Around-Oz: Living the Dream!

Washing on the Road - Several Solutions!

This is one of those things you tend to overlook, when thinking about taking up caravanning or motorhoming. If you have a large bus or a 30 footer, chances are your rig will probably already have some form of laundry built in, so this article is not for you! But, you never know as it is a collection of ideas from a lot of RVers! So for everyone else please read on, as it is a collection of alternatives. Now if you intend staying in caravan parks you have just about zero problems, as most modern parks all have excellent laundry facilities. Costs are quite reasonable with $2.20 being the average. Drying can work out quite expensive though, as not all parks have industrial strength dryers - not gas operated. A more expensive option is to use town Laundromats. This is not the best option as you do have to "hang around" for a couple of hours, whereas in a caravan park you can duck back to your motorhome for a quick cuppa! If hygiene is a major concern to you then you will need to adapt one of the suggestions presented here as using a community washing machine can be "iffy".


Hand Washing and Drying
Now for those devotees of free camping you really have to get your act together in this area otherwise it can turn into a huge chore! This starts with washing out underwear etc., each time you shower. Simply hanging up to dry in the shower enclosure if you have one, tends to work well. A towel rail across the roof is a great move and doesn't get in the way. Many RVers use an inverted umbrella type folding rack that can easily hang up in the shower. If you have arthritic hands then wringing out clothes can be a real problem. A simple old fashioned wringer mounted on the back is a good solution to speed things up considerably. You can pick these up very cheaply at country markets if you hunt around a bit. The units pictured above on the back of Winnebagos simply sit into a piece of square tube welded to the rear bumper. It stores in a bin when not in use. The lass on the right is on the road full time and has washing problems solved. This photos above were taken in the Hobart Showgrounds. The photo below taken at the fantastic CMCA Casino Village Motorhome Resort of Pat Dryden of 5th wheeler fame, shows a very popular Hills Hoist style line available from Camec etc. You also find these on special at caravan shows. The big advantage is that they fold up into a small package.


The Finbex folding line shown above right ($50.00) is usually installed inside a motorhome - one shown in a shower is right at the bottom of this page. We found this one on the rear. The problem of it opening on the move was cleverly solved by using a Velcro strip. However the best drying system we have ever come across regardless of cost was in Kel and Betty Banks (CMCA 1048) Coaster! Kel built a drying cabinet directly above the Electrolux fridge. Hot air was directed into the compartment using two computer fans. Exhaust air was funneled out through the roof using another fan via a mushroom vent. The beauty of this system is you ALWAYS have dry bath towels and tea towels no matter what the weather and it is completely free, as you are using waste heat. Obviously you can't fit in a full wash and sheets etc., but having the pull out rails makes it very easy to use. Old hands will possibly remember that Kel and Betty were the original editors of the excellent CMCA Wanderer magazine. It is without doubt one of the best owner built Coasters in the CMCA with absolute meticulous attention to detail. It recently changed hands and the new proud owners are Bob and Bev Service of BSW. Keith and Robyn Proctor had Sunliner build a similar system into their new Sunliner - full width of the fridge. We have never come across anything even similar in a Winnebago. Webasto diesel heaters could easily be adapted to clothes drying if you are heavily into DIY.


Remember that the "locals" in any area you freecamp, mostly hate to see washing hanging out on a line. We know of nothing that attracts a ranger to call, than a camp surrounded by washing! You can get away with hanging a small amount on your awning arms when DAY PARKING at beaches etc., but even then we have been "chipped" by rangers enquiring if we were "camping". (Gold Coast area where it is a $500.00 fine)

The Simplest Electric Washing Machine
We found this little gem on a Safari to the Millmerran Camp Oven Festival. No one else spotted it! OK it's a caravanner, but who cares! It is a Nova Miniwash Super 2000. The chap bought it at a market for $40.00! Ouch! It is a fantastic gadget and so easy to use. It draws just 100 watts on 240 volt, so it is a doddle to run for even a small 150 watt inverter with just a single battery. It is a very clever design, as it is really an economical "front loader" without the hassles of the leaky door. It consists of a nylon barrel with a sliding trapdoor on the side. The drum is driven by a large nylon gear.


