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.
Using RV park laundry machines has hidden dangers
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