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Fri Dec 1, 2017 at 9:35am

Keeping your clothes and linen clean whilst living aboard is a necessity, unless of course you want to be the next Stig of the dump! So how do live aboards cope?  

There are a few options available, which one you choose is down to you;  

1. Using the local laundrette.

Many boaters decide they are happy to take loads of washing to the local laundrette. The beauty of using a laundrette especially in the winter is that you won’t have to turn your boat into a Chinese laundrette over night whilst you try and dry all your washing.

The downside is the distance you may have to travel to get to and from the laundrette and the amount of time you have to set aside to carry out this task. Use this link to find laundrettes and other amenities on the canal system, its broken down into areas for easy use.  


2. Using the laundry room in a marina.

Lots of marinas do have their own facilities like we do at Venetian.  But be warned that these facilities may only be for residential boats and even if you moor there the laundry facilities may NOT be covered in your mooring fees.   

3. Fitting a automatic washing machine on board your boat.

Yes you can actually have a washing machine on your boat. BUT you can’t run the washing machine the same way, as you would do offshore.  Modern automatic washing machines are cold-water filled and therefore draw water off the cold water supply. They then need to heat the water up, so even when washing at low temperatures 20 -30 degrees the washing machines heater needs to heat up the water.

The washing machine heater draws a huge amount of energy, so a 2 – 3 kilo watt heater is going to pull 200 -300 amps of your battery bank, and this will drain your battery bank very quickly. So unless you have a huge battery bank and huge invertor you are not going to be able to use your batteries to run your washing machine.  

So what solutions do we have? Because its true many boaters do have automatic washing machines on board but how they run them varies.  

Option 1.
Many boats have a generator built into the engine, so as long as the engine is running this will give you power to run the washing machine.  

Option 2. Is to go into a marina and pay for over night moorings and use the mains power within the marina. Doing maybe a week or twos washing in one go.

Option 3. Stop for the night in or near a town which has a laundrette, and use the facilities as many people who do not have a washing machine in their home.

In fine weather you may wish to use a small rotary washing line to dry your washing if your washing machine is not a washer/condenser dryer. You can attach this to a Brolley Mate. A Brolley Mate can be used to hold a lightweight rotary washing line onto the tiller so you can dry your washing outside on a fine day. Do make sure that you peg your washing down well as you may be victim to the wind carrying away your items if they are not secured well!  

If you don’t have the space or want to purchase an automatic washing machine you still have another two options when it comes to cleaning your washing.  

The alternative method from an automatic washing machine would be a small portable twin tub machine. Be warned though this will require a lot of input, as it is very much reliant on manual operation, however if you have the time and inculcation this option does work just as well.  

And finally the old-fashioned way; Hand washing in the sink! May be ok for smaller items but not recommended for doing the weekly bedding and towels!  


So as you can see there are plenty of ways of getting your washing done when you are cruising, and you may use all the options at some point depending on your circumstances.  

NOTE: When using detergents on board please make sure they are environmentally friendly, as the dirty water from the machine will be dispensed into the canal system and this could endanger the wildlife.  


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