Weight is very light - pick up with one hand. It uses 9 litres of water! This couple use a simple system. Five minutes in the washer - pass through wringer - rinse in clean water in a bucket - through the wringer again - hang out! Now for the bad news! We got quite excited with this set up and searched the Internet as we simply MUST have one! All we could find was a few motorhomes with them fitted. We emailed Camec and Caravan Accessories and neither knew what has happened to the Nova - both sold them 15 years or so ago and clearly remembering them! Maybe if we can create enough interest the German manufacturer will recommence production. In the meantime just do what others are doing and keep your eyes peeled! John Dadd of the CMCA Bushwackers managed to pick up two at a country market. The condition of this example was fantastic and it worked flawlessly. The wringer is mounted on the caravan rear bumper (see below right). It was taken off a Simpson washing machine found at the tip. The handy owner simply modified the pull off handle by welding it on. The unit is taken off during travel. There is another model called the NOVA Sirocco Miniwash. This one is easy to spot as it has two wheels on the back and has two timers. One is for the wash cycle and the other for "spin dry". Whilst this is a welcome addition it goes for up to 120 minutes on spin which could be too much for many RV electrical systems when away from shore power. One came up on Ebay in January 2006 for $89.00.


We have come across many motorhomers using the "wringer" system, so much so that old wringers are just about impossible to buy as are "spare" rubber rollers. One enterprising ex-engineer CMCA member, made a little beauty and used to sell it for $125.00 - very sturdily made - below left. Max Haine ceased production as the source of rollers dried up. (pictured at left below on the back of Max's Winnebago) He has used mostly aluminium so it will have a long corrosion free life life should you come across a used unit. There is another picture of this wringer in action by the "inventors" wife, further down this page. Engineering at its best!


Drying Using Outside Racks
This is by far the most popular method of drying. The racks can be fitted outside usually under the annex. The plastic coated wire type range in price from $10.00 to over $50.00 depending on where you buy it. The cheap ones come from places like Chicken Feed, Silly Soleys, Crazy Clarks etc. whilst the dearer ones come from your caravan accessory houses such as Camec etc. You do have to be very careful that you don't mark the walls with some types. (see photo at left) Many expanding types can be physically lifted off the wall. You do get left with a couple of bits of "metal" stuck on there. When installing this type of rack it is essential that you seal all the mounting screw holes with silicone. The chances of you picking up a metal stud is pretty remote. We tend to pick a spot where you can drill right through


For all motorhomers with a cab over bed this idea is a real beauty. When you can't find a suitable tree, simply string the lines between your vehicle and the cab over ladder and you can have a good sized line in a couple of minutes. Beats the under awning method hands down as you can easily move it to catch the sun and breeze. Thanks Shirley from the CMCA Road Runners chapter. A brilliant idea! Now the washing shown below right started off outside on a fence, but a sudden squall meant it all had to come inside the Winnebago Freeway!


Simply the Best Washing Machine Set Up Ever!
This arrangement is as good as still living at home, convenience wise. It is the larger Electrolux fitted into the hallway of a 33' Dryden Trailer Home (5th Wheeler). It is located opposite the toilet, adjacent to the shower and just looks the business and is just so convenient to use.


Built in Washing Machine in a Winnebago
We have used this method in our current Winnie and it works fantastically well! This would have to be the most economical way to get into washing on the road. It truly is a great little machine and works really well and being just about all plastic rust will never be a problem. You must however bear in mind that it only washes 2.2 kg dry weight per load. This is not as restrictive as it might first seem as a "load" fills a single line across our annex - see the picture above right. In our case we try to wash every second day we are travelling. The huge advantage is that of hygiene, as in some caravan parks you even get working permanents washing work boots in machines. Similarly with Laundromats, you get people washing horse and pet blankets that they don't want to put through their "home" machines. Ouch!! The unit is Russian made (slow link) by Lemaire - XQBM20-C. The engineering is quite good and warranty is 2 years and very cheap at around $325.00. Engineering is not at all complicated and easy to source belts are used. More info on how to install it on this page. The photos below show one we installed in our 2003 Winnebago Leisure Seeker. It actually looks like it was factory fitted, however the job took three days! Rather oddly the factory still don't offer this as an option which we find a bit strange as everyone that sees this set up fall in love with it!


The Washing Machine in a Bin!
We must confess that we used to do this ourselves! If you can't fit the ever popular Lemaire washing machine into the interior of the motorhome then you store in wherever it will fit in an outside locker. This does however have a huge advantage over a fixed installation as it is extremely simple to recycle the washing water just by using buckets. The photos below were taken at the 2004 CMCA Tasmanian Rally where all water on the site had to be trucked in, so it was in very short supply. The unit was run from a small 1000 watt Honda genset with built in inverter. Thanks Beryl and Dallas. Beryl had the biggest bin we have ever come across in a motorhome - of course it was an accident! Note the box in the background!


The Washing Machine in a Bin Deluxe!
We came across this beautiful set up at the CMCA Casino Village on a 2004/2005 all fibreglass Matilda. The bin was purpose built for the little Lemaire and this example was the first one off the production line. It was on a lovely aluminium sliding base and of course all the plumbing was built in.


More Lemaire Washing Machines "Awaiting" Installation
We have given several talks at the CMCA Casino Village on installing Lemaires and the DIY page on this site is very popular. The photo below shows three brand new units as a result of these talks. This was actually a "maiden" voyage. The unit in a shower cubicle shown below right is a good example of one being stored in a Coaster sized vehicle.


Another Storage Method - Under the Table!
We came across this elegant solution on a Winnebago A Class Explorer at a chapter rally by the CMCA Island Wanderers at Sidmouth, Tasmania in April 2004 after the very successful Tassie Rally. The lass Jan of the Central Coast Wanderers would have to be a "crafty" person as the Lemaire washing machine has a dandy quilted cover! Jan confessed that she cheated just a little bit on this and used an old bed spread. The washing on the line below is the result of two loads. Not bad for such a tiny machine! These shots were taken in winter in Tasmania tooooo!


Jan and Ed simply pull the machine out from under the table and put it in the middle of the motorhome (a Winnebago A Class Freeway) and away they go on the washing. The waste water goes straight into the kitchen sink. The power either comes from their genset or via solar and the inverter. The advantage of their system is very little lifting and of course when water is scarce it is so easy to recycle the rinse water for the next wash cycle. Ed looked closely at fitting it into the bathroom after seeing our set up but their just wasn't enough room without major modifications. They have been using this method for two years now and were amongst the first motorhomers to purchase a Lemaire - in those days they were VERY hard to source and expensive. The photo below right shows Jan totally relaxed after doing all that washing - taken at Greens Beach in north western Tasmania - a superb "freebie".


The Electric Bucket Washer
Pictured below is the "washing bucket". Wash Capacity: 1.5kg. Spin Capacity: No Spin at all. Power required is 240v/50Hz. Rated Input Power is 100 Watts. Water Volume is 14L. (very good feature). Machine Dimensions are 350 x 520 x 530. Net Weight is a tiny 8kg. Colours available - White/Blue. The bucket is removable so it can be used for other uses. No spin is a bit of a problem for those with arthritic hands. You can get more info on this page. There is a good list on where to buy one. We have seen them at Camec in Brisbane. Expect to pay around $218.00, but we had an email from a couple who picked one up for $135.00.


The Magicwash Portable Clothes Washer
The blurb says "You never need to do hand-washing again with the MagicWash - a fantastic hand-powered, eco-friendly, portable clothes washer. Holding 2.2kg (or about six shirts), it's perfect for single people, students, holiday homes, camping, dorms, parents of toddlers or anyone who needs to wash small loads. MagicWash is easy to use - just turn the handle for 30 seconds and the vacuum effect does the work. No electricity, and economical on detergent and water. Put clothes in cylinder with 6 litres of water and 4tblsns mild detergent, then turn handle for 30secs. Good for delicate hand washables such as silk, wool, lingerie, nappies, special fabric blends. Holds 2.2kg (about 6 shirts)". More info and where to buy on this page. These are regularly on sale at caravan shows from $90.00 upwards. We don't have a picture but they are very similar to the Bamix pictured further down this page.


The Ideal Setup Where Room Permits
The most common method used on converted coaches, most Swagman, Dryden 5th Wheelers and larger Winnebagos etc. is fitting the complete laundry into a purpose built outside bin/locker. The major disadvantage of this is you are working outside possibly in full view of passersby. You do need a generator to run a dryer. The machine shown below is the excellent Electrolux 6.5 kg - extremely economical on water, very quiet, but it sometimes has problems running with some smaller Onan generators due to phase problems - best to check. Costs a bit under $1000.00 from Camec, $949.00 from Harvey Norman etc. LG have one that spins at 1200 RPM so clothes will come out almost dry - around $998.00. Don't forget that with front loaders you can't open the door once you start, otherwise all the water falls out! The set up pictured below is fitted to Jim and Kay Vick's Mercedes bus conversion. Note the laundry basket in the middle! Note: Some Electrolux models have a concrete block in the base to aid stability. It could be a good move to check this out if your vehicle is up near the upper limit weight wise. There is an even bigger model available with an even heavier concrete block. Dryden Trailers instal a lot of these and told us that they always bolt them down


The Manual Method Used by 99% of Motorhomers
There are dozens of devices on the market priced from $50.00 upwards, to assist with hand washing. These all work with varying degrees of success - the Bamix is the most popular. You can save yourself some money and just buy a good size pail and a couple of buckets. Just soak your clothes and gently move a plunger up and down. Transfer to a rinse bucket. Wring out or run through a wringer and place in the final rinse bucket and wring out again. This system works great with a husband/wife team and can be fairly fast. Max Haines pictured below told us he was on "gentle cycle". Both the photos below were taken on the village common green at George Town in Northern Tasmania - a truly wonderful CMCA friendly Council!


There are several hand operated machines around the $100 mark. The Bamix one shown below is easily the most popular and is used by thousands of RV owners. You often see them mounted on caravan A-Frames! The theory is that the bumping up and down does all the work.


Dyna Jet Hand Wringer
Those with wringers swear by them and many claim that clothes dry much faster than in a spin dryer and of course the massive advantage is no 240 volt needed. Sadly there seem to be no manufacturers left into wringers. However, if you are prepared to buy overseas Wiseman Trading sell the unit pictured above for US$94.95. They do have an Online store, but Aussie freight isn't quoted. Worth a look if you have your heart set on a wringer and Maxie wont come out of retirement to make some more!


Internal Drying Methods
All motorhomes need some sort of internal drying rack and the safest spot to install these is in the shower recess. There are dozens on the market with the most popular being a plastic coated towel rail simply mounted near the roof inside the shower recess. Cost is under $10.00. Many motorhomers use folding racks. A good unit is the Flinbex ($50) - available from Camec and Maytow. This folds out and extends. We have installed one of these in our shower recess as pictured below - empty and full. It will just hold one wash from the Lemaire Auto Washer. Another good trick is to install a couple of towel rails in the roof above your shower. Most washing dried in this way seems to dry in a day. We try to open roof vents as often as possible. Please oh please try to avoid drying clothes on lines strung between trees, if there is any chance of the passing public seeing them! Nothing stirs up the locals more than seeing washing hanging on a line! Best practice is to keep all washing within the confines of your awning even if you are in a registered campsite. The old fashioned folding "clothes horse" can also be put to good use if you have the room. Another neat trick is to put saddles inside your awning arms and run one or two lines using sail clips. It is best to keep one of these well away from the edge of the awning. When it rains your clothes don't get drenched, or worse, get dirty again from dirt washing off the awning.


The Ultimate Mobile Laundry
Many motorhomers driving large coach conversions "The Big Rigs Clan" tow car trailers set up as a mini motorhome. Ron and Aileen Penfold's trailer pictured below, contains a complete laundry including sink, washing machine, drying lines and the mandatory ironing board!




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