Somehow, this question is one of the first things that pop up when we tell people that we are living full time in a motorhome. And come to think of it – it is a valid question. In a house, you have your machine at home. If you live in an apartment complex you might have a laundry room and make reservations to do your laundry. But how does it work if you live full time in a motorhome?
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Laundry in a motorhome – how does it work?
I want to start by saying that since we live full time in our motorhome, we have all our clothes with us at all times. And I have at least 200 pairs of panties for exactly this reason – I don’t want to run out of panties and be “forced” into doing laundry.
However, there are several ways to get the laundry done when you are living in a motorhome. Even if we only use some of them, we decided to post all the different ways in this post so that you can find whatever suits you best.
Washing and doing laundry by hand
According to the people we talked to since our new lifestyle – this is the most common way. You wash your clothes and delicates by hand, either in your motorhome or at a camping. Most of the campings will have a special place where you can hand wash your clothes.
The ribbed form of the sink makes your clothes cleaner apparently. Mini and I never do our laundry by hand. Why? Because in my head, the clothes will not get as clean as if you wash them in a washing machine. Who knows – I might change in that regard and start doing our laundry by hand. In that case, I will get back to you with a new post!
Doing laundry by hand in Portugal
All of the campsites and some of the parking in Portugal have basins that are specially made for hand washing laundry. But there are also towns and small villages that have “washing stations” for hand washing your clothes. For example, there is a place right outside of Paderne in the Algarve where you can stop and wash your clothes. They have several “boxes” so I believe that the whole town could be doing their laundry at the same time and it would still be room for more.
Another city that we found and that had a laundry station right in the city center was Alcacer do Sal in Alentejo. Here people are coming and doing their washing and it was awesome to see. It felt like it was a meeting point (only for the women unfortunately) and the washing was done at the same time as the talking.
Pros to doing laundry by hand
- You can do your laundry anytime and don’t have to wait for access to machines or nothing like that. It is all up to you!
- It is said that it is easier to get the stains out because you can concentrate on the stain. In a machine that is out of your control.
- Your clothes will probably live a longer life since they are better preserved by hand washing than been thrown into a machine.
- It saves the planet because it is more energy efficient. You only use your own hand power instead of electricity.
- You save lots of water by washing by hand. Hmmm not 100 percent sure when I think of it because the new washing machines are energy efficient and some people might use a lot of water when they do their laundry.
- By doing your washing by hand – you get a great workout! And getting more healthy is always great!
Cons to doing laundry by hand
- It might get really heavy. Especially if you are washing jeans. And you don’t want to hurt yourself or throw out your back.
- You lose a lot of time. Time that you could spend doing something else. When throwing the clothes into the machine you are off the hook and can do other things.
- It is harder to get all the water out of the clothes. In a machine you have the option to centrifuge (spin-dry) the clothes and most of the water goes away right there.
Looking at the list of pros and cons I have a hard time to stand by my idea that I never do my washing by hand!
Leaving your laundry at the dry cleaners
This is an option. It is also an option that Mini and I have never done. But just because we are not using this way to do our laundry, it doesn’t mean that it is not a great way to solve the laundry problem while living in a motorhome. On the plus side – you get all your laundry washed, dried and pressed = luxury on a high level!
And I do believe that all the countries have dry cleaners. On the downside is that it might get expensive if you do this every time. But you might splurge sometimes – or, if you are like Mini and me – not!
Washing your clothes in a washing machine at a camping
This is the way that we do our laundry. And so far this has not once been a problem for us. There are also different ways on where to do your laundry in a machine. And there are also all kinds of sizes of the machines – some are more “regular” like the once you would have at home whilst others are huge and take up to 18 kilograms of laundry. Here are some options on where you can do your laundry while living in a motorhome:
Do your laundry at the camping
I do believe that the majority of campings have washing machines and allow you to do your laundry for a fee. The fee varies and the range for the price is quite big. We have seen everything from three euros up to six euros for each machine. Mini and I tend to do our laundry at campings when the price is between three to four euros.
