Table of Contents
- 2020 Guide To The Best Travel Laundry Detergent For Your Next Trip
- Best Travel Laundry Detergent Reviews
- Breezeo Laundry Detergent Strips
- FINZY Laundry Detergent Sheets
- WashEZE Laundry Sheets
- Tide Sport Travel Sink Packets
- LG Laundry Detergent Sheets – Lucky Fiji Power Sheet
- Sea to Summit Trek And Travel Liquid Soap
- BerryPLUS Soap Berry Eco-Friendly Natural Laundry Detergent
- Scrubba Wash Bag
- Laundry Travel Tips
- How to Hand Wash Clothing when Traveling: Easy Step by Step Tutorial
- How to Hand Wash Clothing when Traveling
- Plan Ahead
- Step 1: Fill Up
- Step 2: Wash and Soak
- Step 3: Drain and Rinse
- Step 4: Twist Out the Excess Water
- Step 5: Lay It Out
- Step 6: Roll and Squeeze
- Step 7: Hang to Dry
- Top laundry hacks travellers love
- Here’s how Travel readers keep their clothes clean on the road
- Timing is important
- Let someone else do it
- Fabric is key; so are a washcloth and towel tubes
- Don’t do any laundry
- It’s not cheating if it works
- Carry the right clothes
- Another soap suggestion
- A steamer for wrinkles
- A low-cost ‘washing machine’
- The hang-up
- Spot on, spot off
- Getting into laundry
- Power shower
- More clothing tips
- A fan of this method
- This will stop you cold
- An Italian wrinkle
- Hand wash if you must but…
- Make your own laundry detergent
- Twist that towel
- Suitable for all occasions
- Another fan of Zote and Dr. Bronner’s (and a bonus use)
- Slip in, slip out
- Bounce in your bag
- Bike trips were good teachers
- A different kind of soap
2020 Guide To The Best Travel Laundry Detergent For Your Next Trip
Guide To What’s Inside
If you want to keep your clothes fresh and clean whilst traveling from A to B, it’s important to find a travel detergent that suits your needs.
Not all detergents work well for handwashing, and in that case, you need to find one which doesn’t leave a residue, smells delicious, and is easy to travel with.
Handily, we’ve reviewed some of the best for you. By knowing what to buy beforehand, you won’t have the hassle of looking around in your location and trying to find where to purchase travel laundry detergent!
Best Travel Laundry Detergent Reviews
Travel Laundry Detergent Packets. Find several brands of small packets and try which one suits you here.
Breezeo Laundry Detergent Strips
If you want to save space in your suitcase, detergent strips are a great way to go and a great sink laundry detergent option. Breezeo strips are high quality and great for anyone on a budget. This pack has enough for 48 loads of washing, which is undoubtedly more than enough for a regular trip, with just one strip required for one lot of laundry.
The steps contain a concentrated detergent that dissolves when added to either hot or cold water. You can either use them in a bowl, e.g., handwashing, or you can use them in a machine. The detergent also dissolves completely, so you don’t have to worry about granite bits of undissolved detergent sticking to your clothing – there’s nothing worse!
Read More Reviews Or Find Travel Detergent Here
FINZY Laundry Detergent Sheets
This particular detergent product comes in a pack of either just one sheet, five or ten; however, the price is not as budget-worthy as the first product we talked about. Despite that, this is a high-quality option and one of the best travel wash detergent choices, which will certainly clean your clothes thoroughly and leave them smelling fresh.
These sheets are dissolvable in either hot or cold water, and you literally just put them into the bowl or the machine with your washing, and they will clean your clothes without any residue left over. They will also leave a rather pleasant scent, which some detergents don’t do! The sheets come in a pack that needs to be cut open, so you can be sure that they’re ultra-fresh at the time of use. This is, therefore, one of the best travel detergents for handwashing products.
Read More Reviews Or Find Travel Detergent Sheets Here
WashEZE Laundry Sheets
This particular travel laundry detergent comes in a box of either 30 or 40 sheets, which is certainly going to last you for a long duration during your travels. These sheets are also a 3 in 1 product, so they not only clean your clothes but also soften and act as a stain remover.
One sheet is enough for one lot of laundry, whether you’re washing in a machine or in a bowl, and they dissolve completely with hot or cold water, although they do work better with hot water overall. You can use these sheets in a dryer also, to ensure that your clothes remain soft and not like cardboard!
