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Brilliant: DIY washing machine hack saves hundreds on laundry

Jennifer Ennion
The best $40 washing machine you’ll ever find.

Camping holidays don’t usually require the washing of clothes, or so I thought.

A few days spent in the same flannelette shirt, boardies and/or bikini is what Aussie camping is all about, at least when you’re holidaying on the coast. Head bush and you might throw some hiking boots, thermals and tracksuit pants into the mix. But the idea of camping being anything other than a fun, grubby experience had never entered my mind.

That was until I hitched up my caravan and hit the Pacific Highway for a 12-month trip around Australia.

“I’ll just handwash,” I told myself. But after a few weeks bent awkwardly over laundry tubs in holiday parks I knew it wouldn’t last. I succumbed to dropping gold coins down washing machine slots so I could at least wash the dirt from bedsheets and winter woollies.

But when you’re travelling for a year, whether solo or as a family like me, coughing up $5 every time you want to do a load quickly eats into the budget. After all, that money could be better spent on my tea habit.

So, we did what all creative caravanners learn to do. We improvised. We called into the next Anaconda store we came across and bought a hardy 20-litre plastic tub with lid for $40.

The unlikely hero of our trip.

My husband strapped it to the drawbar of our caravan and I filled it with soiled clothing, water and detergent. We let the motion of driving over dirt roads and highways agitate our “washing machine” as we travelled between campsites.

Each time we arrived, the dirty water was tipped out, the clothes rinsed under council or holiday park taps and then sun dried. It’s one of the best camping hacks we’ve learnt and meant the few hundred dollars we saved could go toward more fun — and delicious — holiday endeavours.

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Camper Trailer Buying Guide – Tips and Hints

Q. What is the most important component in a camper trailer?
A. The canvas tent.

Q. Why?
A. If it leaks or has condensation or mildew problems a holiday can be ruined and the camper is not fit for the purpose.

Q. How do I know if the canvas is fit for the purpose?
A. It should comply to the Australian standard for canvas AS 2001.2.18.1987 which is also the military standard.

Q. How do I know if the canvas meets this standard?
A. Australian canvas manufactured by Wax Converters, Bradmil and Defab meets this standard.

Q. Does imported Chinese canvas meet this standard?
A. Tests by the RMIT carried out on the canvas of three-leading importers of Chinese campers show each is very similar and falls far short of the Australian standard.

Q. What are the main tests for waterproofness?
A. The cone test. Results, Australian canvas leaks less than 1 ml. Chinese canvas leaked in the RMIT tests an average of 54ml.

Q. Is there another waterproofness test?
A. The hydrostatic head test.
A. Australian canvas averaged 53 KPA
Chinese canvas averaged 6 KPA

Q. Is imported 14 Oz ripstop canvas really 14 oz?
A. CSIRO tests carried out on typical Chinese canvas claimed to be 14 oz averaged only 11 to 11.2 oz.

Q. How do I know if the canvas is Australian?
A. Read the labels sewn into the tent.

Q. Does the canvas appearance indicate quality?
A. No. The performance properties are invisible. Only prescribed tests will give the answer. e.g. UV stability.

After studying the test results of imported Chinese canvas RMIT textile department have issued a report that the three samples of imported Chinese canvas supplied do not comply with the Australian standard AS 2001.2.18.1987

Based on these results expert opinion is that Australian canvas is far superior to the imported canvas of three leading Camper Trailer importers and based on these results the Chinese canvas is not fit for the purpose for camper trailer tents.

Conclusion – A purchaser can have complete confidence in purchasing a camper from a Guild member knowing that the canvas is Australian made and conforms to the Australian standard.