Monday, February 3, 2014

My Onboard Washer & Dryer

Lots of big Class A and 5th Wheel RVs have onboard washer/dryers.  Unfortunately, most smaller RVs do not.  It’s not as big a problem as you’d think it might be, though!  If you drive your small RV a lot, you can simply park it in front of the nearest Laundromat!

laundromat

But what if you’re staying at one site for a longer timeframe and don’t wish to break camp?  You then must schlep your laundry to the Laundromat via whatever other means of transportation you have (and spend a few hours sitting inside the Laundromat waiting).  Yuck!  I’d almost rather wrangle a 40’ motorhome!!!

Then there’s the challenge of spending the winter in a foreign country that has no Laundromats at all!  Well, actuality, just about every Mexican town has a “Lavanderia” or two.  These are usually nothing more than a home that has a washing machine or two, a bunch of clothes lines and clothes pins (machine dryers are rare in Mexico), and a handful of industrious folks willing to do all this washing, drying, and folding for about $3 a load..

IMG_6266

The Isla has a perfectly fine Lavanderia man named Alfredo who has done an excellent job cleaning all my bedding and towels.  I could take my clothes to him too if I wished, but I’m still having too much fun with the novelty of my new RV laundry system, so I’ve done these myself.

How?  With my onboard washer/dryer of course!  Now, you might be thinking I’ve figured out some magical way to install one of these Splendide RV combo washer/dryer units in my rig---

splendide-727832

Nope!  No such luck!  Besides, what I’ve heard about those combo machines are that they take up to 2 hours to do a single, tiny load of laundry, use up oodles of electric, and then never manage to get the clothes completely dry anyway.  These units also take up a lot of valuable storage space and weigh 150 lbs or more (that would seriously put a dent in my View’s limited cargo carrying capacity!).

So, enter my much more smaller, lighter, and eco-friendly solution just perfect for a smaller Class C RV—a Mobile Washer, 5 gallon bucket, and Mini Spin Dryer!

IMG_6160

I keep this system in my shower stall where it can be easily deployed when ever I need to do a load of laundry (and is quick to move out of the way when I need to use the shower for bathing)!  The system weighs only 1/10th of a Splendide unit (less than 15 lbs!), uses less than 100 watts of electric, and I can get a small load done in only about 10 minutes!

The Mobile Washer sells for about $25 and, yes, it indeed looks like an oversized toilet plunger…but, trust me, it works great!  It’s simply a couple of plastic aerator cones that get secured together via a screw-in wood pole handle.  The design allows air to push/pull the water and soap through the clothes much more rapidly than if you were just swishing them around with your hands.  

IMG_4670IMG_4671

The Mobile Washer fits nicely into a standard 5 gallon plastic bucket, and the bucket’s tall sides are perfect for minimizing water spills from the agitated water.

IMG_6158

To do a load of laundry, I simply fill the bucket about 1/3 to 1/2 full of water with my outstandingly awesome Oxygenics showerhead, pour a little liquid detergent in, throw the dirty clothes in, and start plunging!

IMG_5280IMG_5284 IMG_5282

The aerator is so efficient that I only need to plunge for about 5 minutes or so to get the clothes clean.  But I’ve found it best to pre-treat and hand scrub any clothes stains first before washing for most effective results.

Once my wash cycle is done, I tip the bucket over (while holding the clothes inside), pour the soapy water out, refill with clean water, and start plunging again for a few minutes to do a rinse cycle.  If you’re skeptical about how clean this plunger will get your clothes, just take a look at how dirty the water is that gets dumped out of your bucket!  You’ll be amazed!

Once washing is done, it’s then time to dry.  When I got my new J motorhome, I discovered an electrical outlet tucked away in the tiny space beneath the TP holder.  I initially thought this was a pretty stupid location since there’s a perfectly fine outlet just on the other side of the wall next to the bath sink.  But I’m now praising the fine Winnebago engineers for their keen foresight!

IMG_4668

This outlet is perfect for my $70 Mini Spin Dryer!  I can plug it in while setting the unit on top of the toilet seat, and have just enough room to run the drain hose down into the shower stall.

IMG_4673IMG_4675

The dryer only consumes 82 watts of power because it does not heat the clothes to dry them.  Rather, it spins at a very high speed to suck the excess water out.  This leaves the clothes nearly dry in most cases (not enough water left to cause them to drip).  The dryer is big enough to do a single pair of jeans.  Not sure I’d put anything bigger or heavier into it.  But that’s o.k. because it only takes about a minute to spin each load dry!

I put the clothes in and then put a little plastic piece on top to prevent the clothes from spinning up too high in the drum.  Then I just turn the timer dial about halfway and the dryer starts doing its thing.

