RV washers and dryers have pros and cons. But with advances in technology, the advantages and disadvantages have changed over time. Laundry appliances are now popular amenities in many new RVs. They either come with the appliances already installed or the RV is plumbed for their future installation.
You may know people who had some of the earlier versions of RV laundry equipment. Maybe you heard complaints that the tubs were so small you had to wash one towel at a time and that the wash and dry cycles took forever. Some of the earlier versions were both a washer and dryer in one unit. These combo appliances were quite small.
First, the Not So Good About RV Washers and Dryers
Today the washers and dryers in most RVs closely resemble their larger home counterparts. They usually come stacked with a front-loading washer on the bottom. Most have a front-loading dryer above. The tubs in both appliances can wash and dry a couple of towels, jeans, shirts, and a few pairs of underwear. The cycle time is much like the cycle time of home appliances.
There are both pros and cons to RV washers and dryers. Let’s start with the disadvantages. A washing machine moves a lot of water through the machine. This will tax your freshwater tank or gray water holding tank. That is, if you’re not connected to a water source and sewer line.
RV washers and dryers are not suitable for boondockers
For people whose preferred camping style is boondocking, the washer and dryer may take up more room than it’s worth. Even if you stored up the laundry while boondocking until you get to a campsite with water and sewer connections, it might still be easier just to wash multiple loads at one time in the campground laundry facility, rather than do multiple loads in your RV.
Another issue is the power to run the dryer. Again, for boondockers, it probably does not make sense to use your fuel and generate power to run a dryer. Boondockers may prefer the small WonderWash which uses less water and operates via hand-crank.
But the disadvantages are not limited to boondockers. We have stayed in many RV parks that had power and water hookups, but no sewer connection. For RV laundry equipment, that’s only half the solution. It wouldn’t take long using a washer to fill your gray water holding tank.
Additionally, the washer spin cycle can be noisy, and it will vibrate the entire coach which can be disruptive. For campers involved in long-term camping contracts, electricity is often charged separately and in addition to the space rental fees. It might be less expensive and faster to use the laundry facility at the park because they have bigger washers and dryers so you’d be doing less loads on the park’s electricity.
RV washer and dryer capacity: Not ideal for large family laundry needs
Another disadvantage as mentioned above is capacity. If you’re camping with a family, your laundry pile can build up quickly. We’ve been in campground laundry facilities where every washer was in use by the same camper, and there were still piles of laundry waiting for the next empty machine.
Trying to do that much laundry in an RV washer and dryer would mean running the equipment almost continually. In that case, it might be easier to just wash and dry multiple loads all at one time.
A large commitment of space
The final con of RV washers and dryers is the space the machines occupy. The smaller the rig, the less extra space is available for this equipment. Even in our 38′ Class A motorhome, the space the laundry equipment fills could be utilized in many other ways.
For people who only use their RVs for a weekend outing and an occasional vacation, the use of this space for that purpose might not make sense. But full-time RVers or people who go on frequent extended trips will find that filling that much space with a washer and dryer is a convenience, not a disadvantage.
RV washers and dryers in motorhomes & toy haulers
Many tow hauler fifth wheels have the washer and dryer installed in the tow hauler area so it’s out of the mainlining space. Some Class A motorhomes have the appliances at one end of the coach in the bathroom.
In our Class A motorhome, the washer and dryer are in a cabinet just between the living room and bedroom. If the washer and dryer had not been installed in that cabinet, it would be a large convenient storage area located in a central location rather than just our laundry area.
They are prone to mold and mildew
There is one final negative with RV washers that I should mention. Front-loading washers need to be aired out so the residual water left in the machine does not mildew.
If your washer is in an out-of-the-way location, leaving the front-loading door open is not a problem. But in our coach, the washer and dryer are in the center of the coach and it is not convenient to leave the cabinet and the washer door open all the time.
We need to remember to leave it open at night to air out. If the washer was in the back (in the bathroom), it would not even be an issue.
And now, the pros of RV washers and dryers
The advantages of having an RV washer and dryer, on the other hand, are numerous. We’ve stayed in parks that had all the hook-ups in our site, but no camp laundry, so having the ability to do the laundry in our motorhome saved us from unnecessary trips to local laundromats.
