RV Clothes Washer/Dryer
(From the book "RVing Tips, Tricks & Techniques")
by Joe and Vicki Kieva

Clothes washing machines and dryers are offered as an option in many of today's RVs. You can also buy and install them as an after market product.

The owners of some larger RVs install apartment-size stack washers and dryers. Most RVers, however, prefer the smaller, front-loading, combination washer/dryers.

There are two types of combination washer/dryers; vented and non-vented.

Vented machines, during the drying process, take room air, heat it, tumble it through the clothes and exhaust it to the outside. This means a hole has to be made in the wall of the RV for the exhaust vent.

Non-vented machines heat air inside the drum and tumble it through the clothes. This creates steam within the drum. Cold water is then used to cool the outside of the drum. This condenses the steam to water which is pumped into the RV's drain and holding tank.

Depending upon the size of the machine, you can put from 7 to 10 pounds of clothes in a single wash load. This is about one-third to one-half of what will fit in your full size washing machine at home.

The wash cycle, depending upon the type and size of the load, can take anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes. The drying cycle takes 60 to 90 minutes. Heavy items such as towels, jeans and sweatshirts may take even more time.

The washer/dryers require 115 volts of AC electricity and draw about 13 amps while operating. A 30-amp campground hookup will provide the necessary electrical power but that leaves only 17 amps to meet the rest of the RV's needs. Keep in mind that operating your high amperage microwave, space heater or hair dryer while the washer/dryer is working could overload a 30-amp circuit.

It takes 16 to 20 gallons of water (more, in some cases) to wash a load of clothes. Non-vented machines will use an additional 3 to 5 gallons of water during the drying cycle.

It is possible to operate the washer/dryer by using the RV's generator for power and relying upon it's fresh-water and holding tanks, but that would put a serious dent in your rig's self-containment capacities. If you do use the washer/dryer this way, be sure to keep an eye on your monitor panel. The last thing you want to do is overflow your holding tank.

Vicki: Last year, after it had accumulated over 100,000 miles, we traded in our 10-year old, 32- foot motorhome on a 36-foot diesel pusher. Once again, while we were shopping, Joe asked if I wanted a washer/dryer. Once again, I replied that if it meant sacrificing valuable interior storage space, I would rather continue using the campground laundry rooms.

As it turned out, the motorhome we selected had plenty of storage space. It also had a pre-plumbed cabinet that could accommodate a washer/dryer. We traveled and lived in that motorhome for the first three months without a washer/dryer. During that time the washer/dryer cabinet was left empty to see if we could get along without that storage space. At the end of the trip we decided to get the washer/dryer.

We chose a vented unit. We observed that the drying cycle of the non-vented machine takes considerably longer than that of the vented model. The washer was installed with a drain pan underneath that could catch and drain off any water that might leak or spill.

The washer/dryer does a great job. I put in dirty clothes and take out clean, dry clothes. Works every time.

I have found that I can keep ahead of our laundry by washing one load of clothes every day or so. I usually use campground laundry rooms to wash bedsheets, heavy towels and jeans because their machines are faster, especially when drying.

Since most of the campgrounds we stay in have only 30-amp hookups, I have gotten into the habit of waiting until after dinner to turn on the washer. That way I am not using the washer, microwave and electric coffee pot simultaneously. I can operate the washer anytime, though, when we have 50-amp hookups.

Would I recommend having a washer/dryer in an RV. Here comes one of those "it depends" answers. We travel and live in our RV for months at a time. It is literally our home on wheels. Having a washer on board provides the same convenience as our washing machine at home. If we only used our RV a couple weekends a month and for an occasional two to three week vacation I don't know if I could justify the expense of a washer/dryer. On the other hand, if my husband can watch sports events on satellite TV, and keep track of himself with a ground positioning satellite sytem, why shoudn't I be able to wash his socks in a washer/dryer?

Enjoy The Journey!