There are also several different ways on how the machines work and how you get started with doing your laundry:
- You put money in the slot and then you can do your laundry.
- You have to go to the reception and buy a token. Then place the token in the slot of the machine and do your laundry.
- The trust- system. You just start the machine and then you tell the receptionist how many machines you run when checking out. There also might be a jar right by the machine where you put your money in.
Etiquette and “laws” for doing your laundry at campings
This is an important one. I had an incident where I got yelled at even if I had nothing to do with it. It was a “being at the wrong place at the wrong time” kind of thing. I went with a friend that didn’t understand English. She was going to do her laundry and wanted me to translate the instructions for her. When we got there the machine had ended but there was still someones laundry in there. We waited for about ten minutes and then my friend decided to take the laundry out. Not throwing it out – just placing it neatly at the top of the machine.
Suddenly a super angry Frenchmen showed up and started yelling at me in French. I think that it’s best that I couldn’t understand what he was saying 🙊. But I am quite sure that he was not happy that his laundry got taken out of the machine. A part of me can understand that but at the same time… there are more people that want to do their laundry and they are maybe leaving the camping soon and cannot wait? However, here are some “rules” that you can keep in mind when washing your clothes at a camping
Rules for doing your laundry at campings
- If you leave the machine while it’s washing, set a timer. No one wants to sit and wait for the machine to finish and it’s ok to leave. The problem is that there are most likely more people that want to get their laundry done. They might be in a hurry so make sure to set a timer and go get your laundry when it’s done.
- Have some patience. This is of course within reason. If you come to the machine and there are clothes inside. Wait for a few minutes before you start taking someone else laundry out. Since laundry might be somewhat private – make sure to give the owner a fair chance to get their laundry out!
- If you take someone’s laundry out, put it in a clean place. Let’s say that you have been patient and waited but no one is coming to get their laundry from the machine. If you decide to take their laundry out – make sure to place their clothes neatly in a clean place. Don’t just throw them out!
- Clean up after you. There is nothing more creepy and annoying than entering a filthy laundry room. If you spill some of your detergents… clean it up after you! If you have been using your dryer – make sure to clean out the fluff before you leave.
Washing your clothes in a washing machine at a laundromat
This is huge in America and Mini and I have spent several hours at laundromats in the US. They are not as common in Europe but you can find them. This is a really good way to get your laundry done because they are often equipped with a lot of machines and some really big dryers!
Laundromats in Portugal
Even if we most often do our laundry at the Intermarché (a large store that is all over the country) we have tried a real laundromat while in the Algarve. We wanted to do some laundry while in Albufeira and it turned out that a lot of other people thought like us. The washing machine at the campsite was occupied and there were a lot of people that were waiting in line. We found out that there was a laundromat not far from where we were staying. We packed our laundry up and headed there.
At the laundromat, they had many machines and they also had a huge one that could take up to 18 kilograms of laundry. And all of their dryers were huge so it was great! We paid 8 euros for the 18 kilograms machine (2018) and we washed linens and all. We can gladly recommend you to visit this laundromat when needing to do your laundry. There are nine washing machines of various sizes and four big dryers.
Address: Urbanização Quinta da Bellavista 3, 8200-161 Albufeira. They are open daily between 08.00 and 22.00.
Finding washing machines while on the road
Trust us, there is not that much of a hassle to find washing machines while living in a motorhome. Each country has their own systems. In Sweden, for example, there are not that many laundromats available. However, all the campings have machines where you can wash your clothes.
Finding washing machines in Portugal
As I already wrote higher up in this article, the Intermarché stores in Portugal are amazing for motorhome owners. Not only do they have washing machines outside of the majority of their stores. They often offer you a place to get rid of your grey water and fill up with fresh new water. And you can also empty your toilet while here.
Mini and I often use the washing machine and dryer while at Intermarché. We never leave our laundry unattended. We park our motorhome nearby and then we have a cup of coffee while we wait. The price for using the machines at Intermarché is 8 euros for the 18 kilogram machine, 4 euros for the 8 kilogram machine and then 2 euros for 10 minutes in the huge dryer (2018).
