I am an RV enthusiast with more than 50 years of experience owning, driving, traveling and living in recreational vehicles.
If people with RVs want to do their laundry on board, there are several different types of washing machines they can use:
- small units that stack (much like those you use at home),
- portable units that can be stored,
- and all-in-one units called washer/dryer combinations.
Stackables are bulky, heavy and take up much needed storage space. Portables are small, heavy and awkward to use. Thus, the best choice (as well as the most popular) is the washer/dryer combo unit.
If you are not using one of these machines in your RV because you can't figure out how to use it or are intimidated by it, you are missing out big time.
This is because doing laundry in them while you travel saves money, time and effort. However, you do have to take a little time to learn how to use them. If you don't, you won't appreciate their benefits.
Let this article guide you so that you can take an unhappy task and make it into a pleasure.
The RV Washer/Dryer Combo Benefits
Washing clothes while you are on the road is a problem.
- They pile up quickly, smell and take up needed space.
- It takes time to gather them, load them in the car and drive to a laundromat.
- You can easily spend two hours getting your clothes clean plus the time it takes to transport your clothes.
- Sometimes the machines are dirty because people have washed rugs and greasy clothes in them.
- Smokers sometimes smell up your laundry, too.
- Costs are high, and the machines often do not work well.
As a result, you end up hanging clothes all over your RV so that they will dry properly.
Even then, many come out looking wrinkled.
When you have a washer/dryer combo on board, you avoid all of those issues because you
- do laundry in small amounts and at your convenience,
- take care of this chore at the same time as you are doing other things, and
- never have to leave the RV to get the job done.
As a result, you don't lose precious vacation time, your coach is always organized and you never have to worry about dirty clothes piling up again.
What You Should Know
If your motor home or travel trailer came with a washing machine, and you are thinking of installing one, you should know that they
- only work when they have an electrical source,
- cannot be installed unless your RV has been previously plumbed for one,
- need very little maintenance,
- will not produce water damage unless misused or have plumbing problems,
- are convenient to have on board,
- do a good job if properly used,
- save all the expenses and inconveniences involved with using public laundry facilities and
- are good to own if you travel a great deal or live full-time in your travel unit.
A Brief Overview
Washer/dryer combination units are built specifically for RV use, take up little space, do a good job, and are light, durable and easy to install.
Since they wash and dry in the same unit it takes some practice to learn how to use them, but once you do, laundry becomes an easy task. The video explains this in detail.
The secret is to do small amounts of laundry at one time and use very limited amounts of HE type laundry soap. People who try to use these units the same way as those they have at home have problems, because combo units are not made to manage large, heavy loads.
Purchase and Installation Tips
Always buy units that are vented if you want your clothes to dry effectively. Those that are not vented also will dry, but doing so takes many hours.
Let a pro do the install because he will know the best and safest way to lift the washer/dryer combo into your motor home or camper and will properly hook it up for you.
These machines vary in price and can go as high as $2,000, but sometimes you can find them on sale.
If you buy a used one from an individual, make sure that it comes with all of the appropriate hardware and hoses and is vented.
You also should know that judging the age of one of these appliances is almost impossible, because they all look pretty much the same, and if well maintained, can look new even when they are not. Ask to see the sales paperwork so that you know for sure.
Use and Care Tips
There are a number of things every person who owns one of these units should know:
- For permanent press, place clothes into the machine before you go out, and then put them into the dryer for ten minutes to steam when you get home. Then let them hang dry outside or on a rack for the rest of the day.
- If you install a hanging rack in the shower, the clothes can dry while you spend the day enjoying yourself. (The hanging rack consists of a wooden dowel held up on the ends by two plastic cups like the ones shown here. You can lift the dowel out of the way when you want to take a shower.)
- Early in the evening, you can wash towels, underwear or sheets, and then let them dry while you are sleeping. Fold them in the morning, and you are finished and ready to go.
- If you have wet towels from showers or swimming, put them into the dryer while are watching TV or eating dinner. They'll be ready for their next use.
Directions For Use:
- Wipe the entire unit down regularly with damp paper towels. Use Windex on the exterior if necessary.
- Wash only eight pounds of clothes per cycle.
- Always make sure your gray water tank is in the open position. Otherwise the wash water will back up into your RV because it will have no place to go!
- Use only one tablespoon of HE detergent per load. If you use more, your suds may overflow.
- Load your laundry liquids into the pull out drawer in the top of the unit.
- When you are ready to wash, make sure you have locked the door properly. When your clothes are clean, the door will unlock automatically.
- Before drying, remove each item of clothing from the machine, shake it open, and then reinsert it. If you do not do this, your clothes will come out in one big wrinkled ball.
- After you dry your final load, always clean the lint out of the vent, which is located on front of the machine at its bottom.
While most washer/dryer combo units are durable, things can and do go wrong. If you see water on the floor in front of your unit, this may mean that you have a plumbing problem (usually a connection that has broken or come loose), you have a leak, you have not opened the gray-water valve, or you have not cleaned the vent out.
Before seeking help, turn off the water supply and check to see if the gray-water valve is open and the vent on the bottom of the unit is free of lint. If those two items are OK, it's time to call an RV tech that specializes in washer/dryer combo units.
If your unit is old or has rust problems, it is probably time to purchase a new one. You can find various types on Amazon.com or at RV parts sellers and dealerships.
RV Washer/Dryer Units Are a Blessing
If your coach has a washer/dryer combo, learning how to use and maintain it can make a big difference in your travel comfort. Once you set a routine, keeping your clothes and linens clean is easy.
If you would like to install this type of appliance, make sure that it is possible to do so before buying one by checking your coach's plumbing and electric to make sure they are compliant and measure for fit, as well.
My current RV does not have one of these machines, does not have enough space and is not plumbed for one, so an installation is impossible. I'll never make that mistake again!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do you dry without washing? I have a Splendide 2000.
Answer: You should have a manual that tells you how to do this. If not, you can find one online. Basically, all you have to do is put the clothes in the machine and set the dryer function. It should show this function on the dials on the front of the machine.
Question: To save on weight in an RV, can you use super concentrated laundry packs?
Answer: That depends on where you do your laundry. If in a laundromat, yes. However, in a washer/dryer combo, it might create problems. Why not just buy a smaller bottle of detergent. If you use the HP type, you would only need about a tablespoon per load and wouldn't have to worry about creating problems with your washing machine. If you are unsure, contact the manufacturer to see what he says.
© 2014 Sondra Rochelle
Sondra Rochelle (author) from USA on December 14, 2017:
GreggR: Yep. It's amazing that dealers are even allowed to sell the ventless W/D combos! Many people unknowingly buy them and waste a lot of money because they simply did not understand about the problems they can create. Thanks for reading and commenting.
GreggR on December 14, 2017:
I noticed that you made it a priority to constantly state "VENTED" combo unit. I understand why. we bought a ventless combo unit when we bought our ne 5th wheel 2 years ago. after the first year I had to take it apart and clean the fan and condenser out to correct the issue. the other month I had to do it again. only this time the fan motor had gone bad. couldn't get the part so I put it back together and use it as a washer only. we bought a new stackable "VENTED" dryer that I installed. just like at home, O that's right, this is our home. when our washer decides to go we will get the matching washer to match our new dryer. I designed and built a new overhead cabinet to take care of the lost storage space. good article.