A special feature I never thought we’d need (or, for that matter, even really like) is our RV’s washer and dryer. When I first laid eyes on them, all I could think was, “There are a thousand other things I’d rather put in that big space!” Fast-forward a few years and I am so very happy our RV has “laundry.” Here’s how you can get the most from your RV’s washer and dryer.
Before you put those dirty duds into your RV washing machine, check the pockets. Better yet, pull pockets inside out. (That way the interior of the pocket will also clean better.) Zip up all zippers, too. This ensures that the zippers stay in good working order. In addition, a closed zipper won’t snag tees and other clothing like an open zipper can.
I usually sort dark and lighter clothing when we’re in our stix-n-brix home. When we’re in the RV I like to use a color catcher like this. It allows me to launder both dark- and light-colored clothes together—making fast work of the chore. The color catcher works like a “magnet” that attracts any fading dye from the water. The catcher captures the dye, so it doesn’t end up on other clothing in that load. Hint: I’ve found that the color catchers can be reused two or even three times—until they visibly become darker with absorbed dye.
Loading the washer
Our RV washer is the front-load type. I loosely pile the dirty clothes inside the drum, taking care to allow a few inches empty space above the clothes. This will allow for efficient tumbling when laundering. I toss in the color catcher and before closing the washer door, I make sure all fabric is inside the metal washer drum, so clothing won’t get caught between the door seal and the drum.
How much detergent
Most newer washing machines are labeled “HE,” which means “high efficiency” (translation: uses less water and electricity). Our Splendide (DV6400X) can handle more than ten pounds of dirty duds. It’s big, but not as large as the one in our permanent home. This being the case, I cut back on the amount of laundry detergent as compared to my “at-home” usage. I put in two or three tablespoons of detergent—not nearly enough to fill the washer’s detergent dispenser—and even our sweaty work clothes come clean!
I dilute the liquid fabric softener with water before adding it to the softener dispenser in the washing machine. This uses much less softener than in our stix-n-brix washer, too. Note: If you have moisture-wicking athletic wear, you’ll want to avoid softeners because they can block the fabric weave and ruin the fabric’s moisture-wicking capability.
Check your washer’s owner’s manual to see which setting is best for the type of clothing you’re washing. No matter what, I always use cold water. Not only does it take significantly less electricity, but the clothes are cleaned just as well. (Bonus: I don’t worry about running out of hot water or shrinking anything!)
After clothes washing
Use a microfiber cloth or paper towels to wipe/dry the washing machine’s seal. (Hint: You can use a microfiber cloth for WAY more than you think. Check all these out.) Keep the washer door open so that the drum and washing components can dry out completely between washings. (This is hard for us because the laundry cabinet door is positioned over the toilet. Keeping the washer door open means that every time someone needs to use the toilet, you must close the door—and remember to reopen it when finished.)
Use the “tub clean” cycle (or hottest water temperature setting) along with a dedicated washing machine tub cleaner to clean and deodorize your RV washing machine. I usually clean our washer every two or three months—when using the washer regularly. Check your owner’s manual to see what’s recommended for your model.
Here’s the funny thing I’ve discovered: Our washer can wash a much bigger load than our dryer can dry. If I put a full washer load of clothes into our RV’s dryer, they will tumble forever and still not come out dry. (Yes, the dryer is also a Splendide DV6400X.) It’s frustrating, but here are some workarounds:
Drying rack. I ordered a foldable drying rack like this one. It fits well inside our RV’s shower and stores flat. I can dry socks and underwear on this rack, and they dry fast if I open a window along with the bathroom vent.
Heater. In winter, I put our small space heater in the bathroom and close the door. The heat helps the clothes to dry.
Fan. In the summertime, I like to hang clothes outside on a portable clothesline like this one. But if a clothesline is not permitted, I use the drying rack inside, and position a box fan in front of it. With the air conditioning on, and the constant air movement, the clothes dry just fine.
More drying hints
The best thing I’ve learned to do is when taking clean clothes out of the washing machine, be sure to shake them out before placing them in the dryer, on a rack, or line. This is especially true of heavier-weight items like towels or sweatshirts.
Always, always clear the dryer lint filter before each load. (Or after each load.) Lint buildup will not only cause your dryer to work less efficiently, but the lint can also become a fire hazard.
Do not overload the dryer. Limit the number of heavy-fabric items you dry at one time.
Additional drying tips
If clotheslines are permitted in the campground, consider hanging clothes outside. A line and clothes clips take up very little storage space and can save on additional electricity costs added at the end of your stay.
Dry towels or other heavy clothing outside on the drying rack. Just keep an eye on the wind. You don’t want the rack to tumble over, causing you to rewash soiled clothing!
Purchase a clothes drying rack that attaches to your RV. I keep looking at these, but have yet to purchase one for our RV. If you have one to recommend, please do so in the comments below.
Friends of ours have this retractable clothesline positioned over their RV shower. They pull out the line for drying clothes, and when not in use, it retracts out of their way to shower.
Check your washer/dryer owner’s manual to see what maintenance is recommended for your models. Like anything connected to the RV world, proper maintenance is key to keeping your washer and dryer in tip-top condition.
Do you have a washer and dryer in your RV? Please tell us in the comments.