Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Getting the most from your RV’s washer and dryer

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.

Washing prep

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.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.


  1. I have one of the newest Splendid washer/dryer ventless combos. It took me awhile to figure out how to use it (thank you, You Tube). I’m so glad to have it since we’re full-timers and always on the road somewhere.

  2. Never heard of color catchers. Thanks! We have a dual washer/dryer. We travel 3 to 4 months a year. Took longer trips in our younger days. It’s 20 yrs old like our coach and still working great (hope I didn’t jinx it). We did a factory order for our MH & added the washer/dryer. One of the best things we like about our MH. We will use RV laundry, if clean, for sheets/towels. Have done sheets/towels but have to do multiple loads, so takes a while. Works on a rainy day.

  3. Having a washer & dryer was the last thing I thought I needed in our motorhome, but when the dealer was willing to ‘throw it in’ to get us to buy, I was happy. We use it like you mentioned in your article with one exception. Instead of carrying powder or liquid detergent, we use ‘detergent strips’ purchased from Amazon.

  4. Wouldn’t have an RV without a washer and dryer. Weekenders probably don’t need one, but if you are out weeks at a time it is so nice to just do laundry in the RV instead of “public” laundry facilities. No hauling clothes around, waiting for equipment, etc. We can multi-task with the laundry in the RV instead of just twiddling our thumbs in a laundromat. Better all the way around for us.

  5. My wife would love for me to use the color catcher. I had no idea that there was such. However, I have always looked forward to seeing what color lighter fabrics became when colors bled. I got different clothes without shopping. 🙂 Apparently others prefer their clothes retain the original color. The detergent that I use in our RV washer (it is a Splendide something or other; we’ve only had it two months) is called Swash (https://a.co/d/bEBV102). The bottle is small and it takes one squirt per regular load of clothes (2 for an over-sized load).

  6. I bought the rack that clips onto our ladder on Amazon. It has 5or6 arms that come out and I love it! I’ve never had a problem with any campgrounds saying no to that

  7. When we began our search for a MH we didn’t know washers and dryers for RVs existed! It was the greatest revelation and became a leader on the must have list. We are full time travelers and love the convenience of laundry at will rather than planning a trip to the laundry.


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