Can you have a washing machine in the motorhome?
Believe it or not but the answer is yes to this question. You can have your own washing machine in your motorhome. We have seen some people that have their own washing machine in their motorhome. All of them have bigger cars and garages where they can fit the washing machine. Since Mini and I don’t have anything close to a garage in our motorhome, we don’t have a washing machine.
Some of the portable machines that are out there need to be plugged into electricity to work. Some of them are without electricity. All of them are more or less portable. I dove into the jungle of portable washing machines and checked what is out on the market. If you have experience of another one – please drop a comment and I will add it to the list!
Different portable washing machines for motorhomes
All the products that are listed below are available for you to purchase. If you decide to buy one (or more) of the products – please use the links that are provided by us. You will get to the product by clicking on the picture. It will not cost you anything more but we will get a small kickback from Amazon. There are a lot more to choose from – I have only picked the once that got the highest reviews.
Scrubba Portable Clothes Washing Bag
This must be the worlds smallest washing tool. It has a built in washboard and gets your clothes clean fast. It is super easy to use and the instructions are printed on the bag. I have heard a lot of campers that use tents that have this. However, this might be perfect even for your motorhome. “This washing bag is incredible! I was able to keep on top of the clothes washing on a 3 week family trip ( 4 people ) with just 5 min a day. Clothes come out really really clean as opposed to when you try to wash them by hand in the sink. I would really Recommended this”.
Laundreez, the portable clothes washer
The best part with this gadget is that it does not use any electricity. And it is really cheap. It is super lightweight and it fold into the size of a pair of socks. I know some people that have bought it but I am yet to hear their opinion on the Laundreez. On Amazon it has gotten some great reviews. “We went on holiday with 2 young children. I used laundreez everyday. It was great at cleaning the clothes and perfect for soaking with stain removal products to get rid of stubborn stains. Simple to use and easily transportable. I will never travel without it”.
Wonder wash – wash without electricity
I would love to hear from people using this because if it works this is awesome! No need to connect to power – just use your own man- or women- power to do your laundry. “These washers are GREAT!! No electric and less water”. It weighs just under 3 kilograms so it’s not heavy at all.
Aqua Laser Mini Washing Machine
This is a small portable washing machine that uses 160w of power. You can fit up to 2,5 kilograms of clothes for each wash. It is designed to be easy to use and is perfect for camping. Best of all is that it washes without you having to watch it! It weighs 5,7 kilograms so it is not heavy at all! It has gotten some really great reviews on Amazon. One of the buyer says: “Good quality washing machine. Bought for use on camping holiday. I’ve used it several times and it has cleaned our clothes exceptionally well”
Price for a new one is £51.76
Portable Washing Machine TG23
This portable machine has two tubs. One tub is for washing and the other one is for spinning. The capacity is 3,6kg wash and 2kg spin. The spinning part is perfect because then your clothes will dry a lot faster. It uses 230w of power so you might need to be connected to electricity to be able to use it. It weighs 13,2 kilograms. “This machine is great does a good load and is quick to use,
is quiet if you have it on a a floor and the spin for 5 minutes gets your clothing nearly dry”.
Price for a new one is £104.99.
Twin Tub Portable Washing Machine Spin Dryer
With this small cutie, you can wash up to 3,5 kilograms of clothes at one time. You will need 230v to use it but on the plus side, this one will spin your clothes dry to. And that is often a problem – how to get your clothes dry while living in a motorhome. “It is larger than I thought and needs a stable base to operate. The secret of this machine is not to overload and even less on the spin dry which is fantastic and you only really need to set it for a 2 minute spin. Cleans very good and great value for money”.
Price for a new one is £89.80.
Are you using any of them? Would you recommend it? Please let us know what you think!
How are people doing their laundry in motorhomes?
When I started on this article, I got curious and wanted to see how other motorhome owners deal with their laundry while on the road. I created a poll in two Facebook groups (Motorhomeadventures and Motorhome madness) and asked the people how they did. The poll was active for 2 days and here are the results…
People that participated in the poll: 603.
