Laundry wars: The case of the angry camper

Dear Chuck,
letters to the editorI had something happen this weekend when I did the laundry and I’m wondering if anyone else encountered this situation and what did they do. Here’s the scenario:
The campground laundromat has four washers and three dryers. One dryer doesn’t work. One is a heavy duty dryer. The other is a regular stackable dryer like you have at home. Someone has a load in the dryer [towels in this case] but isn’t around. I do three loads of wash – permanent press dark colors, permanent press light colors, and a load of towels and whites. The wash ends and I put the light colors in the small dryer.
A few minutes later the heavy duty dryer ends. I check the items – mostly towels – and they are very hot [my fingers are almost burning] and feel dry so I remove them, placing them on the folding table. I put my two loads in the heavy duty dryer and start it. Maybe ten minutes later the lady with items that were in the dryer comes in and informs me – in no uncertain words – that SHE has use of the dryer, has two more loads, and her items, after checking them, are NOT dry! I again checked a couple of towels and said, “They seem dry to me.” She was livid and left.
A few minutes later another camper comes in with one load of clothes. I inform him about this other person who has claim to the dryer and what happened. He said, “It sounds like the same woman I ran into two weeks ago.” He feels the load of towels on the table and agrees that they are indeed dry.
A FEW MINUTES LATER this woman comes in and the other gentleman nods his head ‘yes’ meaning it’s the same woman. She stands and watches my load finish drying. I remove the clothes and place them in my clothes hamper.
My questions is: Was I wrong to take her items out of the dryer? Should I have waited another hour or more while she dried two more loads? Has anyone had a similar experience and, if so, what did they do? Sit and wait? Remove the dry items? Take the wet clothes back to the RV to put on hangers to dry?
I’m just curious and thought this might be a question you could pose ‘to the masses’ that read the newsletter. —Tom Gutzke
Hi Tom,

If I were doing laundry, and someone had left their finished laundry in a washing machine or dryer and then left the laundry to return later, I would do what you did if there were no available empty machines. How did you know if the woman would return in ten minutes or an hour? If she wanted to do another load, then she should have been there when the current load finished.

I hope other readers will comment and take our quick poll. — Chuck

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49 Thoughts to “Laundry wars: The case of the angry camper”

  1. Brenda

    At one park in New Mexico, the laundry room was next to the office so we asked the staff person if it was okay to remove items left in the machines. She said she would do it; their policy was to let staff handle it so patrons did not have to deal get into a disagreement over it.

    I noticed that she donned protective gloves when removing the laundry. Never occurred to me what I might find in others’ laundry!

    We recently noticed more and more parks using coded door locks so that only park patrons can access the laundry room.

  2. lauren oliver

    I have a portable washer in my rv that I set on my counter top (drains in sink) love it! See Amazon. Also I dry all my clothes either outside with Mrs. Peg portable clothesline or I put Mrs. Peg in my garage (TH). There’s so many portable drying devices out there. I usually dry all sheets and blankets outside. Remove all evidence after clothes dry. and, finally, if I need to use laundry mat at campground I go late—around 10 pm I have no laundry stress.

  3. Linda

    OMG! If we can’t get along doing laundry I fear our country is in deep do-do! I know this sounds old but…. why can’t people just get along?

  4. Pete Almasi

    I only place in one days worth of clothes in a nylon bag with a giant clothes pin keeping the bag closed.
    Could care less if anyone took my clothes out unless the machine was still going when they took them out.
    But I’m respectful and set my five watch Basel when I have to leave let’s say for a head call.
    Signed old Navy salt.

  5. Kyle Clevenger

    If you wish to retain use of the dryer then remain with your loads. In my opinion, if you walk away and your cycle ends that machine is fair game. The only thing I would add is be considerate with the clothes you remove, i.e., do not just toss them on the floor.

  6. Mike

    Well, it didn’t have her name on it….. just sayin

  7. Richard

    I’ve been happily married for 48 years. What’s a washing machine ?


  8. Hannah

    When I retired I decided to pursue a stress free life and have managed to do that most of the time. I take my laundry and my Kindle to the campground laundromat and plan to stay awhile. The best part is that I have met some great friends there. My advice- don’t leave your laundry. Be a good camper.

  9. Brian

    When I was visiting in Central Florida several years ago, I noticed a sign prominently displayed that informed patrons that if their laundry is left unattended, then the next person waiting for the machine is entitled to remove it. I remarked with amusement (an approval) about this to the attendant, and she informed me that they get a lot of snowbirds in there. For 6 to 9 months of the year, they use their own laundry machines at home, and when they snowbird, they feel the same entitlement to “owning” the machine until they get around to removing their laundry. To the laundromat, an idle machine that is not being used while customers are waiting is lost money. She also informed me of several incidents when a snowbird complained to her about someone else removing their clothes, saying they had only “stepped out for just a few minutes”, but the attendant knew that because of how long the cycle of the machines are and when people “step out for just a few minutes” it is typically just after they start the machine, that the irate customer probably actually left about 45 minutes earlier.

