10 minutes and plunge-rinse for about 2 to 5 minutes. Double check the areas that need the most washing to see if they need an extra scrub by hand. You can use a spin dryer to help you get the soap out and reduce the need for rinsing twice.
The Holy Grail of my laundry setup is the spin dryer. I cannot recommend this thing enough. It’s a tough cookie. I know this because I accidentally ran over it with the travel trailer once before, and it’s still working! It uses about 250 watts of power. I can run it in the back of the FJ using its onboard inverter or off my Goal Zero 1000 X solar generator.
Ultimately, I think I’ll get a washer from the same company. However, that weighs more and takes up more space, so I’m still on the fence. If you have room for one, you should definitely take the plunge.
The spin dryer doesn’t apply heat, so you’ll still need to pin your clothes on the line to air dry. When I first started, I dried my clothes inside. Since then, I’ve found ways to make a makeshift line just about anywhere outdoors. I’ve used random poles, notches in campsite gazebos, and steel poking out of fences. The RV awning and the FJ Cruiser’s rooftop rack are also an excellent match, so I always have options.
Check Out My Gear for Laundry When RVing
You can find my full laundry setup on my gear page. If you have questions, shoot me a message or leave a comment on social media. The internet isn’t always on my side, but I get to everyone in due time.