People that this statistics is based on: 596 = 100 percent.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that this poll was created in two different Facebook groups and there might be people that are members of both groups and that answered in both polls. The poll started out with a few fixed questions on how people in motorhomes do their laundry. People also added their own options in the poll. Some of them left answers that we have decided not to include, like stealing clothes from others, using disposable clothes, leaving the laundry to their wife and comments like that. In the end, we ended up with 7 options that are not included.
How do people handle their laundry in motorhomes?
- Washing their clothes in washing machines on campings: 36 percent.
- Not washing at all – bringing the clothes back home: 24 percent.
- Washing their clothes by hand: 19 percent.
- Washing their clothes in laundromats: 8 percent.
- Washing the small stuff by hand and the rest in machines on campings: 5 percent.
- Having their own washing machines in their motorhome: 5 percent.
- Washing the small stuff by hand and taking the rest home: 3 percent.
Most people are using washing machines on campings
I’m not surprised that the most common way for people to do their laundry is using the washing machines while being on a camping. And since not all people are away for long periods at a time I also understand the appeal of not bothering with the laundry at all. I will confess that I was not thinking of this option, probably because we are living full time in our motorhome and don’t have any other place to save our laundry for “later”.
I did get surprised that so many people (19 percent) are doing their laundry by hand. That is really impressive and I feel ashamed that we don’t do that – because we never wash by hand! Something that might change in the future now that you all have inspired me! I was also surprised of how many have their own machines in their motorhomes. What a great way to not have to find places to wash – you have it with you at all times. However, in our case, this is not an option because we don’t have the extra space of bringing a washing machine with us.
And to finish this off… the best comment of them all in the poll:
So do the ceiling test with your underpants, just throw them upwards, when they stick to the ceiling they are ready to change. Or remember there are 4 days for every pair of pants. Day 1 normal, day 2 back to front, day 3 normal but inside out, day 4 inside out and back to front!
How do you dry your clothes in motorhomes?
So now that we have done the whole washing thing, I think that it is perfect to give some information on drying your clothes in motorhomes to. This is often more of an issue than the laundry itself. If you have a home you can always find the space to hang your clothes to dry. But in a motorhome, there is not often any space to hang your clothes. Here are some different ways that motorhome owners have made it work!
Using dryers at campings or laundromats
This is most often our way of drying our clothes. Mostly because we wild camp a lot and have nowhere to hang our wet clothes. A lot of the laundromats also offer huge dryers so you can fit a lot of clothes in there. And they are efficient. On the downside, you have to pay for the dryer. And if you are at a place where the weather is nice, your clothes will dry fast in the sun.
Hanging your clothes outside to dry
A lot of campings have designated area for where you can hang your clothes to dry. These areas are often connected to the washing machines and the only thing you have to do is to either bring your own pegs to hold the clothes in place and to check on your clothes once in a while to make sure that they are still there. Even if Mini and I don’t wear any expensive clothes, we still don’t like to hang them up and leave them. So to solve that problem we have our own washing line with us.
After doing laundry, Mini will hang up the washing line between two trees (or whatever is close by) and then we can see our clothes at all times. A lot of people bring their own drying racks as well. They are perfect and since you can fold them up they don’t take up that much space! Mini and I thought of getting one of those but decided to go with the line instead because it takes up even less space and it is really easy to use. We don’t even have pegs to hold the clothes in place but we might be getting some for those windy days!
Don’t put your wet clothes inside your motorhome
A tip from us is to minimize the times that you hang wet clothes inside your motorhome. The reason for that is that you don’t want the moisture to get inside your home. This is the place where you are eating, sleeping and living and inhaling moist air is not good for you. If you get enough moisture in the motorhome that might turn into mold and that can become dangerous.
Sure we might have one or two wet towels sometimes but we never hand our laundry to dry inside our motorhome. Mainly it is because we don’t have the space for it but also to spare our home from problems with condensation and mold.