Laundry in a Tiny House: Cleaning Clothes in a Small Space

When you make the transition to tiny living there are undoubtedly some sacrifices that need to be made. Giving up all of your modern conveniences does not have to be one of them. Many people think that they are going to have to sacrifice some of their major appliances, and normally the first one to go is the clothes washer and dryer. But with the options available on the market today, you don’t automatically have to forgo them. Here are a few options when it comes to doing your laundry in a tiny house.

Laundromat

First, let’s not necessarily rule out going to the laundromat. Today’s laundromats are hipper than ever and some even have libraries, cafes and even bars in or attached to them. This great article from Bon Appetit shows bars that not only make your shirts clean, but serve up delicious drinks and food as well.

Another option if you don’t want to spend your day at the laundromat is to utilize a wash and fold service. This way you can just drop your laundry off when you head out in the morning and pick it up later in the day, all clean and folded. My family and I recently took an extended trip and with three kids in tow the idea of spending any time in a laundromat was unappealing, so for a reasonable fee we opted to outsource the job.

If you don’t live near a laundromat or would prefer to wash your clothes yourself, there are a few options available to you.

Full Size Washer and Dryer

While a full-size washer and dryer may be a great size for a family needing to do laundry in a tiny house, there are some things to consider before putting them on your wish list. First, you’ll need to have the physical room and space for them in your design. In our experience, only houses that are 28 feet and longer should consider full-size units.  With smaller houses, you will need to make a compromise, perhaps a smaller kitchen or less sitting area, to get them to fit.

Standard full-size dryers also have higher power requirements, specifically most will require 240 volts. More than likely, your tiny house is not going to have the power needed to supply a 240-volt appliance. Even if you wire your house to supply 240 volts to the dryer, you likely won’t be able to get that unless you are parked on residential land with access to full power (e.g. don’t expect to find it in an RV park). So if you are looking for full size units, be sure to limit your search to 120 volt appliances only.

Combo Units

Combo units are great because they offer both washing and drying in a singe machine, thus requiring only half the space of full size units. Keep in mind that these units also come in 120 volt and 240 volt varieties. While the 120 volt units will take a bit longer to dry your clothes, you can feel confident that you will have the power to do so. 

The Panda Small Compact Portable Washing Machine has a 11 pound capacity and checks in at only $330.00. This machine offers a full washer and “part-dryer” meaning that it dries clothing by spinning only with no heat. Which means you will still have to have the room to hang clothes to dry.


Tiny House LaundryNow the
Westland (Splendide) WD2100XC WhiteVented Combo Washer/Dryer really does do it all for you. This is the combo unit that we install in our houses. The 15 pound capacity and heated drying cycle makes for a much more space economical choice.  You will pay for it, however. The price is $1,142.99 for this vented unit.

A quick word here about vented/ventless options on dryers. You can get the ventless units, but although they have a condenser to help cut down the amount of humid air that is going to be blown into your home, they do not stop all of the moisture from getting in.  Also you have to dump out the condensation tray at least once a wash. We highly recommend that you go with a vented unit if you have a choice.

Manual Washing Machines

Manual washing machines are great for energy conservation. Well, let’s say they are great at house energy conservation, but not human energy conservation. Most of the units downplay in their advertising the time that it takes to actually wash the laundry by hand. You may not want to repeat a crank or foot pump for ten minutes and then have to do it six more times to get all of your laundry for the week done.

The WonderwashTiny House Laundry - Wonder Wash, a five pound capacity, manual crank washing machine has been around a while and gets pretty good reviews.  The price point is nice at only $45.00 but keep in mind that you will not have a dryer which means you will have to have room to dry your clothes somewhere.

Tiny House Laundry - DrumiNew to market, check out the YiRego.  This system is a five pound capacity, manual foot pump washing machine. Its sleek look and small footprint make this a great option for tiny home living.  You once again won’t have a drying availability and you will be spending $299.00, but think of how cool you will look! :-)

Lastly is the Lavario Portable Clothes Washer. I personally like this one because it is much sturdier and has a higher capacity than the other manual washing machines. On the down side, it also takes up more room than the others when being stored. But, instead of storing it, it’s also attractive enough to be used as a hamper.

So how important is washing and drying clothes for your tiny house laundry plans? Do you use / would you ever think of using a manual washing machine? Let me know in the comments below.

19 thoughts on “Laundry in a Tiny House: Cleaning Clothes in a Small Space

  1. Gil Palmer said:

    You forgot the good old Yukon Plunger and a bucket, Tom. Arguably less human energy (and cost) than the Wonderwash or Drumi. Equally effective.