Read More Reviews Or Find Travel Detergent Sheets Here
Tide Sport Travel Sink Packets
This travel washing powder detergent is a packet that you add to your washing, either hot or cold, and the liquid will wash your clothes and ensure that it remains fresh and soft. The detergent includes Febreze to help keep doors odors away, allowing your clothes to be wearable time after time.
This particular detergent is also ideal for removing stains, which gives you a long-lasting wardrobe while you’re traveling. The only downside is that this particular option isn’t as compact as sheets or strips, but that may not be a problem if you want the added freshness and stain removal option.
Read More Reviews Or Find Travel Detergent Packs Here
LG Laundry Detergent Sheets – Lucky Fiji Power Sheet
This LG product contains a box of 45 travel laundry detergent sheets, so you will have enough detergent to see you through at least a few weeks of travel. You also get the added extra of the big named brand, as LG makes high-quality washing machines and other electrical equipment too.
These sheets are the equivalent of 100 ounces of detergent in a regular liquid form, so you can be sure that your clothes are going to be clean. You simply pop a sheet into your machine or your bowl of hot water and allow the detergent to do its magic. The sheets are also infused with lemon and lavender, keeping your clothes smelling delicious. You also don’t have to worry about stains, as the detergent contains a plant-based stain remover.
Read More Reviews Or Find Travel Detergent Here
Sea to Summit Trek And Travel Liquid Soap
This isn’t a detergent per se, but a travel laundry soap, which could easily be used to wash your clothes whilst on the go quickly. The product is small enough to be taken as cabin luggage and is also biodegradable and free of added nasties. The bottle is strong, and the lid isn’t going to leak whilst in your bag.
This particular soap has a green tea fragrance which is light and isn’t overpowering. Of course, you can also use this as a regular soap, so you’re getting two products in one.
Read More Reviews Or Find Travel Detergent Soap Here
BerryPLUS Soap Berry Eco-Friendly Natural Laundry Detergent
For anyone who is eco-aware, as we all should be, this is a great option to go for as a biodegradable travel clothes wash. Not only does it clean your clothes very well, but it’s also eco-friendly and doesn’t contain any added chemicals or other extras.
This natural travel laundry detergent is a packet that you simply ado your laundry, and it is made from soapberries. That means your clothes are super-clean smell delicious at the same time. This detergent is fine to be used with regular washing machines; however it could also be used in a bowl with hot water too, for soaking and hand washing.
Read More Reviews Or Find Travel Detergent Here
Scrubba Wash Bag
This isn’t a detergent but an entire laundry system, giving your clothes a cleaning experience that will eradicate dirt and stains. Because of the space-saving and effectiveness of the product, it is one of the best travel laundry kit products you can buy.
This is basically a portable washing machine in a bag, so you add your clothes and the detergent, and you squash it all together. It’s like the old fashioned mangle or scrub board, getting rid of dirt with ease.
After washing, the bag doubles up as a drying bag, making it the ideal option for travel and camping breaks. It weighs just 5oz, so it’s not going to take up space or weight in your case, and you don’t have to think about finding a bowl or a plug for the sink to wash your clothes.
Read More Reviews Or Find More Options Here
Laundry Travel Tips
Now you know which detergents are best to use, what else do you need to know about washing your clothes on the go? Washing your clothes certainly saves on space, because you don’t have to worry about taking a million and one outfits, but it can be a drag on your time if you don’t know how to do it correctly.
Here are a few tips you can bear in mind:
- Try and use free laundry services wherever possible, sometimes these do come at an added cost, so this is something to bear in mind in your planning
- Search for local laundrettes or laundromats. Again, you’ll pay for these, but they’ll typically be cheaper than hotel laundry services. Make sure you have some change for using these types of laundrette services
- Try and pack as many synthetic fabrics as possible, as these normally dry faster than natural fabrics, saving you time on drying
- It’s best to do your washing in the bathtub if your hotel has one, but the sink is just as useful
- Pack a travel sink stopper (plug), as many hotels don’t have these!
- Also pack a travel washing line you can tie up in the bathroom or on the balcony, and a few pegs in a small bag
- A dedicated laundry bag is a good idea, as this will keep your dirty clothes which need washing, away from your clean clothes while you’re traveling around before you can actually get to do your laundry
- When washing, only use a small amount of detergent, as hand washing can mean small pieces of residue stick to your clothes if you use too much
- Make sure you give your clothes a proper wash, by making sure they’re thoroughly wet first, adding the detergent, allowing it to sud up really well and then kneading it with your hands, to ensure everything is clean
- When rinsing, don’t stop until all soap suds have gone; otherwise, you’ll end up with that residue, and they’ll take forever to dry
- Wring out all excess water as much as possible before you hang your clothes to dry
- Make use of radiators for drying, if your hotel room has one.
