Airing Our Dirty Laundry

Literally, of course! Well, after it’s been washed. You won’t find any juicy details here. Living in a tiny floating home has certain challenges, such as doing laundry.

Once upon a time I lived in a 4,000 square foot house with a brand new front-load high efficiency washing machine and matching dryer. You know, those massive machines that are so silent you don’t even know they’re on. There were so many settings I had to read the manual to figure out how it all worked. Boy do I miss those machines.

It’s rare that you find space to put a washing machine on a boat, and it’s a luxury if you do. Luckily, our boat came with one already installed! Without this machine our only options to do laundry would be to transport it to shore via dinghy and walk to a laundromat, or hand-wash our clothes and linens in a bucket on the boat.


Even with the washing machine on board, we use a mixture of the three washing methods, depending on where we are. Sometimes we have easy access to an inexpensive laundromat, in which case it’s worth the time and money to use the commercial machines. Sometimes we need something small washed immediately so we will do a quick bucket-wash and hang the wet items over our lifelines with clothespins to dry. If it’s a sunny day (giving us maximum voltage from our solar panels) and if we have enough water in our tanks, we can run a load of laundry in the tiny washing machine.

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Ours is a HAIER Fully Automatic washing machine, Model No. XQMB22-C. It runs off A/C power so the inverter or generator must be on to power the unit. It has multiple cycle options with vari agitate/rinse cycles, or spin only. It even plays “Jingle Bells” when the cycle is complete! I have NO idea how or why that was programmed in or if it can be changed. We always laugh when we hear it. The spin cycle discharges water through a hose that runs into the sink. To conserve water, we divert the discharge hose to a 5-gallon bucket on the last rinse and reuse that water on the first wash cycle of the next load.


Though it doesn’t wash much at one time, it’s just enough to fill up our lifelines with clothes hanging out to dry. There’s something about sun-kissed and line-dried laundry that you can’t beat.

How do you do laundry in your tiny house?

By Jody Pountain for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Sharon - June 5, 2015 Reply

That’s how I do it too only with a little Sanyo washer that has a separate spin compartment. In a classy touch it lives on my front porch (no one can see it from the street) and I do my laundry outside and line dry. It’s compact, easy to use and I’ve done it this way for 15 years.

Skip - June 5, 2015 Reply

Excellent! The tiny washing machine is very cute and tempting.

I’ve often had trouble with clothespins not holding in the St John breezes and have lost a couple items overboard. You?


    Jody Pountain - June 5, 2015 Reply

    Hi Skip,
    I haven’t had much trouble with clothespins at all. I’m just using the cheap wood ones but I always make sure to use more than I think each piece needs. On windy days, it’s a three-clothespin minimum. For bigger items I used up to five per item. I’ve come close to losing a few items but so far so good, even down island 🙂

Mike - June 5, 2015 Reply

Thankfully I have a washing machine dryer all in one unit for most things not to large. I was also thinking about getting one of these for off the grid washing:

    Jody Pountain - June 5, 2015 Reply

    I’ve seen other cruisers with those, and similar devices. They work great from what I hear! If you have the space for it of course 🙂

      Mike - June 10, 2015 Reply


      Oh I’m not on a boat (though I would love to be) not even in a “tiny” house yet just a small one at just under 500 square feet, which must seem like a lot of space. 🙂 However I do take inspiration from all of the brave tiny livers who share their lives on this blog in my own day to day living, thanks all!

Diann Decker - June 5, 2015 Reply

This is so cool, I used to hang laundry on the line for my grandmother, and they smelled wonderful! I could so do this. Thank you 🙂

MaryEllan Rains - June 5, 2015 Reply

I do laundry on my tiny floating home by hand, using an electric spinner to finish. I have clotheslines inside. Big items, like pillows and my comforter go to the laundromat.

Lisa E. - June 5, 2015 Reply

Do you have a sign that says, “Washing Machine OnBoard”?

alice h - June 5, 2015 Reply

At the tiny city apartment in my son’s house I have access to one of those fancy front load washers & a dryer, also the backyard solar rotary umbrella type dryer, a small rope line on a covered patio and a folding drying rack.

At my rural Shackteau I have an outdoor double laundry sink (alley scrounge), old hand wringer and proper clothesline with pulley. You have to be careful with the wringer, it can be hard on buttons. Water re-use is definitely de rigueur.

    Jody Pountain - June 5, 2015 Reply

    Ahh yes, the folding drying racks. I used to have one of those as well, which was quite handy for indoor drying.

    The hand wringer and clothesline sounds wonderful!! If I were on land I would want the same.

Benjamin - June 6, 2015 Reply

Jody, do you use that sink for hand washing, etc.? It looks hard to reach surrounded by walls, toilet, and washer.

Doug - June 6, 2015 Reply

Sweet now tell me have you ever seen a dishwasher, took wife shopping for boat, 1st question dishwasher ? I don’t care but Happy Wife..well you know

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