Portable washers & dryers for your RV…… are they worth it?

Since starting our fulltime RV travels in October 2018, we have been doing our laundry at various laundromats along our travels. What was once an undesirable chore, became something even more undesirable and inconvenient. Could a portable washer and dryer be the solution?

RVers and issues with laundromats

Accessibility. Not all campgrounds have laundry facilities, and if you like to camp at state parks or boondock like we do, we typically have to find places to wash our clothes that is not at our campground. This isn’t too much of an issue when we travel with our Little Guy Max travel trailer since we can unhitch at our campsite and drive the truck into town (if there is one nearby) to do laundry. However, when we travel in our 33-foot motorhome, we do not have a tow-behind vehicle and have run into situations where we can not find a laundromat with a parking lot that is accessible to us. This was especially true while we were traveling through Pennsylvania last fall.

But let’s say you are staying at a campground that has a laundry room on site. Accessibility of a different sort abounds there. On numerous occasions, we have run into situations where all the washers and dryers are taken and have waited hours just to use one. Not fun.

Cost. During our travels, we have had it cost anywhere from $1.25-$3.50 for a single wash. Drying times vary too. Most run $0.25 for 10 minute increments but we have had some charge $1.75-$2.25 for a 45 minute cycle. Sticking to a budget when it comes to laundry goes out the window if you never know what you’ll have to pay.

Which leads to the question of how to pay. Some laundromats only take quarters. If you aren’t stocked up on rolls of quarters and are lucky, the laundromat will have an actual change machine – that works. Want to do laundry on a Sunday evening and you don’t have change? You’re usually out of luck. We are seeing more laundromats (both in and out of campgrounds) use a card system. To obtain a card, most require a minimum initial balance. Some even charge $5 to get the card and then you still need to put money on the card to do laundry. Here’s the problem…if you travel frequently, you will very quickly wind up with a wallet full of laundry cards with varying balances still remaining on them because the card from one location is not valid at another!

All of this, while frustrating at times, was manageable. That is, up until everything shut down in early March due to Covid_19. Laundromats were closed. Campgrounds with laundry facilities were closing. We had no real issue boondocking and self-isolating, but washing clothes by hand got old – real quick.

Looking for a solution

Whether you travel full-time or part-time in your RV, space is always a premium. We had pushed the idea of having even a portable washer out of our minds early on, purely on the basis of it being one less thing to carry around. Now that we were more open to the idea, we went to YouTube to see what other RVers are using.

We found two great reviews, one from Travels with Delaney. Patty and Patrick are part-time RVers who travel extensively every summer in their nuCamp t@b 400 which is similar in size to our Little Guy Max. In this video, Patrick reviews the Costway 13lbs portable compact mini twin tub washer.

The next review was by a channel called Camper Life. William and Jessica are full-time RVers in a motorhome a bit bigger than ours, but what was interesting about their review was not only did they review the Kuppet 16.5 lb Compact Twin Tub portable washing machine but a portable, ventless dryer by Panda as well.

Both channels reported positive experiences and showed us how we could use and store a washer and dryer in our RV. In addition, the initial investment would be recouped within a few months, so we were willing to give it a shot.

Purchasing during a pandemic

On our initial attempt to purchase a portable washer, neither unit reviewed in the videos above was in stock online or in stores nearby. It was at that point, we came across the Zeny 17.6 lbs portable compact twin tub, which could be delivered within three weeks.

The Panda dryer, however was in stock and was delivered within five days.

Our experience

The Zeny washer really surprised us. The pros: It can wash quite a bit at a time with no issue and when the clothes come out of the spin cycle, they are very nearly dry. If you were inclined to not purchase a dryer, you could hang up and line-dry the clothes in a relatively short amount of time. We have been able to wash jeans, sweatshirts, sheets and towels in the washer with no issue. Note: it is a little larger than the units reviewed in the videos above but it still easily fits in our shower. The cons: It isn’t able to handle thicker blankets and heavy bedding. In addition, smaller loads and quicker wash times require it to be a bit more hands on than a traditional washer. It is bulky and we store it in our shower, which requires us to pull it out into the living area when we use the shower, but….the time it takes us to do that is far less than the time it would take us to drive to a laundromat, so we’ll call that a win.

The Panda dryer does take up some room while it is in use, but breaks down in less than two minutes and can be stored away in a small bin. It does add some heat into the living area, which during cold weather you can dry your clothes and heat up your rig at the same time. During warmer weather, we’ve found we can set it up outside. The bag that surrounds your clothes doesn’t make it look like you’re doing laundry and prevents the clothes from falling on the ground.

Final thoughts

If you like having the ability to do your laundry without the hassle of laundromats and campground laundry rooms, dealing with change and laundry cards and are willing to dedicate a some space with some inconvenience, we think its worth the investment.

Looking for other portable options? Read our Portable Sink & Toilet Combo review post

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