How To Do Laundry While Travelling

How To Do Laundry While Travelling

Whether you’re scaling mountains or sipping drinks on a luxury cruise ship, one thing stays the same: your laundry piles up. Keep your clothes fresh with these simple steps.

Images from m01229, slgc, sharadaprasad

Choose A Method

There are several ways you can launder your clothes during trips. Which one you choose depends on how much money you want to spend as well as how much time and energy you want to put in.

  • Wash by hand in a sink or tub. This works best for less bulky items like underwear, socks, shirts, and so on. Add your dirty laundry to hot water and soap and knead the clothing so the soapy water gets pushed through the fabric. If your clothing is especially dirty, let it soak for a few minutes then rinse to get the soap out. This method will save you money, but takes more time and effort on your part.
  • Send your dirty laundry out to be cleaned. Generally the most expensive method, this can save you a lot of time if you'd rather be sightseeing than scrubbing. The staff at your hostel or hotel may be able to provide you with recommendations on where to send your laundry.
  • Find nearby laundry facilities. Staff at your accommodation can recommend a few places for you to check out -- there may even be facilities there that you can use (this is common in hostels or if you rent serviced apartments). While this allows you to clean more clothing than the hand wash method, it will cost more and take more time since you have to wait at the facility for your clothes to go through the wash and dry cycles.

If you have anything that needs air drying, squeeze excess water out then use a towel to absorb more of the moisture before you hang it up. If you can, try and hang it in the bathroom so that the dripping water doesn't ruin the room's floor and lead to you being charged damage fees.

Bring The Right Supplies

Whichever method you choose, make sure to bring along the related supplies. Packets of laundry detergent may not be easy to find, so bring your own. Some other items to potentially bring include a clothesline or pegs for air drying, a plastic bag to keep your dirty clothing in, a sink plug if you choose to hand wash items, and a small lint roller.

Think About Your Clothing Choices

Before throwing something into your bag, double-check labels for fabric care instructions. Don't pack things that are difficult to wash, such as items that have special washing instructions. Also, pick clothing that air dries quickly and doesn't hold onto moisture. If your clothing is wrinkled, you can steam it by hanging it in the bathroom while you shower.

No matter where you go, you'll need to keep your clothes clean. Think about the method, supplies, and clothing you're bringing to streamline the process. What do you usually do to keep your laundry clean during trips? Let us know in the discussion below.


  • Also for the ladies and men with a bit of expensive taste, bring some of those delicate washing bags, they’re usually pretty light and can help keep delicate items in good shape, especially when using dodgy washers.

  • The joke goes that women think clothes are ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ while men have a spectrum along which some clothes can still be worn. I use a large mesh laundry bag when I am travelling. It keeps my dirty clothes separate (in my luggage or hotel room) but means they fester less by the time I get around to washing them. Doesn’t make anything cleaner, but keeps the stench to a tolerable minimum.

  • A fourth alternative- for small garments, but a Scrubba Wabash and do your washing in the hotel bathroom

  • Honestly, sending out your laundry isn’t that expensive, as long as you don’t use the hotel laundry.

    On a recent trip to Europe we started out by doing our own laundry (for the first two weeks), but then inquired where we could find laundries who would do our laundry for a fee. We found that there were plenty of options. So for the last four weeks of our trip we simply took our dirty clothes to a laundry one morning and returned the next.

    Cost wise, the price was a euro or two more than doing it yourself (washing and drying). Typically you are charged by the kilo, so if you have some luggage scales you can ensure you minimize your costs.

    The great beauty of this is that you don’t spend a couple of hours of your life watching machines do their business to your clothes, you can do more exploring instead. I won’t be going back to doing my own laundry if I can find a non-hotel laundry to do the dirty work!

  • Scrubba wash bag is the best way to do laundry while travelling. No mess, no fuss, no looking for a laundrymat or paying for services and no soaking icky sinks. And when you’re travelling in a pack of 4 like me and my family, it also means MUCH less luggage, packing and re-packing.

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