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Terry & Dave Taylor

RV Washer-Dryer Combos

Splendide 2100 Extra Capacity Washer-Vented DryerA popular option in modern Recreational Vehicles is a washer-dryer combination unit. Most motorhomes (over 34 feet), and fifth-wheels offer a washer-dryer option, or are pre-plumbed and wired for easy after-market installation. Because the washer-dryers take up so little room (approximately 23.5 x 33.25 inches) and weigh just over 160 pounds, they are practical for many situations. This type of stackable washer-dryer laundry appliance has been common for years in Europe and are now available for RVs, boats and small apartments. (We've heard rumors of a washer-dryer combination unit being installed in a Chevy Suburban!) Washer-dryers are standard equipment in luxury coaches, and some top-of-the-line RVs offer home-sized stackable units. The combination machines wash - and then dry - laundry in the same drum - in theory you push a button and return to clean, dry clothes.

Splendide and Majestic are the two best-selling brands in the RV industry - but at this time more brands are becoming available for the RV market. Most models have been recognized by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) as EnergyStar® products and qualify for CEE (Consortium for Energy Efficiency) incentives and tax rebates in many states. Front-load washers use less water and electricity, are quieter, and clean clothes more efficiently than traditional top-loading machines. Though they use only 9-16 gallons of water (depending on the chosen cycle), it is advisable to use the washer if you are hooked-up to a sewer connection or risk over-filling the grey-water tank. Requiring 15 amps, the washer-dryers are wired for use only when your RV is plugged into (30 or 50 amp preferred) shore power or generator power - they will not operate on inverter power alone, making a washing machine little use to dry-campers. The units are available with either a vented or a non-vented dryer, and are usually installed with a drip pan placed under the appliance, in case of an accidental spill.

There are drawbacks to compact washer-dryers. The first is the load size. Even with the new larger drum available in the Splendide 2100, the washers will hold less than half of what you would normally wash at home. Also, washing time is longer and drying time is longer. The third drawback is the price - the machines are priced around $900. More and more RVers are finding the negatives are easily erased given the convenience of having a washer and dryer in their RV and not having to tote clothes to the coin-op machines in a Laundromat (where someone has just washed their dog bedding).

Laundry Time!

To use, simply place your laundry in the drum and close the door. Then open the little drawer at the top of the machine to add detergent, bleach or fabric softener. Front-load machines require very little detergent - just a few tablespoons. Powdered or liquid detergents may be used. Next, choose your cycle. These teeny machines have every option you will find on a high-end house-sized unit: heavy-duty, regular, permanent press, quick, delicate, wool, etc. Water temperature, spin-speed, and anti-wrinkle are some of the additional options. Most units offer a time-delay start option. Drying time (in minutes) can be set at this time, or you can also choose to not have the clothes dry automatically when the cycle is finished.

Laundry Money Tips: After several years use of a Splendide combo-unit we have found the basic permanent press express wash cycle is used most. We also prefer the low-spin option for clothes. The drum can spin so fast, the clothes can be smashed up against the side of the drum wall and - especially in pants and jeans - wrinkling can occur. So, when washing pants and jeans, we recommend removing the clothes after the wash cycle and giving them a good shake before returning the items to the drum for the drying cycle. Also, the "as seen on TV" dryer-balls really do work! Surprisingly, they are not noisy in the Splendid either. We have had best results using the dryer-balls when drying pants, jeans and towels. Many RVers complain about wrinkled results from their machines. The secret to avoiding this problem is to use the low-spin cycle combined with liquid fabric softener - it really works. The manufacturer advises against using dryer sheets in the vented units, feeling the dryer sheet may be sucked into the exhaust vent and become a fire hazard, so use liquid fabric softeners - or dryer-balls. Another secret in the Splendid model: after drying the clothes for a few moments, turn the dryer timer to zero. The unit will continue to tumble, with no heat. This is useful for drying delicate items or "fluffing" items.

Having a washer-dryer on board can be a great benefit and can add value to your RV - and save you precious vacation hours sitting in a Laundromat. Keep your quarters for the slot-machines!

Here are a few helpful links:

Splendide - combination washer-dryers

Majestic - combination and stackable units

Energy Star - energy efficiency agency (US Government)

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