RV Washer Dryer Guide: Simple not Easy


Guide to RV Washer and RV DryerHaving a access to a RV washer dryer happens to be vital equipment for many RV enthusiasts. Life on the road can be quite exciting but some of the typical household chores can steal away the fun. Owning a house that rolls is the envy of many living in regular brick and mortar homes. However, washing and drying the laundry on the road is not always a simple task as it is back at home. Intent on helping the RV traveler, companies have come up an array of products suited to take the headache out of one of the most hated RV chores of all time. In this guide I will attempt to brief you on the technology, options, convenience and value associated with the many RV washer dryer decisions you will need to make to take back control of your dirty underwear on the road!

Types of RV Washers Dryers

  1. Compact Stackable RV Washer Dryer
  2. Combination RV Washer Dryer
  3. Portable and Storable RV Washer Dryer

Variations Across the Above Three Types:

  • Vented – Vented machines, during the drying process, take room air, heat it, tumble it through the clothes and exhaust it to the outside. This means a hole has to be made in the wall of the RV for the exhaust vent.
  • Non Vented – Non-vented machines heat air inside the drum and tumble it through the clothes. This creates steam within the drum. Cold water is then used to cool the outside of the drum. This condenses the steam to water which is pumped into the RV’s drain and holding tank. Most RV’ers in know will disregard Non Vented RV Dryers as an option.

It’s not that the ventless models don’t work or aren’t reliable. They work great, and if that’s all you can do because of the design of your RV, then go for it. Just be aware that you’ll use more water and it will take longer for your laundry to dry than with a vented model. (If you are going ventless, you might also consider a marine ventless RV washer dryer combo model).

1. Compact Stackable RV Washer Dryer:

Stackable RV Washer Dryer

If you have ever moved children into their first apartment or visited someone who lived downtown in a big city chances are you have already seen the compact stackable washer and dryer. They handle around a 12-pound load and can dry while they wash (Not impressive unless your in an RV). You will get a very similar experience with these units as you do with your home appliances except they are slightly smaller and lighter!

This is a favorite option for people who are remodeling their RV as they can build a closet to accommodate the larger profile of this size of a washer and dryer. These units typically are in the range of 30″ wide by 30″ deep by 70″ inches tall for your reference.

This option is probably the most under utilized option but is certainly the preferable option if you have the space and have an extensive need for laundry services on your trips.

The Good Stuff

  • Generous Capacity. (Load size is close to what you would expect at home.)
  • Faster Loads – You can dry a load and wash a load at the same time
  • These dryers are all vented which means they don’t use water to dry the clothes. They dry clothes faster and don’t hinder your water tanks as a result of drying.

The Bad Stuff

  • Because they’re not the industry standard, many RVs can’t accommodate their size.  You may have to do some serious alterations to your RV if you want to go this route.
  • Uses more water than units specific to RV’s. You most likely will need water hookups and sewer to use it. Keep in mind the amps this unit will draw can be over 20amps depending on the unit which doesn’t leave much left for everything else in your RV.

2. Combination RV Washer Dryer:

RV Combo Washer and Dryer

This is by far the most popular option in most RV’s that need laundry appliances. These units allow one drum for both the washing and the drying operation. Most units automatically switch between the two operations. These units measure up to 25″ Width x 25″ Depth x 35″ Height but they can vary so be sure to measure twice and buy once!

These units specifically speak to the needs of RV’ers. Special engineering considerations have been made for energy and water efficiency which in my opinion are the selling points for these units. Its a great blend of convenience and efficiency.

That being said the washer will use water at a feverish pace. They are efficient but not so enough to do a dozen loads. For the boondockers you wont find this to be the most desirable option if your not nearby a place to fill up and empty your holding tanks. It takes 2-3 hours to finish a load with these units which may be frustrating to those looking to turn around a load in an hour like at home.

The Good Stuff

  • Small Profile, Designed for tight spaces, and Simple to operate.
  • Set it and forget it operation. Once it starts it doesn’t stop till the clothes are dry.
  • Newer RV’s may be already setup for you to slide a unit in, hook it up and go.
  • Vented or Non Vented models available.
  • Much lower use of your energy resources compared to to stackable compact units. 13 amps on average.

The Bad Stuff

  • Will not accept a full load of laundry like your home units. If overloaded it will not wash or dry properly.
  • A load can take 3 hours to complete. Overloading can push that number out much longer.
  • Will use alot of water and also a fair amount of amps. Be sure to check your electrical output before buying.

It can take up to 20 gallons of water to complete a single load in these RV washer dryer models . Non-vented machines will use even more (up to 5 gallons or more) during the drying cycle. You can always run your generator and use your holding tank but you may find that when it comes time to wash the most important thing of all (Yourself) that your fresh out!

3. Portable and Storable RV Washer Dryer:

RV Portable Washer

Portable Washer

Portable washers allow you the convenience to do laundry almost anywhere a sink, drain and electrical outlet exist. Some units actually don’t require electricity only some elbow grease. They’re perfect for RV’s without means for doing laundry elsewhere. Most portable washers connect to a faucet using an adapter that’s included with the appliance. You can complete a wash in under 15 minutes in most cases.


