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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? Let’s first review some of the issues with laundry RVers face.

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 wasn’t too much of an issue when we traveled with our Little Guy Max travel trailer since we could unhitch at our campsite and just drive the truck into town (if there was 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 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.

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The 320 challenge was accepted and completed! In our last post, we lost one of our solar charge controllers, which effectively put two of our 320 watt solar panels out of commission. This left us with 320 watts. We’ve been off-grid boondocking since March 17 so we have gotten pretty good at using our resources wisely. We decided to try to stay a few more days in our boondocking spot (see map at end of post) in Wendover, UT and see how well we could operate off the one panel.

This is what the sky looked like at 8:50 p.m.

So how did it go? Surprisingly well! It helped that we were in a sunny location where the sun rose early and didn’t set until close to 9 p.m. We cut back on some of the electronic usage, but were still able to keep our computers and phones charged at all times. The experience did reinforce the value of redundancy. Our solar system was set up in such a way that if one section was out, we could still operate off the other. We also have the generator, but prefer to use that sparingly as it is noisy. Having multiple systems gives us a sense of security – especially in situations such as this.

Tuesday evening we ran out of water in our freshwater tank. We still have ample drinking water and an extra 5 gallon container of potable water, but we decided to leave our spot and start making our way toward West Yellowstone the next morning.

At the Bonneville Salt Flats International Race Track

Just a few miles from where we were camped is the Bonneville Salt Flats International Race Track. This is a quick drive off of I-80, just take exit 4 and take the first right after the gas station. It will take you down a road with a circular spot at the end to turn around. There is no fee to stop and check out the area.

We were the only ones there and even though the name “salt flats” clued me in on what it was comprised of, it still blew me away to actually walk on the salt. It reminded me of large pieces of coarse salt that I often cook with. It is still relatively early in the year and the salt was still pretty damp. It isn’t until later in the year when it has dried out and hardened that it is safe for vehicles to venture out onto the surface. You definitely will not want to take an RV onto the flats and they don’t recommend it.

Before getting on the freeway, we stopped at the gas station at the corner. Russ had to go in to pay for gas and came out with a bag full of surprises! The store actually had rubber gloves and hand sanitizer for sale. A box of 100 gloves cost $18.99 – now we’re not sure if this is a good price or not, but it was worth it as we were a bit stressed since we were down to using our yellow dishwashing gloves. The woman at the store told Russ that the owner of the store had someone travel all the way to California just to pick up the stock that they had.

Moving along I-80E from Wendover toward Salt Lake City, we were treated to some gorgeous scenery… no idea what the tall tower-like object is in the middle photo, but it definitely catches the eye!

We made a quick dip down I-15 South to visit one of our favorite stops – Rowley’s Red Barn. It sells fresh produce, cheeses, butter, fudge and amazing ice cream (check out our video at the bottom of this post). It’s also a Harvest Host location where Russ and I stayed overnight on their side lot when we went through last year. After having a quick lunch and our fridge stocked with Amish roll butter and plenty of green onion cheese, we got back on the I-15 and went north.

Just north of Salt Lake City, we crossed the border into Idaho in search of some BLM land to boondock for the night. I was surprised to see how green everything was already! After having spent so much time in Nevada and western Utah, the vivid colors were mesmerizing.

The spot we found for the evening is known as Blackrock Canyon, just outside of Pocatello, ID. The area is accessible for any size rig, but before we got to the camping spot there was about a mile and a half of dirt road that is rutted in some spots, so we had to take it extra slow. There is a fairly level parking lot and a pit toilet at the entrance to the BLM area just past the cattle gate. There were many trucks parked in the lot when we arrived as it is a popular area for quads and off-road motorcycle enthusiasts. They were all gone around 9 p.m. and just us and another camper remained.

Blackrock Canyon (BLM) Boondocking for the night

Up next: our final push to West Yellowstone!



BOONDOCK #1 Wendover, UT

BOONDOCK #2 Blackrock Canyon (ID)

NOTE: This footage was filmed July 30, 2019

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