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Ashley Mann spent three years living full time in a 38-foot, 5th-wheel RV with her husband Josiah and their cat, Kitty. Her favorite thing about RV life is the challenge of finding the perfect way to organize a space, and she loves seeing all the creative and clever ways people come up with to customize their RVs.
When you live in an RV, figuring out how to manage RV laundry can be tricky. Especially if your camper is small and doesn’t come with a washer and dryer already installed.
In this article, I’ll go over some RV laundry solutions for people whose RVs don’t have the wiring and hookups for adding a washer and dryer. These options include ways to add a washer and dryer to an RV as well as alternate ways to do laundry while camping or traveling.
Already have hookups for a washer and dryer on board your RV? Check out the best RV washer dryer combos.
Option 1: Add Washer & Dryer Hookups Inside Your RV.
When you’ve found the perfect RV except for the fact that it doesn’t have W/D hookups, the next logical question is usually, “Well, could we add washer and dryer hookups?”
This is a lot easier in theory than in practice, however. Here are some things you would need to consider in order to add washer/dryer hookups to an RV that doesn’t already have them:
- Where would you put a washer/dryer unit? Does your RV have space for one?
- The weight of a washer/dryer unit – Assuming you’ve found a spot where one will fit, will the weight be too heavy on the axle? Will the overall weight put you over your cargo towing capacity?
- Adding plumbing – You would need both hot and cold water lines running to your washing machine as well as a drain pipe leading to your gray tank.
- Electrical wiring – You would likely need a dedicated circuit for your washer & dryer that meets the electrical specifications of your particular unit.
- Powering the unit – A washing machine and clothes dryer or washer/dryer combo unit will most likely require full hookups or a generator in order to run. You may not be able to run it at the same time as an air conditioner since these all draw a lot of power.
- Warranty coverage – If your RV is under a factory warranty or an extended warranty, this type of custom modification will likely void warranty coverage on any related systems.
Once you’ve considered all these factors, you can start figuring out the exact steps for adding washer & dryer hookups to your RV.
Installing Washer & Dryer Hookups Inside Your RV
Here’s a video showing how one couple modified a cabinet in their fifth wheel to add a Splendide Washer/Dryer combo unit. This is one of the most popular washer/dryer models used in RVs. (On a personal note, this is one of the first renovated RVs I ever saw! It inspired me to try full-time RV life myself!)
Option 2: Creating a Laundry Area on the Outside of Your RV
A few clever RV owners who didn’t have space inside their RV for adding a washer or dryer found space on the outside of their RV.
Outdoor Kitchen Converted to an RV Laundry Area
One idea I personally love is to turn an outdoor kitchen into a laundry area, as seen in the photo below.
While I don’t have much information about how this was done, the owner of this fifth wheel has shared the process in her Instagram stories which you can see here.
Washer and Dryer Mounted to the Back of an RV
Another interesting idea one RV owner had was to add a cargo rack on the back of his fifth wheel to carry a full-size washing machine and clothes dryer, which are both hooked into his RV’s electrical and plumbing systems. You can see more of this setup in the video below:
Option 3: Use a Portable Washing Machine and/or Clothes Dryer.
Portable Washing Machines
Before you start planning a major modification to your RV, you may consider purchasing a portable washing machine. Not only are these a lot less involved to hook up (they can plug into a regular wall outlet), they’re much cheaper as well.
The one pictured below hooks to a kitchen or bathroom faucet and drains into a sink. It includes a spin cycle, which sets it apart from models which require moving the wet laundry to a separate compartment for spinning. There are many similar models on Amazon which you can shop and compare here.
- [Powerful Motor] Portable washing machine features a high-performance motor, ensuring strong washing power and efficiently removing up to 90% of water during the spin-drying process. Whether tackling stubborn stains or handling large loads of laundry, the motor's consistent output ensures outstanding washing results and thorough moisture removal
Small Electric Clothes Dryers
If hanging your laundry to dry on a drying rack or clothesline is a chore you’d rather avoid, there are lots of small portable clothes dryers now on the market. (Plus, many campgrounds won’t allow this at your campsite!)
Here’s one example that has lots of glowing reviews on Amazon. It’s 2 feet tall, 19″ wide, and 16.5″ deep. It can sit on the floor, on a shelf, or be mounted on a wall (though I wouldn’t recommend mounting one on flimsy RV walls). It plugs into a standard grounded electrical outlet and does not require venting through a wall.
