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If you’re traveling for more than one or two weeks, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to do laundry on the road, especially if you want to pack light.
Whether you’re going on a one week trekking adventure, two week beach vacation, or 12 month round the world journey there’s usually easy access to clean clothes just around the corner. Find out how to do laundry while traveling with three easy options.
3 Ways To Do Laundry While Traveling
For long trips, you don’t want to have to pack more than you need, but you also don’t want to wear dirty clothing. The best middle ground is to wash your clothing while traveling. You can pack carryon only while still feeling clean and comfy. There are three main options for laundry when traveling.
As a long term traveler, I count on the widely available services to do my laundry while traveling. You’d be surprised how readily available and cost effective laundry washing services are around the world.
From busy tourist towns like Cusco, Peru to small camps in Tanzania and backpacker cities like Bangkok; it’s possible to find places that will wash your dirty laundry starting at rates for as low as $1 a kilo.
How your clothing is washed varies from place to place. Many will hand wash your clothes and some use machines. For the most part, your clothing is hung to dry so you can expect about a 24 hour turnaround time.
Inquire about rates and carefully note down what you gave them to avoid problems with missing items. If there’s a special item with specific instructions, let them know or hand wash it yourself.
Use a capsule wardrobe to pack light but create many outfits. Learn more in my guide!
Many hostels and hotels have laundry room with coin operates machines making it a breeze to do laundry while traveling.
When traveling the USA, I choose hotels like Holiday Inn Express that have convenient laundry rooms for travelers. In Europe, Australia, and New Zealand the majority if hostels where I’ve stayed also offer basic washing and drying machines for backpackers. You should research your accommodation’s amenities before booking. For hostels, I use HostelWorld.com.
These accommodation options also tend to sell individual packs of laundry detergent and softener so that you don’t have to add extra weight to your bag.
If you’re on a short trip, pack a couple of single use detergent packs like these Sinksuds packs to get you through your travels. For longer travels, always buy as you go.
this is a step by step guide for how to hand wash clothing when traveling
A popular choice for budget travelers is hand washing and can be done no matter where you’re staying. This is where the fabrics you choose plays an important role as synthetics dry much quicker than comfortable cotton.
A universal sink plug such as the one from Muzitao is essential so you can wash in any sink around the world.
To hang your clothes, pack a travel clothes line or a simple string can be used to dry your clothing indoors or outdoors. You can either pack your own best travel laundry soap or buy detergent locally. Otherwise shampoo, a bar of soap, or body wash does the job too.
Read about How to Choose the Best Fabrics for Travel.
Perhaps the most popular hand washing option is the Scrubba Wash Bag. It saves you money by allowing you to efficiently and effectively wash your clothes anytime, anywhere. This works especially well for adventurers getting off the beaten path with limited access to laundry facilities or those that would prefer the convenience of doing it themselves.
One reader says, “I have found it extremely useful and always take it with me. You can also use it for wet stuff like swimwear. It has little scrubby things and the best part is you don’t have to get your hands wet. If I am washing white stuff I let it soak in the bag in the sink for a couple of hours. It was such a good investment. I never use laundromats or laundry anywhere after having clothes ruined and lost.”
Another reader adds, “I have it and love it. I use it traveling and camping with my family. It gets my kids’ clothes clean, which says something. Use a strong, concentrated detergent (I prefer Allen’s Naturally liquid detergent). And bring a travel clothesline. I find it SOOO much easier and quicker than washing in the sink or bathtub.”
Just make sure you have the newest version. One reader warns, “I have the old model with the weaker plugs and it finally gave out and leaked after three years. The new one is much improved. I loved mine. It gets the clothes cleaner than I can in a sink and is so much more convenient. I just throw all of my dirty clothes in it to keep them separate and wash them as needed. It’s a great dry bag. It’s good for delicates at home too.”
For travelers with delicate clothing, try the Allurette Scrubba Wash Bag. While the original Scrubba Wash Bag works wonders for regular and technical clothing that needs a serious scrub down to get it clean, the Allurette is better suited for fabrics that require a soft hand wash.
When it comes to doing laundry while traveling, you can get creative when you’re on the road. Some wash their clothes in plastic bags, others in locally purchased buckets, and I personally like washing some items like travel underwear in my dive mask’s plastic case. You’d be surprised how long you can make your clothes last between washes when you’re on the road for a while. You really get to know yourself in a whole new light.
Bring an extra packing cube and dedicate it to your dirty laundry.
What are you tips on how to do laundry while traveling?
For more travel tips, please read:
- Which Packing Organizers Should I Choose?
- The Best Travel Backpack
- Top 20 Suitcase Recommendations
- Travel Experts Reveal the Best Carry-on Bags
- Money Belts and Anti-theft Travel Accessories
- Top 5 Travel Bags for Women
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