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Camping Hacks

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The Ultimate RV & Van Life Laundry Guide • The Motorized Home

This post may contain affiliate links to support the upkeep of this blog - at no extra cost to you! Please read my disclaimer for more info.Laundry, the joy of life! Or not… Whether you like it or not, the clothes keep getting dirty, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors as most campers tend to do. However, with these tips, the laundry day doesn’t have to be a nightmare! You Might Also Be Interested In► 12 Best Rv Organization Ideas From Our Tiny Rv (In Which We Live Full-Time!)► 17 Effective Ways To Make Your Rv Smell Awesome – No More Musty Smells!► The Best Manual Household Gadgets For Rv Boondocking And Freedom Camping 1 – Going to the laundromat This is usually the most convenient way of doing your laundry when you travel or live in your RV or a van. With these tips you’ll make sure your laundry day will be a success! 1 – Choose a good laundromat. When you are in a new town, check google, yelp, or your local camping app for reviews. Quality standards vary, from somewhere really nice and clean to an absolute nightmare – dirty, old machines, rubbish all over, expensive prices, you name it. 2 – Check the machine before using it. Have a quick look inside the machine. Someone’s underpants left behind may not be the nicest surprise, but there might be something even worse: a red sock, a pen or a lipstick and your white clothes could be ruined. Also, have a quick sniff in case someone has used bleach just before you – good to know if you intend to wash dark colors. If you are using the dryer, check the lint trap. A clean machine will dry your clothes quicker, giving more bang for your buck. Another good idea is to use a dryer after someone else, if possible. Already warm dryer will dry your clothes quicker too. 3 – Bring your own detergent. Many laundromats sell their own, but it is usually overpriced, over-scented, and poor quality. 4 – Keep a laundry money box in your van or RV. Most laundromats are still coin-operated. Make sure you always have some coins in hand to avoid the hassle of looking for a change. 5 – Don’t leave your stuff unattended. Take a book or do some work with your laptop while you wait. If you have to go to do something else, leave your empty clothes basket or a bag close to the machine, in case the laundromat is busy and someone needs to use the machine after you. You don’t want to find your clothes chucked somewhere you don’t want them to be. 6 – Check the machine settings carefully before pressing start. DON´T MISS How to Keep Cool in Your RV in the Heat - 8 TipsSome machines reset after the previous user but some don’t. Always check carefully to protect your delicates. 7 – Go to the laundromat at off-peak times This lets you do all your washing as fast as possible, and in case you are working, you can enjoy the quieter environment. Usually the best times are the weekdays during the day or very late in the evenings. 2 – Doing the laundry by hand When the whole load is not needed, smaller items are quick and easy to wash by hand in a sink or a (collapsible) bucket. 1 – Make sure your detergent is suitable for hand washing and delicate enough for your clothes. 2 – Separate lights and darks and start with light ones. 3 – The easiest way is to fill two tubs/buckets, with a touch warm water. Too cold won’t clean your clothes and too hot may damage them. Add the detergent to the other bucket. 4 – Make “a swishing” action with the clothes, don’t rub or twist too much as this may cause damage. 5 – Rinse the clothes in the other tub. If your skin is sensitive, you might have to do this at least twice. 6 – Avoid twisting the clothes after washing, as this may also cause damage – especially delicate items should be dried flat. 7 – A good place to do a hand wash is by the water filling and emptying station, this way you don’t have to worry about running out of the water, plus disposing of dirty water will be easy. 8 – Of course you can also use the water from rivers and lakes if it is clean enough, but make sure no grey water goes back in. 3 – Manual gadgets for laundry If hand washing sounds like a lot of work, you are not wrong. Luckily there are a few manual gadgets you can buy to make it a bit easier. 3.1 – Scrubba Bag Scrubba bag – essentially a bag with a “flexible washing board” inside. Fill the bag with clothes, detergent and water, rub and you are done. + Very easy to store, easy to use, doesn’t require a lot of water, serves well as a laundry bag– You can only do a few items at the time, physical effort, the price is pretty steep for essentially just a bag. Mainly designed for campers 3.2 – Clothes Washing Wand Clothes washing wand. Super simple idea, just push down and pull up in a bucketful of clothes, water, and detergent. + Easy to store, simple to use, fairly cheap– Physical effort, you need a bucket + Do it yourself -version Five gallon bucket ideas had this great idea – Just get a five gallon bucket, drill a hole through the lid and a few holes through a normal plunger, put the handle through the hole and get plunging. Cheap and cheerful! DON´T MISS 7 Ways To Stay Clean Whilst Living In a Van or an RV Without a Shower3.3 – Portable Clothes Washers Portable clothes washers are handy if you have space, a big water tank and you need to do laundry more often. 