We’ve put a lot of stuff into this small space, so what have we done about the laundry facilities on skoolie? Come check it out!
See that space?
We had to make some decisions: not only keeping our youngest 5 kids (tongue in cheek) but also providing them with their own beds. It was important to me that their beds didn’t have to be made up each day (e.g. turning the couches or dining room table into a bed) or put away (e.g. Murphy beds). We’ve been-there-done-that and its one of those things I hate…and so do some of the kids!
Having permanent sleeping quarters for all 7 of us means there’s a lot of this 278 sq ft eaten up with beds, obviously leaving less space for the other important stuff. And we personally thought the laundry facilities weren’t necessities.
Personal & Crazy
Whether or not to include laundry facilities on skoolie is all a personal decision, that’s for sure. Some people probably think we’re crazy not to. However, I thought I’d share some of our reasoning and past experience for those of you who might actually be crazy like us! Yes, I know you’re out there!! We aren’t the only crazy big traveling family.
Some Things Don’t Change
Ok, so how we’ve handled laundry over the years has changed as our circumstances have changed: from living in a typical house to traveling full-time. But some things haven’t changed.
We’ve still kept our quantity of clothes down for the most part; much less than what I think a “typical family” would have. We still re-wear our clothes if they aren’t soiled badly or stinky from perspiration. We don’t launder our towels each time we shower (like my brothers did as teenagers. Why my mother put up with that I do not know, but I certainly w/don’t!) and we may/not wash sheets every single week although I do wash pillow cases each time. I wash blankets seasonally or when necessary, but those I don’t consider part of my regular handling of laundry. All of these points help us to manage the amount of laundry we have.
When we’re on the road and don’t have laundry facilities easily accessible we’ve done laundry by hand in Rubbermaid boxes…hard on the back bending over, and gives your arms a real workout wringing the clothes before hanging them to dry.
You can do them simply with arm power, swishing the clothes around and using friction with the other fabrics. Or you can use a devoted plunger (i.e. clean) to create the turbulence…or a fancy plunger actually created for the job! Another method (we haven’t used) is to put your water/soap/clothes in a bin such as Rubbermaid with a lid, place it in tub/shower and let it all slosh around as you drive! The agitation is done for you but you still need to wring and hang your laundry.
When doing big family laundry by hand I would opt to do it more often in smaller loads. It doesn’t require as much space for hanging out to dry at one time, and your back and arm muscles might appreciate a smaller work load.
More commonly we go to a laundromat somewhere. Instead of doing laundry daily we obviously let it pile up and do it every week or week-and-a-half.
You can call ahead to laundromats in your area to check on prices, the age of the machines, how well serviced they are (are 50% of the machines Out of Service?) and if there’s any other amenities at the location. We’ve been in dumpy places with basically nothing but the shoddy machines (we keep driving!) and places with delis and free wifi. They vary immensely, so do some comparison shopping if it matters to you.
Where we currently are (Sooke, BC) the laundromat used to include a deli and coffee shop. It was such a nice place we sometimes met our grown-and-moved-out kids even when we weren’t doing laundry!! They moved elsewhere in the same area of town, and although its still a pleasant laundromat (clean, tidy, and very friendly staff) I miss the old place. However, we love their high quality machines and their high capacity. We can either pack the whole lot of it in one washing machine that does 8 loads worth at one time (crazy big!!) or save money by using 2 machines that take 3 loads each. No matter what machines we use, we use 2 large dryers to get it all dried in about 40 minutes. Each week we get 6-8 loads of laundry done in about an hour & half, all folded and out the door for about $20 Cdn.
In Mexico its common for laundromats to be Drop Off locations. This is what I consider a real treat…to drop it off and pick it up in a few hours, all folded (sometimes even kids’ shirts pressed even though we didn’t ask for it!) paying less than $12 Cdn for it all! During that time we would run errands or go for breakfast and enjoy our time. Sweet deal for us while at the same time putting money into the local community.
Sure there are times when we’ve come into a laundromat and not found enough machines available all at once. But honestly that’s rare. And it bothers me as much as I choose to allow it to.
So for us, we aren’t bothered by taking our laundry somewhere else to do it and get it all over with.
What I have discovered as a big perk is….a type of freedom with doing the laundry at the laundromat just once a week. Rather than thinking of it as such a drag and nuisance taking a big chunk of my time, I’ve found mental freedom instead.
I used to have laundry on my mind every single day of the week. (Get the laundry started. Don’t forget to shift it before it starts to smell stale. Oh, better get it out of the dryer now before it all wrinkles. Who’s going to fold it and put it away?) Now I don’t. I think about laundry once a week or there abouts.
Once its done for the week I don’t have to even think about laundry again!! I love that!
Why Not a Built In System?
Besides the space we didn’t want to give up to the actual machine/s, we aren’t planning to install the water tanks/storage that are required when relying on running water for our systems. We prefer to conserve on water…makes us much more conscious of what earth-resources we are using. (Sure, we’ll discuss the toilets and kitchen sink in a future post.)
Doing laundry will empty your water tank quicker than anything else you do onboard, whether or not you have a big family. As fan dangled as those RV washer/dryer combos are, I’ve heard that they use 9-15 gallons per load…that’s for something like 3 big towels, 2 hand towels and 2 wash clothes. Gulp! How does one justify that, especially when boon docking?
That’s a huge amount of water, folks!! We’d have to carry multiples of that water with us. That’s a lot of weight and space to use up for supposed convenience.
If we were to sacrifice space for a machine in the future…it would be for TWO machines; stackable apartment sized washer and dryer.
Unless it was just Everette and I alone, we wouldn’t get the combo machine which requires about 3 hours to complete one entire load, washed and dried. With a family you’ll want to have the machines separate. Not only are they larger capacity than the combo machine, but you can be drying a load while you start your second load in the wash. That way you can actually be working on 2 loads at the same time. That’s far more efficient use of your space and time, imo.
Environmentally Friendly Options
Whether its stationary or not this is a cool washing machine idea. Get your exercise while you’re scrubbing your clothes clean!!
I’ve got my eye on this washing wonder that might be used when we’re out boon docking and don’t want to go into town but are running low on clothes. It might also be ideal for Mitchell on his sailboat, too. Its very compact (12″x12″x16′) and as there’s almost always a breeze on the water clothes will quickly dry on the line (unless the humidity is too high). The capacity isn’t big at all, but it requires no electricity and looks like it would be much easier on the arm than doing it in the Rubbermaids.
Well, that’s about it for dealing with laundry for us living on a skoolie. Would love to hear what you’ve done, especially if its out of the ordinary. Do share in the comments below!
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