I have a confession to make.
I have a washer and a dryer inside my van.
It’s kind of embarrassing. I mean, why on Earth would any sane person tote around a washing machine and a dryer in their van when laundromats are readily available? Or why not wash clothing by hand?
I have my reasons. To rattle them off quickly, I’m a weirdo magnet and hanging out at a laundromat makes me a sitting duck, I’ve had too many clothes ruined by spilled bleach at a communal laundry facility, and I’m far too much of a wuss to wash my clothing by hand.
So, for those of you wondering if having a washer and a dryer inside a van is possible, Yes! It’s possible!
Possible, yes. Practical? Probably not. But you know me, I’m not going to let practicality stand in the way of my dreams.
I’m trying to figure out what questions you might have about my washer and dryer. If you have any questions that I haven’t covered, feel free to ask in the comments.
What model do you have?
- Washing machine: The Laundry Alternative Miniwash
- Spin Dryer: The Laundry Alternative Nina Soft Spin Dryer
What’s a spin dryer?
A spin dryer works by spinning clothes around really fast inside a drum and letting centrifugal force extract the water. The one that I bought gets clothes drier than the spin cycle on a standard washing machine, but by no means dry. I still have to hang my clothing up and let it air dry afterward.
How do you power them?
I plug them in to my 2000 watt inverter, which runs off my solar powered electrical system.
How much power does it use?
- Washing machine: 150 watts
- Spin Dryer: 136 watts
I can do four loads of laundry in the middle of the day, and according to my battery monitor, it only uses 2% of my battery.
How much can you wash at one time?
The mini washing machine can wash one complete change of clothes for a standard size adult female. To give you a better idea, here’s a photo of everything I can fit in one load.
Does it save water?
Not really. It uses the same washing mechanics as a standard top-load washing machine, so the clothes have to be fully immersed in water in order for the agitator to be able to spin freely. A side load-washing machines uses much less water (per pound of clothing) than either a mini washing machine or a top-load washing machine.
Where do you get water?
For now, while I’m at my parents’ house, I just use their water. On the road, since I have a 30 gallon fresh water tank, I’ll be able to fill up wherever water is available. I also have a water filter, so if I really need to, I can filter water from a lake or a stream and use that.
You’re staying at your parents’ house and you still do laundry this way?
Yes, since I spend most days at home taking care of my dad (bedridden, dementia), I don’t have a lot of laundry. And since California is desperate to save water, I figure it’s a good way to recycle water. I let the grey water from both the washing machine and the spin dryer drain directly into the garden.
Does it take up a lot of space?
In a van, yes, the two units take up more space than I thought they would. However in a tiny home or a Class A RV, I imagine you’d have more than enough room for both units.
Can I use these indoors?
Yes, technically you can. However, transferring sopping wet clothing from the washing machine to the dryer can be very wet. In my opinion, it’s more convenient to do it outside.
Does it really get clothes clean?
As far as I can tell, yes. I haven’t tried washing anything with deep stains yet.
How do your clothes look when they come out?
Synthetic fabrics look great, however, thinner knits come out looking wrinkled. A standard heated tumbler dryer tends to shrink worn clothing back into their original shape, whereas the spin dryer does not do that—stretched out clothing remains stretched out. The spin dryer also does not have the ability to collect lint like a standard dryer does, so lint and hair tend to remain stuck to the clothing.
If, for some crazy reason (sarcasm), you’re not on board with the idea of carrying a mini washing machine and a mini dryer around in your van, there exists a plethora of laundry options:
- Bucket and a plunger/hands – Cheapest, simplest option.
- Bucket and a Mobile Washer – Works better than a plunger.
- Scrubba wash bag – This is basically a dry bag with a few plastic nubs inside to help scrub the dirt out.
- Dry bag – This was originally designed for keeping packed clothing dry on water adventure trips; you can use them just like a Scrubba bag, but dry bags don’t have the plastic nubs inside.
- The Laundry Alternative Wonderwash – This is basically a container with a water-tight lid; you tumble the entire container over with the help of a hand crank.
- Wonder Washer – Smallest electric mini washing machine I’ve seen.
- Mesh bag – Put your sopping wet clothing in a mesh bag, and twirl the bag in a circle, letting centrifugal force work its magic.
- Salad Spinner – I hear this works okay, but not great.
- Vapper dryer – This is basically a plastic bag and you place a hair dryer at the bottom. Seems like a good option for RVers who stay at RV parks and have access to shore power.
- Trash bag and a rubber band – Rig this up just like a vapper dryer and save yourself $19.
Washing + drying:
- Laundry Pod – This has a salad spinner-like design, but this is a step up because it has a drain.
- Panda Compact Washing Machine with Dryer – The most compact mini washing machine/spin dryer combo I’ve seen. Great for an RV if you have the room (but you’ll still need a drying line).