1 – Manual washer-dryer, 2-in-1, after washing your clothes you can spin them to be less wet. + Manual, no electricity, doesn’t use lot of water, easy to use, spins, compact size– Shakes when spinning, physical effortPrice $ 2 – USA-made Lavario Portable Clothes Washer works with a very simple idea – you put the water and detergent in, load your clothes to the holder, and with up-and-down motions, you keep plunging your clothes in the water. + Manual, easy motion, doesn’t use loads of water– You can’t take the handle apart so trickier to store, doesn’t spin, physical effortPrice $$ 4 – Electric portable washing machine This one is an electrical one, so it is easier to use if you are hooked up in electricity often. It is also pretty big so mainly recommendable for big RVs. + Easy to use, doesn’t require physical effort, also spins– You need a big battery pack or be connected to electricity, quite bigPrice $ 5 – My thoughts and tips for choosing an RV washing machine This is the washing machine we have. Although I couldn’t see that it was available in the US, I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts concerning electric washing machines, as this has the very basic, general working idea like most washing machines for this purpose in the US. 1 – You want your washing machine to have a spinning option. I looked at a few different models before purchase, and one of the options didn’t have the spinning option. I’m soo glad I went for this – even though the spinning option is not amazing 1000 rounds per minute, it still makes a massive difference to the drying speed. Also like mentioned above, twisting your clothes may damage them, so the spinning really helps removing most of the water. 2 – Prepare to spend a lot of time doing laundry. Even though this is an electric washer, it’s not automated and as it’s not connected to mains, all the work is down to you! I have created a pretty good routine with it, but basically it still takes a while, especially when you think that a normal washing machine can fit 6-9 kg of clothes per wash and this only 3 kg. 3 – It takes more water than you’d think. Especially items that have been “exposed to elements” like t-shirts often need at least 3 rinses until the water is clear. 4 – Be careful not to use too hot water If you think about the normal recommended clothes washing temperature 30 to 40 Celsius, it’s more or less a body temperature. It can easily feel “too cold”, so I’d strongly recommend getting a thermometer. DON´T MISS 80 Jaw-Dropping RV Bathroom Renovations6 – How to store your dirty clothes between the laundry days? Get a large, airtight bag for smellier items to prevent the smell from spreading all over your van or RV. It is a preference question though, I usually have two different bags, the other, tight one, for the smellier items and a mesh/open bag for less smelly, to air them out. A clean, open bag is nice when you empty your clothes at the laundromat and take your clothes back to the van. Bags with handles are the most convenient as you can just grab them and go. 7 – How to dry your clothes This is very important, especially in a van or an RV. If you fold away your clothes when they are still a little bit damp, this may cause mildew and the clothes start to smell very bad (and spread the smell to your other clothes). Avoid drying anything inside the van, even if you have a heater, as this only spreads the dampness to the places you definitely don’t want it to go, like your bedding. Check out these easily portable drying racks and clotheslines for your clothes. I love especially one of these “chandelier drying racks” for drying just a few items or small items like socks. They are easy to hang and store in a small space. 8 – How to be more environmentally friendly? Always wash a full load (this will save you money too), use bio-based detergent, prefer cold wash and choose front load machine over the top load one if possible, as they use up to 50% less water! If the weather is nice enough outside, leave the dryer and hang your clothes outside instead. Disposing your dirty laundry water Dirty laundry water is cast as a grey water and should be disposed accordingly. What kind of detergent to use? As for most van lifers enjoying the nature is important, you might want to look out for a more environmentally friendly options. Look out for biodegradable, chemical free, plant-based detergents, not animal tested, preferably in a recyclable bottle or as a powder as this saves water in manufacturing process. You Might Also Be Interested In► 12 Best Rv Organization Ideas From Our Tiny Rv (In Which We Live Full-Time!)► 17 Effective Ways To Make Your Rv Smell Awesome – No More Musty Smells!► The Best Manual Household Gadgets For Rv Boondocking And Freedom Camping How are you washing your clothes in your RV? Let me know in the comments! 🙂 Save me on Pinterest!

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