How to Hand Wash Clothing when Traveling: Easy Step by Step Tutorial
Doing laundry while traveling is one of the best ways to pack less clothing. While there are laundry facilities on the road some travelers prefer the flexibility of hand washing. Take a look at our hand washing tutorial (updated in 2020)!
How to Hand Wash Clothing when Traveling
Unfortunately, one household chore still remains whist you blissfully travel the world – washing your clothing! Doing laundry on the go is the smart traveler’s secret to packing light!
The following tutorial will teach you the best way to wash and dry your dreaded laundry and assist with some helpful tips and tricks to make the chore simpler.
Even though you have three different options to do laundry while traveling, it’s inevitable to handwash your clothing at one time or another. Follow this easy step-by-step tutorial!
Travel Laundry Liquid Soap | Travel Laundry Clothesline Kit
A few convenient travel tools will help make hand washing a bit easier. Pack a universal sink plug such as this one and a travel laundry line such as this one so you can easily wash your clothing anywhere.
It might help to start by trying to pack lighter clothing that are quick drying and wrinkle resistant, choose fabrics such as rayon or polyester that are pretty wrinkle resistant and dry very quickly.
Note: merino wool is the best fabric for travel because it can be re-worn several times without washing. If you attempt to wash this while traveling it may take forever to dry! Learn more about merino wool here.
Please read this post on how to pack for long term travel for more tips!
It’s not only classic laundry detergent that can be used for hand washing – you can also utilize your shampoo or even a bar of soap.
It would be beneficial to invest in a multipurpose product on shorter trips that can be used as a washing liquid, dish detergent, body wash AND shampoo but on longer trips you have to use what you can.
On shorter trips, you can also pack a few single use detergent packets such as these for a quick wash on the go.
Bring an extra packing cube and dedicate it just to your dirty laundry.
Step 1: Fill Up
Add your chosen detergent to fill the sink, tub, bucket, or even ziplock bag with cool/warm water. Follow the instructions from the garment care label, most will say hand wash in cold water.
Remember to stick to garments of similar coloring if washing newer clothing, colors can still bleed!
Step 2: Wash and Soak
Wash the clothes by swirling them around in the water. Apply extra “detergent” directly to any stains or particularly dirty spots, rubbing the fabric against itself to help get a thorough clean.
Leave the garments to soak for 20-30 minutes for a regular wash or 1-2 hours for dirtier items. If your clothing is very filthy, an overnight soap soak might be in order.
Step 3: Drain and Rinse
Drain the soapy water and rinse the garments under the tap to get rid of the excess soap and detergent. For an extra clean feel, let the clothing soak for 5-10 minutes in clean water to remove the soap with ease.
Step 4: Twist Out the Excess Water
Squeeze and ring out the water with your hands, removing as much water as you can before step five.
Step 5: Lay It Out
Step five and six are optional but are highly suggested as they will help your clothing dry much faster. Lay the wet garments in a single layer on a bath towel. A travel towel like this one works great for this!
Step 6: Roll and Squeeze
Roll the garment up in the towel, squeezing out the excess water as you go. For thicker garments, walking back and forth on the rolled towel works well, eliminating dripping in step seven.
Step 7: Hang to Dry
Hang the clothes overnight to dry ideally outdoors if the weather permits. Alternatively, the bathroom is a good location when you can’t hang the clothing outside.
When possible, hang garments close to the air conditioning, fan, or heater or leave the windows open (if suitable and safe) to allow air circulation.
Scrubba Wash Bag
Backpackers, budget travelers and long term wanderers love 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.
For delicate clothing, Scrubba has a new, more gentle wash bag called the Allurette.
Planet Wise Wet/Dry Bag
Top Travel Washing Tips
- Keep humidity in mind, garments will take longer to dry in jungles and rain forests than in deserts. Keep an eye out for sunny spots to ensure clothing gets as dry as possible but even “quick dry travel clothing” can feel moist on the skin in this climate.
- Utilize your shower time – wash smaller items, such as socks and underwear. When you shower shampoo works as a great detergent.
- It’s important to ensure your clothes are fully dried before you repack, if not you could end up with feet stinking garments, gross. A handy dry bag such as this one can keep any wet clothing from stinking up the rest of your belongings.
