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!
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..
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---
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!