Monday, June 16, 2014

Doing laundry on the road: save those quarters!

Whether you live in a stick-built house or a recreational vehicle, doing laundry is a necessity unless, of course, you’re one of those people who wear clothes until they get so dirty they stand up by themselves and then you throw them away.

It just isn’t as much fun on the road. Few RVs have room for even a small washer and dryer, which means you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the RV park’s laundry room. Before we left home, I scoured the internet for manual washers. I found one that was hand cranked and used only two gallons of water. It could hold a couple of pairs of jeans and four t-shirts or a sheet. Unfortunately, it did not come with a wringer. I looked into getting the wringer off an old wringer washer, but those things are considered antique now, somewhat hard to find and not cheap if you do find one.

During the season, doing laundry is a social activity in that you get to meet other RVers doing their laundry. There’s also a good selection of magazines left by other RVers when they’ve finished with them, so if you’re the only one there, you’ve got lots of reading material to occupy your time.

Coming up with enough quarters to do our wash can be a hassle. We put every quarter we get into a special jar; if we’re lucky, we have enough quarters saved up by the time to do laundry again. If not, we have to leave the park to get more. However, not all RV laundry rooms take quarters. One park we stayed at required campers to buy tokens from them in $5 increments. In our case, $5 wasn’t enough to do one session of laundry, but $10 was too much. Unfortunately, park management won’t buy the unused tokens back. I’m told some parks require RVers to use their special pre-paid cards in amounts of their choosing. Supposedly, they also won’t buy the unused portion back. If you can’t sell the tokens or cards to other RVers, I guess you’ve just bought yourself some souvenirs.

Our first encounter with an RV park laundry room was in Redding, California, on New Year’s Day. The weather was sunny and balmy, and we enjoyed sitting by the pool while their machines did our work.

So far, we’ve only encountered immaculately clean laundry rooms, though I was distressed about finding “out of order” signs taped to half the washers and dryers at an older RV park. Of course, a lot of people wanted to do laundry at the same time I did, which meant a long wait for the machines. Just as I was putting my last load into a washer, a man carried eight laundry baskets in. I was so furious when I saw him rip off the out-of-order signs, put his quarters and laundry in and the machines miraculously worked.

What I’ve learned from doing laundry on the road is never to take a home washer and dryer for granted again.



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