Perhaps you are fortunate enough to own or are considering buying an RV with a built-in combination washer/dryer. The combination unit is a single appliance that does both the washing cycle and drying cycle using the same drum. The ability to both wash and dry in one continuous cycle is great. The clothes go in "dry and dirty" and come out "dry and clean."
However, you will quickly realize that this appliance does not work like the ones in your home or at the local laundromat. The problem? Wrinkles--lots and lots of wrinkles.
Can you wash and dry wrinkle-free in a combination RV unit? Yes, you can, but you'll have to slightly change your technique. Sorry, but all that experience from years of doing laundry may not be of much help with these RV combo units. It's not more difficult, just different. No, there are no gadgets or magic soaps that will help. You must adjust your technique.
COMBO VS. STACKED
The most common washer/dryer brand manufactured for RVs is Splendide. The company also manufactures stack units (separate washers and dryers that are literally stacked one on top of the other). However, no brand of stack unit will automatically solve your wrinkle problem, especially when the dryer and washer drums are near the same size. Stack units may also require twice as much electricity because there are two separate appliances. Therefore, you may not be able to wash and dry at the same time (run both appliances) if plugged into 30-amp shorepower. RVers know that space inside a coach is limited and valuable property. The stack units consume at least twice the space of a combination unit, and your lost space will not automatically result in wrinkle-free laundry.
Combination washer/dryer units are compact and operate on 120-volt AC current (your home dryer probably uses 240 volts, unless it is a gas dryer).
The first mind-set you'll have to change is not to plan to do all your laundry at once, i.e., no more "laundry days." Do a load when you have a load. As a washer/dryer-equipped RVer, you won't have to carry as many clothes with you because you won't run out.
MEASURE THE LOAD
Did you know that your RV combo can wash more than it can dry? Compare your RV combo unit to a home set, and you'll note that the dryer drum in the home unit is much larger than the washer drum. This provides more space for the dryer to toss and fluff the items and allows the hot air to better circulate through and around your clothing during the drying cycle. Your laundry dries faster and this helps prevent wrinkles. In your RV combo unit, although you can wash a "full load" you cannot dry that same quantity without wrinkles. The solution is to reduce the quantity washed to the point where it will have a chance to dry wrinkle-free.
The easiest way to ensure that you don't cause wrinkles during the dry cycle is to measure your loads: Don't guess and overfill.
Through experimentation, we've found that canvas tote bags (often given away at conferences, rallies, etc.) are the right size for measuring a correct load of laundry (ours are 13 x 18 inches when laid flat). This bag filled with presorted dirty laundry to slightly rounded is the perfect washer/dryer load that will dry wrinkle-free.
There are two other major advantages with our measuring method. First, you never have to guess when you need to wash a load--when the bag is full, it's ready. Second, you never have to sort dirty clothes--think of it as presorted laundry.
We developed the "three-bag method" to easily accomplish this presorting. We labeled each bag with "Whites, Dark Permanent Press or Light Permanent Press." When parked with the coach slides out, the three bags can be hung using those "release-type" adhesive hooks in the bedroom. When you change, dirty clothes are put into the appropriate bag. When traveling, store the bags in the "hamper" drawer or on the bed.
FOLD, THEN DRY
Set the laundry to wash only. At the end of your wash cycle, shake out the items and fold them--yes, fold them like you are going to store them--and put them back into the dryer before starting a dry cycle. Folding prevents items like sheets and denim jeans from tangling as they are tumbled in the dryer. You've likely experienced those pant legs all twisted up. Drying is more even and wrinkles are controlled when items are folded.
Our test for this involved washing four permanent-press king-size sheets together--two fitted and two flat sheets (we wash pillowcases with the whites or permanent press). At the end of the wash cycle, all were taken out and folded to approximately 1-foot square--about the size you would use for storing them in a cabinet--and placed back into the drum. To dry, the PERMANENT PRESS (middle heat) setting was used.
At the conclusion of a 90-minute dry cycle, all four sheets were removed, unfolded and laid out on the bed to check for wrinkles. The sheets were mostly wrinkle-free--not perfect, but certainly usable without any ironing. This process works best with more, not fewer, sheets.
In general, use the lowest (coolest) dryer setting--the one at the end of the DELICATES cycle--for nearly everything except heavy stuff. When drying heavy jeans, towels, etc., dry to a cool damp, then hang them and smooth by hand. Allow the heavy items to hang dry overnight. We have even hung clothes in the tow car to allow them to finish drying. Here's another tip: Hotter wash water will cause more wrinkles. Keep it cool.
When the door lock releases, pull out all the polo-type shirts and T-shirts at once, quickly shake out and lay each item in a neat stack on the bed (like a stack of pancakes), then begin the hanging-up or folding process. The warmth and humidity in the stack will cause any wrinkles to relax. The good news with this technique is that you do not have to be in a hurry to hang them. No, you can't hang them individually and be fast enough to prevent wrinkles.
It is not always necessary to reduce the washer load. After washing a full load, hang part of the items wet or split the load to dry. Remove about half the wet load and dry the other half. Doing so will reduce the total amount of water used and decrease total wash time by half because you washed just one cycle instead of two. This is an important hint for those of you who dry camp.
We've experimented nearly two years with our combo washer/dryer and have developed several techniques--including using cooler washing and drying temperatures, measuring loads of laundry and handling the laundry differently before or after drying--to get wrinkle-free results. The built-in RV combo is a great convenience when used to its full advantage--especially on extended trips and certainly for full-time RVers. The trick is to make it work, like it's supposed to.
For even more tips, check out Sandra's booklet, Wrinkle-Free RV Laundry, available at www.rvstuff.org or by calling (800) 262-3060 (MSRP: $9.95). You'll find recommended washing times, amounts of detergents and softeners, what not to use and why, dealing with the infamous "locked" door, hints for shirt-stacking, pictures showing how to fold jeans, how to get a crease in your jeans without ironing and much more.
Jones, Robert, and Sandra Jones. "Wrinkle-free: using your motorhome's combo washer/dryer for the best results." Motorhome Apr. 2008: 85+. General OneFile. Web. 27 Nov. 2009.
Gale Document Number:A176478025
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