- Don’t let your laundry pile up! Wash as you go.
Use a capsule wardrobe to pack light but create many outfits. Learn more in my guide!
Do you hand wash clothing when traveling? Share your tips in the comments!
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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Nobody wants to bother with the laundry while they’re on holiday but if you’re away for a while, have messy youngsters in tow, or are a little accident prone – it’s impossible to avoid a bit of hand washing in the bathroom basin.
The question is – do travel washes actually work or just take up valuable case space? Would shower gel work just as well in an emergency?
To find out, the GHI compared five travel washes, pitting them against some typical holiday stains – such as olive oil, foundation, pasta sauce and sun cream on identical white t-shirts. Once the t-shirts were stained up in the test lab, the team left them to dry for a few hours, then hand-washed them with the different travel washes. When dry, they were compared and assessed by our expert panel. We also washed a stained t -shirt with shower gel to see if that was just as good/better!
All the travel washes worked better than shower gel but not one of them managed to remove the notoriously difficult foundation or pasta sauce stain (so take extra care putting on your make-up or eating Italian when you’re away!). The best performer overall removed olive oil, tomato ketchup, balsamic vinegar and sun cream…
Superdrug’s Travel Detergent
Really impressed, 1st place unanimously agreed by our panel. Significantly better than the competition and it’s the cheapest.
Lifeventure Fabric Wash
A good solid 2nd place. It’s the most expensive on test but worth stashing in the suitcase.
Dylon Travel Wash
Did a good job of stain removal and certainly worth taking with you if you can’t get hold of the top two.
Pyramid Travel Soap
Struggled to get the suncream stain out of the t-shirt but does claim to be useable in both fresh and salt water (we didn’t test it in salt water).
Dr Beckmann Travel Wash
Disappointing results for a well-known brand though still much better than using shower gel.
MORE: WHAT IS THE BEST TYPE OF LAUNDRY DETERGENT FOR YOU?
Top laundry hacks travellers love
Top packing hacks for doing your laundry while on holiday.
Forget lugging around a bag weighed down with excess clothes. There’s a secret to slashing the size of your suitcase — doing laundry on the road.
And a few small additions to your packing list can save you time, hassle and expense when dealing with laundry while travelling.
From a simple plastic bag to a $2 travel essential from Kmart, Escape readers have shared the laundry-beating secrets in their luggage.
Here are their top laundry items you’ll want to consider popping on your packing list.
PEGLESS CLOTHES LINE
Before you travel go to Kmart. They have a pegless clothes line with suction caps either end, great for drying items in your hotel bathroom. Saves having wet clothes around the room, and they’re only $2 each.
INFLATABLE COAT HANGERS
I always pack a few blow-up coat hangers as they keep blouses and shirts front and back a distance away from one another and makes drying much quicker especially with T-shirts.
THIS 7C ITEM SOLVES BIGGEST PACKING PROBLEM
QANTAS FLIGHT ATTENDANT’S $5 PACKING HACK
THIS $6 TRAVEL HACK SAVED US THOUSANDS
Top tips for doing your laundry while on holiday.
THE RIGHT CLOTHES
When travelling to hot humid climates, pack moisture wicking clothing as it draws the sweat away from your body, so clothing doesn’t look wet and heavy. Also pack a foldable plastic bucket and small plastic clothes hanger with pegs attached, so you can wash clothing each night. This fabric dries quickly in the shower overnight.
Pack a bottle of eucalyptus oil. Half a teaspoon added to a basin of water and a white bar soap is good for stain removal and leaves clothes smelling fresh. (It’s also handy for insect bites and a few drops added to hot water for stream inhalation when suffering a cold.)
Before I go on a holiday, I always fill up a small 50ml plastic bottle of liquid stain remover (like Vanish), and pack it in my shower bag. I find a little goes a long way and has let me wear the article again, without the stain. I would not go on holidays without it.
SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER
Sachets of shampoo and conditioner make excellent laundry liquid and, obviously, take up no room whatsoever. For clothes that cannot be washed while travelling, I have found that it is a good idea to turn them inside out so that when unpacking, it is easy to see what needs to be washed.
Take a laundry tub to hand wash items.
A PLASTIC BAG
Rather than worrying about dodgy sink plugs or bringing my own I simply use a strong plastic bag, placing it into the sink for hand washing. If you leave something soaking and need to use the sink you can hang it on the taps for a while. The bigger and stronger the bag used the easier it is for washing.
