When I first tell people I have a washer/dryer combo in our RV, explaining yes, the very same appliance washes and dries, there’s inevitably some disbelief. I guess it makes sense that something sounding so unbelievable would behave a bit wonky, and require some extra TLC compared to your regular residential washing machine or dryer.
It makes sense, and yet I was a fulltime RVer for four years before I knew how to properly clean and maintain my RV’s washer/dryer combo. Oh, and I bought a new one for absolutely no reason, just because I didn’t know how to maintain it properly.
That really happened.
So, yeah. Here’s the guide I wish I had four and a half years ago. I hope it saves you headaches and money. And if you have any suggestions on what I should add to my regimen, then please chime in with a comment!
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Our RV Washer/Dryer Combo Specs
Our washer/dryer combo is a Splendide 2100XC. It currently retails for somewhere around $1,200.
Meriwether (our RV) had the 2100XC when we bought him in 2014. We were always happy with it, so we bought the same combo again when I was pregnant with Caspian in 2016. I’m sure you’re curious about that whole debacle. But since it isn’t the focus of this guide, I’ll save it for the end. Maybe you’ll leave before then and I’ll save myself the embarrassment.
Cleaning Your RV Washer/Dryer From the Outside
Your washer/dryer has a vent leading to the outside of your RV which should be cleaned regularly. We have a tall diesel motorhome, but the vent can still be easily accessed with a step stool or short ladder.
You shouldn’t have to unscrew the cover to clean out the vent. In fact, you should avoid unscrewing it if you can, since you’ll eventually strip the holes if you mess with it too much. Eric opens the fins on the cover, then uses a Zip-It drain cleaner to reach inside and pull out lint.
Even with the Zip-It, we aren’t able to clean the entire vent because it isn’t quite long enough. Let us know if you’ve found a good way to clean the full length of the vent.
This chore only takes a few minutes. Try to do it monthly to maximize the efficiency of your washer/dryer combo.
Cleaning Your RV Washer/Dryer From the Inside
I had no idea how to clean my washer/dryer combo from the inside until just a few months ago. My unit started taking forever to dry a load of clothes, which was the same problem I had back in 2016 when I ended up replacing the whole unit.
This time, a friend suggested an article from Makarios RV in Indianapolis. The instructions seemed super weird. Kind of like a wordy magic spell that doesn’t end up doing anything. But I took a chance, and it worked. My dryer was running like new again.
It turns out that tiny pieces of lint build up in the little holes of the appliance. This interrupts airflow and keeps clothes from drying properly. Ready to try my magic spell? Here we go:
- Make sure your washer/dryer is completely empty.
- Make sure the dryer is set to Off.
- Put the washer cycle on #11. I use cold water because our water heater isn’t big enough to use hot. I don’t think warm or hot water would make much of a difference anyway.
- Add a cup of bleach on the first cycle only. I put the bleach in the detergent compartment, but you can probably pour it directly into the drum if you prefer.
- Turn the unit on, then press Start. You’ll hear and see the washer start filling with water.
- When water stops entering the drum (you’ll hear it stop), push and hold the Start button until the green lights come on, then go off. Release the button.
- Press and release the Start button again. More water will start filling the drum.
- When the water stops, push and hold Start until the green lights go on and off. Release the button.
- Change the washer cycle to #2.
- Press the Extra Rinse button. The green indicator light will come on.
- Press and release the Start button to let the cycle run.
- When the cycle is complete, thoroughly clean out the drum. Make sure you have good lighting, so you can see all the surfaces inside. Run your hand along the bottom of the glass door to catch any lint sticking there. Gently pull up the bottom of the rubber seal to clean underneath it, where junk tends to get caught.
- Repeat steps 3-12 two more times. Each cycles takes about an hour and 45 minutes.
Considering how dysfunctional my dryer was, I was surprised by how little lint I found. Don’t be surprised if you have the same experience. It just goes to show that it doesn’t take much to cause an issue.
Makarios RV recommends you do this every three months. If, like us, you dry camp and don’t use your own unit for a while, then you can wait longer between cleanings. But whenever you notice drying taking longer, then this should be the first thing you try.
Oh Yeah, the Story
So my terrible story. Literally the most money I’ve ever wasted in my entire life.
It was 2016 and my combo wasn’t drying. I’d run the dryer over and over for the same load, and the clothes would still be damp. I was very pregnant at the time and planning on using cloth diapers with our new baby.
I told Eric I didn’t want to deal with washer/dryer issues, so I’d rather invest in a new unit than spend money trying to fix our “old” one. At the time, Meriwether was 12 years old, so I figured the unit had just run its course.
So we ordered a new Splendide 2100XC from Quick 2 Fix, a mobile repair company we’d used before, and told the Internets that our washer/dryer was for sale. We had no idea what was wrong with it or whether it could ever be fixed, and said so.
I don’t know why we didn’t think of it sooner, but after we had already paid for the new unit and set an obscenely low asking price for the one we were selling, we reached out to Meriwether’s previous owner to ask whether he knew how old the current washer/dryer was.
I assumed the first owner had put it in, but no. The second owner–the guy who sold to us–had installed it. My heart sank. I knew he had barely used Meriwether at all, and had owned him for a relatively short time. In other words, the “broken, old” washer/dryer had definitely not run its course.
But nothing could be done at that point. $1,900 out the door. On the bright side, a retired couple at our RV park got a practically new Splendide washer/dryer combo for $50. “My husband was able to get it working right away,” the buyer gleefully messaged us afterwards.
I can smile about it now, but just barely.