IMG_4685IMG_4686IMG_4688

It took some practice to get this dryer to work reliably though.  Sometimes, I’d get a small load in and it would refuse to spin at all, or would only spin very slowly.  What I finally discovered was that there’s some kind of spring mechanism that gets pushed down if the drum is too heavy with clothes (or if clothes are not well-balanced when loaded).  This trigger seems to get stuck sometimes by just the weight of the drum itself.  But, if I open the lid and just pull up and shake the inside lip of the drum a little bit, it seems to giggle the trigger back into proper position and allows the dryer to then spin at it’s high speed again.  Guess I can’t expect a $69 made-in-China dryer to be as reliable as my big $700 dryer at home, but for now, it does the job.

UPDATE APRIL 2014 =  It appears that Laundry Alternative has now discontinued the blue Mobile Spin Dryer and have come out with a newer, taller, more robust version called the Nina Spin Dryer.  At $139, it's twice the price as the original version, but reviewers are praising its reliability and greatly increased capacity, so I think when my blue dryer wears out, I'll certainly be buying this new one!

For socks and undies, I use this set of 3 hangers with built-in clippies and hang them from my shower rod.  These easily stow in my wash bucket when not in use.

IMG_4672

For shirts and pants, if I have a nice place to run a line outside (like I do here in Mazatlan!), my laundry can be dry within a half-hour!  Otherwise, I’ll just hang things from the shower rod in the RV.

IMG_4689

This system makes doing laundry pretty cheap, easy, and fast!  Best of all, no creepy Laundromat “characters” to deal with, and no worries of finding yourself just a couple quarters short of finishing that last laundry load before closing time!

27 comments:

  1. Sounds like you have a great program there! But just to say that I love, love, love my Splendide washer/dryer. You just need to understand how to use it. But again....you have a great way to do your laundry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, if I could wiggle my nose and have a Splendide magically appear and disappear from my tiny motorhome whenever I needed it, you betcha I'd have one too! My washer/dryer requires active participation the whole time-- can't just throw a load in and walk away!

      Delete
  2. Great system! I would use that in a heart beat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If the dryer were just a smidge smaller and bucket was a bit larger, I could stow the dryer inside the bucket when traveling-- now, that would be ideal!

      Delete
  3. Great ideas. I put together a shower system for my vintage trailer....guess laundry could be next!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a cute little trailer you have! I think you'd definitely need to "glam up" a laundry bucket to make your laundry solution fit in nicely. My Mexican Home Depot bucket has a certain flair, but my decorating skills are sorely lacking!

      Delete
  4. Very inventive and clever! I haven't had a washer or dryer in 13 years.......I rent....no place for one unless I want to walk up 3 flights of stairs. and pay to buy a stackable washer/dryer.
    There are zillions of lavendarias in San Miguel. I've used the same one for 13 years, having tried one or two others, to make sure I was getting the best deal.
    They pick up everything on Monday morning and return it all clean, fluffy and folded the following morning. I'm thoroughly spoiled...........WHERE did you find the two apparatuses that you use?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my, Babs, I think you have the best laundry solution of all...pickup and delivery to your door! Yes, I would surely do that if the service was available to me! The links in my post are where I purchased everything from (mainly Amazon and the Laundry-Alternative company, both in the US).

      Delete
    2. @Babs, maybe that should be "Apparati"?

      Delete
  5. Oh my gosh, how funny is this! I bought a little portable washer today & plan on buying a hand wringer next month! I kept debating on how I wanted to go on this, but decided for me, I'd rather have the little washer with the agitator, then hand wring my clothes. But I think it's funny that you've posted this today! I won't be making a post on mine yet as it's going back. I opened it to discover it was USED! So who knows why it was returned to the store - it wasn't supposed to be resold! So they are sending me a new one tomorrow via UPS & picking up the old one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I'll be VERY interested to read how your system does. What kind of hand wringer are you going to get? If I could find one that would get clothes as dry as this spin dryer does, and would be smaller (maybe something that would attach to my bucket?), then that would be the ultimate boondocking, lightweight combo! I sure wish someone would do a side-by-side comparison of the mini electric washers vs. the hand plunger I've got. I don't think I'd want both the washer and dryer to be electric and "single purpose" items hogging up valuable storage space, but picking one of them to be electric seems like a good compromise!

      Delete
  6. I constantly read all the practical posts by fulltimers on just about any topic, this article was the first of its type and extremely helpful. One thing you showed to all who may be dressing for the winter is your collection of colorful t-shirts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, a full-timer's uniform must consist of what Tioga George used to call "T-shirt and short pants"!!! I'm learning to get rid of more and more sweatshirts and jeans to free up more room for more t-shirts and shorts!