OLD SCHOOL SOAP
Good old fashioned Velvet soap. It beats tiny little soaps and it’s the best for washing laundry.
When cruising we always pack a lightweight silicon collapsible tub (ours is 39 x 29cm, available from discount or camping stores for about $20) to wash larger items like jeans that can’t be washed in a hand basin. It can be placed in the shower recess to keep overflowing water contained.
My best holiday laundry tip is to pack a large chamois so that when you rinse your clothes you can roll them in the chamois to remove excess.
I always pack a small 100ml bottle of Eucalyptus Woolmix laundry liquid to wash my knickers in hotel bathroom. You only need a small squirt and little rinsing as it doesn’t suds up like others.
Squeeze excess water out of clothing with a spare towel.
We have been on eight cruises in the past few years and always found laundering a problem. A couple of years ago, I did some researching and discovered the Scrubba — a small scrubbing bag with an old fashioned wash board mechanism built in to it. It takes up no space at all and is extremely light. You can’t do a big wash at a time but if you do it every day (takes 3-5 minutes), it is great. We can do three singlets, three underwear and three pairs of socks or three casual shirts at a time. All it takes four or five small drops of detergent. If you also take a travel clothes line and some small light pegs, you can string them out on the balcony (when at sea) and they will dry in no time.
If you don’t have a pegless clothes line, another option is to carry dental floss as it’s very strong and doubled over it works as a clothes line to dry your stuff overnight before you move on.
SOAP IN AN ONION BAG
When we are travelling we always pack two cakes of laundry soap, each inside an onion bag. This can be used for hand washing in the shower or handbasin any time.
YOUR OLDEST UNDIES
When packing for long trip I pack some wire coat hangers and pegs for overnight washing. I also save old underwear to wear so that I can bin it along the way, no washing required.
Don’t overpack. Wash on the go.
DIDN’T PACK ANYTHING SPECIAL? TRY THESE LAUNDRY HACKS
DO IT IN THE SHOWER
If you are staying somewhere without a laundry, do your washing by hand every night when you have a shower. Put the clothes in after you have rinsed and then you can stomp on them which is just like a machine. Beats kneeling over a tub or shower base for a long time and getting a sore back.
USE A TOWEL
Use a towel after showering for wringing clothes before hanging to dry — saves many hours drying.
Joy de Mestre
SLEEP ON IT
On a tour in Africa I found that it was very humid in my safari lodge. I’d washed my cargo pants and a few other things in the shower and partially dried them with the hair-dryer before dinner. When I got back to the room that night, however, my laundry was very damp. I didn’t want to have it still wet in my bag all next day. Thinking a bit, I had a brainwave. I put the laundry in the game lodge dressing gown, and put the lot in bed. Then I slept on the dressing gown. Presto; the clothes were dry by morning and the dressing gown kept the sheets and me dry!
Do you have your own travel tip to share? We’d love to hear it. Email us at [email protected] for a chance to win our monthly reader prize.
Here’s how Travel readers keep their clothes clean on the road
Too cheap to send my laundry out, too pressed for time to sit in a commercial laundromat, I lamented my lame attempts to do hand laundry on the road in the Sept. 1 On the Spot column (“Dirty Little Secrets of Doing Hand Laundry on the Road”) so I asked readers for their secrets of laundry success. I cleaned up, so to speak. Here are some of their awesome tips.
— Catharine Hamm
Timing is important
I do hand wash only if I am staying more than one day at a hotel and then I do it only on the first night so it has time to dry. If you leave the fan on in the bathroom and close the bathroom door, the exhaust fans almost always dry the clothes overnight.
If you put your clothes that tend to wrinkle between layers of dry-cleaner bags, they essentially do not wrinkle.
Let someone else do it
My solution is to find a laundry service that charges by weight. They wash, dry and fold your clothes, and they charge per pound or kilogram. Many will pick up from and drop off at your hotel. Some use lockers in malls or other public places for pickup and dropoff.
Fabric is key; so are a washcloth and towel tubes
Dress in clothes made only of man-made fibers, because Mother Nature designed natural fibers (cotton, wool, etc.) to retain maximum moisture. Man-made fiber will dry faster, retain less dirt and stains, and remain less wrinkled.
Pack a dark washcloth to sponge dark clothes without leaving obvious lint.
