Packing for a camping trip can be overwhelming! From kitchen and cooking supplies to clothes and bath necessities, it adds up fast! It's easy to quickly fill every nook and cranny of your RV's storage and come close to exceeding your travel trailer or fifth wheel's weight limit (which is a no-no!).A great place to cut back and shave off some weight and bulk is with your clothing. Only bring what you need and plan to wash your clothes during your trip. If your RV or campground has a washer/dryer or laundry facilities, you're in luck! If not, you can easily wash your clothes by hand (see below!). And with a DIY rear ladder-mounted clothesline, you can hang up your freshly laundered clothes, towels, and bedding and achieve that mountain-spring or ocean mist scent (depending on where you're camping). Here's the how-to:
DIY RV Ladder-Mounted Clothesline
1. Cut the 10’ PVC into two 4’ and two 3’ pieces.
2. Drill holes all the way through the 3’ pieces, 6” from the end, and every 6” after that. This will be for the clothesline.
3. In one of the 4’ pieces, drill a hole 1” from each end, all the way through.
4. The measurements on the next part are going to depend on the size of your ladder. Measure the space in between the ladder supports. Subtract 1½” from this measurement, and divide the final number by two.
5. Find the center of the 4’ piece that you have not drilled into. From this centerline, measure out the amount of space of your final calculation from step 4 on each side. Mark it for cutting.
6. Cut this piece out, and then cut about 1½” off from that piece.
7. Connect a T-shape to each end of this piece, and then connect the longer parts of the 4’ piece you cut it out of to the opposite sides of the T pieces.
8. Measure out how long of a PVC piece you’ll need to go from the back of the T and into your elbow pieces so that the elbows are wrapping around the back of the step. Cut 4 of them.
9. Insert one of the four pieces cut in the previous step into the back of each the Ts, and then add the elbow to the end of that. Then add the other 2 pieces you cut to come out of the elbow, and use the end caps to cap them off.
10. Assemble all remaining pieces into a rectangle with the piece with the Ts and elbows coming off the back.
11. Run the clothesline through the holes on the side pieces back and forth between them, making sure they’re tight in the middle and not sagging. Tie it when you get to the last hole.
12. On the front where you drilled the holes near the end, thread a piece of your cable through and use the ferrules to clamp it into a loop. Have someone hold up the frame against the ladder and measure out enough cable to reach it with the frame of the clothesline flat. Then add enough cable to make another loop and cut it. Create a loop the same way you did the front but not around anything. Repeat this process on the other side. Hook the carabiners to these two loops.
13. Now that your clothesline is assembled you just hang it up! Place the elbow pieces over a step on the ladder, and pull the ends of the cables that have the carabiners up to the ladder, and hook them to the ladder as well.
If you like the thought of always having a clothesline on hand but aren't too keen on trying this DIY project, check out this bumper-mounted clothesline made by northern Michigan company Stromberg Carlson Products. It comes with everything you need and it's a cinch to install! A couple of U-shaped brackets wrap around the square bumper of your RV and a flat piece bolts on the top to hold them in place. No drilling into the bumper required! Then the clothesline pops off for quick storage when you're done using it.
How To Hand Wash Your Clothes (and Really Get Them Clean!)
- Read your clothing labels for recommendations on water temperature and anything you should avoid, such as chlorine bleach.
- In order to see if the colors will run, get a wet white cloth and press it against the fabric. Check for any color left on the cloth. If the color bleeds onto the cloth, wash it separate from the rest of your laundry.
- Fill a bucket, your RV’s tub, or sink with water and add a little detergent. Keep in mind that the amount of water you’re using is most likely less than what a washing machine would use (unless you’re filling the whole bathtub), so use less detergent than you would with a washing machine.
- Add the clothes to the water and gently move them around with your fingers until they’re fully submerged.
- Let the items soak for about 5 minutes so the detergent can start to break up the dirt and oils. Then gently kneed the items with your hands. Don’t rub them together. This will cause the fibers to break just like in a machine.
- Drain the water and refill with clean, cool water. Cool water helps to break down soap suds instead of activating them.
- Kneed the clothes in the rinse water until all the soap is rinsed away. You may need to repeat with new water if the soap isn’t coming out the first time. If you used too much soap, you’ll have to repeat a few times.
- Squeeze as much water out of the clothes as you can without wringing them. Wringing damages clothing.
- Hang them on your clothesline or lay them flat (if the tag says to do so).
DIY Natural Laundry Detergent
Want to take your DIY clothes washing one step further? Make natural laundry detergent that's safer for your clothes and the environment. And it’s cheaper than store bought too!
Wear gloves and a dust mask. While these are natural and non-toxic ingredients, you don’t want to inhale them. And direct contact with your skin can dry it out and irritate it.
Step 1: Using a food processor or cheese grater, blend or grate the bars of soap into a powder.
Step 2: In a large bowl or a small bucket, combine the borax, washing soda, and baking soda. Stir until well blended.
Step 3: Add in the powdered soap you made in step one and stir until well incorporated.
Step 4: Add 10-20 drops of your essential oils (depending on how strong you want the smell) and stir again.
Step 5: Keep the detergent in an air-tight container. If you end up using a washing machine, use between 1 and 2 tablespoons. If hand washing in a sink, use a few teaspoons.
*Note: Borax (also known as sodium tetraborate) is a natural mineral/salt found in nature. There are a lot of articles that claim it’s toxic. Many people get it confused with boric acid, which is toxic! In our opinion, Borax is safe to use.
Whether you have an RV at the moment or are searching for Michigan RV sales, this rear ladder-mounted clothesline will definitely come in handy in the great outdoors! Many of the travel trailer and fifth wheel RVs for sale at TradeWinds in Clio, MI, come equipped with a rear ladder, so check out our huge selection online or come in and let our friendly salespeople show you around. With our special financing and deep discounts, it won't take long for you to find the RV of your dreams!