  2. Gloria said:

    I own the panda washing machine and i love it! I have it hooked up outside my trailer, the spin cycle on the dryer spins out the excess water from the cloths and i just hang up to dry, and in the winter i use the dryer at our park

    • Ayla said:

      This may sound like an absurdly simple and obvious question but I’m brand new to this whole thing- tiny houses, RV’s, and even home owning in general- so I’ve never had to set up my own washer dryer before! Anyway, you mention this washer dryer is hooked up “outside your trailer” and given the space in my tiny house hat possibility sounds way better than having to find a place for a washer/dryer indoors- but how does it work? What exactly is required for something like that to be set up? I know standard homes (not mobile or tiny) often refer to washer/dryer hookups- do we have these (“we@ meaning those of us living in tiny houses on wheels- in my case tvOS certified in pretty sure)- anyway, I’d love to learn more about how this can be done or what type of professional one has to hire/contact to have something like this done- would love people’s advice, esp. on the outdoor possibility!

  3. Rose Govanus said:

    I really wouldn’t use a manual washing machine. The plus side is you would get in your exercise for the day. But if I was going to wash my clothes in a tiny home I would want to dry them also. The only places you could line dry year round would be places like Florida. But then again one of the reasons I would want a tiny home is to cut down on housework & have more spare time to do the things I love, which is certainly not laundry.

    • Dan LoucheDan Louche said:

      I would only have a manual machine as a backup if I typically used a laundromat. I couldn’t image sitting in front of the TV every night cranking away, but it could save you on a bad laundry day :)

  4. Vickie Hicks said:

    I love to learn about the
    tiny house movement. I think it is a great thing even if the banks don’t.

  5. Richard hicks said:

    No on manual washer. Must have vented combo,stacked.

    • Dan LoucheDan Louche said:

      That is definitely going to be the easiest, although not the cheapest, option. It’s what we usually install :)

  6. Penny Burke said:

    I used the Panda model and in my opinion it uses A LOT of water to get the soap out of the clothes. The spinner did work well. Not sure this is conservative as far as water goes.

    • Dan LoucheDan Louche said:

      Thank you for sharing. I’ve never actually used this particular unit, but read a lot of the reviews. Perhaps this is only a better option if you are concerned about space and not as much conservation.

  7. Alan Churchill said:

    We moved into an RV whilst building our tiny. This has turned out to be a great way to do it as it’s caused us to realise what we need and also moving into our tiny house will actually be a step UP.

    We used to use bikes to commute, but bought the truck to help with getting materials for our build. Prior to buying the truck, we would have to ride our laundry to the laundromat. Not the most joyous thing, but with a large back pack it’s possible. The truck has made it a more pleasant job and as there’s a coffee shop right next door to the laundromat, it’s a good excuse to get out the house. Laundry, coffee, treat.

    it’ll take over 2 years of using a laundromat to equal the cost of the washing machine in this post (not including the electricity and water) and as going tiny, is about owning less, downsizing and moving towards environmental sustainability, reducing the number of appliances that each individual must own is surely heading in the right direction. How long will your washing machine last before you need to pay for repairs anyway? Or before you need a new one?

    It might be a small chore to head to the laundromat once a week, but for a couple, with no child, i feel it’s the way to go for now.

    I think we will continue without the mashing machine for now, but I plan on wiring/plumbing for one, incase we ever change our minds in the future.

  8. Andria Fort said:

    Thanks for the useful info.I am in the planning stages of my TH. Although I would prefer a gual machine washer and dryer in one. I am not sure it will be in the budget yet.I do want people to think when in a TH how many clothes are U really going to have? Line drying outside hrre in NJ can be done 3/4ths of the year.How about an indoor drying line that is retractable for the freezing days.Not so much work and environmentally a plus. Isn’t it why some of us are doing this tiny home anyway?
    Thanks,
    Andria Fort

  9. Marie Banks said:

    I am planning on using 2 (12×24) storage buildings fastened together for my home. I am sure this will be just the right size for 1 person and maybe an overnight guest sometime. I have the plans drawn out as I like for the interior, but not sure what to put on the kitchen floor, have been looking at tile that looks like planks that I really like. I would like the washer-dryer stacked.

  10. M. Silva said:

    A manual washing machine would do for me IF It were powered like a bicycle so i got my preferred excercise at the same time. Would like the same set up to power the tv and reading light.

  11. Lisa D. Lucas said:

    Way back in the late ’70’s when I was doing tiny before tiny was cool, I lived in a renovated 8′ wide x 32′ long “mobile home”. It had the benefit of a full sized bathroom and I used a Hoovermatic/twin tub semi auto washer that worked great! It was a real workhorse.

    • Dan LoucheDan Louche said:

      Lisa,
      Thanks for the video! It was very cool to see the process.

  12. Adrianne Armstrong said:

    Miele has a new heat pump dryer that works really well while using very little energy. It is pricey, but it runs on 120V, as does its accompanying washing machine. Blomberg also makes a heat pump dryer that consumes very little energy, though it runs on 240V.

  13. Dan LoucheDan Louche said:

    Thanks for the info!

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