RV Portable Dryer

Portable Dryer

Portable dryers are all mostly Non Vented. A portable dryer’s condensing system removes moisture from clothing. Some models are equipped with a sensor that detects how damp clothing is, and they apply the appropriate amount of heat needed to dry the items. Water collects in the condenser. It can be emptied by hand, or a hose attached to the condenser can direct the water into a drain. Most models offer multiple drying cycles and heat options, such as a quick fluff for removing wrinkles from sheets and high heat for drying heavy items. Keep in mind that most of these units can be quite heavy unlike their washer counterparts. Some as much as 100lbs. Though many weigh in around 20-40lbs.

The Good Stuff

  • Very Compact, Very Water Efficient, and require very little if any electricity.
  • Less costly than any other washer and dryer units.
  • Great for occasional use. Easy to stow away and can do a load of laundry quickly (particularly the washer)

The Bad Stuff

  • Many units take good old fashioned elbow grease to operate and heavy lifting
  • Not ideal for RV’ers that want to permanently mount their laundry appliances.
  • Because of the pricing the unites tend to be of lower quality than the other options.

Best In Class RV Washer Dryer Models:

I looked far and wide for the best reviewed, user friendly, and high quality units I could find for each RV washer dryer genre I mentioned here. These are my opinions and should be taken as such. Rest assured hours upon hours were spent that only the best information to my knowledge is represented below.

Compact Stackable Washers and Dryers

This RV wahser dryer unit is by far the most well reviewed model in its class. Home Depot offers it at the lowest price currently that we could find.

Stackable RV Washer Dryer

Link: Whirlpool Thin Twin 1.5 cu. ft. Washer and 3.4 cu. ft. Electric Dryer

Combination Washer and Dryer

Best Non Vented Model 

Best Vented Model  (Hard to find these days)

Portable and Storable Washer and Dryer

Best Elbow Grease Washer Model

Best Electric Washer Model

Best Dryer Model

General Tips for RV Washer and Dryers:

– If you can purchase your RV washer dryer somewhere that is not a RV related retailer, you will likely save serious money such as Amazon.com or Home Depot.

-You must use a liquid detergent that is labeled “HE” High-Efficiency on most of the units described here.

-Best to have a RV technician look over and install any appliances you purchase. Electrical and Water considerations should not be taken lightly. (Exception is the portable washer).

Alternatives to your own RV Washer Dryer:

RV parks and campgrounds. Many have on-site laundry services available but much like the laundromats can be under repair or seemingly unsanitary.

The local laundromats. Most people have used them, its rarely pleasant and sometimes can be down right upsetting but it gets the job done.

Truck Stop Plaza’s. Pilot, Flying J, etc have setup amenities for truckers than many of the RV crowd can benefit from. In my travels this has surprisingly been one of the more convenient and pleasant RV laundry experiences. Database of Truck Stops and Their Amenities

Hand washing in a 5 Gallon bucket. Only joking. Kind of. I have personally done this and it works just fine though its not enjoyable in the slightest. Helps if you bring a handy tool.

Disclaimer: I am not a laundry specialist or electrician and I have no delusions of being either. But I do have a RV and a Home with appliances in it. I have been through more of these devices than I can even list. That experience plus my exhaustive research on the ins and outs of RV Washer Dryer options led to this guide. I hope you find it practical and helpful. I apologize for anything you feel is an error or a misjudgment in advance.

If there are any RV washer dryer brands I may have missed or impressive new technologies I should be aware of please post a comment below!

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  1. Kurt R. says

    Maybe I missed it in your useful information, but most dryers operate on 220V. 220V is not available at RV parks, is it? The Home Depot stacked unit that you recommend is 220V. How does one deal with that?

  2. Patrick Steil says

    Awesome info!

    Anyone know when the manufacturers started adding washer/dryer hookups in general (like in 5th wheels).


  3. Shawn says

    I want to thank you for all the work you put into your article it was well written and have lots of great information for a new buyer RV. The next six months me and my wife will buy our first and washer and dryer seems to be a luxury item that we may be aford. When I started reading this I literally had no clue of the washer and dryers that go into an RV. Your article gave me exactly the amount of information I needed to start my own research. Thank you once again for all the hard work and research that you’ve already done.
    Thank you

  4. Elsa says

    Just one problem- the Thin Twin can’t be used with the 110 outlet that is in my RV laundry closet. :-(

  5. MV says

    I do the Panda washer and Panda non-vented dryer. I put the dryer on the floor of my shower and use it for a hamper #2. The lightweight washer is on top and is hamper #1. I take the dryer out of the shower when running the washer and use the shower hose and drain to assist, then hang the rest on a clothespin tree under the skylight if needed.

  6. Mike Brassil says

    A popular option in modern Recreational Vehicles is a washer-dryer combination unit. Most motorhomes, and fifth-wheels offer a washer-dryer option, or are pre-plumbed and wired for easy after-market installation. Because the washer-dryers take up so little room and weigh just over 160 pounds, they are practical for many situations.

  7. says

    I like my roll of quarters and the ability to run multiple loads at once in the RV parks/laundromats. Plus – a good time ot catch up on reading, or meet a neighbor!

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