    1. James

      I have taken wet clothes out of a washer, washed my clothes and when folding my finished laundry someone come in and start yelling at who was using the washer. When I told them I took their clothes out an hour ago I was told I was lying, they were gone only 15 min. or so. You can’t win an argument with rude, inconsiderate people.

      1. BSHGTO

        There is no defense against the female mind.

        1. Mel

          There is no defense against the misogynist mind.

  10. Lorin

    Prior to having my own W/D in my 5er, I tried using the park’s but ran into this problem all the time. I even laid out their shirts or pants so they wouldn’t wrinkle. After being berated multiple times (usually by the same 2 people) I started using the local laundry mat. Then I discovered wash-dry-fold service. I could drop it all off with hangers and they would do it all for $1 a pound. As a person with limited mobility, it was totally worth it. They tried to dry every thing on hot so you just have to be specific about what you want. They even loaded it in my car for me.

    1. terry

      Wow, now there is a service whose owners all over the country that should purchase an ad in this mag!

  11. PeteD

    We only use rv park laundries when the machines are empty or nothing else is nearby. Commercial laundries have many machines and we can do multiple loads and get out quicker. When we use an rv park laundry we take a book or an iPad with us and sit it out. Only fair to others.

    1. Scott Alvar


  12. DeeMac

    You did the right thing. If you have to leave the laundry room set your phone alarm to return in time to pull it out of the dryer. Come on campers Let’s be nice to each other!!!

  13. Pat Re

    Way too many times I have encountered the RUDE people who leave their laundry in the machines until it is convenient for them to remove them. I’ve encountered a few times when I have removed laundry from machines, done my load, put in dryer and then they come back to collect their laundry — finally. They were then indignant that they still had to wait for a dryer (I was using). Even encountered a few times when I removed someone’s completed laundry, put it on the table, did my laundry, completed and left. Came back the next day and their wet laundry was still on the table! So many times I have been so tempted to just leave their washed or dried laundry on the floor, or worse.

  14. Jacques Marcotte

    You did right guy! I would have told her to go climb a pole! Rude people like that really bring out the ugly in me!

  15. Kostyal Don

    It isn’t your home it is a public laundry. Stay and watch your operation or set a timer and be back before the load finishes. Every place I have stayed or worked has had the policy that clothes should be removed from machines promptly when finished. Anything short of this is just plain RUDE!

    1. frater secessus

      Agreed, using a timer would eliminate the problem. Be back 5 mins before the machine is done.

      Might be helpful if the park posted signs saying how long the wash/dry cycles take.

  16. Tom

    Taking the clothes out is perfectly acceptable. As others have said bring a book and wait like others in the world do. Too many people think it’s all about them.

    1. Arlene Wood

      Most laundry rooms post a sign that says “remove your clothes from washers and dryers when they are complete, or the clothes will be removed”. This is only fair to other campers who need to use the laundry. Most are small any way or have out of order machines.

  17. Captn John

    Always used the laundry until one day ~~ a nice lady came in and talked while getting 2 washers loaded. As she turned to leave it looked like she missed her last trip to the toilet by 5 minutes. We use washer/dryer separates in the 5er. Found the combos take too long and don’t do the best job at drying either.

  18. John T

    There’s a sign in the Quartzsite, AZ, laundromat saying that if you leave your clothes in the dryer, they will be removed and folded for you at a rate of $7 (I think it was) per pound.

    I boondock full time, so I check laundromat ratings on yelp to choose which one to go to. Yelp has not led me to a bad one yet. I find barbers the same way.

  19. Patti L

    There is a great laundromat close to the RV park we use and I am a regular there. Brand new high efficiency machines and plenty of them. At the other park where we end our season for now, they have a washer and dryer in a large common building with plenty of tables, chairs, book exchange, board and card games. It’s the end of the season for them and so very quiet. I take a book and relax while making sure my laundry is in and out. But, I would have done the same thing-remove the dry and ignore the inconsiderate.

  20. Wolfe

    I would pop out their unattended load and wipe up the floor…no one likes a dirty laundry room, so I do my part to tidy up.

    More seriously, I do my laundry in a sealed plastic tucker-tote… I can slosh/shake up to a full load at a time, dump in tub when done, and it works great. Set up in tub before driving, it agitates itself! I can hang a load to dripdry in the tub, too, as long as you vent the moisture. No theft or waiting, no going in the cold, no power needed when camping.

    1. A. W. Walker

      I have to admit I’ve never heard of a plastic tucker tote. What is it, exactly?

    2. RB

      What an excellent idea! I’ll have to try that one.

  21. Drew

    Actually, It’s a little surprising to me that so few do their laundry by hand. It’s convenient and cheap. The rv has a rod that fits at the top of the shower and I just hang clothes there to dry. I can usually wash some clothes while I’m in the shower. You don’t have to go any place, pay anything, or maybe best of all- put up with people’s inconsiderate behavior.

    1. RB

      I used to have a friend who did all his laundry by hand and hung it in his trailer to dry. To be honest, his shirts had started to get that transparent look they get when they have body oils have saturated the fabric, and he smelled oily.