Also during this recent pandemic, we’ve stayed in numerous parks that kept their laundry facilities closed for safety reasons, so in both of those instances, having a washer and dryer in our motorhome saved us from having to drive into the nearest town to find an open public facility. At one campground in Northern California, that “nearest town” was over 40 miles away.
If you have water, power, and sewer in your site, you can easily wash and dry a couple of loads of laundry while multitasking. Since we work from our motorhome, we appreciate this time-saving aspect of the onboard laundry equipment.
There’s no need to haul your laundry to the campsite’s laundry facility, keep a jar of quarters in your RV to pay for the coin machines, or worry about what may have been washed and dried in those machines before you put your clothes in them.
On one occasion, I didn’t see the melted crayon in the dryer until I saw the stains on my clothes. Another time in a campground’s laundry facility, an unseen puddle of bleach on the top of a washer ruined a pillowcase. Doing the laundry in your own RV is a more efficient use of your time, it’s less expensive, and you know the equipment is clean and uncontaminated.
RV washer and dryer combos
Some RVers use a 2-in-1 washer and dryer combo in their RV to conserve space. In the video below, Youtubers A Barn Creation review the Splendide 2100XC RV Washer/Dryer Combo as a full-time family:
We love our RV washer and dryer
We didn’t have a washer and dryer in our first RV and we were ambivalent about the value of that equipment when we were shopping for our new motorhome. One of the coaches that was on our shortlist had the washer and dryer already installed, and another one on the list did not.
We were ok either way, but now we’re so glad the rig we finally chose was the one with the washer and dryer already installed. It seems like it might be a good idea, but it just wasn’t a deal-breaker, because we kept hearing that the tubs were so small, all you could wash at one time was one towel or a T-shirt and some underwear.
Now that we’ve been camping in a coach equipped with a washer and dryer for almost 9 months, especially during this pandemic, we can’t imagine not having it. With our volume of laundry, we can easily keep up with our laundry needs by doing a couple of loads a week.
The tubs are even big enough to wash the covers of our dog beds. The days of tiny laundry tubs in RV washers and dryers is a thing of the past, so if that’s the objection other people are using to dissuade you from getting this equipment in your new RV, I can assure you that it’s no longer a problem.
Share your thoughts on RV washers and dryers with us in the comments below or with the RV community on iRV2 Forums.
Peggy Dent is an author, writer, and full-time RVer, traveling around the US and Canada. She’s traveled more than 130,000 miles in a motorhome, over the past 20 years, and is currently writing for the RV industry. You can contact her through her website at www.APenInYourHand.com
We have had 9 RV’s of various types, the last three were Class A pushers and the first units for us to have a washer & dryer. The first Class A had a combo unit, I beat going to the laundromat but the last two had separate washer and dryer units and they both worked awesome. I will give up that closet space in a heartbeat just so I don’t have to entertain the idea of going to a public laundromat for the reasons you mentioned and more. First they are disgusting and that is a good enough reason without mentioning the time it takes to do this. This ties up hours of time that you can be multi tasking or doing what you are on the road doing. We fortunately have in most long term trips have had the option of full hookups. We are not full time but we do take one to two month long trips a couple of times a year. All three of our Class A’s have had the laundry setup in convenient but out of the way places so leaving the washer and or dryer open when not in use has not been an issue. The advantages of onboard laundry are you don’t have to bring as many clothes along on the trip since you can rotate them through the wash as if you were at home. This convenience in my opinion out ways the lost space.
I would agree that if you have a smaller rig and or you are primarily a boon docker then a washer and dryer may not be for you.
When it comes to floor plan that in my opinion is in the number one or two position when it comes to the purchase of an RV of any kind. In a Class A the only card that may trump that thought us driver comfort but both are at the top of my list and are both items I will not compromise on. Regardless no matter what you buy it must fit you and your needs, not mine or anyone else.
Nick Martorano says
Our first Class a, a 2005 Monaco Diplomat, had the 2n1 Splendidi and it sucked! We then went with a 5th Wheel (Big Mistake) that was plumbed for both and we wished sooo many times that it had the machines! Fast forward to now, our 2019 Entegra Coach Aspire 40P has them and we LOVE being able to do a couple of loads a week as needed and will not ever buy another unit without a washer and dryer!
