Doing Laundry By Hand in an RV

Save Time and Money By Doing Your Laundry By Hand

Not all RVs have the space or the amperage for a washing machine. Moreover, some RVers boondock (spend a lot of time off the grid). If this is the case, consider washing at least some of your laundry by hand. This might sound like a lot of work but it is very easy to do with the right tools.

Imagine being able to wash a whole load of clothes in under five minutes using only a few gallons of water and having them come out just as clean as from a washing machine that takes at least a half hour to cycle. I was a little skeptic, and then I discovered the Wonderwash. This lens explores this, and other great products, from The Laundry Alternative, and will show you how to save a small fortune at the laundromat.

Tools For Doing Laundry By Hand


The most important thing for washing laundry by hand is the Wonderwash.

The magical washing machine launders clothes by pressurizing the interior of the drum; it works just like a pressure cooker! With the Wonderwash, you can do a load of clothes in about five minutes as cleanly as does a washing machine in an average half hour cycle.

Now, there is one caveat: the Wonderwash does not wring out the clothes.

So, if you do have access to a little power and have the storage space for it, a spin dryer will make it even easier to do your laundry by hand in your RV. This machine will wring the clothes out for you to the point of dampness, and then it will only take a short while for the clothes to dry completely on a clothes line or drying rack.

Setting Up a Laundry Station in an RV

The ideal place to set up your RV laundry station is outside if it’s allowed where your RV is set up. Place a picnic table or other surface near both an electrical outlet and a source of water, preferably hot, such as an outdoor shower. Set up a drying rack or clothesline nearby.

If you are in an area where it is unlawful to dump grey water directly on the ground, keep a bucket on hand for collecting the laundry water to later dump it into a sewer or septic system.

Some RV parks do not allow doing laundry outside or setting up a clothesline. A good place to do the laundry inside is to wash and spin the clothes in the shower. I used to set up a drying rack between the dinette seats to keep the drying laundry out of the way.

How to Wash Clothes With a Wonderwash

The secret to washing clothes with a Wonderwash is to use hot water and very little liquid laundry detergent, no more than a tablespoon. More than that will have you rinsing many times, increasing your workload and the amount of water needed.

1) Start by pre-treating stains as normal;

2) Pile the laundry loosely into the drum to no more than three-quarters full. The capacity is about two pairs of jeans or two towels or five shirts or a week’s worth of under things two people (I have washed heavy coats and down comforters in my Wonderwash);

3) Add the laundry detergent;

4) Fill the drum with water to cover the clothes. Hot water works better, but cold water will do; it just means you’ll need to spin the drum a little longer;

5) Screw on the lid and tighten the knob to pressurize the drum;

6) Use the handle to spin the drum for about one minute;

7) Unscrew the knob to depressurize the drum and remove the lid;

8) Insert the drain tube the bottom of the drum and allow the water to drain, then remove the tube;

9) Fill the drum again with clean water to rinse, and repeat the above steps, or put the clothes in a basin of fresh water and agitate them;

10) You can add bleach to the rinse water for white items, then do an additional rinse cycle.

Don’t use too much detergent!
Too much detergent will mean have to do several rinses. Only use a teaspoon to a tablespoon.

How to Dry Clothes With a Spin Dryer

Remember that spin dryer is misnomer. What this machine does is take the excess water out of the clothes so that they will dry more quickly. In a damp climate, it cuts my drying time from three to four days to three to four hours! Also, The spin dryer will not effectively wring out a full load of heavy laundry, so as a rule of thumb, plan on two spin cycles for every load.

1) Start by setting up the spin dryer on a steady flat surface with the hose near a drain. It vibrates, so much sure it is not set up on something where it will tip over or fall off; I’d hate for your spin dryer to walk off a counter! Also, you may wish to keep a guiding hand on the hose so that it does not jump up and spray the surrounding area. I find the easiest place to set up the spin dryer is on a towel just outside the shower.

2) Transfer the wet clothes to the spin dryer, putting them in loosely;

3) Insert the stabilizing disc making sure that it is flat;

4) Latch the lid;

5) Set the timer up to 5 minutes, depending on how wet the clothes are; underwear only needs about a minute while a towel could need a full 5 minutes;

6) Wait for the spin dryer to come to a complete stop, unlatch the lid, remove the stabilizing disc, and take out the clothes. Give them a gentle shake;

7) Hang the clothes on a line or a drying rack. If indoor conditions are damp, a radiant heater will help speed up the drying process.

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