Fold pants, shorts, etc., over lightweight paper towel tubes to reduce wrinkling. Works well and saves space if tubes are pretty flattened. Multiple pairs of pants can be folded together over one tube.
Corona del Mar
My cardinal rule is no cotton. That means no jeans or cotton T-shirts. I bring only quick-dry items of the sort that wick away sweat. I don’t find them to be too hot for steamy places.
If I am headed for such a place, I bring a lightweight skirt. I roll my clothing and I use compression cubes. Haven’t had much of a problem with wrinkling.
I agree that knits are a carry-on traveler’s best friend, and jeans with a bit of stretch won’t require washing. As for wrinkles, for years, I’ve used an environmentally friendly, easy and free solution: a small, empty spritz bottle. When I unpack, I fill it with water, spritz any wrinkled clothing, smooth out the wrinkles and I’m good to go.
I wear a knit garment after landing so that while I’m out enjoying my destination, my clothes are drying and unwrinkling and ready for the rest of my trip.
Don’t do any laundry
Take all old underwear, T-shirts and ratty jeans (instead of new items), then leave them behind. You never have to hear your spouse complain, “You’re still wearing those?” Plus your suitcase will be lighter on the way home. If the suitcase is old, leave it behind and save bag fees by coming home with only a carry-on.
It’s not cheating if it works
When I expect to do hand laundry on my trip, I bring two or three wire hangers with a few clothespins. Hangers are more manageable than a clothesline, in my opinion, but some hotels have only hangers that cannot be removed from the closet.
Another secret (although it may sound like cheating): I try to choose Airbnbs that offer a washer/dryer. And even if laundry access is not listed among amenities, hosts will allow you to use a washer/dryer most of the time if you ask nicely.
Carry the right clothes
Travel laundry tips begin with clothes designed for travel. Don’t even think about jeans. Good travel clothes don’t easily wrinkle, they are more comfortable, they pack more tightly and they dry much faster than ordinary clothes. Outdoor clothing stores offer such clothes. They are pricey, and it takes some searching to find travel clothes stylish enough for a nice restaurant, but they are worth it.
Clothes can be soaked overnight in the hotel sink by using a universal sink stopper (a flat round piece of rubber that fits over the drain). Plastic bathroom wastebaskets also work well for soaking. I pack a small scrubbing brush too.
I prefer hard laundry soap because it can be rubbed directly into the dirtiest areas, and it can be kept in a tight-locking soap dish. A 7-ounce bar of Pink Zote laundry soap can be found at dollar discount stores (and elsewhere). The bar can be cut down to a size needed for the length of the trip.
Another soap suggestion
I use Fels-Naptha bar soap to launder each day. I clean early in the morning and, by evening, clothes should be dry or partly dried.
A steamer for wrinkles
A handy device especially on ships that do not allow irons is a Travel Smart steamer by Conair. Simple device. Fill with water. Plug it in. When it starts to boil, use steam to take wrinkles out of shirts. Works like a charm.
A low-cost ‘washing machine’
I’ve changed from washing in the sink to using 3-gallon Ziploc bags. They weigh next to nothing and are my makeshift “washing machine.” I use a mild liquid laundry soap, agitate a bit, let sit for a while, then rinse again using the bag. I do this in the shower or tub to limit splashing.
Purchase an inflatable hanger, which helps your drying shirt stay in shape without ironing. Such hangers fold flat. I store mine in a locking plastic bag, along with some laundry detergent in another small bag or a hard, small bar of laundry soap.
Spot on, spot off
Pack a small pill bottle size of plain talc, not bath powder. Pharmacists usually have it. Put a dab of talc on a grease spot with a cotton tip, let it sit overnight, then brush it off with a towel. The spot is gone and no ring. I always carry a Tide to Go pen. It is great for getting a spot off and works on colored clothes as well as whites. I put a tissue under the spot, rub a little with the pen and the spot is usually gone. It does not leave a ring where the spot is removed.
Getting into laundry
I often wash laundry while I am in the shower, wearing the garment. I follow this with a personal shower.
This works well especially for my four pairs of favorite Columbia Omni Shield slacks. They are nylon and a stretch fabric, wrinkle-free and comfortable all day.
Rolling Hills Estates
Years ago, I read “The Accidental Tourist,” a great book by Anne Tyler. In this book, the protagonist washes his travel clothes in the shower by stomping on them. It works.
We like poly clothes for travel, because washed, rinsed, wrung out, rolled in a towel and hung up, they generally dry quite nicely overnight. We do the shower washing exercise every night, using small Woolite packets. And this allows us to travel with a minimal set of clothing.