- 【Compact & Portable】The weight of this clothes dryer is only 37.3lbs, and the small size makes it portable. It’s compact feature is perfect for small space like apartments, dormitories, and more, it can be mounted on the wall, place on firm horizontal ground or mounted on the rack.
Option 4: Wash Clothes By Hand and Hang Them to Dry.
Just like the olden days…
Gadgets that Make Washing Laundry by Hand Easier
For occasional camping trips, someone who lives alone and doesn’t do a lot of laundry, or if you have a very small camper, washing clothes by hand can help you avoid making trips to the laundromat.
You can wash them in the sink and wring them out by hand, but if you’re washing clothes on a regular basis, you may want to purchase some products that will make the job a little easier, such as this agitator to help you swish your clothes around and pull soap through them as you’re washing them in a 5-gallon bucket.
Another product to consider for hand-washing clothing is this laundry washing bag, which comes in two sizes.
- COMPACT AND CONVENIENT: When you’re on the go, wash your clothes at your leisure in just minutes with the smallest portable manual clothes washer on the market that handles the largest load, saving you time and money at laundromats so you can get back to enjoying your day
Solutions for Wringing and Spinning Laundry After Washing
After your clothes are clean, you’ll need to wring them out before hanging them to dry, which can be tiring for your hands.
A clothes wringer will make this job a lot easier. This traditional style clothes wringer can be clipped onto the edge of a counter or the rim of a 5-gallon bucket.
- HAND WASH YOUR CLOTHES EASILY & EFFICIENTLY: Wringing wet laundry by hand can be quite TOILSOME and can hurt hands and wrists. It also takes FOREVER to finish your laundry and FOREVER for it to dry! Save yourself from pain, stress, and wasted time by investing in a Calliger 360 Laundry Wringer. Start effortlessly wringing out way more water than any portable washer / manual washer and actually have FUN on laundry day or car washing day! And of course, watch your laundry dry much faster!!
Another option that would be a lot cheaper is this mop bucket, which I personally own. It spins the drainer basket when you pump the peddle with your foot, and even though it’s not advertised as a laundry product, it would work well for this purpose.
- HANDS-FREE WRINGING: Our exclusive mop bucket design features a built-in wringer that allows for hands-free wringing while Splash Guard keeps water splash and spray inside the bucket when wringing or when transporting the bucket from room to room
If have reliable access to electricity, you can upgrade your hand-washing game with this collapsible mini washing machine that does the agitating for you and includes a spin cycle.
Where to Hang Laundry to Dry in an RV
Many RV parks and campgrounds prohibit hanging laundry outside to dry for appearance’s sake. You’ll probably want to have some way to dry your clothes inside your RV.
A collapsible clothes drying rack is a classic option. I remember my mom setting one of these up inside our house over a heater vent when I was a kid.
- Clothes drying laundry rack for energy savings and gentle air drying so clothes last longer; for indoor use
Another option is to hang a retractable clothesline that you can string across a room in your RV that hides away when not in use. (This would be useful for hanging swimsuits and towels to dry after swimming, too!)
- ✅ Space Saving: Dual 13.8-foot retrievable clotheslines offer an extensive drying area, allowing you to dry more clothes in less space. Maximize your available space and minimize the stress of drying laundry.
Option 5: Do Laundry at Laundromats and Campground Facilities.
Almost every campground will offer laundry facilities. All you need to is quarters and to haul your laundry across the campground.
Accessories to Help You Manage Laundry Day While RVing
If you’re making a lot of trips to laundromats and RV park laundry facilities, these accessories will make managing laundry while you’re camping or traveling a little easier.
One thing that really helps is a nice laundry bag. I have this hanging laundry bag and really like it because you can hang it anywhere in your RV. Then it closes completely with a drawstring for transporting your clothes.
- HANGING CLOTHES HAMPER bag with patented design that can hang on a doorknob or in closets
A backpack laundry hamper is another option that makes carrying a big load of laundry a lot easier. I like this one because it has an extra pocket for your laundry detergent.
- LAUNDRY CAPACITY - Measures 13"(diameter) x 29", this size is big enough for holding 2-3 loads of laundry. Perfect capacity for laundromat use or family use. Note: Tight a knot over the drawstring cord lock to ensure nothing lost when the laundry bag is full.
RV Laundry Options
For most campers, the idea of purchasing and adding washing machines and dryers isn’t as attractive as simply using the campground facilities for RV laundry. But if you plan on boondocking, moochdocking, or need to do laundry often, a portable washing machine or hand washing may be right for you!
For ideas to help you store and organize clothing in your RV, check out these articles: