If you plan on longer touring trips then inevitably you will need to think about how you’ll do your laundry. This is where portable washing machines come in. They will save you time, money and stress of queing at the launderette (if there even is one).
If you’ve wondered about whether you can use a washing machine in a caravan then today’s post is for you!
We’ll also cover the best caravan washing machines you can buy for caravans, along with some alternative washing tips.
Portable washing machines are smaller and more lightweight versions of your washing machine at home, and some will do just as good a job!
The One We Have
|Portable Twin Tub Washing Machine 4.5 KG
|Check on Amazon
|Twin Tub Washer Machine with Wash and Spin Cycle
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|OneConcept Mini Camping Washing Machine
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Best Budget Twin
|LEISURE DIRECT 230V PORTABLE WASHING MACHINE
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Best Single Tub
|LEISURE DIRECT ® 230V MINI 3KG CAPACITY PORTABLE WASHING MACHINE
|Check on Amazon
Can I Put a Washing Machine in a Caravan?
You can definitely put a washing machine in a caravan – BUT it won’t be anything like the setup you have at home. For obvious reasons, you have very limited space available and if you’re using a water supply from your barrel you will have some restrictions.
Luckily there are specialist portable washing machines that use minimal water and low wattage so you can get your clothes washed up with ease.
It’s also worth considering that while these machines are never going to be as powerful as your home appliance, they will do a great job at freshening up smaller items of clothing – and they are especially handy when you’ve got kids travelling with you!
Why Should I Get a Caravan Washing Machine?
Well, for me personally I bought one because of my young son – the sheer amount of t-shirts and socks he would get through in just a couple of days was ridiculous!
So I found my little washer to be a godsend – it also meant I didn’t have to pack quite so much clothing when we were touring as I was able to freshen up smaller items of clothing every couple of days.
I’ve also found that the more popular touring sites that had launderettes would be super busy – and expensive!
So if you’re touring with kids in tow, I think you should consider one.
How Does a Caravan Washing Machine Work?
Caravan washing machine options include fully automatic washing machines and wall-mounted washing machines for the bigger RV or Motorhome, portable washing machines, plus manual washing options.
For this post, we’re covering the more ‘portable’ models, so you will find the majority will have a small tank that you fill with clean, hot water, and you simply add detergent and softener.
The smaller caravan washing machines like the one I use are awesome for chucking the clothes in, pushing a button and walking away with a cuppa, all in the convenience of your own caravan.
Some, like mine, will also have a small ‘spin dryer’ compartment next to them.
Other caravan washing machines like the ‘Leisure Wise Eco’ washer require you to fill it up and then ‘hand spin’ the clothes to get them clean – they kind of remind me of the old salad spinners but on a bigger scale!
Leisurewize Eco Washer – 5 L, Portable Manual Washing Machine
- PORTABLE WASHER: Leisurewize Eco washer is an ideal appliance to carry along when travelling in your caravan, campervans, boats, or motorhomes.
- POWERFUL PERFORMANCE: The freestanding washing machine with rinse and spin feature.
- OPTIMUM CAPACITY: The capacity is optimal to wash 1 daily change of clothes of 3-4 people.
- ECO-FRIENDLY & SMOOTH: Supporting all wash functions along with a dual space load mechanism, the double spin washer uses minimal water, offering a powerful yet eco-friendly operation.
You can fill your washer with hot water using a jug, or feed it in from the barrel and tap and then drain the dirty water down the sink or into a bucket.
I use a big jug or fill up a washing-up bowl as I don’t want to risk any pipes coming off and having water everywhere in my caravan.
This is a good video giving an overview of how to use a twin-tub portable machine
Where Should You Put Your Caravan Washing Machine?
You can pretty much use these machines wherever you have space and a power source. I know some caravanners put them on the shower tray and others that use them on the worktops – I use my machine in the awning, as again, I don’t want to risk any leaks inside the van, and I’m paranoid about damp! Once the wash is complete, I spin and drain the water into a bucket and tip it down the sink.
Once I’ve done all my laundry I empty the dirty water into the bucket and tip it down the sink into the grey waste.
It might all sound like a bit of a faff, but once it’s set up you can get your wash done, spun and hung out to dry in around half an hour!
Like all appliances, just make sure you follow the instructions before you first use it.
You Might Be Interested In:
Caravan Window Cleaning: How To Do It The Right Way!
How To Sanitise A Caravan Water System
Washing Your laundry in a Caravan: Alternative Methods
If you don’t fancy using an actual machine for your caravan laundry – I’ve picked out a few alternatives you could try instead!
The Scrubba Wash Bag
There’s no doubt that washing your clothes in a machine is the most effective way to clean your clothes but it’s not always necessary.
A washing bag like the scrubba allows you to hand wash smaller items of clothing on the go without too much hassle.
The Scrubba is basically a waterproof bag that you put a few small items of clothing in and fill with detergent and water.
The internal rubber ‘scrubbers’ clean your clothes when you roll the bag around with your hands. Then once they are clean you use a little towel that comes with it to help dry them off.
The scrubba method is extremely eco-friendly, but I think it would be more suited to campers and backpackers just needing to freshen up their smalls.