In every RV we have had a Washer and Dryer was required.
While it is just the 2 of us traveling, being able to do our laundry on the road is a must.
Too many RV parks that have Washer Facilities are just plain filthy and you don’t know who did the last load or what they washed in there!
These things are a must have for anyone who travels allot or goes out for weeks at a time!
Jeffrey P Bennett says
We have had both a combo W/D and sperate Washer and Dryer, if you can the separate units are far superior. they hold a little more, and you can do a wash while drying your prior load.
I have a small trailer and am relegated to using the rv park laundry facility. I take a package of sanitizing wipes and a can of Lysol spray disinfectant to clean them before each us. I cannot understand how people can be so disgustingly filthy when doing laundry.
In our 25 year old 37′ class a we have an older combo unit, so can only do one pair of jeans or two towels at a time. But its great for washing swimsuits or socks and underwear. However the biggest advantage is being able to dry bath towels to reduce humidity inside the rv. The combo unit doesn’t need the door left open, as you have dried your laundry last. Our next rv will definitely have separate washer and dryer.
Donna Richmond says
We have an old RV that has the washer dryer combo. Only used it twice because it dries everything so wrinkled. Never get a combo again. Rather have had the space for pantry.
If you have wrinkled, you are obviously not doing it correctly. Combo is not your typical home dryer! Process is to “fold” damp clothes before drying cycle.
Linda Stevens says
We have had 2 Class A motorhomes–one with a combo w/d and one with separate w/d. Until I somewhat learned what to do with the combo unit it was a frustrating thing for me BUT worked through the frustration and actually didn’t mind. Had to remember to do smaller loads–also did some drying outside on a small rack (be sure to check Park ruling on this). I do prefer the separate w/d unit much more BUT the biggest enjoyment is NOT having to use a public laundromat!! Most have been quite good but it is sooo time consuming–at least I would get my exercise walking back and forth from the Laundromat to out Class A several times!! Our unit was in the bedroom so we did not have space issues. I think it is a matter of preference–combo unit gives you smaller loads and not the best drying experiences while separate w/d gives you slightly bigger loads and better drying. Again, it will come down to YOUR preference. Having had both, I would select the w/d unit.
Donna I agree on the wrinkles. Our first coach had a combo and that is what we experienced as well. One or two pairs of pants or no more than a couple of shirts would be an issue plus it took forever to go through a full cycle.
Betty Danet says
We are on the road 8-9 months out of the year. The 5er we bought already had a washer and dryer. We were not sure about it but now we love it. I can wash and dry pretty large loads, even a queen size blanket. I like to just put a load in and go do other things, or just do one load as needed, like sheets or towels. Would not use a lot if there were no sewer.
We have owned 4 Class A’s. The first had no w/d and we were fine in a laundry mat. The 2nd had a combo unit and we were hooked even though it was slow and we had wrinkled clothes, it was convenient. 3 and now 4 have had stacked and we will never have a coach without. We cross this great country with fewer clothes and we are always fresh and clean with clothes that look like we did them at home. The little space taken up by the W/D, would have been taken by extra clothing if we didn’t have them.
Both of my fifth wheels had washer and dryer space, its a must because without a washer and dryer I dont travel!! That being said, we have the Ariston washer and seperate dryer. They work great!! We lived in our motorhome for three months, they were a lifesaver. We just bought another 5th wheel and it has its own designated closet for it! I’m so excited to finish our renovation and hit the road!! I vote washer/ dryer all the way!!
Great info we are just in the process of purchasing can’t decide on combo or separate ours ate in back bedroom space for both but felt the combo would lighten the trailer weight. Any comments on brand name that works best
What do you do about the wrinkles?
I carry an iron, and have a small portable fold down ironing table.
If you plan to keep your RV for a long period of time AND want to keep a washer and dryer on board, pay attention to where the units will be located in the rig in case you have to replace either of them. We bought a fifth wheel in 2005, had separate washer and dryer installed in a closet (still had another two closets, so no loss of space), and were fine for several years. Then the washer broke. Replacing it was a nightmare but we finally managed it. The first issue was finding a unit that fit the closet; the second — and worse problem, it turned out — was getting the unit into the RV. We got it in but with fractions of an inch to spare. Keep in mind that replacing large appliances like this in an RV is nothing like replacing the in a sticks and bricks house 🙂
Michael Brent Philo says
Our second class A 40′ had a combo w/d in the bedroom, and it worked ok with small loads and took a long time to dry. and it was vented . managed to use a fabric softener that helped keep the wrinkles to a min.
We upgraded to a newer bigger 45′ and it came with a Bosh stacked w/d and the Dryer is 220V. and dries quickly and no wrinkles at all
Wash a set of King sized sheets and pillow cases no problem
We live full time in our Motorhome and would never be without a stacked washer and dryer.
Steve Prentice says
Great article and great comments too. Do you have any advice for using a washer/dryer while wintering in an RV? We plan to spend the winter in the Toronto area, which gets pretty cold, like Northern Minnesota cold, in January/February. We have a 5th wheel and our washer/dryer is in the front, which is the bedroom area, basically backed into the front nose cap. We plan to fully skirt the rig and insulate the water lines, but we would love to hear advice from people who have also wintered and still needed to do laundry 🙂
Samantha Nichols says
I want to buy a washer dryer combo or stackable for my RV. I don’t know what the differences between them are and what better is. Hope someone can give me some suggestions. Thanks!
Samantha Nichols says
I really like your article because it gave me much useful information about the RV washer dryer combo Vs stackable. Thanks so much for sharing!
Samantha, I agree with you, I too am looking to purchase a 5th wheel RV and will be living in it on and off but would like to have a washer and dryer or combo unit. These comments and suggestions are a big help to make my decision.
Donna Chase says
Great article. Agreed the old time WD was not worth it. Now we have a portable washer and dryer purchased on Amazon. Wouldn’t be without them. Less than $600.00 was a great investment.
Mike Caldwell says
Last year I finished a 3 year project that required living fulltime on my Class A Airstream that had an older combo washer/dryer. It was parked on private property with full hook ups. I tried using the unit which washed okay but took forever to dry. It also raised the humidity inside the RV. After the first year I found it easier and quicker to use the private washers in the utility room on the property. What I needed was more freezer space especially since covid got worse while I was there. Removed the old combo unit and replaced it with a front loading mini freezer, similar to a mini frig. So as a former fulltimer, it did not work well for me to have a combo washer.
Everyone will have their option, and my DW’s is no, no, never, never. She says it is much easier to use laundry at cd or go to town and be done. Just her opinion
We love our stacked washer/dryer. We had heard about the small loads, but when we looked at the combo in the Fleetwood Discovery, it was much larger than we expected. They are not home size, but we can throw in a load and go about our business.
Don’t leave home without them!!
Michael Philo says
Had an all in one washer/dryer
had problems with wrinkles uses a new fabric softner and it helped.
sold old RV and bought a newer one and it had stacked W/D and no more problems with wrinkles and just use a normal fabric softner .
Syd Horn says
I have owned three Wanderlodges and Two Newells. I have always had a washer and dryer. The reason is simple. At first I said I don’t need one because all campgrounds have their own washer and dryers, until one person came in with a small rug that her dog had thrown up on and she threw it in the washer. I have never used a washing machine or dryer since that was in an RV park.
Van johnson says
Do the compact washer and dryer withstand the over road bumps in a rv? Do they last? They advertise will fix in your RV, but no rv warranty.
Cyrus Juliet says
A washer dryer combo unit should be your pick if you are a busy person who does not want to swap your wet garments to another machine. You only need to set up the machine before continuing with your chores or leaving for the day.
I’ve never been so busy that I couldn’t find the 2 minutes to swap machines. And if I’m running a dryer I’m not far from it. Because, while thankfully rare, fires do happen.
Can you specify which brand you recommend for stackable washer-dryer? It’s for a Cedar Creek park model. We are located in Canada.The campground is opened 6 months per year. Thank you for your comments as you helped me decide on the stackable over the w/d. Mow, which model is the question.