Here you’ll find 5 options for washing clothes while caravanning.

We’ll cover pros and cons based on:

Space and weight

Budget

Most importantly:

The amount of work involved

[and how much each option restricts your freedom]

Let’s get started with the most obvious option:

1. Caravan Park Washing Machines

Nearly every caravan park you’ll go to has an on-site laundromat.

Most people end up using these at some point for washing clothes while caravanning…

Washing Clothes While Caravanning - Caravan Park Laundromat

…even if it’s just for bedding

[especially if you have small kids]

Pros:

  • Very easy. Clothes, detergent, coins, press play… and you’re done.
  • You can get all your washing done in one hit (including blankets)
  • Fast spin cycle makes it easier to dry your clothes
  • No need to purchase any equipment

Cons:

  • At a cost of $4-8 a load it can get expensive VERY quickly
  • A lot of them only operate on $1 coins… sometimes it seems like there’s a national shortage of them!
  • Putting on a load is a commitment… you’ll need to either wait in place or set an alarm to get back just before the cycle finishes

You Need Lots of Dollar Coins for Washing Clothes While Caravanning

[caravan park “washing machine etiquette” is a whole topic in itself]

Who this option is best suited for?

Caravan park washing machines are a good option for the occasional traveller who sticks to caravan parks or only goes on short trips.

That being said: even if one of the options below is your preferred method, you’ll end up using one of these at some point for bedding or to catch up on big loads.

HINT: Always keep $5-10 in $1 coins… you’ll never know when you need them!

2. Mini Portable Washing Machines

When we set-off on our lap of Australia we had one of these mini washing machines

Clothes Washing While Caravanning - Mini Portable Washing Machine

It was definitely a conversation starter

Why?

Because we always seemed to be in front of our caravan doing washing!

Pros:

  • Gets clothes as clean as a normal washing machine
  • Surprisingly lightweight
  • Good for keeping on top of things
  • Spin-dry function helps make drying clothes easier
  • Fits sheets and small blankets
  • They’re pretty cheap from eBay and make their money back pretty quick

Cons:

  • Needs 240V power and water (so no good for free camping)
  • It’s tough to catch up on a backload of washing if you free camp quite a bit
  • Can’t set-and-forget because you need to move clothes between wash and spin-dry
  • You have to spin-dry in batches because the basket is 1/2 the size of washing capacity
  • Takes up a bit of space in the caravan

Who this option is best suited for?

A mini portable washing machine is a good option if you’re planning on caravanning quite a bit, you’ll stay in each spot for a few days at a time, and you plan to use it to keep on top of things.

Mini Portable Washing Machine - Twin Tub

HINT: If you have the space get the twin-tub version because they’re quicker (you can move your clothes from the wash to spin tub without needing to drain the water)

3. Hand Washing While Caravanning: Collapsible Laundry Tub

We naturally found ourselves resorting to handwashing our clothes in our collapsible laundry tub

This wasn’t because of cost…

…but because of convenience

Collapsible Washing Tub

Pros:

  • Simple and easy
  • Quick set up so you can sneak in a quick load here and there
  • Great for free camping because you don’t need power or running water
  • Collapsible tub doesn’t take up much space

Cons:

  • Takes a bit of your time to get clothes 100% clean
  • Clothes are soaking wet so you need to wring them (can be tough on bigger items)
  • Takes longer to dry than if your clothes have been through a spin cycle

Who this option is best suited for?

Anyone who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty and doing a little work.

Hand Wash With Wool Wash So You Dont Need Rinse Cycle

HINT: If you use wool wash instead of normal detergent you won’t need to do a rinse cycle.

4. The Scrubba Wash Bag: Hand Washing The Smarter Way

The Scrubba Wash Bag has become one of the most popular options for washing clothes while Caravanning:

Scrubba Wash Bag The Most Popular Caravan Accessory for Hand Washing Clothes

[In fact: it’s one of the 33 most popular caravan accessories]

It’s like a more effective way of doing hand washing.

It’s like a dry-sack that has an air vent and is ribbed inside (like an old school washing-board)

Pros:

  • Super simple – add water, dirty clothes and a little detergent
  • Takes less water so it’s great for free camping
  • Quicker (and more effective) than normal hand washing
  • Takes up no space

Cons:

  • Harder to recycle water for multiple loads
  • Really only good for smaller loads

Who this option is best suited for?

This is a great addition for anyone wanting to do washing while caravanning

HINT: Even if you plan on using a washing machine for the majority of your washing, this is the best option for doing a quick load of hand washing. Better than a bucket or laundry tub.

If you want to get one of these, we recommend you visit Caravanning With Kids’ online store

5. Bucket with Screw On Lid: Washing Clothes While Caravanning (Literally)

We got rid of our mini portable washing machine…

… and ended up “upgrading” from our collapsible tub to a bucket with a screw on lid

Large Bucket With Screw on Lid

When we’re about to go anywhere we fill it with water, add detergent, and screw on the lid.

The driving does the rest.

Pros:

  • The driving does the work for you
  • Doubles as the laundry basket
  • Can still use it for normal hand washing
  • Fits big loads and big things like blankets
  • Works best for our family of 5!

Cons:

  • You might need to do some hand washing because driving doesn’t always get everything 100% clean
  • It’s easy to bite off more than you can chew… it gets heavy quick if you’re not careful
  • Still need to do the wringing the clothes thing to get them ready to dry

Who this option is best suited for?

We’d heard about this way of doing it before and it sounded pretty old school… but to be honest, it’s actually working out the best for us even as a family of 5.

HINT: Set yourself a reminder that you’ve put a load on… I don’t know what leaving clothes submerged in water for a couple of days does, but it can’t be good!

Summary: Washing Clothes While Caravanning

So here’s a summary of 5 options for washing clothes while caravanning.

What we’ve settled on:

  1. Using the bucket with a screw on lid for the majority of washing
  2. The Scrubba Wash Bag for small loads (or stubborn dirt), and
  3. Keeping some $1 coins on hand for the big loads or to play catch-up

Your turn:

What’s your favourite way to do washing on the road?

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