How to Do Laundry in an RV Without Washer & Dryer Hookups

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When you live in an RV full time or for extended periods of time, figuring out how to manage laundry can be tricky 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 RV's don't have the prewiring 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.

Option 1: Add Washer & Dryer Hookups to 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 even 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, one of the most popular washer/dryer models used in RV's. On a personal note, this is one of the first renovated RV's I ever saw someone living full time in that inspired me to try full time RV life myself!

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 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.

Option 2: Use a Portable Washing Machine and/or Clothes Dryer.

Portable Washing Machines

Before you start planning a major modification to your RV, you may want to consider instead 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.

A portable washing machine allows you to do laundry in an RV with no W/D hookups.

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.

Here's one example that has lots of glowing reviews on Amazon. It's 2 feet tall, 19″ wide, and 16.5″ deep, and 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.

Option 3: Wash Clothes By Hand and Hang Them to Dry.

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.

Clothes agitator for washing by hand

Another product to consider for hand washing clothing is this laundry washing bag, which comes in two sizes.

This bag is designed for doing laundry while camping.
Laundry washing bag designed for camping and traveling

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.

A traditional laundry wringer will make hand washing your clothes easier.
Laundry wringer from Amazon

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, I think it would work well for this purpose.

This mop bucket is a cheap solution for spinning clothes after washing them by hand.
Spinner mop bucket from Amazon

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, so 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.

A clothes drying rack can be used for drying clothes in an RV.
Classic folding clothes drying rack from Amazon

Another option is to hang a retractible 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!)

Option 4: Do Laundry at Laundromats and Campground Facilities.

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–a cabinet handle, a hook on the wall, a doorknob, an over-the-door hook–and then it closes completely with a drawstring for transporting your clothes.

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.

Backpack laundry bag available in multiple colors on Amazon

If your RV is very small and you don't have space to store so much laundry between loads, here is a smaller wall-mounted laundry tote:

Wall Mounted Laundry Bag
Small wall-mounted laundry tote – See it here

For ideas to help you store and organize clothing in your RV, check out these articles:

No W/D hookups in your RV? Consider these laundry solutions and ideas for adding a washer and dryer to your camper. |

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