Ah, laundry. Probably the last thing you want to do while traveling! But there is a great reason to bust out the suds while you’re on the road. If you are willing to do laundry, you can bring fewer clothes. Fewer clothes = smaller bag. Smaller bag = less worry!
Let’s go over the different ways you can maximize your laundry game while on the road.
Do it Yourself: By Hand
Also known as sink laundry, this task can be accomplished in a sink using an assortment of tools:
1) Rubber drain plug. This is to plug up the sink to minimize your water usage and many travelers swear by it. I hate it. Why? Because after I was all excited to use one, I actually did laundry with it. Each time I swirled the clothes around the sink, I would bump the drain plug, which moved it out of the way enough that the sink would drain. Every. Single. Time. Maybe there is some sort of special laundry magic that I missed, because this one didn’t work for me at all. Save yourself some money and plug it with a plastic grocery bag instead.
2) Dry line. Really, any light, strong and portable string (like paracord) will do, as long as you have a way to keep your clothes attached to it (draped over, with binder clips, etc.). I’ve used and loved the Sea to Summit Clothesline, which uses tiny beads to attach your clothes to it. It’s easy to attach to what ever you have around to hang things and it’s easy to get clothes on it. I just wish it had more beads to hang more clothes. Also, it’s tiny and stuffs into an itty bitty sack about half the size of your palm. Cute. I used it all the time while backpacking in Thailand. Other clothesline options have built-in clips for more substantial laundry needs.
3) Soap. I have a secret for you: you don’t have to bring any special laundry soap. Just make sure you have some kind of soap or shampoo. Even bar soap works!
4) Your towel. You should pretty much always bring or have access to a towel while traveling. (Have you gotten your Turkish towel yet?).
Dry most clothes overnight by using the
1) Spread out towel on floor
2) Place freshly washed and wrung out laundry flat on the towel, with nothing overlapping.
3) Roll the towel up
4) Walk on the rolled-up towel
5) Unroll and hang up your items and towel to dry. Your towel has absorbed most of the water! You can do this a couple times, but each time the towel will absorb less water.
6) Keep in mind drying times. Fast-drying items like athletic wear, merino, and bamboo will most likely dry overnight. Cotton will take longer. If you really need things dried fast or overnight, wear them to bed or put them under the covers with you. They will dry fastest with your body heat, but it won’t be the most pleasant activity!
Do it Yourself: Laundromat
These vary in availability, but if you’re in the US they are usually easy to find. Some even have wifi and showers! Make sure to bring along some laundry soap. Woolite sells some little travel packets that are single-serving and perfect for sink laundry or the laundromat!
Do it Yourself: Airbnb
If you want all the comforts of home, including laundry facilities, check out Airbnb! In a listing, scroll down and look at the amenities list to see if they have laundry facilities. Just remember, in most countries, this only means a washer! You’ll have to allow a day or so for your laundry to line dry.
Get someone else to do it for you
Depending on the country you visit, you may have some easy access to cheap laundry services. If you’re staying in a hostel, ask the front desk. They often will take your clothes, charge by the pound, wash, dry, and deliver it – folded – for what it costs to do it in a laundromat back home! This is very common in SE Asian countries.
If you try to do this in a more western country, especially at a hotel, be prepared to be charged an arm and a leg for it. Think $4+ for an individual pair of underwear. Yikes! In this case, try one of the other laundry techniques.
Do you have any tips for making laundry less painful on the road?