Doing Laundry on the Road: Your Complete Guide to RV Washers and Dryers

Sep 30, 2020 | Gear & Tech

Doing Laundry on the Road: Your Complete Guide to RV Washers and Dryers

Figuring out how to do laundry on the road can be a challenge for some RVers. Here we break down the ins and outs of RV washers and dryers and tips on how to find the best laundry solution for you.

By Ashley Rossi

While higher-end Class A RVs typically come with a pre-installed washer and dryer from the factory, most standard rigs do not. But this doesn’t mean you’re out of luck when it comes to doing laundry on the road or at the campground. Many larger-sized rigs—including fifth wheels, motorhomes, and some travel trailers—typically come pre-prepped for a washer and dryer setup.  

Here, we outline the different solutions for your RV laundry needs.

RV Washer and Dryer Types

There are three different types of convenient washers and dryers that are commonly found in RVs: stackable, portable, and combo. Depending on your lifestyle and rig, one of these three options will most likely suit your needs.

Each type of RV washer and dryer has its pros and cons, and depending on your unit, they will impact your water usage and electricity. Most RV washers and dryers run on 15 amps, but to understand your total consumption, you need to keep in mind what other electrical appliances you also use—like AC units, water heaters, and microwaves. While RV laundry units tend to conserve water, you should still be conscious of your total water usage when you’re camping without hookups. On average, RV washers and dryers can handle between 10 and 15 pounds of laundry.

Of course, there are alternatives for doing laundry while living or traveling in an RV, including hand washing, campground facilities, laundromats, and facilities at some truck stop plazas. 

Stackable RV Washers and Dryers

Stackable RV washers and dryers are similar to the ones found in your home, but smaller and lighter. For big rig owners who travel with kids and need to do laundry frequently, a stackable washer and dryer unit is a popular option as it lets you run both machines at once. Be aware that stackable units do use up a lot of water.

Portable RV Washers and Dryers

For RVers who don’t own a pre-prepped rig, portable washers are really your only in-vehicle laundry solution. Portable washers and dryers are affordable and compact in size, but they can be heavy. There are two types of portable units: manual and electric. Portable washer-dryer units require a water source, the ability to drain, and a power source, which can be electric or human-powered. Portable washers and dryers are the most energy-efficient options when it comes to RV laundry units, but they won’t give you the highest quality of cleanliness compared to machines.

Washer-Dryer Combos for RVs

RV washer-dryer combos combine the functions of a separate washer and dryer into one drum, with automatic cycle changes. They work similarly to a normal washer and dryer, but take up less space and a bit more time. This is an easy-to-use option for smaller rigs, but be aware of the water consumption.

Vented vs. Non-Vented RV Dryers

Your RV dryer will either be vented or non-vented. Vented dryers are like household dyers in that they use the air, not water, to dry the clothes, and require an air exhaust vent. Non-vented dryers use a condenser to dry clothes by putting cool air inside the dryer drum and warm air on the outside. This creates a condensation effect that pulls the evaporated water from your laundry. This water is then pumped out through the washer drain, which typically dumps into your RV’s gray water tank. 

  • Stackable RV dryer units are vented. 
  • Portable dryers are non-vented.
  • Washer-dryer combos can be either.

RVs with Washers and Dryers

If you’re looking to have a washer-dryer unit in your RV, the next step is deciding if you want to purchase a rig that comes either pre-prepped or with a washer and dryer pre-installed. Note that Class Bs and small travel trailers do not come with washer or dryer hookup options. And most fifth wheels, toy haulers, and travel trailers will only come pre-prepped. 

Here are a few RV brands and models that either come pre-prepped or have a pre-installed option for an RV washer and dryer (offerings vary by floor plan):

Class A RVs 

Class C RVs 

Fifth Wheels and Toy Haulers

Travel Trailers

Where to Buy RV Washers and Dryers

When you’re buying an RV washer and dryer, you should keep in mind the size, your electrical system, how much water it will use, the load capacity, the dryer type (vented or non-vented), the location in the RV, and the price. Lastly, confirm with the manufacturer that the model you want to buy is compatible with how your rig was pre-prepped.

RV Washers and Dryers Brands

  • Equator: Sells both stackable and combo RV washer-dryer options.
  • Haier: Sells stackable non-vented units as well as portable washers and dryers.
  • LG: Sells both stackable and combo RV washers and dryers.
  • Magic Chef: Sells both portable washer-dryer units and combos.
  • Pinnacle: Sells vented combo units.
  • Whirlpool: Sells all three types of RV washers and dryers.

Where to Purchase RV Washers and Dryers

Installing a Washer and Dryer in an RV

If your RV is pre-prepped for a washer and dryer, it will have a designated location, hot and cold water hookups, and an electrical connection ready to go. If your RV is equipped for an air vent, the location will be marked to indicate where to drill the vent hole so as not to hit the support structure or wiring. But pre-prepped RVs are not all alike. Some have all the hookups ready to go with easy access, while others are only partially prepped with plumbing lines and electrical in the proper place, but without a pre-installed electrical outlet, breaker, or spigot hookups. Some RVs will only be prepped for a combo unit, while others will accept stackable machines. It’s important to know the difference before you start the installation process as parts and labor costs can vary greatly.

If you plan to install a washer and dryer in a unit that was not designed for it, it will be difficult, if not impossible. Finding a suitable location, then running the electrical, plumbing lines, and drain to that location will not be an option in most RVs. 

We recommend checking with the RV manufacturer to find out which washer and dryer units they have prepped the RV for, and then contacting an experienced service center or technician to confirm the installation will work as designed.

Check out the below gear recommendations for additional RV washer-dryers, accessories, and installation products.

Gear Recommendations

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Ashley Rossi

Ashley is the managing editor at Togo RV. She comes from a background in travel writing which has taken her from Australia to Haida Gwaii. Her favorite national park is Zion and she's helping her parents plan an epic cross-country retirement trip in an Airstream.