  22. Terry

    It’s not as if you hovered in wait for the dryer to stop, or interrupted the dryer cycle– which some have done when people have left the laundry room during cycles –spouting in attendance as their ‘right’ to remove another’s laundry during active cycles… One kind soul actually folded another’s laundry taken out of dryer so it wouldn’t be wrinkled! I do not appreciate, but agree with the woman, that using all machines to get your laundry done is not against the rules. We have a folding laundry rack, and extra hangers, for drying ‘au natural’ when possible. You did exactly the correct act, but could have done it several minutes earlier. The rangers/owners advise to do so, and consider that unused machines — or campers leaving to utilize public laundries— lose them $$$! As a safety note, never leave your laundry alone or five-fingered shoppers can have a field day. At a couple camps, the illegal aliens / the homeless routinely walk through or scale the walls at night to take free showers and ‘shop’ at campers’ expense— so we secure everything left outside that could be carried/thrown across the wall, whether for personal use or to sell for illegal activities. One camp recently closed the bath houses( incl restrooms) nightly for 10 hours overnight until they install keypads. On a side note…. save your money if you’re thinking of purchasing the WalMart RV hanging dryer on the tripod stand…it’s just more , pardon my French, cheap $&@! from China …

  23. Steven M Jenkins

    That experience is typical. One more reason to have a washer and dryer in your rv.

  24. Galeyn

    Hubby and I just spent a couple of weeks at an RV park in Arizona. This sign was posted in the laundry room.

    “DO NOT leave your laundry unattended!
    If you leave your laundry unattended and the washer/dryer has stopped, a person waiting on the machine has the right to remove your laundry.
    SO, be considerate of others!”

    Seems fair to me.

    1. Terry

      i am all for multitasking, but agree with the signage… in high school, I did the family laundry weekly during the work day hours when ever other apt occupant was working/at school ( yes, working, really!) and used the great counter space in the apt laundry room to do my accounting projects –was able to spread it all out on the counter, unlike in our apt. Also freed up the evening/weekend hours for those who worked to do their laundry. Week days the laundry was a ghost town…worked for us! When camping, I still do tasks while at the laundry–avoiding weekends like the plague…

      1. Terry

        Sorry, other apartments’ occupants … 12 apt in building

  25. MP

    Obviously, the woman never lived in an apartment or any college dorm. The rules are; you be there when your load is finished, or you chance your clothes are on the table, or someone takes them.

  26. Bob Godfrey

    Folks who leave their laundry in a machine unattended and don’t time their return, especially in a busy RV park are simply inconsiderate. They remind me of the folks who stop in the middle of the road to talk to their friends while everyone behind them waits for them to realize they’re not the only people in the world.

    1. Terry

      Many have become entitled…. and act as if you were intruding on their turf

    2. Kevin Hogle

      You are right about that. Sadly it’s everywhere.

  27. C S

    It’s rude to assume that you are the only one using the laundry. If you don’t want anyone else touching your laundry, then bring a chair and a book and stay there until it is finished.

  28. Rey Lavalle

    Uh, you may want to re-read your Roadside Journal…”People who are crippled by obstacles”…
    Sorry Chuck. My bad. I couldn’t resist. LOL!
    Safe & peaceful travels.

  29. Marlene

    I have waited till the person returns, but I’m not usually pressed for time.

    1. Terry

      Yes, a few minutes. The issue becomes dufficult when others are also waiting and ‘if you won’t take out their stuff then we’ll go ahead of you and do it’ so you really are forced to do it or lose your ‘place in line’ as it were.

  30. Judy G

    Having experienced similar situations over 10 years of full-timing, I purchased a ladder-mounted clothes dryer & pins. Haven’t solved how to deal with folks who leave their clothes in the washer…. Many parks post signs ‘warning’ folks to be there when their loads finish. Maybe suggesting that to management would help in the future.

    1. Terry

      You take the clothes out of the washer! If there is a spare dryer, would consider placing them in it… otherwise, on the table

  31. Susan F.

    I would also have removed the items from the dryer. I’ve been in parks where people have taken every single washer (6 was the max) and when I commented to one woman, she told me she had to get her laundry done and it was her “right” to use all the machines. “First come” was her justification. Based on that thinking, I have no issue removing clothes that I have been able to determine were sitting for at least 10 minutes. I sometimes will sit in the laundry area and manage my clothes for the entire process. If I leave, then I will set a timer on my phone to come back BEFORE my wash /dry is done. I’ve encountered people who have gone to sleep or the store while their laundry sits waiting for their return. My time is as valuable as anyone’s.

  32. Mark B

    It’s OK to lie. “Those clothes were on the table for a while. I was wondering who they belonged to. This dryer was being used by some guy who had a load of really colorful golf shirts…I was amazed he was a golfer because he limped a lot and it must be hard to golf and get around the course like and that, but here he was doing his golf shirts, and you know how ugly those are with all the weird colors…and they don’t take long to dry…you know that polyester will burn real fast. Anyway, he took his load out and told me I could use the time left on the dryer. Have you seen the guy? He was wearing a coral striped golf shirt and just left a little while ago.”

  33. Buzzelectric

    Stand there with a big stick and an air horn and act crazier than her.

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