Many folks, and especially many full-time RVers, have a washer and dryer (or combination washer/dryer) installed in their RV. We have them inside our fifth wheel. When it’s just my husband and I traveling, I use the onboard laundry. However, when we have grandchildren with us, it’s a different story. They generate a lot of laundry! And when we work camp, our daily laundry really piles up. Trying to fit two complete work outfits (work shirts, soiled jeans, etc.) into our small RV washer and dryer is a no-go. Instead, we’ll forgo our small laundry appliances and take our clothes to the campground’s laundry.
Here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned that make campground laundry day so much easier.
Campground laundry pre-trip
I try to make a couple of sweeps through the campground’s laundromat before laundry day. I look to see how many washers and dryers are there and in working order. Then I note the payment type needed (coins, bills, credit card, etc.) and check to see if there’s a machine to change a dollar bill for coins.
If I plan to stay with my laundry, I look to see how many chairs are in the laundromat. If there’s only one or two, I’ll plan to bring along one of our own lawn chairs. (I can always sit outside while waiting for the laundry.)
By checking the laundromat at different times/days, I take note of when it seems busiest. I try to plan around those times.
We use these collapsible clothes hampers to collect dirty clothes while RVing. I really like them because they take up very little space when collapsed and can hold a lot of dirty clothes when filled. Also, they have a good-sized pocket on the outside of the bins. This pocket can hold detergent, dryer sheets, and even a magazine or book to read.
Before you go
Presort dirty clothes. It will save time if you presort your dirty laundry before heading to the campground’s laundromat. I presort light- from dark-colored items in our RV. That way when I arrive at the laundromat, I can quickly toss each load into two machines. (Tip: Ask the people camping in your RV with you to sort their own clothes—light/dark—at the same time they toss dirty clothes into the two hampers.)
If I have one small load of mixed clothing (dark and light) I’ll combine them and plan to use a color catcher like this one.
Keep it together. There’s nothing worse than carting dirty laundry all the way to the campground’s laundromat (located on the opposite side of the park) only to find you’ve forgotten the laundry soap, dryer sheets, or money. So, I keep all those items gathered in one place. For me, it’s on our RV closet shelf.
Detergent and more. I don’t lug the ginormous box or jug of laundry detergent to the laundromat. Instead, I portion out single-size wash amounts into small, sealable containers. Same for liquid fabric softener. Dryer sheets and color catcher sheets go into their own individually labeled plastic bags. (Tip: Detergent pods are also great for RVing because they’re easily portable and lightweight.)
Disinfectant wipes. I usually carry a small package of disinfectant wipes and a microfiber cloth. You never know if grease, bleach, fabric dye, or other things are on the top of or inside the machines. Use the flashlight on your cell phone to see inside the drums. I quickly wipe down everything and dry it with a cloth. (Tip: I also do a smell test. It’s just what it sounds like. I sniff inside the machine. If I detect mold or chlorine bleach, I choose a different machine.)
Money. I like to keep a small pouch of coins/dollar bills with my detergent and other laundry items. That way I’m sure to have the payment with me instead of left behind in the RV.
Entertainment. If you plan to stay with your clothes until they are washed and dried, you’ll probably want to take along something to occupy your wait time. A book, handheld craft, cell phone, crossword book, or magazines are great choices.
I once found a mom “hiding out” in the campground laundromat even though her clothes were washed, dried, and folded. She sheepishly admitted, “It’s the only time I have to myself. So, I read and enjoy the peace and quiet.” Mind you, she said this while five washing machines thrummed and jumped around in their spin cycle, and an equal number of dryers noisily tumbled what sounded like rocks! But I do understand.
Clothes hangers. I like to take along a few plastic clothes hangers when doing laundry in the campground’s facility. That way, if there are clothes that I prefer not to dry in the dryer I can simply hang them on hangers. Or if a T-shirt comes out of the dryer still damp, I’ll put it on the hanger. When I return to the RV, I place the damp clothes on our RV’s shower rod to finish drying.
Once you organize the things that must go to the campground’s laundromat, you either have to enlist help to schlep everything or use a foldable wagon like this. I know the collapsible wagon is a little pricey, but we use it for so much more than laundry, so I think it’s worth it—especially since it folds up for storage!
On laundry day, everything fits into the wagon: the two bins of dirty laundry fit perfectly inside the space. The detergent, dryer sheets, coins/payment, clothes hangers, and my entertainment choice easily slip inside the bins’ pockets.
Ask about it. Ask if the campground allows campers to dry laundry outside. Consider purchasing a drying rack like one of these or make your own PVC drying rack as demonstrated in this video.
Check it out. Before placing your laundry inside the dryer, check to see that the dryer is completely empty. Coins, ink pens, socks, and other items can be easily overlooked. Remove them. Be sure the dryer drum is clean, too.
Shake it out. Clothing will dry much faster if you give each piece a gentle shake before tossing it into the clothes dryer.
Warm is best. If a warm dryer is available, use it. Clothing will dry faster if the dryer drum is already warm.
Clear it. Check and empty the dryer lint filter, if necessary.
Folding. Because space in our RV is limited, I usually fold our clothes on the laundromat’s folding table. (Tip: Wipe it down first.) Then I collapse the laundry bins and place each person’s clothing in a separate stack inside the wagon.
While many campground laundromats are safe, you may not want to chance someone walking off with your collapsible hampers or foldable wagon. The same goes for your detergent, coins, or even clothing. Be smart and keep everything within sight if possible.
Always, always set a timer if you plan to return to your RV while your clothes wash and dry. Plan to return to the laundromat at least a few minutes before the clothes are to be done. It’s just polite. (Here are some other etiquette tips for the campground laundromat.)
If you have a lot of laundry (several loads) you might want to check out laundromats in a nearby town. These commercial facilities feature many washers and dryers so you may be able to fill several machines at once and finish your laundry much faster.
Follow these tips and you might discover “quiet time” for yourself as you make laundry day in the campground laundromat easier than ever.
Please add any additional laundry tips in the comments below, thanks!
Thinking most people know how to accomplish laundry day.
I agree and even use some of the ideas below. Another thing to check on is the temperature of the dryers. Where we stay during some of the winter months, you can easily dry towels on the gentle cycle :-o…I know, right? That’s fine for towels and sheets but NOT for clothes. Check with other campers on how well the washers and dryers really do work.
Instead of a folding wagon, I use a folding dolly to lug my laundry into the laundry room. I stack the laundry totes onto the dolly and use a bungee cord to keep them in place. The folding dolly comes in handy to move other heavy items around the campground.
My husband does the laundry (loves it and does a great job). Being full-time, I’m sure he uses it as his “time away” – takes his book or IPad and relaxes. He does all you talk about – very organized. We use a great Lands End large bag, it’s lasted many years and is sturdy, easy to carry with it’s big handles and of course it’s collapsible. While he’s gone, gives me time to be “alone” too. Wouldn’t have a w/d in the rig – takes up space and then we wouldn’t have this excuse to have this separate alone time! Win win!
I use collapsible laundry baskets at home and keep one in the car to load food in when shopping, instead of grocery bags. In our coach, it stashes nicely under the couch, behind a chair, door etc., and we use it for many things.
We use Laundry “sheets” with great results. Compact, lightweight and eco friendly. Cost competitive.
Binbata is one of a few favoiite brands because it is made for sensitive skin as DH has Eczema.
So far, we have liked all of the brands tried that are available on Amazon.
We have used dryer balls for a long time. When added to the dryer they help remove wrinkles and reduce drying time. You can use rubber balls, tennis balls, etc.; our favorite is a wool-covered ball.