I try to pack so that I do not have to wash clothes while traveling, but underwear is another matter. When I am running low on underwear, I wash it in the shower when I am taking a shower, using the soap supplied. Nothing gets wet and soapy but my underwear and I.
More clothing tips
Stock up on Chico’s Travelers Collection. No wrinkles, mix and match, easy to rinse out or spot clean.
A discovery I made about five years ago is Nuu-Muu. These are “athletic”-inspired dresses (some with pockets) that are not only great for exercise but also pair beautifully with compression-type shorts and/or leggings. Last spring, I traveled to Italy, and it was quite chilly. My Nuu-Muus, warm leggings, cardigans and light jacket were all just enough to keep me warm. The dresses wash out easily and dry overnight. For a two-week trip, I brought five of them and they worked great.
I travel to Europe four times a year, and I wear only wick-away clothing. My underwear brand for the last 10 years has been Ex-Officio. I can wash in the shower with standard shower gel, hang to dry overnight and put them on in the morning. My jeans are from Rohan of Britain. They wick too and are fast drying. I take one pair of jeans for a three-four week trip. I can still soak them in the bathroom basin, rinse and then hang to dry. No wrinkles. My shorts are from Peter Millar, Straight Down or johnnie-O and they wick and dry fast.
A fan of this method
One trick I have found for laundering socks while on the road is washing with the hand soap or shampoo, rinsing thoroughly, wringing in towels to dry as much as possible, hanging over the heated towel bar or clothes-pinning to the overhead fan and turning it on high (the drying cycle)
This will stop you cold
When I was in India for a course with the World Health Organization, I wanted to do some hand laundry, but found myself in a hotel that had no stopper in the bathroom sink. I called down to room service for a “plug for the sink.” A man in white, with a white napkin draped over his arm, arrived, carrying a silver tray. What was on it? An electric plug. No amount of explaining, pointing, trying different words, got me a sink stopper.
Now I always travel with a flat, rubber sink stopper just in case. It takes no appreciable space and has negligible weight.
An Italian wrinkle
I eventually came to learn that every Italian hotel, pensione or albergo has an iron (ferro da stiro) and a place to iron your clothes. And many places will take pity on you and do it for you if it’s just a couple items.
Hand wash if you must but…
I am a sink launderer, but I will use a laundromat if available. Before a trip, I do an online search for laundry services.
For camping and road trips, I find truck stops with laundry rooms. Truck stops also offer food, showers and, often, comfy lounge chairs to wait out the wash-and-dry cycle.
For foreign travel, I like to stay in hostels, especially hostels that have a laundry room.
As your story pointed out, the choice of fabric is important, and for this I give props for nylon clothing, Nylon is fast-drying, lightweight, compact, breathable, resists mildew, resists staining, wrinkle-free and cool. I found it to be the perfect travel wear. Its only drawback seems to be the strange, sickly colors that are available.
Make your own laundry detergent
When I travel I take a Tide pod and throw it in a jar ( like a baby food jar). When I need it, I poke a hole in it and shake it up. I now have a jar of detergent. I can use as little or as much as I want. Then when I’m done I recycle the jar.
Twist that towel
Besides rolling wet clothes in a towel, my significant other (who used to camp in the Sierra) suggests twisting the towel firmly so that the article of clothing is virtually dry.
Suitable for all occasions
I recently returned from a three week to Britain, including four days in London and the rest in the southeast. There were four of us, and we were driving so I had to limit luggage. I used a 22-inch carry-on size (it was checked) soft-sided bag and a smaller carry on bag. I packed one pair of shoes (leather) plus the ones I was wearing (walking).
My basic wardrobe consisted a couple of button wrinkle-free shirts and polyester polo shirts; three pairs of polyester pants (beige and dark blue); seven pairs of micro-knit underwear; and a variety of dry-fit socks (white and colored). All these fit easily into the bagm which was well under authorized weight even with the liquids I packed.
I included a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile liquid soap in the checked bag. It does amazingly well in washing clothes in the sink of a hotel. Other brands available as well, e.g., Campsuds at sporting goods stores.
The real secret is the clothes. I have found that synthetic golf shirts and pants are perfect for travel. I like Nike, but L.L. Bean and Jockey also carry these. They are lightweight, do not wrinkle, they wash easily and dry quickly especially when rolled in a towel and squeezed. They are generally dry by morning. And they look good after washing. They are also somewhat less expensive than brands of specialty travel clothing.
