Saturday, July 16, 2011

The art of Laundry in a VW Bus

A clothes line is your out doors dryer
Laundry in a VW Bus-- or any small van or RV -- can be a simple pleasure and joy.  Or it can be a chore that takes part of the fun away from camping and life on the open road.

Depending on where you are makes a difference. Some RV parks have laundromats. State parks and National Parks do not.

But there are reasons for avoiding the laundromat route when possible. Doing so means having a new and different attitude toward washing clothes. In a house with a washing machine and dryer, it makes sense to let laundry pile up and do it once a week or so. Your bus doesn't have a washing machine and dryer. Instead, if you have outfitted it correctly, it has a bucket, a clothes line, some clothes pins and a small scrub brush. 

These non-electric appliances take up almost no space. Choose a bucket small enough to stow easily. When you are not doing laundry use it for additional storage. 

A simple bucket is your washing machine.
The bucket I use in an old Fresh Step kitty litter bucket that I picked up at a thrift store for $1.50. It has a nice handle and the rectangular shape lends itself well to nesting a slightly smaller rectangular box inside that can be readily pulled out.

A small brush is shown attached to the bucket. This is important for getting out ground in dirt, especially the knees of blue jeans, for example, and stains.

Most of the time I do not use soap or detergent. Letting clothes soak for an hour or two, occasionally reaching in and moving them around, will get them remarkably clean in just water alone. The water should be at least 65 degrees.  Stains can be attacked with direct soap contact, stain  remover and your brush.

Another advantage to not using detergent is that you do not need a separate rinse. After the clothes have soaked for and hour or two they can be wrung out and hung up the dry.

The secret that makes this system work is doing it every day or every other day. Besides being easy to do it also means the clothes you want to wear are always at the ready. Not stuck away in the dirty clothes bag. And it means not being stuck lugging around a continually expanding dirty laundry bag.

Once your clothes are dry fold them up and put them away.  A breeze also helps permanent press clothing regain shape. Sunshine and fresh air make everything smell good. Plus soaked and air-dried clothes look better longer than clothing beaten up in a mechanical washer and hot air dryer. One caveat:  Be careful of birds.

Things like sheets and pillow cases may be washed once a week. You can keep them fresh by airing them daily on the same clothes line without washing.

Once you establish your daily washing routine you will wonder why you ever did it any other way before.



  1. Might I suggest that occasionally you also scrub out the wash bucket? :)

  2. Does look a little scuzzy in the photo, doesn't it? But yes, I just did that this morning after the photo shoot!



  3. Get yourself a NEW toilet plunger from the Dollar Store, it makes a good "agitator" for doing Chinese Laundry.

  4. Loved the "watch out for birds" warning, John!