Scrubba Unisex’s Wash Bag 2.0, Green, Regular Size
- Great for Campers and Backpackers
- Washing-machine like results in just minutes, without hurting your hands.
- Only weighs 145 grams!
- 1-year manufacturer warranty and our promise that if you don’t enjoy excellent washing results, save time or laundry costs.
While old fashioned, and requiring a bit more effort – you can easily do your washing in the sink! It’s simple, effective and gets the job done.
I’ve done this myself in the past if I’ve got just a few small bits that need washing but quickly get fed up with rinsing and wringing out – and it hurts my hands!
9.45L Portable Washing Basin
- BPA Free. User friendly by simply pop-up to open when using and collapses to flat for space saving
- Space saving with Expanded size: 37 x 32 x 14.4(h) cm and its height just 4.5cm after folds, save over 70% space when storage. Capacity: 9.45L
- Perfect for icing beverages, washing dishes and also outdoor uses, such as camping, BBQ and campsite cleanup.
- Non-slip design at the bottom keeping the dishpan steady and firmly.
- Hanging hole for easy hanging on the wall
Bucket With Lid
Again, it’s an old fashioned method and I’ve tried it a couple of times in the past. You can fit a few more items of clothing in the bucket, fill it with hot water and ‘agitate’ the clothes by rolling the bucket around.
It doesn’t require any electricity, but it does require a lot of water, then you have to rinse and wring out – I decided this wasn’t for me after one attempt as it just took too much effort – I’m on my jollies after all!!
Brunner Wonder Wash
This is a tabletop washer that doesn’t need electric so its very economic. You use the hand-crank to turn the clothes in the water and the wash is complete. Its made of hardwearing plastic and has a 3kg capacity – it reminds me of a small cement mixer!
Once you’ve placed the clothes inside there is a pressured lid you screw on top – simply turn and wash.
Brunner Wonder Wash
- Brunner Lave Linge Manuel White Magic
- Manual ‘crank’ action
- 3kg capacity
- Doesn’t require electricity
What To Look For In A Caravan Washing Machine
- If you’ve decided you want to try out a portable washing machine for your caravan – here are a few tips to consider before you buy.
- Size: We know space is limited in a caravan so you want to make sure you have enough space in which to use the machine and store it away afterwards. As I mentioned earlier I tend to use mine in the awning to avoid any risk to the caravan. The model I have can be stored away in the shower when I’m not using it.
- Capacity: Think about how much washing you’re likely to be doing. If you’re away for more than a few days – you’ll likely have a fair bit to wash if you’ve got kids (and messy partners) with you. My machine holds 2kg of washing on the ‘washing side’ and 2.5kg on the ‘spin side’ and I find it’s more than enough for a family of three.
Twin Tub, or Single?
It’s personal preference, but I have a twin tub – it’s time-efficient as I can be washing and spinning at the same time. I have enough space for storage, so it’s not an issue for me, but you’ll need to think about this before you buy one.
Also bear in mind that a single tub will take longer as you will have to wait for the 1st wash to complete, and only then you can spin. You cant be getting on with another load until then.
Ease of Use: You’re not going to want to be fiddling around with lots of settings – look out for models with a few good basic wash settings with a quick wash option.
Avoiding Mistakes With a Portable Washing Machine
Safety First! Always make sure your hands are dry before handling the plug – or else you’ll get a shock….literally!
Save the bedding for the launderette or take bring it home with you – these washers don’t have the strength or capacity for heavy items.
Never put any shoes/trainers in a portable washing machine – you might find this will crack the plastics of the drum.
Get everything set up first. You want to make sure all the hoses are screwed on tightly if you are using them on your caravan water supply. You should also be careful about not overfilling the machine. You do not want to be left with water all over the place!
I use hand-hot water to fill my machine – but check the instruction manual for your particular model first.
Caravan Washing Machine FAQs
Are Portable Washing Machines Any Good For a Caravan?
I think so! It saves me bringing tonnes of clothes and money as I don’t have to use the launderette. Just make sure you have enough space to use one.
What’s the Difference Between a Portable Washer and a Regular Washer?
Mostly the size and the power. These mini machines are typically 2KG-5KG and operate at a much lower spin speed with fewer wash cycle settings.
Do Portable Washing Machines Use a Lot of Electricity?
Portable washing machines are a lot more energy-efficient as they’re much smaller and have a slower spin speed than regular washers. They tend to run on a lower wattage so they won’t trip out your electrics if you have decent ampage on your site.
The only thing you need to be concerned with is your water supply.
Can You Use Fabric Softener in a Portable Washing Machine?
While there isn’t a specific softener dispenser, you can add softener before the rinse cycle – this is what I do.
I recommend you add 1 part softener to 3 parts water to ensure it rinses well but smells nice!
I hope post this has helped you to decide whether a Caravan Washing Machine would be suitable for your needs when touring. I was dubious about buying one for a long time, but I’m so glad I did and have saved a lot of money too!
All of the machines I’ve featured are intended for smaller laundry needs. If you are on a longer trip, you might find that doing the washing with these models will take a lot longer than at home – so you might be better off using a site launderette.
Till next time, Happy Caravanning!