When we started RVing 5 years ago, we mainly went on weekend trips, then moved up to week-long trips, and even started going on longer multi-week trips. During that time, we just didn’t do enough laundry for us to justify adding a clothing washer/dryer. We mostly used campground laundry facilities and occasionally went to a laundromat. I had a couple of friends with them and they said that they were super convenient – clothing went back home clean, bathing suits would get dried, etc. But, I kept doing the math – at $3-4 per load of laundry, it was a lot of loads to make up the $1,300 price tag that the Splendide combo costs.
(Note! read to the bottom for a laundry-related giveaway!)
Even when we went fulltime, we made it a full 14 months without one. Our argument was three-fold:
- We didn’t want to outlay the money all at once; we knew the washer/dryer would eventually pay for itself but that’s a lot of pennies to save up at one shot.
- We actually liked that in the span of 2-3 hours all of our laundry for the week got done in one shot.
- And finally, we had weight considerations – the washer dryer combo is 150 lbs.
So, for 14 months – we would load baskets and bags of laundry and head to the campground laundry facilities or out to a nearby laundromat. Sure, we had our wrinkles and hassles: campgrounds with 4 washers, but 2 being out-of-order and dryers that just didn’t dry clothes… ever. But, we held firm to our 3 reasons and held out. Until a couple of back to back “experiences” and the camel’s back was finally broken (don’t worry, my wife loves when I call her camel!).
- a sweltering hot late June/early July day at a muggy campground in New Jersey
- it’s a 500+ site campground and only has a single laundry room
- the laundry room just so happens to not be air-conditioned
- the laundry room has 6 washers, but 2 are out-of-order
- the laundry room has 6 dryers … that work poorly
- being a dog day of summer, no one in this shared facility is in a real good mood
We packed all of our laundry up. It was a good 6-8 loads. My wife takes 2-3 washers as they become available. She gets 2-3 dryers with the timing of other people’s things getting done. After getting all of her clothes through the washers, she’s now juggling dryers. She has one load waiting and one about 2/3 of the way in.
And. the. power. goes. off. for the front portion of the campground. And that there was the official straw. She called me to pick her up and we line dried the remainder of clothes. But more importantly, she told me that we were picking up a washer/dryer combo before the next campground.
Stackable vs. Combo?
The first decision you have to make when picking out a clothing washer/dryer is if you’re going to get separate units/machines or if you’re going to get an all-in-one combo unit.
The pros for the stackables are that you can get more laundry done in less time since one load of laundry can be drying while another is washing. With the amount that we still hang to dry, this could be a significant time saver. In addition, the amount of laundry that you can wash at one time is higher as the drum sizes are usually a little bit bigger.
The main cons for the separate stackable units is the extra cost, the extra space, and the extra weight. Not many RVs are plumbed out of the gate for separate washers and dryers (though, there are some out there). If you can, it seems most people are more pleased with the stackable units.
The pros for the combo units are the opposite of the cons for the stackables – less expensive, smaller size, and lighter weight. Plus a lot of campers which already have “washer/dryer hookups” are usually talking about the washer/dryer combos.
The biggest cons for the combo units are the small laundry load size and the length of time from putting dirty clothing in to clean clothing out. Some folks also have issues with wrinkles, but we honestly don’t have to much of a problem with that. I’ll talk more below about the length of drying time just below in “Vented or Not”.
Combo Load Size
So it’s no joke that these things are tiny. My Splendide 2100XC is basically 24″ x 24″ x 24″. The manual talks about pounds of clothing but basically, we can do a couple of days worth of PJs and underroos for the kids or a couple of shirts and pants for us adults. We basically run 3 or 4 loads of laundry in a 24-hour period. We run one overnight that we start at bedtime. Then we usually put a load in the morning. And finally, we will usually run one or two during the day. The washer/dryer is in our bedroom and is extremely quiet; though the camper does rock and shake while it’s running.
Drying Time – Vented or Not
The single biggest factor that impact the length of drying time is if the unit is vented or not. A non-vented unit (like the Splendide 7100XC) magically uses water to extract the dampness from the clothes. It works, but takes a long time.
A vented unit is scarier to install because you have to drill a 4″ hole through the exterior wall of the camper. The upside is that drying times are much quicker.
My personal recommendation is to definitely go with vented. As mentioned, we did and went with the Splendide 2100XC washer/dryer combo.
Splendide was kind enough to donate four 5lb. packs of HE laundry powder that I am giving away to four lucky readers! Enter the contest below to win one of them! Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on 8/18.
We use camp laundry or wait until we get home.
My mom just bought an RV and is planning to live in it full time when she retires! I am going to point her towards your blog. I make my boyfriend do the laundry.
I do mine at home !
We have used laundromats and campground washer and dryers on trips. But, we are not usually gone long enough to have to worry about doing laundry while away.
Thanks for the chance to win!
Hope to make the clean clothes last till we get home!
If needed will stop at a laundromat.
We’re not RVing right now. We were living on a sailboat, and laundry can be hard! We used Joy dishwashing soap for washing things in salt water. Quite a few people use dish wash liquid. If you can wait for shore and a laundry facility, it is worth it, of course!
It’s interesting to see the overlap between RVing and boating. We have friends who are just switching from living in their camper with their kids to living on a sailboat. They’re going to be doing the Great/Grand Loop or whatever it’s called where you go down the coast and up the Mississippi River.
I hear of more and more people trying this!
I wash at home!
Wait until we’re back home to do laundry
Stop at a laundromat or wait until we get home.
line dry always and wastub so that water isn’t wasted we have to truck it in and we try to water the trees with it when we are done.
We always over pack and do laundry back at home!
Wash at home before we go make sure we have enough things to last
To me, a big advantage of rv washer/dryer is being able to keep a set of clothes with the rv. Less packing/transfer.
That’s a great point!
For me, I use liquid detergent, never power. But loved reading about laundry in RV’s. Thank yoiu
Did you look into venting into the front of mid storage area and opening the storage doors before running the dryer? I am considering the same camper and dryer setup you have but only for occasional use not full time. Mainly swim suites and towels.
I’m way too easily distracted and not consistent enough to actually open those doors every time. Or I’d want to do laundry while it’s raining. But really, our use is way more frequent as fulltimers.
When my dealer installed our washer/dryer into the garage of the toy hauler, they wouldn’t even dump it down into the underbelly (which is what the manufacturers seem to plan on).