      Delete
  7. What a great setup! A relative of mine purchased and installed a washer/dryer combo in a 5th wheel. It didn't dry well, held too few garments, and kept tripping the breaker. A terrible waste of time and money!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm... one might say that about some of those big 5th wheels too ;-) Although, to be fair, if I were living with another person, I'd probably want a lot more than a 23.5 foot Winnie too!

      Delete
  8. Lynne, I read you blog all the time, and have learned so much from you. The other day I figured out how to do a link on my blog, by looking at yours. We have the same setup as you a 2010 Itasca Navion, with the same floor plan. I wanted to ask you about being and traveling through Mexico, My husband says we should stay away from Mexico because its not safe, you have never mentioned anything about feeling unsafe, I would love to go. We live in Florida so have much the same weather as you are having in Mexico, we like to go to North to get to colder weather, but your blog has me fascinated with the area you are in. I think I will get one of those shower heads that you have mentioned also, seems like its better than the one that comes standard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Nina. I sent you a reply email, but for comment-readers here I thought I'd post a quick response. I've felt very safe in Mexico, but I've also not ventured off the beaten path very much either. But all in all, even though the country is very different than the US, and poverty is not as hidden, one feels a much greater sense of community and personal responsibility here. The people here are friendly and very polite-- not just the adults, but teenagers too! As long as you go to popular RV destinations, and follow sensible precautions as you would when visiting cities in the US, you should be just fine. p.s. have you received your Oxygenics showerhead yet? Oh, wow, those things are great!

      Delete
  9. Nice setup! Who knew that a plunger could do such a good job at washing (just kidding!). Really, I'd much prefer your method than going to the laundry mat OR letting a stranger handle my clothes, I don't care HOW cheap it is) Thanks for showing us and educating me, yet again!

    Lacy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that plunger is quite a conversation-starter when folks visit my RV! But it's cheap, uses no electric, and it works!

      Delete
  10. Replies
    1. Well, for now at least, it's doing the job. Will always be on the look out for something smaller and lighter though!

      Delete
  11. Very ingenious! We actually rather enjoy going to Laundromats, where we meet those "interesting" locals and gather material for my own RovinCrone blog. They are usually somewhere near a local library or supermarket, so we can combine tasks. (Our 24' View can be parked right outside, too.) But if we ever need another solution, I will remember yours. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I don't mind Laundromats every once in a while (especially for bulky bedding and stuff), especially if they're cheap and multiple machines can get my stuff done simultaneously. But it's nice to have the onboard option if the only Laundromat is in a bad part of town, or is super-crowded.

      Delete
  12. I'm with Carol. Have had some interesting conversations doing laundry. Good for the blog, too! We (hubby and I) fulltime in a 2008 24" View B as well. What works for us is to stretch the wearing of our clothes, (but not too much!) and only do laundry every three to four weeks. We do a marathon in about 2.5 hours in a laundromat and are done for another month. But, I have to admit that I am intrigued with your system, Lynne. Not sure where we would store the apparatus. The previous owner build in removable shelves in our shower and we store linens, toiletries, dirty clothes, cleaning supplies and liquor in there! Kathleen

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, if I had to haul an additional person's stuff in the View, I doubt there'd be any room left for the onboard laundry system! A good 1/2-way option might be just the plunger and a collapsable bucket. The clothes would take a bit longer to dry, but not a bad trade-off if it's just your backup system to Laundromats!

      Delete
  13. Hi Lynne,

    Just found your blog today. Love seeing how other RVers do their laundry (I hate laundromats and all the stupid downtime). I chose the amazing Wonderwash (see Amazon) and the Nina Spin Dryer (same). Both are from the same company as your spin dryer. Have not tried them in the RV yet but I have at home, and I have to say the Wonderwash is terrific and easy to use. Have not had the same problems with the Nina that you've had with the smaller unit, but, like you, I'm constantly re-thinking the dryer decision, though, because the Nina is large enough that I think I may be disgruntled about the space it takes up, and I am right now on the lookout for every possible non-electric solution I can find.

    The Best Hand Clothes Wringer (also Amazon...what isn't, these days??), like pretty much every other product, has its lovers and its haters, but the seller has a YT video of it being used on a 5 gal bucket that it sounds like you'd want to watch. (Here's the video's code: d5vTgko0D-I)

    I think I decided this is, overall, too much elbow grease for me. Am now looking for a perfect, motorized ringer...would still be electric, but take up way less space. Too bad this beast is mythical!

    ReplyDelete
  14. As I'm getting ready to embark on my full time adventure, I have been reading a ton of blogs and forums. I haven't seen anyone talk about laundry and was wondering what everyone was doing. Thanks for the great post!

    ReplyDelete

Share Your Views!

Shop Amazon With Us

Lynne's Camera Bag

Join Us On Facebook