You’re on the road (maybe on the run?) and you haven’t stopped moving in more than a week. That one bag you brought with you has turned into a glorified dirty laundry bag and, frankly, it smells like it. Now you’re faced with another sweaty afternoon under the Tuscan sun or a day in the local laundromat.
But let’s be real, laundry is a household chore, not a part of anyone’s travel itinerary. No one really wants to know how to wash clothes while traveling. We just want to know how to get this task out of the way as quickly as possible.
Thankfully, there are ways to keep your clothing looking (and smelling) great without sacrificing vacation time. It all starts with what you put in the bag in the first place.
Pack Travel-Ready Clothes
If you found yourself googling “how to wash clothes while traveling,” you’re probably sitting on a hotel bed next to a bag full of wrinkled, sweat-stained, and dirty clothing. If, on the other hand, you typed “how to wash clothes while traveling” into a search engine before your trip, then you’ve nailed it.
Step one is to pack the right clothes. Wrinkle-resistant, moisture-wicking, performance fabric. Those are the keywords you want to look for when it comes to packing for a long trip. Things like wrinkle resistant shirts are perfect to wear for multiple days without looking dingy.
Pack a few pairs of pants that are moisture wicking and you can get multiple days out of them before they need washing. The easiest answer to “how to wash clothes while traveling” is to pack clothes that are built to go a few days without washing.
Even then, we get that your six-week backpacking trip is going to require at least one laundry stop. So let’s look at the two main ways for how to wash clothes while traveling.
This is for those of you who don’t have a travel budget. We see you. Game respect game. Even if you’re staying at Airbnb’s and hostels, one or two nights in a swanky hotel can give you access to their laundry service.
It’s not the most cost effective route, but if you want to get your clothes cleaned without having to worry about it, laundry services are the way to go. How laundry services work isn’t too complicated, but they require clear instructions.
If you just leave a dirty laundry bag in the hallway, you might find your closet full of dry cleaned underwear and starched gym shorts (we can confirm this from experience). A lack of clarification can lead to a massive bill and an absurd amount of hangers.
Clearly mark exactly what you want to have cleaned and how you want them to clean it. And if it doesn’t have to be washed (shoutout to rain jackets), don’t include it in the dirty laundry bag.
If you’re in your third hostel in two weeks and desperate for the feeling of a fresh t-shirt, all you need is access to a sink. Washing your clothes by hand is totally doable and an easy way to quickly freshen up your wardrobe with minimal hassle.
Here’s an easy six-step process for how to handwash clothes while traveling:
Step 1: Fill the sink with water and add laundry detergent until you see bubbles.
Step 2: Fully soak clothing and scrub with a brush or bar of soap.
Step 3: Rinse with clean water.
Step 4: Ring out as much water as possible.
Step 5: Lay the garment flat on a towel and roll up the towel to squeeze out any excess water.
Step 6: Hang dry (near air or heating for quicker results).
We recommend doing this at the end of the day to give your clothing the entire night to dry, but that’s really all there is to it.
If you’ve packed the right clothes (shoutout performance fabrics) then how to wash clothes while traveling is a solvable problem. Laundry services are great if you can spare the cash, but a sink with some detergent can also do the trick.
Either way, we recommend packing clothes that are as flexible as your travel plans. And did we mention that we make amazing ? We’ll just leave that link there. Enjoy your trip.