How to handle washing while travelling

Trying to wash clothes while on the road can be a tricky task. Here’s what you need to know.

On the whole, travelling is a very enjoyable experience, but there are some parts of being away from the comforts of home that can prove to be tricky. One such situation is the issue of clean clothes or, more specifically, lack thereof when your trip progresses and the number of your clean clothes dwindle.

So here are our tips for handling washing on the road.

There are two ways to approach this step of the cleaning process: the shower or the sink. While it’s quick and relatively pain free to wash small items such as underwear in the shower each day, larger items can prove to be more difficult. So this is when the bathroom sink comes in handy.

While you can bring some liquid detergent from home, a bar of soap will also suffice – or even shampoo or conditioner if that’s all you have.

Make sure you give the items a good scrub, and separate light and dark colours as you would at home to avoid any (bleeding) heartbreak.

If you are washing your items in the sink or bath, the second step is to replicate the spin cycle of your washing by swirling the items around.

It’s very important to makes sure you give your clothes a good rinse with clean water to remove all the soap – whether you’re in the shower or using the sink. Then gently ring your clothes to remove excess water, being careful with your delicate items.

The towel is your best friend when it comes to drying your clothes as quickly as possible. Once you’ve given you clothes an initial, gentle, squeeze dry, lay a towel flat on the ground and place the first item of clothing on top. Roll the towel as tight as you can with the item inside, to soak up the water from your clothes.

Repeat this with each item. You may find you need a few extra towels – you’d be surprised how much water the towels will absorb!

Once you’re done, either hang up the items to dry or blast them on a medium heat setting with a hairdryer if you can’t wait that long.

If these steps make you want to wear dirty clothes instead, option B is to outsource this chore. Most hotels offer a washing service or can help point you in the right direction, but remember you are parting with your clothes at your own risk!

Still not convinced? There’s always the Scrubba, aka the world’s smallest washing machine.

Do you have any tips give you a helping hand for dealing with washing while travelling?


    A regular travel contributor to YourLifeChoices, SJ is in search of the world’s best Margarita most Monday nights.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    7th May 2016
    Hi from San Sebastian. We try to stay in apartments with washing facilities. Have had hotels for a week this trip and now the line is full! Always ask how to set the machine to the fastest wash. European machines are notorious for the length of wash. For a short wash it is usually 20 to 30 mins. Econ wash can be 2 hours! We always take a camping line with us and pegs. Washing detergent we purchase at first stop.
    Old Dog
    7th May 2016
    Many years ago now I travelled as a 40 year old backpacker with only two shirts, two pair of trousers, one pair of shorts and fours sets of jocks and socks. I did not go dirty, always had clean clothes. My "secret"? Wash as required (often),and stay in budget accommodation with a ceiling fan. After washing, I would ring the clothes by wrapping in a towel and twisting it severely to squeeze out as much water as possible then I would hang on a hanger underneath the fan. Next morning, washed, clean, dry, albeit wrinkled clothes.
    Travelling Man
    7th May 2016
    Before you take off buy a cake of Sard multi-purpose soap from Wollies or Coles. This gentle, stain removing soap does a fabulous job. After rinsing give the item a towel wrap squeeze and in the morning you're ready to trot, freshly laundered.

    7th May 2016
    Most of our travelling is in a tiny slide-on camper. As it has an outside hot/cold shower, I carry a small plastic twin-tub washing machine. Once a week, the machine comes out and gets parked next to the van and filled from the outside shower. Twin tubs recycle water fairly efficiently, and I help it along by using buckets to rinse and draining clean rinse water from the spinner into the buckets. Portable clothes line goes up close by, usually tied to a tree or the bull bar for stability. (Yes, I do get lots of odd looks from other campers, but I don't have to find laundromats, carry coins, and risk my clothing in public machines.)

    Once, when faced with a water shortage, we camped near the beach and filled the washing machine with bucketed sea water. Ten minutes after hanging the washing, half the camp was bucketing sea water to wash with. Hard on clothes, but certainly gets the tough dirt out easily.

    I also wash by wearing clothes into the shower and stripping off in the shower, as I find many clothing items only really need a quick rinse.

    Our next trip will be on a ship and I have selected light-weight wash and wear clothes that I can wash easily in the shower and hang on the rail to dry overnight.
    7th May 2016
    Can you please WRING your clothes out not RING them?
    7th May 2016
    Giggling .... !

    Tags: travel, tips, budget

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