I never felt underdressed in London wearing these clothes, even at the symphony and theater.
Another fan of Zote and Dr. Bronner’s (and a bonus use)
We recently went on a two-week trip to Poland and packed enough for one week knowing we would do laundry during the trip. Our on-the-go laundry consists of
▶A bar (or slice) of Zote soap. It’s a glycerin soap. I sliced it in half for a trip a few years ago and took half with us. It will dry out after a year or so and get crumbly so I just put the pieces in a travel bottle with water and it becomes a liquid soap. So many uses. Google it!
▶A few travel bottles of Dr. Bronner’s soap. It’s great for washing blouses and undies as well as a facial cleanser. I take that to cut down on the number of liquids I’m carrying through security.
▶microfiber towels. I ordered some medium sized ones so we could roll the wet clothes in. They dry quickly and are useful for drying your hair too or cushioning souvenirs.
▶Ziplock gallon bag. Great for washing a bunch of socks or a blouse, especially when the sink is too small or not quite clean enough. Zip up the top, shake it up, just like a machine!
▶Plastic hangers and clips. With the plastic ones, you can hang off the shower bar, the back of a chair, the edge of a table.
▶A small spray bottle. Fill with some water and spray the wrinkles, smooth it out and most of them come out. I make sure to smooth out everything while it’s still damp so I don’t get so many wrinkles. On hot days, I take the bottle with me to cool off while we’re out.
Our goal is to use the small suitcases the Europeans travel with. We’re getting there.
Slip in, slip out
If moving from one day trip to another location, I lay a layer of tissue paper between packing layers for easy slipping out of a desired item. Worked like a charm.
Just say no to humid
Here are my tips:
▶Don’t travel where and when it is hot and humid.
▶No one cares what you wear. In most places a black T-shirt and jeans will be fine for anything.
▶For long-distance hiking, carrying everything in my backpack, I try to go as light and minimal as possible. I take two to three pairs good woolen hiking socks and Merino wool underwear. (Icebreaker makes great stuff).
▶I also take lightweight quick-dry black synthetic T-shirts, two pairs of similar long pants, and one pair similar shorts. A black fleece is tied atop of my pack.
When I get into my accommodation, I get into the shower with all the clothes I have worn that day and as I wash with whatever soap and shampoo they have, do a grape stomping wash on all the clothes at my fee. Then I hand squeeze the water out and do the “tight, twisted towel” squeeze dry method. I wear the packed “clean clothes” and the newly washed will be dry hanging up for a few hours.
And again, as long as you feel clean, no one cares what you wear.
Bounce in your bag
Best approach for two- to three-day travel: Vacuum bags and Bounce-style dryer sheet placed in each bag. Helps keep stuff dry and keeps the clothes smelling fresh.
Bike trips were good teachers
Loading your carry-on with wash and wear. For years my husband and I bicycled in Europe and piled everything into panniers, so the weight of everything we took mattered. Everything we took was also cut to the minimum. That assumed that everything we wore during the day had to be washed and hung out that evening, including bike shorts, jerseys, jackets, underwear, gloves, socks.
We also took street clothes with us and they got washed as needed, but not every night. Once we stopped the bicycling trips, the habits we made carried over for other travels.
We also took two kinds of sink stoppers, special micro towels for wringing out the clothing, clothes pins, 6 to 8 feet of thin but strong twine, and a bar of Ivory soap.
As soon as we entered a hotel room, we began figuring out how we were going to string the clothes line(s). Door knobs and other door hardware often came into play, but in a nice hotel in New York, I wrapped one end of the twine around a lamp that then had to be steadied with a chair.
In all cases the clothes line(s) were always taken down before housekeeping arrived. And we almost never hung the clothes line in an already damp bathroom.
The only small detail we had to remember, especially at night on trips to the bathroom, was that the clothes line was up. You didn’t want to get yourself entangled with a pair of drying bicycle shorts.
A different kind of soap
I travel with ExOfficio underwear. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and easy to wash and dry. I can wash a pair in the sink at night, roll them up in a towel to remove most of the moisture, and hang them up to finish drying. By morning, they’re ready to wear (and the towel’s dry enough to use, too).
For laundry soap, I take Travelon Laundry Soap Sheets. They come 50 sheets to a 1¾- by 2¾- by ½-inch container, so a trip’s worth takes up almost no room. I use one or two sheets per item washed, and they work great.